CloudFlare Review: Bad Logo, Amazing Service

September 22, 2011 6 min read

I host several projects on MediaTemple DV plans for the stability, flexibility, and top-notch support. (I’d rather not be troubleshooting server issues for clients at 3AM.) You can certainly use CloudFlare without MediaTemple hosting, they’ve just made it a one-step add-on service that you’d have to be a drooling idiot to mess up. I warily enabled the service for a static site, which involved signing up for a free account (email address, password) and enabling the service in MediaTemple’s control panel. A CNAME record was automatically created in the DNS settings, and that’s it.

I visited said site and it had an immediately-noticable zing. Excitedly, I added the service to workingconcept.com to see how CloudFlare would cripple the ExpressionEngine setup. I was sure it’d fail and I’d have to revert, but I tried it anyway. I was blown away: CloudFlare seemed to have absolutely no effect but to dramatically speed up page delivery. Below is my non-scientific evaluation…

just-ping.com results, before CloudFlare (MediaTemple DV4.0, Virginia datacenter)

Location min. rrt avg. rrt max. rrt IP
Singapore, Singapore 262.2 270.5 286.5 72.10.32.198
Amsterdam2, Netherlands 84.7 85.1 87.5 72.10.32.198
Florida, U.S.A. 25.9 26.0 26.2 72.10.32.198
Amsterdam3, Netherlands 84.4 85.2 90.5 72.10.32.198
Hong Kong, China 233.3 235.8 237.3 72.10.32.198
Sydney, Australia 233.8 234.0 234.2 72.10.32.198
Munchen, Germany 96.4 96.5 96.7 72.10.32.198
Cologne, Germany 86.6 86.7 86.7 72.10.32.198
New York, U.S.A. 10.0 10.1 10.2 72.10.32.198
Amsterdam1, Netherlands 88.6 88.6 88.7 72.10.32.198
Stockholm, Sweden 118.6 118.7 118.8 72.10.32.198
Santa Clara, U.S.A. 88.2 88.7 89.2 72.10.32.198
Vancouver, Canada 87.7 87.9 88.2 72.10.32.198
London, United Kingdom 78.5 79.0 79.3 72.10.32.198
Madrid, Spain 132.1 150.2 167.5 72.10.32.198
Padova, Italy 107.3 107.7 109.0 72.10.32.198
Austin, U.S.A. 58.1 58.3 58.6 72.10.32.198
Amsterdam, Netherlands 85.6 85.7 85.9 72.10.32.198
Paris, France 98.8 99.0 99.1 72.10.32.198
Melbourne, Australia 254.3 255.1 256.4 72.10.32.198
Shanghai, China 208.2 208.5 208.7 72.10.32.198
Copenhagen, Denmark 108.1 108.2 108.4 72.10.32.198
Lille, France 82.4 86.8 93.1 72.10.32.198
Zurich, Switzerland 108.5 108.7 109.1 72.10.32.198
Mumbai, India 192.6 203.0 227.3 72.10.32.198
Chicago, U.S.A. 32.3 32.4 32.9 72.10.32.198
Nagano, Japan 177.3 177.3 177.5 72.10.32.198
Haifa, Israel 149.6 150.9 153.3 72.10.32.198
Auckland, New Zealand 200.2 205.7 218.4 72.10.32.198
Antwerp, Belgium 92.4 92.5 92.8 72.10.32.198
Groningen, Netherlands 87.7 88.0 88.7 72.10.32.198
Moscow, Russia 136.4 136.6 136.9 72.10.32.198
Dublin, Ireland 97.6 97.6 97.7 72.10.32.198
Oslo, Norway 112.6 115.2 136.7 72.10.32.198
Kharkov, Ukraine 156.0 156.4 160.0 72.10.32.198
Manchester, United Kingdom 80.1 80.4 82.2 72.10.32.198
Vilnius, Lithuania 119.1 119.3 119.6 72.10.32.198
Bucharest, Romania 132.8 133.0 133.2 72.10.32.198
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 253.4 253.7 254.0 72.10.32.198
Jakarta, Indonesia 283.9 284.7 290.6 72.10.32.198
Cape Town, South Africa 226.1 226.2 226.3 72.10.32.198
Glasgow, United Kingdom 85.4 86.8 97.6 72.10.32.198
Lisbon, Portugal 117.6 117.7 117.7 72.10.32.198
Chicago, U.S.A. 31.3 31.4 31.5 72.10.32.198
Dallas, U.S.A. 35.5 35.7 36.1 72.10.32.198
Buenos Aires, Argentina 156.6 156.9 157.2 72.10.32.198
Istanbul, Turkey 137.5 137.7 138.1 72.10.32.198
Gdansk, Poland 114.5 116.2 128.9 72.10.32.198
Beijing, China 295.4 307.4 314.7 72.10.32.198
Belgrade, Serbia 113.8 118.4 137.8 72.10.32.198
Toronto, Canada 22.5 22.8 23.1 72.10.32.198
Novosibirsk, Russia 190.3 191.3 192.1 72.10.32.198
Athens, Greece 135.3 135.7 136.9 72.10.32.198
Frankfurt, Germany 92.5 93.4 94.9 72.10.32.198
Sofia, Bulgaria 118.4 118.8 119.4 72.10.32.198
Budapest, Hungary 109.8 114.0 127.4 72.10.32.198


