CloudFlare slowed down our site

I deployed CloudFlare onto one of our sites today. I wanted to see hands on exactly how it works. I ran a simple benchmark. I ran 3 test 4 times each. The three tests were all from the same location, at 3 different network speeds. I ran the test 4 times, once in each configuration. I had CloudFlare enabled and disabled, and static assets coming from 3 domains or 1 domain. Here’s the results:

In every case, with CloudFlare was slower than without. Every single comparison, I ran the numbers. Some comparisons were very close, 0.02 or 0.03 seconds in it. But CloudFlare did not come out ahead one single time.

It could be a network issue. Maybe the test server (WebPageTest.org / Gloucester) is very close to our server and far from the CloudFlare servers. But even so, I’d have expected some performance gain from all the “magic” CloudFlare is supposed to do.

I’ll update with further tests. I’m also going to email CloudFlare and ask for their comments. I’ll post anything salient here.

[ Update: I’ve published some further test results here. ]

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17 thoughts on “CloudFlare slowed down our site”

  1. CloudFlare’s impact is going to depend on a lot of factors. Keep in mind that, unless you’re allowing them to cache your pages, it’s going to add extra roundtrip time to your server. If you’re not already using a fast DNS provider and/or CDN the extra roundtrip time may be made up in the gains by using those features. If your site isn’t already optimized and you enable CloudFlare’s optimization you’ll probably be better off.

    On the other hand, if your server is already blazing fast, your site is optimized, you’re using fast DNS and a CDN, it will probably be a little slower. But they provide other features such as attack protection and cached pages if your servers goes down.

    1. I’ve recently started looking at Google’s mod_pagespeed. It seems to do much of what cloudflare does, but on our own server without the extra network hop, and in a more configurable way. For example, despite what the product spiel says, CloudFlare is not combining our CSS files into a single request. It only works for Javascript on a subset of browsers, which Cloudflare won’t share with us, so we’ve no way of knowing what percentage of our users are likely to be affected.

      60% or more of our traffic is UK based right now, so a global CDN won’t offer us much there. Not sure how our dns provider ranks on speed, I might see about looking into that.

      Thanks for your input, great to get outside feedback.

  2. Yesterday I removed CloudFlare and my site is 110% faster. I also removed W3 Cache. They all SLOW DOWN your pages.

    I think CloudFlare is doing a trick – when you sign up for the ‘free’ service, it works really fast for the first few days so that you think it works. Then it goes back to normal (slowing down your site). Shame on them.

      1. I concur with the other comments. I used cloudfare and always thought something else could be the reason for the slowness. I removed cloudfare for SSL installation and the site speed has improved much.

  3. I’ve found that Cloudflare significantly slows my sites down too. I have it on two sites, one is a forum so it’s used to protect us against ddos attacks etc but it’s SLOW and it will constantly tell me the server is offline when it isn’t. It will also constantly serve up 500 error pages as soon as I disable Cloudflare, boom, my forum is 10 times faster with no errors.

    My second site is a mediawiki installation and I’ve benchmarked it, it runs faster without Cloudflare. I’m thinking of trying Incapsula on my forum, and not using anything on my wiki, CF isn’t worth the aggravation honestly. Glad I found that I’m not the only one who thinks so, they are so over-hyped.

  4. We have an ecommerce, and we deployed Cloudflare…. It was the worst nightmare, Our site lost speed, and didn’t load as well as before. I cant believe there is a product like this on the market.

    Suggestion to cloudflare, take you product out of the market unit you can be able to deliver.

  5. I have not been impressed with CloudFlare either. After enabling it for wordpress installs, in combination with W3 Cache, on two different hosting provisioners, MediaTemple and Hostmonster, site performance came to a dead crawl. Images missing, ajax slow to work, DNS lookup time quadrupled, browser hangs – with FireFox, Safari and Chrome. Online traffic was reduced and pages were dropped from the Google index – almost immediately.

    No special configuration other than magnification on css, and caching on the html, scripts have already been optimized.

    Once CloudFlare was shut off everything went back to normal. For those concerned with security use your own honey pot like ZBBlock it does just as good of a job as anything that CloudFlare can provide.

    My suspicion is that CloudFlare has been adopted by too many too fast that their infrastructure hasn’t been able to keep up, so consequently everyone suffers.

    I’ll come back in a year or two and maybe revisit what they have to offer, but for now I’m staying clear of CloudFlare altogether.

  6. We setup cloudflare on a site setup on fasthosts in the uk. We had optimized the site down to sub 1 second from UK to Amsterdam. Our load times were pretty slow in the states, so cloud flare seemed appealing in that regard. While their page cache did speed up page loads in the us from 4.7 seconds to 3.5, we are now getting 3.5 in amsterdam. So now the site is just mediocre across the globe. In your situation where you want to serve primarily UK, I’d stay with a UK host and DNS.

    Because this site is US focused, we’ll just move hosts to the US and optimize for that. I don’t think cloudflare is needed. in a php/wordpress app we can use tools to cache pages, and our rails apps are fast enough without cacheing. In my opinion customers are expecting less than 1.5 load times, and thats what we are striving for. I don’t think cloudflare, just by its nature could get you there, because it is a man in the middle.

  7. Join the bloody club! Had to google see if anyone else had it, but it was crippling www but not without www, I then though, cloudflare! Checked, and since disabling cloudflare, it has loaded ten times faster.

    Wont be enabling it anymore that shit been pissing me off for weeks until I figured the server was fine and cloudflare sucked

  8. Cloudflare killed my WordPress site.
    It loads eternally with it, or very really slow.
    It doesn’t load important js on admin editor, sometimes i don’t see css menus, sometimes it doesn’t load the post editor menu and content…I’ve tried every single fix on the net, disabled everything but CND…it just break sites. the only good thing it’s it saves bandwidth.
    I would never buy a service so flawed on their free trial.

  9. Same with me, all my website suddenly load slowly. It’s still load the page after i try to login. At first it’s because my connection. But when i open other website i think the connection it’s not a problem. Second i think it’s server issue, i’m rebooting the server. For a minute it’s faster and then go slower. Then for the last, i think it’s because cloudflare since it’s not the first issue. Go to cloudflare, pause some of my websites. Nothing change, still slow. And try to purge the cache. Guess what. My sites is load faster and smoothly. I think i will try incapsula..

  10. CloudFlare slow down our web site (+300%). Without Cloudflare, a image is download in 100ms (average) with cloudflare in 300ms (average). The issue with Cloudflare is: Cloudflare remove quickly objet from cache. Thus, if you have a big website (in size), Cloudflare is not the solution. The suppport is very bad. He response quickly without invertigate (automatic response).

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