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The DIY Guide to Magento Hosting

Introduction

Quite often we depend on the hosting provider to give us a fast website. But with the availability of affordable hosting options in terms of VPC that requires some DIY skills to setup.

In this DIY guide we help you setup a high performance Magento hosting environment. This guide includes configurations and tips. As with any DIY, you need to have some knowledge and tools. We expect that you have a basic working knowledge of linux and its commands, access to root, ability to install standard packages  as well use of a text editor in linux – such as vim. An idea of users, uids, groups, gids and process will be useful for trouble shooting if you need.

Much like getting a car with a good engine is only the starting point if you love fast cars, so is a good server if you want great page load times. A good transmission would be the next thing you need to look for. Transmission in hosting is equivalent to the components of hosting and how they communicate.

Choosing a hosting provider

All hosting providers claim best hardware but sell you on price. How do you compare one from the other? Knowing how they work and some tests may help!

How clouds and virtualization work : Todays virtualization technology allows hosting providers to share a larger computing resource they own amongst many customers. The technology also allows overcommit – much like an airline that would overbook seats in the hope someone cancels, a hosting provider can overcommit resources such as CPU in the hope that not all customers would use all CPUs given at the same time. However, unlike an airline, virtualization technology can deteriorate performance without failing.

Testing the resources : We have a quick way to test the quality of your hardware. We measure the speed of RAM and disk in these simple tests. In each case we write data serially to a chunk of memory or disk and measure the performance. Warning : Free memory and disk are required for the test.

The memory test

(tempDir=`mktemp -d -t linux-benchmark-XXX`; mount -t tmpfs -o size=128m $tempDir $tempDir; (dd if=/dev/zero of=$tempDir/test_ bs=1M count=128 conv=fdatasync &&rm -f $tempDir/test_)

The disk test
This test gives you a momentary result. Run the test multiple times to get a good average. Anything below 150Mbps is slow. A typically SSD disk should give about 450Mbps, good ones above 700Mbps.

tempFile=<drive>/disktest; dd if=/dev/zero of=$tempFile bs=1M count=1024 conv=sync oflag=direct; rm -f $tempFile

The architecture

We will assume a simple architecture – all services on the same server. This is for simplicity and we have seen it to work well with sites on physical hardware with rather consistent traffic in a 24 hour period.

There can be alternate architectures

  • separate db server
  • multiple app servers – service all traffic in front of a load balancer
  • separate app server – say for admin URLs with a path based load balancer

Each of these bring additional complexities in configurations. Please use the comments section below if you have a more complex architecture.

The nginx web server

Note : We use nginx – read our blog article on why we prefer nginx over apache.
The basic nginx configuration for Magento is available
Click here.

## define both backends
## upstream  socketbackend{
  server unix:/var/run/php-fcgi-www.sock;
}
upstream tcpbackend{
  server 127.0.0.1:9000;
}
server {
  listen 443 ssl http2;
  server_name example.com www.example.com;
  root /home/example/www;
  ssl on;
  ssl_certificate       /etc/pki/tls/certs/example_certs/www_example.com.crt;
  ssl_certificate_key   /etc/pki/tls/certs/example_certs/www_example_com.key;
  ssl_protocols         TLSv1 TLSv1.1 TLSv1.2;
  ssl_prefer_server_ciphers on;

  ssl_ciphers "EECDH+AESGCM:EDH+AESGCM:ECDHE-RSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256:AES256+EECDH:DHE-RSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256:AES256+EDH:ECDHE-RSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384:DHE-RSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384:ECDHE-RSA-AES256-SHA384:ECDHE-RSA-AES128-SHA256:ECDHE-RSA-AES256-SHA:ECDHE-RSA-AES128-SHA:DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA256:DHE-RSA-AES128-SHA256:DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA:DHE-RSA-AES128-SHA:ECDHE-RSA-DES-CBC3-SHA:EDH-RSA-DES-CBC3-SHA:AES256-GCM-SHA384:AES128-GCM-SHA256:AES256-SHA256:AES128-SHA256:AES256-SHA:AES128-SHA:DES-CBC3-SHA:HIGH:!aNULL:!eNULL:!EXPORT:!DES:!MD5:!PSK:!RC4";  
  ssl_dhparam /etc/nginx/dhparams.pem;

  access_log /var/log/nginx/example.access.log;
  error_log /var/log/nginx/example.error.log;
  #/* deny should come first */
  location ^~ /app/ { deny all; }
  location ^~ /bin/ { deny all; }
  location ^~ /lib/ { deny all; }
  location ^~ /media/downloadable/ { deny all; }
  location ^~ /dev/ { deny all; }
  location ^~ /vendor/ { deny all; }
  location ^~ /update/ { deny all; }
  location ^~ /var/ { deny all; }
  location ^~ /downloader/ { deny all; }
  location ^~ /admin/ { deny all; }
  location ^~ /phpserver/ { deny all; }
  location ^~ /setup/ { deny all; }
  location ^~ /run/ { deny all; }
  #/* system . files */
  location /. {
    return 404;
  }
  #/* main php handler */
  location / {
    index index.php index.html;
    try_files $uri $uri/ @handler;
  }
  #/* set long expiry for static content. Update types as needed */
    location ~* \.(jpg|jpeg|gif|png|css|js|ico|swf|woff2|svg|TTF)$ {
    access_log off;
    log_not_found off;
    expires 360d;
  }
  #/* directories where you do not want php to be executed from */
  location ~* /(images|cache|media|skin|js|uploads|logs|tmp)/.*\.(php|pl|py|jsp|asp|sh|cgi)$ {
    return 403;
  }

  #/* we you need setup remove from deny list */
  location /setup {
    try_files $uri $uri/ @setuphandler;
  }
  # Rewrite Setup's Internal Requests
    location @setuphandler {
    rewrite /setup /setup/index.php;
  }
  # Rewrite Internal Requests
  location @handler {
    rewrite / /index.php;
  }
  location /pub/static {
    try_files $uri $uri/ @static;
  }
  location @static {
    rewrite ^/pub/static/(.*)$ /pub/static.php?resource=$1? last;
  }
  location ~ \.php$ { ## Execute PHP scripts
    try_files $uri =404;
    expires off;
    fastcgi_pass socketbackend;
    #fastcgi_pass tcpbackend;
    fastcgi_read_timeout 1s;
    fastcgi_param HTTPS $fastcgi_https;
    fastcgi_index index.php;
    fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;
    include fastcgi_params;
  }

