Cloudflare DNS etc. Will this CDN speed up your website?

Summary: This blog post investigates whether Cloudflare will actually speed up your website, and if so, under what circumstances. It analyses Cloudflare DNS setups, free and paid versions and other considerations.



What is Cloudflare?

Cloudflare is a Content Delivery Network (CDN). It optimises delivery of content via a network of international servers and has other features like DNS, security and many other features.


Why we are conducting this experiment

Earlier this week, my web host, an Australian company, announced it will be discontinuing the cPanel Cloudflare plugin and Railgun. I was devastated. However, they reassured me that I will see more benefit not using Cloudflare than using it, at least in an Australian context. They claimed that on a website on their server loading in 0.86s, it takes 2.14s once you use the plugin and Railgun. Shocking! Isn't Cloudflare supposed to make the internet work the way it should? (i.e. make your website faster). Hence, I decided to do my own experimentation and see if this was true.


What we will be analysing

This blog post seeks to analyse whether Cloudflare does indeed speed up websites, and if so, under what circumstances. Some things to note before we analyse are:

  • We are using an Australian web host/server
  • Other countries may yield different results
  • There are other factors such as the way the website was built
  • In our tests we generally only used one website
  • We only use the document loaded time

We will be using this website for speed testing: Web Page Test

Video summary

Here is a video summary of our tests and outcomes:

<div style="position:relative; width:1px; min-width:100%; padding-bottom:56.25%"><iframe allow="autoplay" class="vooplayer" allowtransparency="true" style="width:1px; min-width:100%; height: 100%; position:absolute" allowfullscreen="true" src="" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"> </iframe></div>

First scenario: No Cloudflare

With our test website, without Cloudflare, the loading time in Australia was: 5.509s


Second  scenario: Partial Zoning & Free Tier

Partial zoning is when you use the Cloudflare plugin in cPanel to connect the website to Cloudflare and the web host maintains control of the DNS. This is the load time in Australia for a partially zoned website on the free tier: 7.215s

This is a very poor result. Using Cloudflare in this way has slowed down the website by nearly 2 seconds.


Third scenario: Full Zoning & Free Tier

Full zoning is when the website uses Cloudflare nameservers and Cloudflare manages the DNS. This is the Australian load time for a free, fully zoned website: 5.989s


About the Author

Clarence Ling

Clarence Ling is the founder and business owner of CLASS Digital Marketing. He is a self trained Joomla Front End Web Designer and a Digital Marketer, constantly procuring the latest martech (marketing tech) and incorporating current developments in marketing. Based in Perth, Western Australia, he is also a real estate agent in Malaysia, selling Australian property overseas, attached to the largest and best East Malaysian real estate agency, Kozin Real Estate Sdn Bhd. Clarence regularly commutes between Australia, Malaysia and sometimes other parts of Asia in his line of work. 

Phone (Australia): +61 413 665 375 
Phone (Malaysia): +60 12 818 1160 


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