How to: Install Memcache for php and WordPress

How to: Install Memcache for php and WordPress

In what seems the eternal quest of having a good performing hosting server one of the tools that are generally referred to is Memcache. What Memcache offers you is a centralized server/cluster that holds in memory cached information. Some of the reasons why it is so popular is because:

  • It allows you to share a common cache store across servers. Think accessing db cached information obtained by Server01 on Server02 or sharing session information between servers.
  • Because it stores information in memory, it is supposed to be fast.

WordPress can leverage Memcache either through php or with plugins. Php can leverage shared session for instance while a plugin like W3 Total Cache can use object caching through Memcache. This could provide a great performance improvement specially if your site is hosted on multiple servers.

Now, this installation instructions are meant to be simple and provide a quick way to deploy Memcache. I am no expert so some important settings might be overlooked but this should be a good starting guide for someone new to Memcache that wants to deploy it on a Ubuntu box.

Note: There are two flavors for the php libraries: php5-memcache and php5-memcached. Fortunately for us W3 Total Cache has decided to go with memcache so we can avoid a lenghty discussion of which is better and why.

First install memcache and the php library in order for it to work with php and WordPress:

apt-get install memcached php5-memcache

and that’s it! Well, that was rather short. So now let’s go into some settings worth taking a look at:

I. Increase Max Memory Memecached can use

I know it says that the default (64MB) is enough, but you may need more. I am already using 64 mb for what I consider a small site.

  1. Open /etc/memcached.conf 
  2. Look for value -m 64
  3. Change it to -m 256
  4. Restart memcached: sudo service memcached restart

II. Move PHP’s session storage to Memcache

Open /etc/php5/mods-available/memcache.ini

Add following lines:

session.save_handler = memcache
session.save_path = "tcp://localhost:11211"

As mentioned this would effectively allow you to share session across multiple servers that use Memcache.

III. Web-Viewer for Memcache Stats

There are many options out there but I saw phpmemcacheadmin and liked it, plus many sites referenced it.

To install visit the site to obtain the latest version:

cd /var/www/


tar -xvzf phpMemcachedAdmin-1.2.2-r262.tar.gz

chmod 0777 Config/Memcache.php

So now we need to configure Apache:

cd /etc/httpd/conf.d

sudo nano memcached.conf
include the following in memcached.conf

<VirtualHost *:80>
    UseCanonicalName Off
    ServerAdmin  "[email protected]"
    DocumentRoot "/var/www/"

Because we didn’t specify the Allow from directive only localhost would be able to access this site. Don´t forget to add this site to Apache and restart for it to publish it.

If you wanted to use nginx you should use the following conf config as a template:

server {
    listen 80;
        access_log   /var/log/nginx/  main;
        location  / {
            deny all;
            proxy_set_header Host $host;
            proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
            proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Host $host;
            proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Server $host;
            proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
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