This guides teaches everything you need to know to implement any different caching strategy inside your Rails application. It assumes you know nothing at all about caching in any of its forms. It takes from zero to knowledge to an intermediate level in all areas. If you can’t implement caching in your app after reading this then the guide has failed.


This guide was originally part of my old website. I’ve extracted it out to this new format so it may have an independent lifecycle and easier maintenance. It’s also an updated version of an older work with newer sections.

I’ve added a totally new section on HTTP caching. Page caching is covered briefly. HTTP caching gets much more love in this version. I’d like to push developers towards HTTP caching as much as possible.

Since HTTP caching was added I felt that it was only natural to cover static assets. This aspect is usually left uncovered. Correctly handling static assets is increasingly important as applications contain more and more JS and CSS.

Previous sections on sweepters have been slimmed down because I don’t think they are as important.

This guide was originally written for Rails 2. Some of log examples are extracted from Rails 2 applications. Rails 3+ does not output any cache information by default. There are two ways to see what’s happening in real time.

  1. Start a local memcached process with: memached -vv and watch $stdout.
  2. Enable cache instrumentation and attach a log subscriber. Rails cache adatpers emit notifications through ActiveSupport::Notifications. These events can be logged. It’s easy to attach a log subscriber. See the embedded gist:

I’ve elected to not update the log examples for Rails 3 because it does not add any useful to the post. Following either of the methods above will show you in real time what keys are written to cache. The only thing that’s changed is the formatting. Keep this in mind as you read through the guide.

All that being said, please enjoy this guide to building a faster Rails applications.

Good look out there and happy shipping!

Adam Hawkins, 2018