Php-fpm – the php interpreter

An important factor is to not overcrowd the CPU and memory you may have, as the default configuration does. The main configuration file is www.conf and specifically the section on servers.
Click here is a production php-fpm.d/www.conf file

; Start a new pool named 'www'.
[www]

; Unix user/group of processes
; luroConnect : 2-user system requires the php-fpm and nginx processes run as the same user
; give the nginx group read only access to the hosting directory typically in /home//www
; if a directory needs to be written into by php (such as upload, consider media, var) those directories
; need write permission for groups
user = nginx
group = nginx

; The address on which to accept FastCGI requests.
; Valid syntaxes are:
;   'ip.add.re.ss:port'    - to listen on a TCP socket to a specific IPv4 address on
;                            a specific port;
;   '[ip:6:addr:ess]:port' - to listen on a TCP socket to a specific IPv6 address on
;                            a specific port;
;   'port'                 - to listen on a TCP socket to all addresses
;                            (IPv6 and IPv4-mapped) on a specific port;
;   '/path/to/unix/socket' - to listen on a unix socket.
; Note: This value is mandatory.
; luroConnect : Match listen to the value in nginx. Single server system can use socket
; listen = 9000
listen /var/run/php-fcgi-www.sock

; Set listen(2) backlog.
; Default Value: 511 (-1 on FreeBSD and OpenBSD)
;listen.backlog = 511

; Set permissions for unix socket, if one is used. In Linux, read/write
; permissions must be set in order to allow connections from a web server. Many
; BSD-derived systems allow connections regardless of permissions.
; Default Values: user and group are set as the running user
;                 mode is set to 0660
;listen.owner = nobody
;listen.group = nobody
;listen.mode = 0660
; When POSIX Access Control Lists are supported you can set them using
; these options, value is a comma separated list of user/group names.
; When set, listen.owner and listen.group are ignored
;listen.acl_users =
;listen.acl_groups =

; List of addresses (IPv4/IPv6) of FastCGI clients which are allowed to connect.
; Equivalent to the FCGI_WEB_SERVER_ADDRS environment variable in the original
; PHP FCGI (5.2.2+). Makes sense only with a tcp listening socket. Each address
; must be separated by a comma. If this value is left blank, connections will be
; accepted from any ip address.
; Default Value: any
; 
;listen.allowed_clients = 127.0.0.1

; Specify the nice(2) priority to apply to the pool processes (only if set)
; The value can vary from -19 (highest priority) to 20 (lower priority)
; Note: - It will only work if the FPM master process is launched as root
;       - The pool processes will inherit the master process priority
;         unless it specified otherwise
; Default Value: no set
; process.priority = -19

; Choose how the process manager will control the number of child processes.
; Possible Values:
;   static  - a fixed number (pm.max_children) of child processes;
;   dynamic - the number of child processes are set dynamically based on the
;             following directives. With this process management, there will be
;             always at least 1 children.
;             pm.max_children      - the maximum number of children that can
;                                    be alive at the same time.
;             pm.start_servers     - the number of children created on startup.
;             pm.min_spare_servers - the minimum number of children in 'idle'
;                                    state (waiting to process). If the number
;                                    of 'idle' processes is less than this
;                                    number then some children will be created.
;             pm.max_spare_servers - the maximum number of children in 'idle'
;                                    state (waiting to process). If the number
;                                    of 'idle' processes is greater than this
;                                    number then some children will be killed.
;  ondemand - no children are created at startup. Children will be forked when
;             new requests will connect. The following parameter are used:
;             pm.max_children           - the maximum number of children that
;                                         can be alive at the same time.
;             pm.process_idle_timeout   - The number of seconds after which
;                                         an idle process will be killed.
; Note: This value is mandatory.

; luroConenct : We set to static so we can dedicate CPU resources to php
; Create separate pools for processing URLs with different levels of CPU utilization
; For example if you have URLs that do a CURL,  make a curl pool. These will consume less CPU.
pm = static

; The number of child processes to be created when pm is set to 'static' and the
; maximum number of child processes when pm is set to 'dynamic' or 'ondemand'.
; This value sets the limit on the number of simultaneous requests that will be
; served. Equivalent to the ApacheMaxClients directive with mpm_prefork.
; Equivalent to the PHP_FCGI_CHILDREN environment variable in the original PHP
; CGI.
; Note: Used when pm is set to 'static', 'dynamic' or 'ondemand'
; Note: This value is mandatory.
; luroConnect : we set it to slightly more than the cores available for php.
; 5 is ideal for a 4 cores reserved for php.
pm.max_children = 5

; The number of child processes created on startup.
; Note: Used only when pm is set to 'dynamic'
; Default Value: min_spare_servers + (max_spare_servers - min_spare_servers) / 2
pm.start_servers = 5

; The desired minimum number of idle server processes.
; Note: Used only when pm is set to 'dynamic'
; Note: Mandatory when pm is set to 'dynamic'
pm.min_spare_servers = 5

; The desired maximum number of idle server processes.
; Note: Used only when pm is set to 'dynamic'
; Note: Mandatory when pm is set to 'dynamic'
pm.max_spare_servers = 35

; The number of seconds after which an idle process will be killed.
; Note: Used only when pm is set to 'ondemand'
; Default Value: 10s
;pm.process_idle_timeout = 10s;

; The number of requests each child process should execute before respawning.
; This can be useful to work around memory leaks in 3rd party libraries. For
; endless request processing specify '0'. Equivalent to PHP_FCGI_MAX_REQUESTS.
; Default Value: 0
; luroConnect : Magento and wordpress need a limit as inadvertently there are memory leaks
; set this number based on hits and the avg process size that is available through the status page
pm.max_requests = 500

