Depending on the complexity of your WordPress theme, performance can actually be quite slow on AWS. That’s where Varnish can make a tremendous difference. Varnish is a cache which stores copies of pages for users that aren’t logged in (most aren’t). When requests come in to your server, Varnish returns these pre-built pages instantly rather than requiring Apache, PHP and WordPress to rebuild the page for each request. Later, W3 Total Cache can be set up to regularly pre-build pages of your site so they are always ready for Varnish. The power of Varnish is dramatic when interest in your site spikes such as an appearance on BoingBoing, Slashdot or Oprah or @itsthegrumpycat.
We’ll set up Varnish to listen for HTTP (web) traffic on port 80 with Apache listening only to Varnish on port 8080. When Varnish needs a page to be built manually, it will pass the request on to Apache port 8080.
To get started, we need to install Varnish on our instance:
sudo apt-get install varnish
Edit Apache’s ports.conf file to listen on port 8080:
sudo nano /etc/apache2/ports.conf
Here’s what it should look like:
NameVirtualHost *:8080 Listen 8080
Edit your Apache site configuration file to respond to port 8080:
sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/wordpress
Change the VirtualHost line from *:80 to *:8080
You may need to change your Apache default site to listen on port 8080 or disable it:
sudo a2dissite 000-default
Move the original Varnish configuration files to your home directory as backups (in case you decide to review them later):
sudo mv /etc/default/varnish ~/default-varnish-old sudo mv /etc/varnish/default.vcl ~/varnish-default-vcl.old
Replace the Varnish default configuration with the file below (copy and paste).
sudo nano /etc/default/varnish
[sociallocker id=”3080″] Replace the Varnish VCL configuration with the file below (copy and paste). Note: you may get VCL errors when you attempt to restart Varnish if you do not properly maintain line breaks when pasting.
sudo nano /etc/varnish/default.vcl
Now, let’s restart Apache and Varnish:
sudo service apache2 restart sudo service varnish restart
Remember, if you get VCL errors at this point, it may be because of broken line-breaks from pasting in the Varnish default.vcl file.
Visit your site at http://yourdomain.com and everything should begin working with Varnish. The second time you load a static page, it should be significantly faster.