Experiment, Fail, Learn, Repeat

Life is too exciting to just keep still!

Redis vs Memcached via Golang

This is often a question that often comes up during system design interviews. If one were to design a system that requires the use of cache - one common question that comes up would be whether to use memcached or to use redis. On initial thought - both are kind of doing the same thing; both store stuff in memory which gives them pretty fast response times; however, both tools have entirely wildly different implementations and philosophies when it comes to the product - thereby - requiring developers to make tradeoffs when choosing between them.

The common things to ponder when it comes to that question of memcached vs redis would be this:

  • Memcached is very simplistic; Redis is very feature reach, can store complex data models
  • Memcached doesn’t even have cluster mode; Redis allows cluster mode to handle higher throughput. (Means for memcached - “cluster” mode would need to rely on clients - clients would need to implement all that logic)
  • Memcached is multi-threaded while redis is “single threaded”. Means, if any operation is blocking, no requests can be served till it’s done.

The following information is also in Devops Interview Questions.

However, now let’s look from a more detailed angle - how will this differences reflect when it comes to using it for applications.

Using Golang to access Memcached

Weirdly enough, there isn’t an “official” Golang module out there for supporting calls to Memcached. However, this package kind of comes up quite a bit with a quick search: https://pkg.go.dev/github.com/bradfitz/gomemcache/memcache

A very interesting thing to note would be the following line from the README.md.

mc := memcache.New("", "", "")

Apparently, this very line reflects the nature of how Memcached is really a simplistic tool and doesn’t have a “clustering” solution. Clustering is a pretty complex feature to implement and it would kind of make sense to not add that feature unnecessarily. Many people already find Memcached useful as it is - so “technically”, there isn’t a need to add such features.

A simple usage of Golang with memcached can be done as follows:

First, we would need to run a memcached docker image:

docker run --name my-memcache -p 11211:11211 -d memcached:1.6 memcached -m 64

We can then run the following golang code (of course we need to setup the go.mod and go.sum file)

package main

import (


func main() {
	mc := memcache.New("localhost:11211")
	mc.Set(&memcache.Item{Key: "foo", Value: []byte("my value")})
	zz, err := mc.Get("foo")
	if err != nil {
		panic(fmt.Sprintf("didnt expect error from gettting values from memcached %v", err))
	fmt.Printf("Value of foo: %v\n", string(zz.Value))

	addErr := mc.Add(&memcache.Item{Key: "foo", Value: []byte("new value")})
	if addErr != nil {
		fmt.Printf("Add error: %v\n", addErr)

	appendErr := mc.Append(&memcache.Item{Key: "foo", Value: []byte("new value")})
	if addErr != nil {
		fmt.Printf("Add error: %v\n", appendErr)

	pp, _ := mc.Get("foo")
	fmt.Printf("Value of foo: %v\n", string(pp.Value))

	mc.Set(&memcache.Item{Key: "yar", Value: []byte("yar"), Expiration: 10})
	time.Sleep(5 * time.Second)
	yy, err := mc.Get("yar")
	if err != nil {
		panic(fmt.Sprintf("didnt expect error from gettting values from memcached %v\n", err))
	fmt.Printf("Value of yar: %v\n", string(yy.Value))

	time.Sleep(6 * time.Second)
	_, err = mc.Get("yar")
	if err != nil {
		fmt.Printf("Expeccted error: %v\n", err)


We aren’t testing the client side sharding of memcached keys - it is kind of hard to fully demonstrate and test that functionality via simple code. With regards to how the keys are sharded - it is done by hashing the key and then calculating one of the server ids to be used.

Using Golang to access Redis

When we start to look at the commands available when using Redis - we can clearly see how Redis is extremely feature-rich (and kind of overwhelming for first time users.). Redis comes with a lot of functionality and can be used to cover a pretty large variety of use cases. It even covers the case where redis keys can be used to write to a persistent store so that it can recover rather quickly in the case the server happens to “crash” in a disasterous fashion. (There doesn’t seem to be mention if Memcached has such features.)

Let’s see a clear example via Golang code of something that is supported in Redis but not supported in Memcached:

To start a redis server via docker:

docker run --name some-redis -p 6379:6379 -d redis 

Then we can use the following code to drive and test out some redis functionality:

package main

import (

	redis "github.com/redis/go-redis/v9"

func main() {
	rdb := redis.NewClient(&redis.Options{
		Addr:     "localhost:6379",
		Password: "", // no password set
		DB:       0,  // use default DB
	status := rdb.Set(context.TODO(), "foo", "zzz", 20*time.Second)
	if status.Err() != nil {
		panic(fmt.Sprintf("error observed: %v\n", status.Err()))
	fmt.Printf("%+v\n", status)

	val := rdb.Get(context.TODO(), "foo")
	fmt.Printf("Value of foo: %v\n", val.Val())
	fmt.Printf("Value of foo: %v\n", val.String())

	zz := rdb.HSet(context.TODO(), "zzz", map[string]interface{}{"aa": "qcaca", "aqq": 12})
	if zz.Err() != nil {
		panic(fmt.Sprintf("zz error observed: %v\n", zz.Err()))
	yy := rdb.HGet(context.TODO(), "zzz", "aqq")
	fmt.Printf("Value of zzz-aqq: %v\n", yy.Val())

Note the following functions HSet and HGet. The following funcgtions allow us to add a hashmap into redis - afterwhich, we can pull specific values out of it -> kind of similar to a “hashmap” in a “hashmap” sort of situation. In order to do something similar in Memcached - we would first to serialize our data structure to some sort of byte format which we can then store into value of the key in Memcached. To get a specific value - we would still need to extract it out, deserialize it and then pull the specific value out.


Redis and Memcached are clearly 2 different products with completely different aims. Memcached remains to be a “sane” and simple choice while redis provides plenty of flexible options - the usage of which of the caching tool would be useful would all boil down the needs of the application to be built.

Probably in the future, I will try to cover other Redis functions via Golang in more detail.