just-ping.com results, with CloudFlare

Location min. rrt avg. rrt max. rrt IP
Singapore, Singapore 176.3 186.3 193.1 173.245.60.113
Amsterdam2, Netherlands 1.2 1.5 1.7 173.245.60.40
Florida, U.S.A. 26.7 27.0 27.5 173.245.60.113
Amsterdam3, Netherlands 0.7 1.0 1.2 173.245.60.113
Hong Kong, China 2.1 2.5 3.2 173.245.60.40
Sydney, Australia 157.2 157.6 158.4 173.245.60.113
Munchen, Germany 19.1 19.3 20.0 173.245.60.113
Cologne, Germany 4.8 5.1 5.3 173.245.60.113
New York, U.S.A. 4.9 5.1 5.3 173.245.60.113
Amsterdam1, Netherlands 0.7 1.0 1.4 173.245.60.113
Stockholm, Sweden 24.6 25.0 25.5 173.245.60.113
Santa Clara, U.S.A. 3.5 3.9 4.2 173.245.60.40
Vancouver, Canada 75.4 76.3 77.8 173.245.60.113
London, United Kingdom 10.3 10.7 11.0 173.245.60.40
Madrid, Spain 34.6 38.4 49.1 173.245.60.40
Padova, Italy 26.1 32.1 57.8 173.245.60.40
Austin, U.S.A. 29.7 29.9 30.0 173.245.60.40
Amsterdam, Netherlands 0.9 1.1 1.6 173.245.60.40
Paris, France 90.5 91.0 91.9 173.245.60.40
Melbourne, Australia 123.9 124.8 126.3 173.245.60.113
Shanghai, China 267.0 273.3 278.1 173.245.60.40
Copenhagen, Denmark 15.6 16.5 17.3 173.245.60.40
Lille, France 17.2 26.8 33.1 173.245.60.113
Zurich, Switzerland 14.5 14.8 15.2 173.245.60.113
Mumbai, India 76.4 77.0 77.7 173.245.60.40
Chicago, U.S.A. 0.3 0.4 0.6 173.245.60.40
Nagano, Japan 6.0 6.1 6.4 173.245.60.40
Haifa, Israel 91.1 96.7 100.4 173.245.60.40
Auckland, New Zealand 149.9 150.1 150.4 173.245.60.40
Antwerp, Belgium 11.0 11.3 11.8 173.245.60.40
Groningen, Netherlands 4.4 5.0 5.6 173.245.60.40
Moscow, Russia 46.4 46.7 47.1 173.245.60.40
Dublin, Ireland 18.7 18.9 19.3 173.245.60.113
Oslo, Norway 32.0 32.2 32.6 173.245.60.40
Kharkov, Ukraine 104.0 104.4 108.0 173.245.60.113
Manchester, United Kingdom 13.2 13.8 14.4 173.245.60.40
Vilnius, Lithuania 36.5 37.4 42.1 173.245.60.40
Bucharest, Romania 35.2 36.1 41.9 173.245.60.40
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 195.6 196.1 197.1 173.245.60.40
Jakarta, Indonesia 48.6 48.9 49.3 173.245.60.40
Cape Town, South Africa 231.4 231.7 232.1 173.245.60.113
Glasgow, United Kingdom 20.7 20.9 21.3 173.245.60.40
Lisbon, Portugal 58.8 59.1 59.5 173.245.60.40
Chicago, U.S.A. 1.7 2.0 2.3 173.245.60.113
Dallas, U.S.A. 1.3 1.5 2.0 173.245.60.113
Buenos Aires, Argentina 152.6 153.2 156.3 173.245.60.113
Istanbul, Turkey 38.8 39.2 39.7 173.245.60.113
Gdansk, Poland 42.0 42.2 42.7 173.245.60.40
Beijing, China 377.7 393.9 406.0 173.245.60.40
Belgrade, Serbia 32.8 39.9 63.2 173.245.60.113
Toronto, Canada 13.8 13.9 14.2 173.245.60.113
Novosibirsk, Russia 99.4 99.9 100.4 173.245.60.113
Athens, Greece 66.5 67.1 70.8 173.245.60.40
Frankfurt, Germany 13.6 14.3 15.3 173.245.60.113
Sofia, Bulgaria 39.1 39.2 39.4 173.245.60.40
Budapest, Hungary 29.8 32.7 50.5 173.245.60.40

As you can see, ping times were easily improved across the board. Remember that this is less than an hour after enabling the service.

Pingdom Full Page Test

I use Pingdom to monitor my own website and client web apps, and they’ve got all kinds of great tools. Here I used the Full Page Test to compare page load time. This test loads an entire page and basically gives you an overview of the process: how long it takes, what assets are loaded, the order in which things stack up.

The result: page load from 4.7 seconds to 1.8 seconds.

I did nothing but switch on the service. I’d say that’s a significant plus for a product that’s totally free.

Conclusion

Yesterday I could have cared less about CloudFlare, but today I suddenly can’t live without it. I’m thoroughly impressed and hope this post is helpful to somebody. I don’t work for CloudFlare or get any sort of incentive for writing this post, but I would certainly take incentives if they were offered. I’ve already been experimenting with Amazon S3 as a CDN, and Rackspace CloudFiles – both offered inexpensive performance gains with minimal setup, but CloudFiles is another thing entirely! The pro and enterprise upgrades offer increased protection and fine-tuning along with a variety of genuinely-enticing features. As of this moment I’m still using the free account, which is serving pages much faster and allegedly adding a layer of protection from various types of attacks. Once they fix that placeholder logo of theirs I’ll be proudly recommending it to everybody I can find!

***
Matt Stein’s face

by Matt Stein

Full stack tinkerer, sporadic blogger and Craft CMS fan occasionally found on the devMode.fm podcast.

Updated 6/16/19 at 10:37pm