; The URI to view the FPM status page. If this value is not set, no URI will be
; recognized as a status page. It shows the following informations:
;   pool                 - the name of the pool;
;   process manager      - static, dynamic or ondemand;
;   start time           - the date and time FPM has started;
;   start since          - number of seconds since FPM has started;
;   accepted conn        - the number of request accepted by the pool;
;   listen queue         - the number of request in the queue of pending
;                          connections (see backlog in listen(2));
;   max listen queue     - the maximum number of requests in the queue
;                          of pending connections since FPM has started;
;   listen queue len     - the size of the socket queue of pending connections;
;   idle processes       - the number of idle processes;
;   active processes     - the number of active processes;
;   total processes      - the number of idle + active processes;
;   max active processes - the maximum number of active processes since FPM
;                          has started;
;   max children reached - number of times, the process limit has been reached,
;                          when pm tries to start more children (works only for
;                          pm 'dynamic' and 'ondemand');
; Value are updated in real time.
; Example output:
;   pool:                 www
;   process manager:      static
;   start time:           01/Jul/2011:17:53:49 +0200
;   start since:          62636
;   accepted conn:        190460
;   listen queue:         0
;   max listen queue:     1
;   listen queue len:     42
;   idle processes:       4
;   active processes:     11
;   total processes:      15
;   max active processes: 12
;   max children reached: 0
;
; By default the status page output is formatted as text/plain. Passing either
; 'html', 'xml' or 'json' in the query string will return the corresponding
; output syntax. Example:
;   http://www.foo.bar/status
;   http://www.foo.bar/status?json
;   http://www.foo.bar/status?html
;   http://www.foo.bar/status?xml
;
; By default the status page only outputs short status. Passing 'full' in the
; query string will also return status for each pool process.
; Example:
;   http://www.foo.bar/status?full
;   http://www.foo.bar/status?json&full
;   http://www.foo.bar/status?html&full
;   http://www.foo.bar/status?xml&full
; The Full status returns for each process:
;   pid                  - the PID of the process;
;   state                - the state of the process (Idle, Running, ...);
;   start time           - the date and time the process has started;
;   start since          - the number of seconds since the process has started;
;   requests             - the number of requests the process has served;
;   request duration     - the duration in µs of the requests;
;   request method       - the request method (GET, POST, ...);
;   request URI          - the request URI with the query string;
;   content length       - the content length of the request (only with POST);
;   user                 - the user (PHP_AUTH_USER) (or '-' if not set);
;   script               - the main script called (or '-' if not set);
;   last request cpu     - the %cpu the last request consumed
;                          it's always 0 if the process is not in Idle state
;                          because CPU calculation is done when the request
;                          processing has terminated;
;   last request memory  - the max amount of memory the last request consumed
;                          it's always 0 if the process is not in Idle state
;                          because memory calculation is done when the request
;                          processing has terminated;
; If the process is in Idle state, then informations are related to the
; last request the process has served. Otherwise informations are related to
; the current request being served.
; Example output:
;   ************************
;   pid:                  31330
;   state:                Running
;   start time:           01/Jul/2011:17:53:49 +0200
;   start since:          63087
;   requests:             12808
;   request duration:     1250261
;   request method:       GET
;   request URI:          /test_mem.php?N=10000
;   content length:       0
;   user:                 -
;   script:               /home/fat/web/docs/php/test_mem.php
;   last request cpu:     0.00
;   last request memory:  0
;
; Note: There is a real-time FPM status monitoring sample web page available
;       It's available in: @EXPANDED_DATADIR@/fpm/status.html
;
; Note: The value must start with a leading slash (/). The value can be
;       anything, but it may not be a good idea to use the .php extension or it
;       may conflict with a real PHP file.
; Default Value: not set
pm.status_path = /status

; The ping URI to call the monitoring page of FPM. If this value is not set, no
; URI will be recognized as a ping page. This could be used to test from outside
; that FPM is alive and responding, or to
; - create a graph of FPM availability (rrd or such);
; - remove a server from a group if it is not responding (load balancing);
; - trigger alerts for the operating team (24/7).
; Note: The value must start with a leading slash (/). The value can be
;       anything, but it may not be a good idea to use the .php extension or it
;       may conflict with a real PHP file.
; Default Value: not set
ping.path = /ping

; This directive may be used to customize the response of a ping request. The
; response is formatted as text/plain with a 200 response code.
; Default Value: pong
;ping.response = pong

; The access log file
; Default: not set
; luroConenct : access log is useful for measuring CPU utilization percent of a request
; lower percent indicates either high mysql or curl calls
; if no curl calls, check the mysql cache and tune
access.log = log/$pool.access.log

;access.format = %R - %u %t %m %r%Q%q %s %f %{mili}d %{kilo}M %{total}C%%
access.format = %R - %u %t %m %{REQUEST_URI}e %r%Q%q %s %f %{mili}d %{kilo}M %{total}C%%

; The access log format.
; The following syntax is allowed
;  %%: the '%' character
;  %C: %CPU used by the request
;      it can accept the following format:
;      - %{user}C for user CPU only
;      - %{system}C for system CPU only
;      - %{total}C  for user + system CPU (default)
;  %d: time taken to serve the request
;      it can accept the following format:
;      - %{seconds}d (default)
;      - %{miliseconds}d
;      - %{mili}d
;      - %{microseconds}d
;      - %{micro}d
;  %e: an environment variable (same as $_ENV or $_SERVER)
;      it must be associated with embraces to specify the name of the env
;      variable. Some exemples:
;      - server specifics like: %{REQUEST_METHOD}e or %{SERVER_PROTOCOL}e
;      - HTTP headers like: %{HTTP_HOST}e or %{HTTP_USER_AGENT}e
;  %f: script filename
;  %l: content-length of the request (for POST request only)
;  %m: request method
;  %M: peak of memory allocated by PHP
;      it can accept the following format:
;      - %{bytes}M (default)
;      - %{kilobytes}M
;      - %{kilo}M
;      - %{megabytes}M
;      - %{mega}M
;  %n: pool name
;  %o: output header
;      it must be associated with embraces to specify the name of the header:
;      - %{Content-Type}o
;      - %{X-Powered-By}o
;      - %{Transfert-Encoding}o
;      - ....
;  %p: PID of the child that serviced the request
;  %P: PID of the parent of the child that serviced the request
;  %q: the query string
;  %Q: the '?' character if query string exists
;  %r: the request URI (without the query string, see %q and %Q)
;  %R: remote IP address
;  %s: status (response code)
;  %t: server time the request was received
;      it can accept a strftime(3) format:
;      %d/%b/%Y:%H:%M:%S %z (default)
;      The strftime(3) format must be encapsuled in a %{}t tag
;      e.g. for a ISO8601 formatted timestring, use: %{%Y-%m-%dT%H:%M:%S%z}t
;  %T: time the log has been written (the request has finished)
;      it can accept a strftime(3) format:
;      %d/%b/%Y:%H:%M:%S %z (default)
;      The strftime(3) format must be encapsuled in a %{}t tag
;      e.g. for a ISO8601 formatted timestring, use: %{%Y-%m-%dT%H:%M:%S%z}t
;  %u: remote user
;
; Default: "%R - %u %t \"%m %r\" %s"
;access.format = "%R - %u %t \"%m %r%Q%q\" %s %f %{mili}d %{kilo}M %C%%"

