Caching Details


Not all HTTP responses are cacheable. Cloud CDN caches only those responses that meet all the requirements in this section. Some of these requirements are specified by RFC 7234, and others are specific to Cloud CDN.

A response can be stored in Cloud CDN caches only if all of the following are true:

  • It was served by a backend service or backend bucket with Cloud CDN enabled.
  • It is a response to a GET request.
  • Its status code is 200, 203, 206, 300, 301, 302, 307, or 410.
  • It has a Cache-Control: public header.
  • It has a Cache-Control: s-maxage, Cache-Control: max-age, or Expires header.
  • It has a Content-Length, Content-Range, or Transfer-Encoding header.
  • Its size is less than or equal to the maximum size.

For backend buckets, there are several ways to satisfy these requirements:

There are also checks that block caching of responses. A response isn't cached if any of the following are true:

  • It has a Set-Cookie header.
  • It has a Vary header with a value other than Accept, Accept-Encoding, or Origin.
  • It has a Cache-Control: no-store, no-cache, or private directive.
  • The corresponding request had a Cache-Control: no-store directive.

These requirements might be relaxed in the future, allowing Cloud CDN to cache additional responses.

Note that if Cache-Control: no-store, no-cache, or private is present but the content is still being cached, this is because URL signing is configured. For information on how to prevent responses from being cached, refer to the Preventing caching section.

Maximum size

Cloud CDN enforces a maximum size for each cached object (response) that varies depending on whether the origin server supports byte range requests:

  • 5 TB (5,497,558,138,880 bytes) if the origin server supports byte range requests. Nearly all modern web servers (including NGINX, Apache, and Varnish) support byte range requests.
  • 10 MB (10,485,760 bytes) in the rare case when an origin server does not support byte range requests.

Any response with a body larger than the maximum size is not cached but is still delivered to the client.

Cache entries

Cache keys

Each cache entry in a Cloud CDN cache is identified by a cache key. When a request comes into the cache, the cache converts the URI of the request into a cache key, then compares it with keys of cached entries. If it finds a match, the cache returns the object associated with that key.

For backend services, Cloud CDN defaults to using the complete request URI as the cache key. For example, is the complete URI for a particular request for the cat.jpg object. This string is used as the default cache key. Only requests with this exact string match. Requests for or do not match.

You can change which parts of the URI are used in the cache key. While the file path and file name must always be part of the key, you can include or omit any combination of protocol, host, or query string when customizing your cache key. Using cache keys describes how to customize your cache keys.

  • Protocol: You can omit the protocol from the key. If you omit the protocol, then a request for receives a cache key of After that, requests for both and count as matches for that cache entry.
  • Host: You can omit the host from the key. If you omit the host, then requests for and can both match the same cache entry. A request for followed by a request for results in a cache hit for the second request.
  • Query string: You can omit the query string from the cache key. If you omit the query string, then a request for receives a cache key of, so and can both match the same entry. You can also selectively omit or include portions of the query string.

In addition to including or omitting the entire query string, you also have the option of using portions of the query string via whitelists and blacklists.

For backend buckets, the cache key consists of the URI without the protocol, host, or query string.

Thus, for a given backend bucket, the following URIs resolve to the same cached object:


You can selectively control which query string parameters Cloud CDN incorporates into cache keys. For example, if you create a whitelist of user, then creates a cache key of which also matches To use this option, you must include the query string, specify a non-empty whitelist, and not specify a blacklist.

Query string blacklist

You can selectively control which query string parameters Cloud CDN ignores through a blacklist. For example, if you create a blacklist of user, then all query string parameters except user are used in the cache key.

With the above blacklist configured and an input of, Cloud CDN creates a cache key of which also matches but not To use this option, you must include the query string, specify a non-empty blacklist, and not specify a whitelist.

Vary headers

In addition to the request URI, Cloud CDN respects any Vary headers that origin servers include in responses. The Vary header indicates that the response varies depending on the client's request headers. For example, if a response specifies Vary: Accept, Cloud CDN uses one cache entry for requests that specify Accept: image/webp,image/*,*/*;q=0.8 and another for requests that specify Accept: */*.

Vary headers are sometimes used when serving compressed content. Cloud CDN does not compress or decompress responses itself, but it can serve responses that were compressed by the origin server. If your origin server chooses whether to serve compressed or uncompressed content based on the value of the Accept-Encoding request header, make sure the response specifies Vary: Accept-Encoding.

Responses with Vary headers are cached only if the header has one of the values listed in Cacheability.

Expiration times and validation requests

Each cache entry in a Cloud CDN cache has an expiration time defined by the Cache-Control: s-maxage, Cache-Control: max-age, and/or Expires headers in accordance with RFC 7234. If more than one is present, Cache-Control: s-maxage takes precedence over Cache-Control: max-age, and Cache-Control: max-age takes precedence over Expires.

When Cloud CDN receives a request, it looks up the corresponding cache entry and checks its age. If the cache entry exists and is fresh enough, the response can be served from cache. If, however, the expiration time has passed, Cloud CDN cannot serve a response without first contacting one of your backends.

Cloud CDN revalidates cached objects that are older than 30 days. This allows for automatic invalidation and eviction of stale, user-generated cached content. When a max-age or s-maxage value exceeds 30 days (2,592,000 seconds), Cloud CDN treats the value as if it were 2,592,000 seconds. Downstream clients still see the accurate values of max-age and s- maxage, even if they exceed 30 days.

