Speed Up Your Site & Disable Cloudflare

My apologies for the sensationalist title, but there is a problem with Cloudflare that is not being reported on tech blogs, or their status page. My intention of this post is to simply get the word out to other developers. Enabling the cloudflare proxy can cause severe delay in response times.

Delaux.com experienced similar problems, way back in October of 2010:

I get 20 ms ping from my home and sub 10 ms from work, when the name servers run directly. After the switch-over to CloudFlare, I started getting ping in the range of 260ms – 300ms, they were unstable and over ten times my normal ping.

With Cloudflare proxy enabled I saw the occasional bad response time with FantasySP and thought nothing of it.  Over time, response times seem to have continued to drop.  Now it’s gotten so bad that Ajax POST requests would take up to 1 minute to respond.

I began getting complaints from my users.  I figured it was something on my end.  Maybe my host was having issues? Is my caching having issues?  I spent a day trying to track down the problem. Every other server monitoring metric suggested that they should be just fine.

It turns out the culprit was Cloudflare.  Once it was disabled, pages no longer took 100ms+ to connect.  Ajax requests no longer hung for up to one minute.

The issue with Cloudflare is worth mentioning.  There is a chance Cloudflare is slowing down your site and you don’t even know it, especially your WordPress Dashboard.

My advice to Cloudflare users is to disable the orange cloud and test out your site for a day or so.  Did response times improve?  If they got worse, simply re-enable Cloudflare.  (Keep in mind disabling the Cloudflare Proxy takes about 10 to 20 minutes to go into effect, so look in the Header Requests for “Server” and wait until “cloudflare-nginx” is gone.)

I hope Cloudflare fixes their issues because I will be the first one to jump back on the bandwagon.  Do they serve too many users?  Do they realize their service has degraded over time?  Perhaps there was a problem from the start, and I didn’t even notice it?

I have an open support ticket with Cloudflare and will update this post with anything worth noting.  So far they have acknowledged some type of problem and are looking into it.

If you have experienced similar issues, let me know.