Do I still need a cache plugin on top of Cloudflare and other questions


#1

Hi there,

Firstly, thanks for the amazing features Cloudflare offers and please forgive my noobness. I have been scratching my head over the following questions and would really appreciate if someone could chime in and help answer them.

  1. It’s been over 13 hours that I configured Cloudflare for my site and got the name servers updated on my hosting service bluehost. Although, I see green tick mark on my cloudflare dashboard, the page speed has gone down even further. Not complaining but just trying to understand how it works. I’ve read somewhere that it takes a little while (24-48 hours) for the domain propagation. Could someone please confirm if this is true?

  2. While configuring, I simply went with the default options and didn’t make any changes except enabled the minification of JS, CSS & HTML and accelerated mobile links. Do i need to do anything else?

  3. Under DNS records, I see only two records route through Cloudflare i.e. the main domain(without https) and the www. The rest goes through the automatic option. Do i have to create a new record which includes “https”?

  4. Do I need another cache plugin on top of Cloudflare? I currently have wp supercache but I saw a tutorial where the tutor integrates W3 totalcache with cloudflare. Do i need to uninstall wp supercache and install W3 Totalcache instead?

  5. Lastly, since I have wp supercache plugin, when a visitor opens a page, would that request be navigated via cloudflare or the plugin cache? in other words, where does the traffic route through? normally they go fetch from the plugin cache but now that I have cloudflare, do they still go through the plugin cache or directly through cloudflare’s cache? If latter is true then there should be no need of extra plugin.

I would truly appreciate your responses.

Thanks much.


#2

Hi! I’ll see if I can answer some of your questions based on my experience with Cloudflare and wordpress caching. I’m sure others will chime in as well:

  1. Your site seems to be using Cloudflare as of this post, though yes it may take 24-48 hrs to propagate to all regions. I tested it using the browser extensions mentioned in this post.

  2. Default options are fine to start with. However, your wordpress caching plugin may be doing minification already, in which case you would want to disable the Cloudflare minification. In my experience with Cloudflare and optimizing wordpress, I prefer to do minification via wordpress plugin for best results (I used Autoptimize).

  3. If you want to enable https just go to the Crypto tab on the Cloudflare dashboard and enable Always use HTTPS.

  4. You can use a wordpress caching plugin in tandem with Cloudflare, though sometimes there are conflicts, like with minification as stated above. On Apache servers I utilized W3 Total Cache with specific settings with great success in conjunction with Autoptimize for minification and combining CSS/JS. With the right setup your pagespeed scores can probably improve in those areas.

Let me know if I can elaborate in any areas! :smile:


#3

Thanks much Andy. I think that answers most of my questions. Still exploring Cloudflare options. I’ve noticed that setting some options incorrectly affects performance.

Thanks again.


#4

Before relying on plugins to improve WordPress page scores/grades, try the steps below. It requires some effort and limiting the number of plugins that can be exploited can be worth it.

Using plugins only, our site with a video header on both GoDaddy & Bluehost was 10MB and load times were about 3~10 seconds for North America only.

With Cloudflare’s free services, no cache plugin and the steps below, the same site is now 930KB and load times globally are around 230~700ms. Google’s PageSpeed Insights went from 70’s to 99/98.

Before getting started, you need a baseline. Test server response times from different locations using gtmetrix.com, tools.pingdom.com, tools.keycdn.com/speed, dotcom-tools.com etc. or all the above.

  1. Setup Cloudflare Page Rules. The load times may surprise you. https://www.cloudflare.com/features-page-rules/optimize-wordpress/

  2. After configuration changes, purge the cache and re-run additional speeds tests.

  3. Cloudflare propagation is quick but be patient and pay attention to requests, response and load time results.

  4. There are pro’s & cons to each format. Test which one works best for that specific area. E.g. PNG, JPEG and do you need transparency?

  5. Are your images the same resolution or do you rely on img src tags to convert 2MB images in to an icon? Crop & reduce resolution, compress and replace current images. Double check theme images too! For simplicity, I like using tinypng.com to compress images.

  6. If using audio, does it have to be stereo?

  7. If you have a video header, does it still have audio tracks?

  8. Have you tried lowering video to a suitable resolution and use compression?

  9. Pay attention to the external resources such as maps, external fonts and if it’s a small business or personal site, with they ever care about analytics?

  10. If you are doing things on the cheap, don’t forget to take advantage Universal SSL certificates. If you configured Cloudflare, it’s not difficult to install SSL and improve site rankings.

  11. You can test your site with www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/ and using only the Cloudflare free services, get an A+.

  12. And finally, if you’ve done all of this, and want to further secure your site, scan using securityheaders.io and follow their simple recommendations.