If the previously cached response has Last-Modified and/or ETag headers, Cloud CDN can attempt to use the information in those headers to validate the cache entry with the backend. Cloud CDN performs this validation slightly differently depending on whether the response was cached using byte range requests:

  • If the response was cached using byte range requests, Cloud CDN initiates a separate validation request that includes If-Modified-Since and/or If-None-Match headers.
  • Otherwise, Cloud CDN adds If-Modified-Since and/or If-None-Match headers to the client request and forward the modified request to the backend.

If the cached copy is still up to date, the backend can validate the existing cache entry by sending a 304 Not Modified response. In this case, the backend sends only the response headers, not the response body. Cloud CDN inserts the new response headers into the cache, updates the expiration time, and serves the new response headers and cached response body to the client.

If the previously cached response has neither a Last-Modified nor an ETag header, Cloud CDN ignores the expired cache entry and forward the client request to the backend unmodified.

Note that a cache entry's expiration time is an upper bound on how long the cache entry remains valid. There is no guarantee that a cache entry will remain in the cache until it expires. Cache entries for unpopular content can be evicted to make room for new content. Regardless of the specified expiration time, cache entries that aren't accessed for 30 days are automatically removed.

For more information, see Eviction and expiration.

Support for byte range requests

A response that satisfies the following criteria indicates that the origin server supports byte range requests:

  • Its status code is 200 OK or 206 Partial Content.
  • It has an Accept-Ranges: bytes header.
  • It has a Content-Length and/or Content-Range header.
  • It has an ETag header with a strong validator and/or a Last-Modified header.

Google Cloud Storage supports byte range requests for most objects. However, Cloud Storage does not support byte range requests for objects with Content-Encoding: gzip metadata unless the client request includes an Accept-Encoding: gzip header. If you have Cloud Storage objects larger than 10 MB in size, make sure they do not have Content-Encoding: gzip metadata. Refer to Viewing and Editing Object Metadata for information on how to edit object metadata.

Popular web server software also supports byte range requests. Consult your web server software's documentation for details on how to enable support. For more information on byte range requests, refer to the HTTP specification.

When an origin server supports byte range requests, a Cloud CDN cache declines to store an otherwise cacheable response the first time it is requested if either of the following is true:

  • The response body is incomplete because the client requested only part of the content
  • The response body is larger than 1 MB (1,048,576 bytes) in size.

When this happens and the response would otherwise satisfy the normal cacheability requirements, the cache records that the origin server supports byte range requests for that cache key and forwards the origin server's response to the client.

On a cache miss, the cache checks whether the origin server is known to support byte range requests. If byte range requests are known to be supported for the cache key, the cache will not forward the client request to the HTTP(S) load balancer. Instead, the cache will initiate its own byte range cache fill requests for the missing parts of the content. If your origin server returns the requested byte range in a 206 Partial Content response, the cache can store that range for future requests.

A cache stores a 206 Partial Content response only when it is received in response to a byte range request that the cache initiated. Because a cache won't initiate a byte range request unless it had previously recorded that the origin server supports byte range requests for that cache key, a given cache won't store content that's larger than 1 MB in size until the second time that content is accessed.

Requests initiated by Cloud CDN

When your origin server supports byte range requests, Cloud CDN can send multiple requests to your origin server in reaction to a single client request. As described below, Cloud CDN can initiate two types of requests: validation requests and byte range requests.

If the response that indicated your origin server supported byte range requests for a particular cache key has expired, Cloud CDN initiates a validation request to confirm that the content hasn't changed and that your origin server still supports range requests for the content. If your origin server responds with a 304 Not Modified response, Cloud CDN proceeds to serve the content using byte ranges. Otherwise, Cloud CDN forwards your origin server's response to the client. You control expiration times using the Cache-Control and Expires response headers.

On a cache miss, Cloud CDN initiates cache fill requests for a set of byte ranges that overlap the client request. If some ranges of the content requested by the client are present in cache and others are not, Cloud CDN serves whatever it can from cache and sends byte range requests for only the missing ranges to your origin server.

Each byte range request initiated by Cloud CDN specifies a range that begins at an offset that's a multiple of 2,097,136 bytes. With the possible exception of the final range, each range is also 2,097,136 bytes in size; if the content isn't a multiple of that size, the final range will be smaller. The size and offsets used in byte range requests might change in the future.

As an example, consider a client request for bytes 1,000,000 through 3,999,999 of content that is not present in cache. In this example, Cloud CDN could initiate two GET requests, one for the first 2,097,136 bytes of the content and another for the second 2,097,136 bytes. This results in 4,194,272 bytes of cache fill even though the client requested only 3,000,000 bytes.

When you use a Cloud Storage bucket as your origin, each GET request is billed as a separate Class B operation. You are charged for all GET requests processed by Cloud Storage, including any requests initiated by Cloud CDN. When a response is served entirely from a Cloud CDN cache, no GET requests are sent to Cloud Storage, and you are not charged for any Cloud Storage operations.

When Cloud CDN initiates a validation request or byte range request, it does not include client-specific headers such as Cookie or User-Agent.

Preventing caching

To prevent private information from being cached in Cloud CDN caches, do the following:

  1. Include a Cache-Control: private header in responses that should not be stored in Cloud CDN caches or a Cache-Control: no-store header in responses that should not be stored in any cache, even a web browser's cache.
  2. Do not sign URLs that provide access to private information. When content is accessed using a signed URL, it is potentially eligible for caching regardless of any Cache-Control directives in the response.

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