I’ve heard of CloudFlare before, but never really looked into it. Honestly, I didn’t even know it was a free service. I figured I would try it out for my site. So, what is CloudFlare? They offer CDN for optimization and security to supercharge your website. CloudFlare’s quote, “Give us five minutes and we’ll supercharge your website.”
The setup was simple. It can be set up right through your host provider. They basically do everything for you. It’s almost too (weird…) easy! It has quite a bit of features to offer for the free service, which was surprising. You have complete control of what you want running. Features can easily be turned on/off. It’s not really specified, but I’m guessing changes are instant? I did notice it says it can take up to 4 hours for minification to kick in.
First setting up, I tried to load my site and it took ages to finally load. Tested Google PageSpeed against my site and was getting a score of 0/100. The site was taking roughly 16 seconds to load. This lasted maybe half an hour to an hour. I was disabling plugins left and right trying to decrease load time, but nothing was helping. I’m not blaming CloudFlare (it could have been anything) but maybe it was being processed over or something.
I’m pretty anal about load time, so it drives me crazy when my site is taking longer to load than it should. I checked the site again and again every 10 minutes or so. Like I said, after about an hour, load time was back to normal and it did seem pretty fast… although this could be because all the other load times were so slow! I continued to test load times throughout the day and was getting mixed results. I was really anticipating the results after 4 hours for the minification to start taking effect (hoping maybe to see better results).
Later in the day, I noticed great results. This would be after minification has taken effect and even during peak hours. It was a huge difference than earlier. Best results are under 3 seconds but I keep getting mixed results. It hasn’t been very stable, but that’s expected. It definitely seems to be quicker than it was before I tried CloudFlare. I’m still not sure if I’m ready to commit my site, the thought of having a middle man makes me nervous. The next week or so, I have been seeing these errors pop up once in a while.
I’m really trying to give this service the benefit of the doubt but I feel these errors are unacceptable. I will stick with them for awhile longer to see how it goes. Update: I disabled it about two days after I posted this. It was too unpredictable. At this time, I wouldn’t recommend using this service.