; The log file for slow requests
; Default Value: not set
; Note: slowlog is mandatory if request_slowlog_timeout is set
slowlog = log/$pool-slow.log

; The timeout for serving a single request after which a PHP backtrace will be
; dumped to the 'slowlog' file. A value of '0s' means 'off'.
; Available units: s(econds)(default), m(inutes), h(ours), or d(ays)
; Default Value: 0
; luroConnect : use for debugging slow access
; request_slowlog_timeout = 1

; The timeout for serving a single request after which the worker process will
; be killed. This option should be used when the 'max_execution_time' ini option
; does not stop script execution for some reason. A value of '0' means 'off'.
; Available units: s(econds)(default), m(inutes), h(ours), or d(ays)
; Default Value: 0
;request_terminate_timeout = 0

; Set open file descriptor rlimit.
; Default Value: system defined value
;rlimit_files = 1024

; Set max core size rlimit.
; Possible Values: 'unlimited' or an integer greater or equal to 0
; Default Value: system defined value
;rlimit_core = 0

; Chroot to this directory at the start. This value must be defined as an
; absolute path. When this value is not set, chroot is not used.
; Note: chrooting is a great security feature and should be used whenever
;       possible. However, all PHP paths will be relative to the chroot
;       (error_log, sessions.save_path, ...).
; Default Value: not set
;chroot =

; Chdir to this directory at the start.
; Note: relative path can be used.
; Default Value: current directory or / when chroot
;chdir = /var/www

; Redirect worker stdout and stderr into main error log. If not set, stdout and
; stderr will be redirected to /dev/null according to FastCGI specs.
; Note: on highloaded environement, this can cause some delay in the page
; process time (several ms).
; Default Value: no
;catch_workers_output = yes

; Clear environment in FPM workers
; Prevents arbitrary environment variables from reaching FPM worker processes
; by clearing the environment in workers before env vars specified in this
; pool configuration are added.
; Setting to "no" will make all environment variables available to PHP code
; via getenv(), $_ENV and $_SERVER.
; Default Value: yes
;clear_env = no

; Limits the extensions of the main script FPM will allow to parse. This can
; prevent configuration mistakes on the web server side. You should only limit
; FPM to .php extensions to prevent malicious users to use other extensions to
; exectute php code.
; Note: set an empty value to allow all extensions.
; Default Value: .php
;security.limit_extensions = .php .php3 .php4 .php5 .php7

; Pass environment variables like LD_LIBRARY_PATH. All $VARIABLEs are taken from
; the current environment.
; Default Value: clean env
;env[HOSTNAME] = $HOSTNAME
;env[PATH] = /usr/local/bin:/usr/bin:/bin
;env[TMP] = /tmp
;env[TMPDIR] = /tmp
;env[TEMP] = /tmp

; Additional php.ini defines, specific to this pool of workers. These settings
; overwrite the values previously defined in the php.ini. The directives are the
; same as the PHP SAPI:
;   php_value/php_flag             - you can set classic ini defines which can
;                                    be overwritten from PHP call 'ini_set'.
;   php_admin_value/php_admin_flag - these directives won't be overwritten by
;                                     PHP call 'ini_set'
; For php_*flag, valid values are on, off, 1, 0, true, false, yes or no.

; Defining 'extension' will load the corresponding shared extension from
; extension_dir. Defining 'disable_functions' or 'disable_classes' will not
; overwrite previously defined php.ini values, but will append the new value
; instead.

; Default Value: nothing is defined by default except the values in php.ini and
;                specified at startup with the -d argument
;php_admin_value[sendmail_path] = /usr/sbin/sendmail -t -i -f www@my.domain.com
;php_flag[display_errors] = off
php_admin_value[error_log] = /var/log/php-fpm/www-error.log
php_admin_flag[log_errors] = on
;php_admin_value[memory_limit] = 128M

; Set session path to a directory owned by process user
php_value[session.save_handler] = files

; Note : Important to make /var/lib/php/session writable by nginx user
php_value[session.save_path]    = /var/lib/php/session
php_value[soap.wsdl_cache_dir]  = /var/lib/php/wsdlcache

SSL Certificate

Getting a https certificate is now easy with letsEncrypt.

The nginx configuration enables http2, which is a newer version of the http protocol. Refer our blog article on advantage of http2 for Magento.

Mysql

There are many flavors available based on the original open source. We use percona mysql. Configurations may vary depend on the version but equivalent should be available.

Database performance depends on cache configuration based on available memory, a fast disk and your Magento indexing settings. Magento sites have a high percentage of reads to writes to the database – i.e. each product is browsed many times compared to the times you change them. As a result, mysql can perform really well as long as the cache hit rates are high. The following parameters determine the cache configuration.

query_cache_type = 1

; set query cache size to total RAM you can assign to query cache. Magento can use a lot of query cache
query_cache_size = 4G

; max size of an individual query that is cached. In Magento the category menu is often the largest query – ensure that is cached
query_cache_limit = 128M

; generally equal to the size of your database – ensures the database is stored in RAM
innodb_buffer_pool_size = 3G

The values depend on your website – such as number of categories displayed in the main menu or the length of the description of a product. The following queries help in determining the cache performance.

show status like 'qcache_hits'
show status like 'Qcache_inserts'
show status like 'Qcache_not_cached'
show status like 'Qcache_lowmem_prunes

Make special note of the parameter Qcache_lowmem_prunes that tells that a query was not cached as there was insufficient memory. This typically means an increase in query_cache_limit or query_cache_size may be required.

