When I first started using Cloudflare there were a few bumps in getting started. My first impression was that Cloudflare had somehow exposed my server to hackers. I’ll admit that was not a great start for a service that promotes itself as improving performance and security. In reality, what it had really exposed was my ignorance in how to securely configuring Linux and Apache.

I’ve since come to terms with the fact that I’ll be using a WordPress hosting provider instead of running my own EC2 instances. On the bright side, WPengine has much better performance than I was able to squeeze out of even the largest EC2 instance. But this is a digression from the intent of this post – which is to pour out copious amounts of love for Cloudflare.

3 Reasons Why CloudFlare is Awesome

1. Customer Service: I was blown away by the customer service I received when I was debugging the hacking issues I discovered after setting up Cloudflare. I didn’t know it at the time, but Matthew Prince, the CEO of Cloudflare himself, was on email threads with me trying to get to the bottom of the issue. At even the slightest hint of a security issue he had deployed a good portion of his engineering team to investigate, and was in nearly hourly contact with me.

Even once we had discovered the cause of the issue, he was patient enough to answer all my random questions – from how Cloudflare could possibly make money offering a free CDN, to when they would setup CND servers in South Africa.

This incident of superb service alone has bought them a loyal (if currently free tier) customer for life. Though their most recent offerings of Mirage and Polish are sorely tempting me to try the Pro version again.

2. They make the Internet better: There are very few companies that pursue the good of the overall Internet with the purity and dedication that Cloudflare does. My shortlist would also include WordPress and Mozilla, but I struggle to find other companies to place on a similar pedestal. At various times I would have counted Google among them, but the picture is less clear cut these days.

Why do I say they make the Internet better? They provide readily accessible security and performance for any website operator. And they do it at a price anyone can afford. More recently, they have made it simple and free to add IPv6 support to your website. They have more than done their part to ensure the Internet can mature to it’s next stage of growth.

3. They actually do make your website faster: A picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll share two with you. The first was my initial trial of Cloudflare, showing ping times for one of my websites. It’s fairly obvious when I enabled Cloudflare. The second is from Google Analytics, showing page load times.

Cloudflare Improves Ping times
Cloudflare Improves Ping times

 

Cloudflare improves page load times
Cloudflare improves page load times

Both of these measurements were taken before their rollout of two exciting features:

  • Mirage: Intelligently loads images on your page by loading the visible ones first, and tailors the view to the device and screensize.
  • Polish: Automatically minimizes images. It’s like jpegmini and pngout all rolled into one, automatically for any website.
Given how image heavy many of my blogs are, I’m confident that these two services could shave at least a few more seconds off the load time.

Conclusions on Cloudflare

I don’t normally gush about services, but Cloudflare is truly great. I’d even say the same if they were paying me (which they aren’t). If you care at all about performance you need to give Cloudflare a try.


P.S. To the Cloudflare team – I saved 385 bytes off the Cloudflare logo by running it through PNGOut. Every byte counts 🙂