5 Enterprise_PageCache Pro Tips

Published: August 19, 2016

I recently gave a talk on monitoring and improving your full page cache hit rate with Enterprise_PageCache at NomadMage. The talk dives deep into the internal’s of Enterprise_PageCache, investigating how requests are saved to and loaded from cache. In this post, I wanted to highlight 5 key aspects of FPC that are revealed in the talk.

NOTE: The talk covers a lot more than just these 5 items. Slide can be found here.

1. FPC Doesn’t Expire

When Enterprise_PageCache saves a request response it will never expire. There is a lot of misinformation about this. Requests are saved to cache by Enterprise_PageCache_Model_Processor::processRequestResponse(). In the following line of code…

$cacheInstance->save($content, $cacheId, $this->getRequestTags());

This will call the Mage_Core_Model_Cache::save(), which looks like this…

public function save($data, $id, $tags = array(), $lifeTime = null)
    if ($this->_disallowSave) {
        return true;

     * Add global magento cache tag to all cached data exclude config cache
    if (!in_array(Mage_Core_Model_Config::CACHE_TAG, $tags)) {
        $tags[] = Mage_Core_Model_App::CACHE_TAG;
    return $this->getFrontend()->save((string)$data, $this->_id($id), $this->_tags($tags), $lifeTime);

Enterprise_PageCache_Model_Processor doesn’t pass a $lifeTime, so $lifeTime defaults to null, which propagates to the backend and leads to the response being saved with no expiry. For example, take a look at Zend_Cache_Backend_Apc::save()

public function save($data, $id, $tags = array(), $specificLifetime = false)
    $lifetime = $this->getLifetime($specificLifetime);
    $result = apc_store($id, array($data, time(), $lifetime), $lifetime);
    return $result;

$specificLifetime was passed as null by Mage_Core_Model_Cache::save(), it does not default to false. Therefore Zend_Cache_Backend::getLifetime() which can be seen below does not return the lifetime directive value.

public function getLifetime($specificLifetime)
        if ($specificLifetime === false) {
            return $this->_directives['lifetime'];
        return $specificLifetime;

2. The Entire Cache Is Invalidated Once It Get’s Bigger Than The Maximum Cache Size

Re-focusing out attention on Enterprise_PageCache_Model_Processor::processRequestResponse() you will find the following code…

$contentSize = strlen($content);
$currentStorageSize = (int) $cacheInstance->load(self::CACHE_SIZE_KEY);

$maxSizeInBytes = Mage::getStoreConfig(self::XML_PATH_CACHE_MAX_SIZE) * 1024 * 1024;

if ($currentStorageSize >= $maxSizeInBytes) {
    return $this;

$cacheInstance->save($content, $cacheId, $this->getRequestTags());

    $currentStorageSize + $contentSize,

As you can see, if the current size of the storage (maintained in FPC_CACHE_SIZE_CAHCE_KEY) is larger than the maximum size as set in system/page_cache/max_cache_size the response is not saved and the entire full page cache is invalidated. Otherwise the content is saved and FPC_CACHE_SIZE_CAHCE_KEY is updated.

As far as I can tell, the cache being invalid doesn’t do anything other than show a notification in the admin area, but as shown above new writes to cache will be no longer be possible.

3. No Cache Containers Are Harmful

When hole punching FPC it’s tempting to just add a container that is fully uncached. Doing so does not require any thought about the circumstances under which a given element can be re-used. There are a few guides that you’ll land on through Google searches that outline approach. This is bad.

I draw you’re attention to Enterprise_PageCache_Model_Processor::processContent(), the method which tries to fill in the placeholders from the cached HTML document.

$containers = $this->_processContainers($content);
$isProcessed = empty($containers);

if ($isProcessed) {
    return $content;
} else {
    Mage::register('cached_page_content', $content);
    Mage::register('cached_page_containers', $containers);

    // restore original routing info
    $routingInfo = array(
        'aliases'              => $this->getMetadata('routing_aliases'),
        'requested_route'      => $this->getMetadata('routing_requested_route'),
        'requested_controller' => $this->getMetadata('routing_requested_controller'),
        'requested_action'     => $this->getMetadata('routing_requested_action')

    return false;

As you can see, if it can’t fill in all the containers (result of _processContainers) it will return false, which bubbles back to the following code in Mage_Core_Model_App::run() returning false.