Redis Configuration for cache and session

Click here for sample configuration file

# By default Redis does not run as a daemon. Use 'yes' if you need it.
# Note that Redis will write a pid file in /var/run/redis.pid when daemonized.
daemonize yes

# When running daemonized, Redis writes a pid file in /var/run/redis.pid by
# default. You can specify a custom pid file location here.
pidfile /var/run/redis/redis.pid

# Accept connections on the specified port, default is 6379.
# If port 0 is specified Redis will not listen on a TCP socket.
# luroConnect - 6379 for Magento cache, 6380 for session
port 6379

# If you want you can bind a single interface, if the bind option is not
# specified all the interfaces will listen for incoming connections.
#
bind 0.0.0.0

# Specify the path for the unix socket that will be used to listen for
# incoming connections. There is no default, so Redis will not listen
# on a unix socket when not specified.
#
# unixsocket /tmp/redis.sock
# unixsocketperm 755

# Close the connection after a client is idle for N seconds (0 to disable)
timeout 0

# Set server verbosity to 'debug'
# it can be one of:
# debug (a lot of information, useful for development/testing)
# verbose (many rarely useful info, but not a mess like the debug level)
# notice (moderately verbose, what you want in production probably)
# warning (only very important / critical messages are logged)
loglevel notice

# Specify the log file name. Also 'stdout' can be used to force
# Redis to log on the standard output. Note that if you use standard
# output for logging but daemonize, logs will be sent to /dev/null
logfile /var/log/redis/redis.log

# To enable logging to the system logger, just set 'syslog-enabled' to yes,
# and optionally update the other syslog parameters to suit your needs.
# syslog-enabled no

# Specify the syslog identity.
# syslog-ident redis

# Specify the syslog facility.  Must be USER or between LOCAL0-LOCAL7.
# syslog-facility local0

# Set the number of databases. The default database is DB 0, you can select
# a different one on a per-connection basis using SELECT  where
# dbid is a number between 0 and 'databases'-1
# luroConnect : set databases to 1 - we use a separate redis process  for each type
databases 1

################################ SNAPSHOTTING  #################################
#
# Save the DB on disk:
#
#   save  
#
#   Will save the DB if both the given number of seconds and the given
#   number of write operations against the DB occurred.
#
#   In the example below the behaviour will be to save:
#   after 900 sec (15 min) if at least 1 key changed
#   after 300 sec (5 min) if at least 10 keys changed
#   after 60 sec if at least 10000 keys changed
#
#   Note: you can disable saving at all commenting all the "save" lines.

# save 900 1
# save 300 10
# save 60 10000
# luroConnect - for Magento disable save except for session
# without this a restart will cause recently added items to guest cart to disappear
# or a user to get logged out
# session save every minute 
# save 60
# FPC and Magento cache - do not ssave. Cost of saving in a busy site can be high
# redis restarts only on service start which is not often

# Compress string objects using LZF when dump .rdb databases?
# For default that's set to 'yes' as it's almost always a win.
# If you want to save some CPU in the saving child set it to 'no' but
# the dataset will likely be bigger if you have compressible values or keys.
rdbcompression yes

# The filename where to dump the DB
dbfilename dump.rdb

# The working directory.
#
# The DB will be written inside this directory, with the filename specified
# above using the 'dbfilename' configuration directive.
# 
# Also the Append Only File will be created inside this directory.
# 
# Note that you must specify a directory here, not a file name.
dir /var/lib/redis/

################################# REPLICATION #################################

# Master-Slave replication. Use slaveof to make a Redis instance a copy of
# another Redis server. Note that the configuration is local to the slave
# so for example it is possible to configure the slave to save the DB with a
# different interval, or to listen to another port, and so on.
#
# slaveof  

# If the master is password protected (using the "requirepass" configuration
# directive below) it is possible to tell the slave to authenticate before
# starting the replication synchronization process, otherwise the master will
# refuse the slave request.
#
# masterauth 

# When a slave lost the connection with the master, or when the replication
# is still in progress, the slave can act in two different ways:
#
# 1) if slave-serve-stale-data is set to 'yes' (the default) the slave will
#    still reply to client requests, possibly with out of data data, or the
#    data set may just be empty if this is the first synchronization.
#
# 2) if slave-serve-stale data is set to 'no' the slave will reply with
#    an error "SYNC with master in progress" to all the kind of commands
#    but to INFO and SLAVEOF.
#
slave-serve-stale-data yes

# Slaves send PINGs to server in a predefined interval. It's possible to change
# this interval with the repl_ping_slave_period option. The default value is 10
# seconds.
#
# repl-ping-slave-period 10

# The following option sets a timeout for both Bulk transfer I/O timeout and
# master data or ping response timeout. The default value is 60 seconds.
#
# It is important to make sure that this value is greater than the value
# specified for repl-ping-slave-period otherwise a timeout will be detected
# every time there is low traffic between the master and the slave.
#
# repl-timeout 60

################################## SECURITY ###################################

# Require clients to issue AUTH  before processing any other
# commands.  This might be useful in environments in which you do not trust
# others with access to the host running redis-server.
#
# This should stay commented out for backward compatibility and because most
# people do not need auth (e.g. they run their own servers).
# 
# Warning: since Redis is pretty fast an outside user can try up to
# 150k passwords per second against a good box. This means that you should
# use a very strong password otherwise it will be very easy to break.
#
# requirepass foobared

# Command renaming.
#
# It is possilbe to change the name of dangerous commands in a shared
# environment. For instance the CONFIG command may be renamed into something
# of hard to guess so that it will be still available for internal-use
# tools but not available for general clients.
#
# Example:
#
# rename-command CONFIG b840fc02d524045429941cc15f59e41cb7be6c52
#
# It is also possilbe to completely kill a command renaming it into
# an empty string:
#
# rename-command CONFIG ""

################################### LIMITS ####################################

# Set the max number of connected clients at the same time. By default there
# is no limit, and it's up to the number of file descriptors the Redis process
# is able to open. The special value '0' means no limits.
# Once the limit is reached Redis will close all the new connections sending
# an error 'max number of clients reached'.
#
# maxclients 128

