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4 min read

Rate Limiting at Edge with Cloudflare Workers and Serverless Redis

Noah Fischer

DevRel @Upstash

Redis Setup
Project Setup
The Code
Test and Deploy
Isn't it costly to make remote call for each request?
Why not Global Database?
IP as the identifier
Can I use self hosted Redis?
Integration to your existing website

In this tutorial, we will show how to rate limit your applications using Cloudflare Workers and Upstash Redis. We will use the rate limiting SDK which keeps data in Upstash Redis.

Redis Setup

Create one or more Redis databases using Upstash Console or Upstash CLI. Do not choose Global, instead create multiple databases in different regions where you expect traffic to your site. (Why? We will explain later) You will need the REST URL and TOKENs in the next steps.

Project Setup

We will use Wrangler 2 for deployment, so install (or upgrade) Wrangler 2.

Create a folder for your project and run wrangler init. Select ts:

 ⛅️ wrangler 2.0.7 (update available 2.0.26)
------------------------------------------------------
Using npm as package manager.
✨ Created wrangler.toml
No package.json found. Would you like to create one? (y/n)
✨ Created package.json
Would you like to use TypeScript? (y/n)
✨ Created tsconfig.json
Would you like to create a Worker at src/index.ts? (y/n)
✨ Created src/index.ts

The Code

Update Workers function as below:

src/index.ts
import { Redis } from "@upstash/redis/cloudflare";
import { MultiRegionRatelimit } from "@upstash/ratelimit";

export interface Env {
}

const cache = new Map();

export default {
  async fetch(
    request: Request,
    env: Env,
    _ctx: ExecutionContext,
  ): Promise<Response> {
    if (new URL(request.url).pathname == "/favicon.ico") {
      return new Response(null, { status: 400 });
    }

    const ratelimit = new MultiRegionRatelimit({
      redis: [
        new Redis({
          url: "https://us1-cool-macaque-32148.upstash.io",
          token: "AASQgODM5ZjExZGEtMZDRjOWI4ZmVjNmE3ZDk3NDIxMmEwNmNkYjVmOGVmZTk5Mz",
        }),
        new Redis({
          url: "https://eu2-merry-caribou-31549.upstash.io",
          token: "AXe5ASQgNmM5YmFiYWEtMmV3N2E1ODFiMWExMDc5NNGFiYWEwMzk2ZjE4ZWQ3N2Y",
        })
      ],
      limiter: MultiRegionRatelimit.fixedWindow(5, "5 s"),
      ephemeralCache: cache,
    });

    const userIP: string = request.headers.get('CF-Connecting-IP') || "none";

    const data = await ratelimit.limit(userIP);
    if (data.success) {
      // if you use CF Workers to intercept another site, uncomment below
      // return await fetch(request);
      return new Response(JSON.stringify({ message: "Success, you are not rate limited.", ip: userIP, data }, null, 2), { status: 200 });
    } else {
      // show an error page for rate limited users
      return new Response(JSON.stringify({ message: "You are rate limited, try again later.", ip: userIP,  data }, null, 2), { status: 200 });
    }
  },
};

Replace the REST_URL and TOKENs for the Redis instances above. You can add more Redis databases in different regions (or set a single one) depending on your traffic.

Test and Deploy

You can test the function locally with wrangler dev.

Deploy your function to Cloudflare with wrangler publish

The endpoint of the function will be printed. e.g. https://cloudflare-workers-rate-limiting.upsdev.workers.dev/ When you refresh the page 5 times consecutively, you should see you are rate limited.

Ok, the tutorial is over (it was easy, right?), now let's get into some details.

Isn't it costly to make remote call for each request?

It might be if we did not use the ephemeral cache. The ephemeral cache is a map object defined outside the handler. The rate limiting SDK uses it to cache identifiers while the serverless function is active (hot). It is important to define it outside the handler, so it will be a global variable. Cloudflare Workers does not guarantee different invocations will use the same variable but still it helps much to cache it during peak traffic.

Why not Global Database?

Upstash Global databases replicates Redis data to multiple regions. It perfectly fits for many edge use cases. But for rate limiting, we do not need to replicate data in one region to all other regions. Rate limiting sessions have local scopes. We could still use a global database, but that would be unnecessarily costly as each update would be replicated to all over the world. That's why we chose to create multiple regional databases as the rate-limiting SDK recommends.

IP as the identifier

We have used the user's IP as the identifier for the rate-limiting function. This means we limit the rate for a single user. If you have a better identifier in your request (username, email etc), use it. You can set a constant string if you want to limit traffic in total. Or you can use region or country (request.cf.country) as identifier to limit traffic per geography.

Can I use self hosted Redis?

Cloudflare Workers runs on V8 isolates and it does not allow TCP connections. So you can not access to self hosted Redis, Redislabs or Elasticache unless you use a REST Proxy. Upstash Redis has a built-in REST API.

Integration to your existing website

You can rate limit your existing web applications/sites without touching their code. You just need to create a site in Cloudflare and set nameservers for your domain accordingly. So Cloudflare will be able to intercept the requests to your website and run the Workers function. Also uncomment the line XX, so your Workers function will forward the request to your website, if the request is not rate limited.



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* Redis is a trademark of Redis Labs Ltd. Any rights therein are reserved to Redis Ltd. Any use by Upstash is for referential purposes only and does not indicate any sponsorship, endorsement or affiliation between Redis and Upstash.

** Cloudflare, the Cloudflare logo, and Cloudflare Workers are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Cloudflare, Inc. in the United States and other jurisdictions.