Varnish Cache - Memory, Hitrate & Bandwidth Optimisation for Drupal Pressflow

Submitted by Janak on Tue, 01/11/2011 - 16:39

Recently I started to notice I very high number of LRU Nuked Objects on my websites, which was essentially wipping the entire Varnish Cache. I run Varnish with 4GB File cache and site ocntent is mostly served by external "Poor Man CDN". So, in theory my site content should not be anything near 4GB, however, Varnish Cache was running out of memory and "Nuking" cached objects.

Sizing your cache

Here is what Varnish Cache man pages have to say:

Watch the n_lru_nuked counter with varnishstat or some other tool. If you have a lot of LRU activity then your cache is evicting objects due to space constraints and you should consider increasing the size of the cache.

Either I can increase the Varnish Cache size or be a little smarter in handling the resource.

I am using the Drupal's Compress Page feature along with Aggrigate JS and CSS features. However, Drupal will only compress the HTML output, which can result to quite large addgiated CSS and JS files. If Varnish is caching the uncompressed output, this will result in considerably more memory usage.

A much better and effective solution is to let Apache's mod_deflate handle the compression instead of Drupal. Drupal compression is oftenten a prefered choice as Drupal would compress>cache once compared to Apache compressing the files on every request. However, if you are using Varnish, which will handle the cache element, Apache would only have to do the hard work once. Also, the added advantage is that you have a granular control over which files are getting compressed.

So, did that make a difference?

LRU Nuked Objects vs Expired Items in Varnish Cache

Varnish Cache Memory Usage

Number of objects in Varnish Cache

Varnich Cache Hit Rate

Bandwidth Usage


  • Varnish Cache now uses less memory
  • Handles more cached objects
  • No nuking cached items
  • Higher cache hit rate
  • Site is using less bandwidth to serve the same content.

Simplez ;)