# Don't use more memory than the specified amount of bytes.
# When the memory limit is reached Redis will try to remove keys
# accordingly to the eviction policy selected (see maxmemmory-policy).
#
# If Redis can't remove keys according to the policy, or if the policy is
# set to 'noeviction', Redis will start to reply with errors to commands
# that would use more memory, like SET, LPUSH, and so on, and will continue
# to reply to read-only commands like GET.
#
# This option is usually useful when using Redis as an LRU cache, or to set
# an hard memory limit for an instance (using the 'noeviction' policy).
#
# WARNING: If you have slaves attached to an instance with maxmemory on,
# the size of the output buffers needed to feed the slaves are subtracted
# from the used memory count, so that network problems / resyncs will
# not trigger a loop where keys are evicted, and in turn the output
# buffer of slaves is full with DELs of keys evicted triggering the deletion
# of more keys, and so forth until the database is completely emptied.
#
# In short... if you have slaves attached it is suggested that you set a lower
# limit for maxmemory so that there is some free RAM on the system for slave
# output buffers (but this is not needed if the policy is 'noeviction').
#
# maxmemory 

# MAXMEMORY POLICY: how Redis will select what to remove when maxmemory
# is reached? You can select among five behavior:
# 
# volatile-lru -> remove the key with an expire set using an LRU algorithm
# allkeys-lru -> remove any key accordingly to the LRU algorithm
# volatile-random -> remove a random key with an expire set
# allkeys->random -> remove a random key, any key
# volatile-ttl -> remove the key with the nearest expire time (minor TTL)
# noeviction -> don't expire at all, just return an error on write operations
# 
# Note: with all the kind of policies, Redis will return an error on write
#       operations, when there are not suitable keys for eviction.
#
#       At the date of writing this commands are: set setnx setex append
#       incr decr rpush lpush rpushx lpushx linsert lset rpoplpush sadd
#       sinter sinterstore sunion sunionstore sdiff sdiffstore zadd zincrby
#       zunionstore zinterstore hset hsetnx hmset hincrby incrby decrby
#       getset mset msetnx exec sort
#
# The default is:
#
# maxmemory-policy volatile-lru

# LRU and minimal TTL algorithms are not precise algorithms but approximated
# algorithms (in order to save memory), so you can select as well the sample
# size to check. For instance for default Redis will check three keys and
# pick the one that was used less recently, you can change the sample size
# using the following configuration directive.
#
# maxmemory-samples 3
# luroConnect - set maxmemory depending on use and requirement
# typically for Magento cache and session do not set but monitor
# for FPC set to the max available memory as it tends to grow
# if maxmemory is set, use allkeys-lru pollicy
maxmemory 2G
maxmemory-policy allkeys-lru

############################## APPEND ONLY MODE ###############################

# By default Redis asynchronously dumps the dataset on disk. If you can live
# with the idea that the latest records will be lost if something like a crash
# happens this is the preferred way to run Redis. If instead you care a lot
# about your data and don't want to that a single record can get lost you should
# enable the append only mode: when this mode is enabled Redis will append
# every write operation received in the file appendonly.aof. This file will
# be read on startup in order to rebuild the full dataset in memory.
#
# Note that you can have both the async dumps and the append only file if you
# like (you have to comment the "save" statements above to disable the dumps).
# Still if append only mode is enabled Redis will load the data from the
# log file at startup ignoring the dump.rdb file.
#
# IMPORTANT: Check the BGREWRITEAOF to check how to rewrite the append
# log file in background when it gets too big.

appendonly no

# The name of the append only file (default: "appendonly.aof")
# appendfilename appendonly.aof

# The fsync() call tells the Operating System to actually write data on disk
# instead to wait for more data in the output buffer. Some OS will really flush 
# data on disk, some other OS will just try to do it ASAP.
#
# Redis supports three different modes:
#
# no: don't fsync, just let the OS flush the data when it wants. Faster.
# always: fsync after every write to the append only log . Slow, Safest.
# everysec: fsync only if one second passed since the last fsync. Compromise.
#
# The default is "everysec" that's usually the right compromise between
# speed and data safety. It's up to you to understand if you can relax this to
# "no" that will will let the operating system flush the output buffer when
# it wants, for better performances (but if you can live with the idea of
# some data loss consider the default persistence mode that's snapshotting),
# or on the contrary, use "always" that's very slow but a bit safer than
# everysec.
#
# If unsure, use "everysec".

# appendfsync always
appendfsync everysec
# appendfsync no

# When the AOF fsync policy is set to always or everysec, and a background
# saving process (a background save or AOF log background rewriting) is
# performing a lot of I/O against the disk, in some Linux configurations
# Redis may block too long on the fsync() call. Note that there is no fix for
# this currently, as even performing fsync in a different thread will block
# our synchronous write(2) call.
#
# In order to mitigate this problem it's possible to use the following option
# that will prevent fsync() from being called in the main process while a
# BGSAVE or BGREWRITEAOF is in progress.
#
# This means that while another child is saving the durability of Redis is
# the same as "appendfsync none", that in pratical terms means that it is
# possible to lost up to 30 seconds of log in the worst scenario (with the
# default Linux settings).
# 
# If you have latency problems turn this to "yes". Otherwise leave it as
# "no" that is the safest pick from the point of view of durability.
no-appendfsync-on-rewrite no

# Automatic rewrite of the append only file.
# Redis is able to automatically rewrite the log file implicitly calling
# BGREWRITEAOF when the AOF log size will growth by the specified percentage.
# 
# This is how it works: Redis remembers the size of the AOF file after the
# latest rewrite (or if no rewrite happened since the restart, the size of
# the AOF at startup is used).
#
# This base size is compared to the current size. If the current size is
# bigger than the specified percentage, the rewrite is triggered. Also
# you need to specify a minimal size for the AOF file to be rewritten, this
# is useful to avoid rewriting the AOF file even if the percentage increase
# is reached but it is still pretty small.
#
# Specify a precentage of zero in order to disable the automatic AOF
# rewrite feature.

auto-aof-rewrite-percentage 100
auto-aof-rewrite-min-size 64mb

################################## SLOW LOG ###################################

# The Redis Slow Log is a system to log queries that exceeded a specified
# execution time. The execution time does not include the I/O operations
# like talking with the client, sending the reply and so forth,
# but just the time needed to actually execute the command (this is the only
# stage of command execution where the thread is blocked and can not serve
# other requests in the meantime).
# 
# You can configure the slow log with two parameters: one tells Redis
# what is the execution time, in microseconds, to exceed in order for the
# command to get logged, and the other parameter is the length of the
# slow log. When a new command is logged the oldest one is removed from the
# queue of logged commands.

