To CloudFlare or not CloudFlare

Direct Quote from CloudFlare:

CloudFlare protects and accelerates any website online. Once your website is a part of the CloudFlare community, its web traffic is routed through our intelligent global network. We automatically optimize the delivery of your web pages so your visitors get the fastest page load times and best performance. We also block threats and limit abusive bots and crawlers from wasting your bandwidth and server resources. The result: CloudFlare-powered websites see a significant improvement in performance and a decrease in spam and other attacks.

CloudFlaren Feartures

CloudFlare CDN – Distribute your content around the world so it’s closer to your visitors (speeding up your site).

CloudFlare optimizer – Web pages with ad servers and third party widgets load snappy on both mobile and computers.

CloudFlare security – Protect your website from a range of online threats from spammers to SQL injection to DDOS.

CloudFlare analytics – Get insight into all of your website’s traffic including threats and search engine crawlers.

 

CND, Speed and Optimization

CloudFlare is a new kind of Content Delivery Network (CDN).  It essentially provides a reverse proxy for CloudFlare enabled sites, so these sites’ pages can be cached and routed among CloudFlare’s global network.

Does it improve site’s speed and performance? Yes, it does indeed speed up website, but improvement  varies depending the optimizer level. Basic level (CDB only) offers marginally improvement. The highest optimization level offers best speed improvement, but some of your plugins may stop working. You need to tinker with selections to get your best result.

Security

CloudFlare’s secutiy measure is a hit and, up to half of the time, miss proposition.  CloudFlare acts as a reverse proxy, unless you complied CloudFlare module into Apache, then your Apache server will perceive all traffic are coming from one of CloudFlare’s IPs, thus rendering any existing protection from your .htaccess useless.

If you intend to use CloudFlare, compile CloudFlare module into Apache and don’t rely on CloudFlare’s security filter.

The on-and-off security filtering problem is one of the major reasons that we disabled CloudFlare on our servers.

CPU usage

Another reason we eventually disabled CloudFlare – for unknown reasons it caused slightly higher CPU then resulting memory usages on our VPS server .  The extent of speed improvement did no warrant us using it at a constantly higher CPU usage.

 Try it yourself

CloudFlare is free and easy to set up; you can use it whether you  are using W3 Total Cache or not.