This means that we don’t truly have an FPC hit (we call this a “partial” hit at Something Digital). Putting a no cached container on every pages guarantees that you’ll never get any true FPC hits.

4. If a Request Has More Query Parameters Than The Max Depth, It Won’t Be Cached

Next, I draw your attention to Enterprise_PageCache_Model_Processor::canProcessRequest(), which is a method Enterprise_PageCache uses to determine whether or not it will cache a given request. In it you’ll find the following lines…

$maxDepth = Mage::getStoreConfig(self::XML_PATH_ALLOWED_DEPTH);
$queryParams = $request->getQuery();
$res = count($queryParams)<=$maxDepth;

return $res;

As you can see, this method compares the number of query parameters in the request to the “allowed depth” (aka “Max Depth”) setting, and if there are more, it won’t cache the request.

Note that the default value for that setting is 1.


This mean that if you get a bunch of traffic that looks like this and you don’t change that setting, none of it will hit the FPC…


5. Requests For A Single URL Have Multiple Cache Entries Based On Cookies

Finally, I draw your attention to Enterprise_PageCache_Model_Processor::_createRequestIds, the method which generates the cache key for a given request. In it you’ll see…

$uri = $this->_getFullPageUrl();

//Removing get params
$pieces = explode('?', $uri);
$uri = array_shift($pieces);

 * Define COOKIE state
if ($uri) {
    if (isset($_COOKIE[Mage_Core_Model_Store::COOKIE_NAME])) {
        $uri = $uri.'_'.$_COOKIE[Mage_Core_Model_Store::COOKIE_NAME];
    if (isset($_COOKIE['currency'])) {
        $uri = $uri.'_'.$_COOKIE['currency'];
    if (isset($_COOKIE[Enterprise_PageCache_Model_Cookie::COOKIE_CUSTOMER_GROUP])) {
        $uri .= '_' . $_COOKIE[Enterprise_PageCache_Model_Cookie::COOKIE_CUSTOMER_GROUP];
    if (isset($_COOKIE[Enterprise_PageCache_Model_Cookie::COOKIE_CUSTOMER_LOGGED_IN])) {
        $uri .= '_' . $_COOKIE[Enterprise_PageCache_Model_Cookie::COOKIE_CUSTOMER_LOGGED_IN];
    if (isset($_COOKIE[Enterprise_PageCache_Model_Cookie::CUSTOMER_SEGMENT_IDS])) {
        $uri .= '_' . $_COOKIE[Enterprise_PageCache_Model_Cookie::CUSTOMER_SEGMENT_IDS];
    if (isset($_COOKIE[Enterprise_PageCache_Model_Cookie::IS_USER_ALLOWED_SAVE_COOKIE])) {
        $uri .= '_' . $_COOKIE[Enterprise_PageCache_Model_Cookie::IS_USER_ALLOWED_SAVE_COOKIE];

$this->_requestId       = $uri;
$this->_requestCacheId  = $this->prepareCacheId($this->_requestId);

This means the for a given URL, there are separate FPC entries for (amongst other things) each customer group / customer segment combination.

Hope you found these tips helpful. Leave a comment below with any questions or comments.

Max Chadwick Hi, I'm Max!

I'm a software developer who mainly works in PHP, but loves dabbling in other languages like Go and Ruby. Technical topics that interest me are monitoring, security and performance. I'm also a stickler for good documentation and clear technical writing.

During the day I lead a team of developers and solve challenging technical problems at Something Digital where I mainly work with the Magento platform. I've also spoken at a number of events.

In my spare time I blog about tech, work on open source and participate in bug bounty programs.

If you'd like to get in contact, you can find me on Twitter and LinkedIn.