# The following time is expressed in microseconds, so 1000000 is equivalent
# to one second. Note that a negative number disables the slow log, while
# a value of zero forces the logging of every command.
slowlog-log-slower-than 10000

# There is no limit to this length. Just be aware that it will consume memory.
# You can reclaim memory used by the slow log with SLOWLOG RESET.
slowlog-max-len 1024

################################ VIRTUAL MEMORY ###############################

### WARNING! Virtual Memory is deprecated in Redis 2.4
### The use of Virtual Memory is strongly discouraged.

# Virtual Memory allows Redis to work with datasets bigger than the actual
# amount of RAM needed to hold the whole dataset in memory.
# In order to do so very used keys are taken in memory while the other keys
# are swapped into a swap file, similarly to what operating systems do
# with memory pages.
#
# To enable VM just set 'vm-enabled' to yes, and set the following three
# VM parameters accordingly to your needs.

vm-enabled no
# vm-enabled yes

# This is the path of the Redis swap file. As you can guess, swap files
# can't be shared by different Redis instances, so make sure to use a swap
# file for every redis process you are running. Redis will complain if the
# swap file is already in use.
#
# The best kind of storage for the Redis swap file (that's accessed at random) 
# is a Solid State Disk (SSD).
#
# *** WARNING *** if you are using a shared hosting the default of putting
# the swap file under /tmp is not secure. Create a dir with access granted
# only to Redis user and configure Redis to create the swap file there.
vm-swap-file /tmp/redis.swap

# vm-max-memory configures the VM to use at max the specified amount of
# RAM. Everything that deos not fit will be swapped on disk *if* possible, that
# is, if there is still enough contiguous space in the swap file.
#
# With vm-max-memory 0 the system will swap everything it can. Not a good
# default, just specify the max amount of RAM you can in bytes, but it's
# better to leave some margin. For instance specify an amount of RAM
# that's more or less between 60 and 80% of your free RAM.
vm-max-memory 0

# Redis swap files is split into pages. An object can be saved using multiple
# contiguous pages, but pages can't be shared between different objects.
# So if your page is too big, small objects swapped out on disk will waste
# a lot of space. If you page is too small, there is less space in the swap
# file (assuming you configured the same number of total swap file pages).
#
# If you use a lot of small objects, use a page size of 64 or 32 bytes.
# If you use a lot of big objects, use a bigger page size.
# If unsure, use the default :)
vm-page-size 32

# Number of total memory pages in the swap file.
# Given that the page table (a bitmap of free/used pages) is taken in memory,
# every 8 pages on disk will consume 1 byte of RAM.
#
# The total swap size is vm-page-size * vm-pages
#
# With the default of 32-bytes memory pages and 134217728 pages Redis will
# use a 4 GB swap file, that will use 16 MB of RAM for the page table.
#
# It's better to use the smallest acceptable value for your application,
# but the default is large in order to work in most conditions.
vm-pages 134217728

# Max number of VM I/O threads running at the same time.
# This threads are used to read/write data from/to swap file, since they
# also encode and decode objects from disk to memory or the reverse, a bigger
# number of threads can help with big objects even if they can't help with
# I/O itself as the physical device may not be able to couple with many
# reads/writes operations at the same time.
#
# The special value of 0 turn off threaded I/O and enables the blocking
# Virtual Memory implementation.
vm-max-threads 4

############################### ADVANCED CONFIG ###############################

# Hashes are encoded in a special way (much more memory efficient) when they
# have at max a given numer of elements, and the biggest element does not
# exceed a given threshold. You can configure this limits with the following
# configuration directives.
hash-max-zipmap-entries 512
hash-max-zipmap-value 64

# Similarly to hashes, small lists are also encoded in a special way in order
# to save a lot of space. The special representation is only used when
# you are under the following limits:
list-max-ziplist-entries 512
list-max-ziplist-value 64

# Sets have a special encoding in just one case: when a set is composed
# of just strings that happens to be integers in radix 10 in the range
# of 64 bit signed integers.
# The following configuration setting sets the limit in the size of the
# set in order to use this special memory saving encoding.
set-max-intset-entries 512

# Similarly to hashes and lists, sorted sets are also specially encoded in
# order to save a lot of space. This encoding is only used when the length and
# elements of a sorted set are below the following limits:
zset-max-ziplist-entries 128
zset-max-ziplist-value 64

# Active rehashing uses 1 millisecond every 100 milliseconds of CPU time in
# order to help rehashing the main Redis hash table (the one mapping top-level
# keys to values). The hash table implementation redis uses (see dict.c)
# performs a lazy rehashing: the more operation you run into an hash table
# that is rhashing, the more rehashing "steps" are performed, so if the
# server is idle the rehashing is never complete and some more memory is used
# by the hash table.
# 
# The default is to use this millisecond 10 times every second in order to
# active rehashing the main dictionaries, freeing memory when possible.
#
# If unsure:
# use "activerehashing no" if you have hard latency requirements and it is
# not a good thing in your environment that Redis can reply form time to time
# to queries with 2 milliseconds delay.
#
# use "activerehashing yes" if you don't have such hard requirements but
# want to free memory asap when possible.
activerehashing yes

Varnish vs Redis FPC

Varnish sits at the edge and caches pages as they are served. Redis FPC sits inside the Magento application and stores the pages as they are served.
A Varnish application gets the variable components either via VCL or ajax. FPC being inside the application can use the block directly inside the page.

Magento 2 supports both varnish and FPC out-of-the-box. Varnish outperforms redis FPC but takes a bit more chutzpah to get working with https. Magento has a good explanation on the setup at https://devdocs.magento.com/guides/v2.2/config-guide/varnish/config-varnish.html

Setting up the hosting user

Magento suggests using a 2-user system for hosting. What this means is that the php files are not writable by the web server or the php process. Create a user that we will call as the hosting user and add nginx to the hosting user’s group

useradd -G nginx <hostinguser>

Setup directory www with Magento.

