[STEP BY STEP GUIDE] GeoIP for Magento 2— right way to do it

As more and more eCommerce stores tend to offer personalised user experiences on their websites, almost every store start using GeoIP functionalities to show users correct language, currency, shipping information etc. as soon as users land on the site. Most Magento installations use 3rd party extensions to make it possible, even thought extension sounds like an easiest way how to do it, it’s for sure not the safest one.

When an application needs GeoIP functionality there could be multiple implementations of that functionality, such as:

  • CloudFront (or other CDN service)

Built-in functionality, which will pass appropriate header back to the application (best solution, because implementation is delegated to the 3rd party and normally those implementations are rock-solid).

  • Nginx module

Will pass appropriate header back to the application (bad solution, because you will need to build nginx from source; support of that module is outdated and you will loose easy update functionality).

  • Varnish extension

Will pass appropriate header back to the application.

  • Parsing GeoIP database file inside application

Comparably slow in case of PHP implementation and will need to handle database updates in some way.

  • Use Magento extension

Will lookup GeoIP data from MySQL database (which is worst case scenario, because of poor extension implementation — storing 2M rows in the relational database).

Case Study:

Recently one of Scandiweb clients had installed a 3rd party Magento GeoIP extension which caused a massive CPU load during sales, as can be seen from the chart below it caused almost 100% CPU load which resulted in the ‘broken’ website.

Scandiweb came to the rescue and replaced 3rd party extension. In our use case CDN implementation is not always available, but Varnish is commonly used, therefore we will be using Varnish extension to implement GeoIP functionality and Maxmind database.

Here we are going to share our guide on how to do it in 9 easy steps:

STEP 1: Before installation it could be worth upgrading whole system, but if you are not sure what you are going to do, please skip this step:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade -V
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade -V
sudo apt autoremove

STEP 2: Add maxmind repository

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:maxmind/ppa
sudo apt-get update

STEP 3: Install required packages on the Varnish instance:

sudo apt-get install -V libvarnishapi-dev libvarnishapi1 pkg-config autoconf automake libtool make python-docutils libmaxminddb-dev varnish

STEP 4: Install Varnish extension for the GeoIP:

sudo su
cd ~
git clone --recursive https://github.com/fgsch/libvmod-geoip2 
cd libvmod-geoip2/
make check
make install

STEP 5: Implement automatic updates for the GeoIP database:

# Install automatic update package
sudo apt-get install -V geoipupdate
# Execute newly installed package in verbosity mode to check it is actually working as expected
geoipupdate -v
Normally you should be done just by installing “geoipupdate” package — it will create config files and free database will be downloaded, but it could be worth checking latest documentation, which can be found here .

STEP 6: Add cron job to perform automatic updates:

# m h dom mon dow user  command
# Updates are once a week, +/- random time here
45 10 * * 1 root /usr/bin/geoipupdate
Note that path to the “geoipupdate” binary file can be different for you. Time is +/- random.

STEP 7: Add GeoIP module to the Varnish:

import geoip2;
sub vcl_init {
    # Please note that absolute path must be used
    new country = geoip2.geoip2("/usr/share/GeoIP/GeoLite2-Country.mmdb");
sub vcl_recv {
    set req.http.X-Country-Code = country.lookup(
        std.ip(regsub(req.http.X-Forwarded-For, "^(\d+\.\d+\.\d+\.\d+).*", "\1"), client.ip)
Please note that Nginx “real IP” module must be correctly configured, so that Varnish can actually get real user IP address.

STEP 8: Use GeoIP information in the PHP application


STEP 9: To test install ModHeader and add

X-Country-Code = LV

Additional information:

Varnish extension

Maxmind GeoIP database and automatic updates


Want Scandiweb assistance with your next challenge? Do not hesitate to contact us at info@scandiweb.com

[STEP BY STEP GUIDE] GeoIP for Magento 2— right way to do it was originally published in Scandiweb Stories on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.