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Enable gzip compression with Nginx+CloudFront (CDN)

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Some time ago I decided to use CloudFront to serve static content from it and every thing was smooth and quick as expected but I noticed that I lost gzip compression from all compressible objects. Amazingly when I fetch the object directly from my web server (Nginx) the compression was there but if I load the object from CloudFront there was no compression.

After scratching my head for a while I realized that by-default Nginx does not apply compression on proxied requests and Nginx determined it by the presence of  Via’ header in request which is true in case of CloudFront and unlike other CDNs CloudFront does not compress objects on its own so in result I lost the compression.

Good thing is that you can fix it easily by instructing Nginx to enable compression on proxied requests too by setting ‘gzip_proxied‘ to ‘any‘. In some case you may also need to set ‘gzip_http_version‘ to ‘ 1.0‘.


gzip_proxied any;
gzip_http_version 1.0;

Now in that case CloudFront will store two versions of compressible objects i-e: Compressed and Uncompressed and when client browser request contain ‘Accept-Encoding’ header CloudFront will serve the compressed version and when the header is missing it will serve the uncompressed version of the object.

Note: If you are still not seeing compression with CloudFront then you must have missed invalidating those objects from your distribution.

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