Ensure media and var folders have permissions for group write but other folders do not

cd /home/;/www
find . -type d -exec chmod 750 {} \;
find . -type f -exec chmod 640 {} \;
find ./media -type d -exec chmod 770 {} \;
find ./media -type f -exec chmod 660 {} \;
find ./var -type d -exec chmod 770 {} \;
find ./var -type f -exec chmod 660 {} \;

Conclusion

We have presented with detailed configuration files in a DIY guide to Magento hosting. If you need to setup multiple servers, the basic idea is similar some configurations may have to change.

Feel free to post your comments and we will improve this guide.

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Full Page Cache (FPC): Scaling Magento Part 1

Introduction

The most important and often ignored factor to scaling is the quality of code. Well written code will scale better. The next most important factor is perhaps caching. There are many types of caches that developers, managers and store owners need to understand. Full Page Cache (FPC) is seen by store owners as a magic solution to speed issues. Understanding the benefits and compromises of a caching mechanism is important to understand scaling.

FPC Options

Magento Enterprise 1.x and Magento Community & Enterprise 2.x comes with a FPC module inbuilt.

There are many plugins available for Magento Community 1.x. Some hosting providers will help setup a Varnish based FPC with appropriate hole punching.

Magento 2 has two mechanisms for FPC – php based (called FPC) and varnish. This option generates a .vcl file that will be required by your hosting provider to setup varnish.

The discussion below applies to all these mechanisms as well as to Magento 1.x and Magento 2.

What is Full Page Cache (FPC)?

FPC is a cache of a full HTML page – except variable content such as a login status or items in cart or stock status of a product or sometimes even price of a product. When a hit is encountered – i.e. the page required is in the cache, FPC will return very fast compared to when there is a miss i.e. the page is not in the cache, which will require re-generating the content. FPC may store the cache in files, but more likely for maximum benefit, it will be stored in memory.

FPC affects resource utilization – memory and CPU. In a way it trades memory for CPU time.

Traditional FPC stores the page in Magento cache and is a part of Magento. Varnish stores the page HTML after it has been generated and is not a part of Magento. It is a separate process.

What FPC is not!

Let us understand FPC better

  • Memory needed to store the entire site in FPC
    Let us say each page is 100KB and you have 10000 pages to cache. That would take about 1GB of RAM. The problem is when the number of pages or page size starts rising above this, the RAM requirement goes up. So, if you now had 20000 pages (result of each option in layered navigation for example), you would need 2GB or if each page was 120KB the 20000 pages would need  4GB. Pages are not just products – they are category pages as well. If layered navigation is added the pages multiply fast as each combination is unique and needs to be stored independently. If you start exceeding the RAM available, you need to decide what to do when you hit the memory limit.
  • Cache warming.
    Cache warming is the process of automatically adding pages to the cache before a real visitor hit comes to the cached page. When a cache is cleared, you may need to warm the cache to make FPC effective early. Cache warming uses a crawler to artificially visit pages of a site. A typical crawler will recursively crawl the site starting from the home page. This sounds logical but here are some things to think through

    • If possible find the most likely pages you need to be in the cache and warm the cache with only those pages. This will give the maximum benefit.
    • If you cannot fit all the pages in memory, the use of crawling to warm the caches becomes a problem – they will recycle pages out of memory at random, not based on the end user popularity of the pages.
    • When the cache is being warmed your resource requirement in terms of CPU will rise as both the crawler and real traffic are being served.
    • If possible crawl the site in parallel – the earlier the pages get cached the more likely a visitor to a page will already be in the cache (scoring a hit).

Performance degradation on FPC full invalidation

The above figure shows the bad response immediately when a FPC that had built to 1.5GB was cleared completely. The top image is from redis usage graph from munin and the one below is AWS cloudwatch latency (time to serve a page) averaged per minute. The latency came down as AWS Autoscale added more instances, costing money.

  • Invalidating the cache :
    Magento automatically invalidates FPC (internal or varnish) by tagging or hashing the content with keys that refer to the type of content. For example, it may generate a tag / hash CATEGORY_123 if the page depends on category 123. Now, when category 123 changes, Magento sends out a invalidate message that says “all pages that have tag / hash CATEGORY_123 should be invalid”. Magento has a elaborate tag convention.
  • FPC and robotic crawlers (BOTS)
    Even if you do not use a crawler for warming, robotic crawlers on the internet (such as google’s indexer Googlebot) will start filling the FPC cache with pages they happen to crawl. It is our advice that a site with FPC should have robots.txt and a front end processor (nginx, WAF) restricting BOTs.
  • CPU and time needed to re-generate a page
    A FPC can fully invalidate (clear) due to a (p)html or css file changing or partially due to a data change such as a product update. A miss from FPC results in the page being regenerated. The CPU requirement for a miss is much higher than a hit. If a crawler is used to warm the cache or if traffic is high, CPU requirement can be quite high as the FPC fills up. Yet, the visitor experience is not good during this period. Using autoscale, this performance degradation can be contained to some extent as additional instances are launched to handle the high CPU requirement.
  • Discipline when using FPC – know when invalidation happens
    It is important to add discipline for code update as it has the worst effect on user experience.

    • Code update should be done at low traffic times.
    • Category changes should be carefully planned at low traffic times.
    • Magento indexing should be set to manual (M1) or on schedule (M2) with a cron running the indexer.

Our recommendation for FPC

  • Do not use a random crawler to warm the FPC cache. Use a page popularity based crawler to warm the cache if necessary.
  • Avoid using a crawler during high traffic – the crawler will compete for system resources with live traffic
  • If possible update code during low traffic times as it causes FPC to invalidate
  • If your site is horizontally scaled, pre-launch instances to your load balancer before invalidating FPC, either explicitly or indirectly, so the latency of starting an instance does not further worsen the user experience

Magento 1.x FPC Plugins

  1. Free Lesti FPC : https://github.com/GordonLesti/Lesti_Fpc. Use this guide to install
  2. Magento connect search results for FPC

Should FPC be a part of scaling strategy?

FPC is concerned with speed. Scale is concerned with the process that helps the site add resources when needed. FPC helps in scalability by reducing the use of resources per hit to the website under certain conditions. It changes the dynamics of when and how many resources will be needed.

FPC has to be considered to be part of scaling strategy – but as one of many parts.

Read part 2 where we discuss other Magento caches.

Read the overview of our Magento scaling series here.

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