First page load slow on Cloudflare Free plan


I am running 2 small websites, one hosted in UK and one hosted in Germany, both are on the free plan.

I repeatedly noticed that when doing a “cold” load, it takes anywhere between 2-4 seconds before the website loads, which is quite a lot. Then they are both fast. Didn’t touch caching on the Wordpress site, didn’t clear cache on Cloudflare dash either meanwhile.

By checking with the host turns out everything is OK, not particular server tweaks possible, they are both on wordpress, leveraging caching and generally small websites.

Someone shared and i noticed the following on a cold load:

Site 1:

Site 2 was around the same.

Then repeated checks are faster right soon after for example:

I noticed this happens across the board, when i traveled in EU, for instance in Italy, Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, etc - after i do that first “load” then if i load the site on another device is REALLY superfast.

But say i didn’t load the website for all night and try a cold load in the morning then it takes those 2-4 seconds to get a first reply, especially my website.

They are both really low traffic websites - is this normal because on the free plan? If they had more traffic then they would cache more so respond faster?

many thanks,

just tested again, and bad result again… on


Neither site’s HTML is being cached by Cloudflare, as you can see from the CF-Cache: Dynamic Images and static files are being cached by Cloudflare.

The HTML pages of your sites are not being cached for a long time at the origin, it seems. They are sending a Cache-Control header with a decreasing value, each visit gets a smaller time in seconds. So the first visit you make after a while, the origin has to generate the page again, but subsequent visits run faster as they have been cached by the origin, which speeds things up.

This looks more like an origin cache configuration issue, than a Cloudflare one, Free Plan or not.

The previous answer is correct. You need to properly optimize your site.

thanks for feedback - what site are you referring to? gabriolinari or flowerbeach?

They are both set up with caching plugins on the Wordpress side and i am frankly confused about all the options in Cloudflare, there keeps popping up new settings which don’t make your life any easier.

What you said doesn’t make any sense as the pages are cached on Wordpress’s cache folders - only when i clear cache they have to be regenerated from scratch.

I came across this setting and i changed it to 8 days now for seeing if there’s any difference, it was set to 4 hours on both sites.

so the pages don’t have to be “generated” again, although it certainly feels that way when loading the site and having to wait 2-4 seconds for a load which happens every so often.

There must be a conflicting setting somewhere between the caching plugins of WP and Cloudflare side.

also, doesn’t look to me that CF is “not” working, you see cached hits…

I checked the headers and i can find:

cache-control: max-age=3165, public
cf-cache-status: DYNAMIC

as well as cache-control: max-age=0

Looks like they are conflicting, have to investigate…

This is the number that I said keeps decreasing if you reload the page with Developer Tools open and Bypass Cache option marked.

As I said, static files are being cached. That explains the large number of cached content, as a single HTML page brings along several static assets (images, css, js etc.)

Your HTML page will only be cached if you create a Cache Rule. By default, CF only caches static assets. What’s strange is that your origin keeps returning different values for cache-control in your HTML pages.

I found the issue, so Total Cache was giving wrong headers to 1 hour only (i dont want that!) and CF wasn’t set to respect that, so conflicting settings - have increased the first and set CF to respect request headers updated everything, should be fine now. I tested a few loads and is superfast now, let’s see tomorrow morning :slight_smile:

Also, there was not an optimal setting on the W3 side.

Wanted also to share this very useful, covers w3 Total cache and CF with some good tips.

Thanks for pointing in this direction anyway



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