Thursday, November 20, 2008

drupal memcache items disappearing from the cache

The scenario: you are using memcached as your Drupal cache system. You do a cache_set for some item. You do a cache_get for this item. The item is there. You do a cache_get again after a few seconds/minutes, the item is not there.

You might be experiencing this issue of the memcache module: In short it means that the memcache module flushes the entire cache cluster whenever someone does a wildcard cache_clear_all. Since it's very likely that all your bins are in a single cluster you get to a situation that whenever someone-on-the-other-side-of-the-world does something that is probably completely unrelated to you, your item will still get flushed from the cache.

Note that since flush does not activly removes the items from the cache but rather marks them as expired you will not see any memcached stats that will hint to this issue.

I have commented on the issue. Here are some highlights:
...we are currently using gaolei's patch which is fast albeit expensive. We are using it on a large production system that depends heavily on memcache and we did not see any problems yet. (thank you gaolei).

We have tried to implement a lock-add-unlock scenario such as was suggested in several comments but this will be a definite nightmare for high-traffic/high-update sites...

I would suggest letting the user choose which flush mechanism to use: the current one, or the salt one. I see no reason why the module's developers should decide for me. On a site with little updates and little memory i would prefer to have the whole memcache flush; On a site with many updates and tons of memory i'm willing to sacrifice space for the sake good performance. a simple memcache_flush_method variable would do the job just fine.

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