Site is actually slower, not faster, after activating CloudFlare

Hi there,

I’ve recently set-up my first blog. I’m a complete beginner so if I’ve missed something obvious - be gentle with me! :slight_smile:

The hosting for my site is with BlueHost (yes, I know, not ideal but I didn’t realise this until I did some further investigation after signing up - I may well switch to Siteground at first renewal if that is beneficial but, to be fair, I haven’t had any problems with BlueHost yet).

After setting up my site I did some further research and decided that I wanted to get the foundations for my site right before I made too many posts (only one so far). So, I’ve created About, Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and Affiliate Disclaimer (even though I haven’t yet joined any affiliate partnerships!) pages and have looked to optimise the speed of my site.

I managed, with the help of Swift Performance Lite and some tips found online, to get GTMetrix ranks of A-100% / A-95% and a page load time of 1.1s. I was pleased with this but pretty much every ‘performance improvement’ article that I read recommended a CDN (often specifically CloudFlare).

So, I went ahead and signed-up with CloudFlare (given some of the issues that I read about with using the BlueHost cPanel I did it directly through the CloudFlare webpage and didn’t have any installation issues at all). I entered the relevant details in the Swift plugin and rushed to the GTMetrix site in anticipation …

The page load time on this first run was 2.4s. Hmm. Maybe it needs to ‘settle in’ (not sure what the technical term is for this!). I’ve left it roughly 24 hours and just run some tests again. GTMetrix has 100%/97% scores and a 1.4s page load time. Clearly much better but … slower than before using CloudFlare.

So, question number one - What might I be doing wrong to get slower rather than faster page load times?

I also decided to test at Pingdom and the page load times there varied from 0.4s for Washington (wow! if this was the final result I’d be very happy) to 1.44 for Tokyo. I had thought that making use of CloudFlare would result in similar load times around the world. Question two - have I misunderstood how CloudFlare works (is it normal for this variance)?

For reference, my site is: https://richiesroom.com/ (I hope posting a link doesn’t count as ‘spamming’ - mods please feel free to remove it if it does).

If you have any general tips regarding the site, over and above the two questions noted above, please feel free to let me know (as I said, I am very much a beginner and feel that I have a lot to learn).

Thanks,
Richie

Hi @_Richie and welcome to the Cloudflare Community!

Cloudflare does generally improve the load time for a site, one of the main ways it does this is by caching static resources on its edge servers around the world. Generally, once someone has accessed the site via one datacenter, it is then faster for subsequent visits to that same datacenter (assets do get purged after a while).

You can see this using tester like https://www.dotcom-tools.com/website-speed-test.aspx

This particular speed test does two requests from each location, and you can see that the 2nd visits are generally faster.

You can leave the caching settings on the default, which is much safer and Cloudflare will decide what to cache based on file extension:


You can also use page rules to customise what is cached and even cache entire pages if they are static, however you have to be very careful with this (I see your site is using WordPress). If you want to look more into this, there are various guides like this one available, but generally I would recommend leaving the settings to default.

No, we encourage users to post a link to their site as it helps us look into issues and troubleshoot more accurately with less guessing!

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Sorry, completely missed Question 2!

While Cloudflare can help with reducing loading times for your site, it will probably not decrease the discrepancy between different locations. Cloudflare caches static content, however the requests still have to be forwarded to the origin server to get the pages and some content, which will be different depending on where your origin is located. Also, some plans don’t have access to all Cloudflare’s datacenters, for example, I believe they have a separate China network which normal plans do not use, hence requests from China will have further to travel to a datacenter and the requests will therefore take longer.

Apologies if I missed anything else, please just post back and I, or someone else, will be happy to answer any further questions!


p.s. nice WordPress theme choice - same as I use!

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Hi @domjh

Thanks for the speedy and detailed replies. Much appreciated.

I guess I’ll keep an eye on things and evaluate again at a later point.

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