Cloudflare is a content-delivery-network service provider with a giant network consisting of 165 data centers across 67 countries. Performing the duty of a reverse proxy for websites, Cloudflare lies between website’s visitors and the hosting provider, providing DDoS mitigation, internet security, and distributed domain-name-server services.
They offer a free plan for individuals with personal websites and blogs and several paid plans for professionals and businesses from small to large scale, which require advanced security, performance, and reliability features. The free plans offer a solid set of features such as global CDN, free SSL, built-in firewall, and protection from DDoS attacks. There is also the Cloudflare WordPress Plugin, which makes it easy for website owners to implement their services.
While not strictly related to speed, we often recommend using Cloudflare to manage a website's DNS. They have one of the easiest to user interfaces for this and
Before we could learn about Cloudflare WordPress optimization, let’s have a look at their optimization tools.
Before we do, though, here's a great side effect: your bandwidth usage is reduced.
Fast DNS - DNS acts as a directory to access websites online. The DNS converts all human-readable domain names to IP addresses. Some webpages use multiple DNS lookups to load the webpage as each lookup takes an average of 32 milliseconds. Speeding up DNS lookups can give you faster internet performance.
Cloudflare aims to reduce the latency with its 188.8.131.52 resolver to minimize the distance from the user building data centers worldwide. Their target is to keep everyone within ten milliseconds from at least one of their locations.
Image optimization and Image Resizing - Images are one of the heaviest elements of a web page and large ones have an impact of page load speed. Therefore, it is essential to keep images optimized - as small as possible in terms of file size - to improve website performance.
Cloudflare Polish can help with image optimization. It reduces an image files’ size by compression or resizing, and does this on the 'edge' before the request for the image hits a server.
TCP Turbo - TCP Turbo selects the custom-tuned TCP settings to reduce latency and further accelerate websites. TCP Turbo is only available in premium plans, though.
Brotli - Brotli is a lossless compression algorithm that Cloudflare uses to reduce the size of cached http/s pages.
Cloudflare also has some advanced solutions to speed up a WordPress website, and for the most are bundled in the paid plans:
Argo Smart Routing - It's a performance tool that delivers web traffic across the fastest and least congested route available, resulting in more rapid web assets and enhanced end-user experience. All Argo traffic is fully encrypted across the Cloudflare network, securing web traffic from bad actors.
The Live view feature of Argo on network conditions let it to route around congestion and forced the most reliable links to increase uptime. Argo reduces content requests to the origin server, decreasing network latency, bandwidth usage, and server load.
Page Rules - Page rules allow you to manage how Cloudflare works on individual web pages, subdomains, or whole web sites. Using page rules, you can set the cache level, setup redirection, enable automatic https rewrite, configure Cloudflare rocket loader, configure Web Application Firewall(WAF), and many more.
Cloudflare offers a limited number of page rules according to the plan you have chosen. If you need more, you can buy additional rules.
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Starting point is the Cloudflare's WordPress Plugin that can be easily installed - just search for it in WordPress admin.
You will need to create a Cloudflare account to associate the site too, and configure DNS to route through it. Once done, the redirected traffic is handled by Cloudflare and many of the functions described are applied.
For the more advanced optimizations you will need help from a developer who can understand how your website has been set up and how traffic impacts functionality, that can then configure Cloudflare to spec. For example, creating a custom CloudFlare Worker to cache specific pages of your website when certain conditions are met.
We have partnered with Cloudflare to integrate their tools with our plans, focusing on performance and security.
Here's how we've bundled their various functions.
|Everything in Foundation plus:||Everything in Growth plus:|
|- Global CDN via Cloudflare|
- Integrated Cache Purging
|- Cache Bypass On|
- TCP Turbo
|- Argo Smart Routing
- Tiered Caching
- Prefetching URLs
- Edge Image Resizing
Learn more about our managed WordPress hosting plans.
We also work on custom implementations for more complex WordPress set-ups; typically high-traffic or resource heavy ones that would benefit from 'outsourcing' to the edge.