Posted July, 29 2012 / comments
Our hosting service is pretty fast, but we've been looking at ways to speed things up. I've had my eye on CloudFlare for awhile now and thought I'd give it a trial on a couple of our ExpressionEngine sites this weekend. There were a few gotchyas, but so far the difference has impressed me. Read on for the gotchyas we ran into ExpressionEngine with CloudFlare along with a couple miscellaneous hiccups we noticed.
Simply put, yes. Our page load time has improved by about 37%. Our Google Page Speed score increased from 83 to about 96 (for whatever reason it fluctations from about 94-96). Aside from the numbers, the two test sites just feel snappier. That was what we were hoping for.
CloudFlare was an absolute breeze to set up. We simply signed up (we're using their free account), told CloudFlare our domain names and it tried to auto detect our DNS records on the domains. There were a few missing records from their auto-discovery, so make sure you pay attention to that if you try it. After we added in the missing records, we simply changed our nameservers to the CloudFlare provided nameservers. That was it for setup. Since our registrar updates those things pretty quickly, both sites were being served by CloudFlare within about 10-15 minutes.
Now for the gotchas...
For the rules on this pattern, we bypassed the cache and set Always Online, Apps, Performance, and Security to Off so that CloudFlare isn't messing with anything in the EE Control Panel. This has solved all our Control Panel issues.
We use ExpressionEngine's built-in CAPTCHA feature in a couple sections on both sites. There was a problem where the CAPTCHA images were not changing on page load and so form submissions wouldn't work because the CAPTCHA input was wrong, even though it wasn't. We had ExpressionEngine's template caching turned on for most templates on the sites, but CloudFlare does its own bit of caching, which was apparently causing our CAPTCHA image problem. When we disabled template caching in ExpressionEngine, CAPTCHAs start working as expected.
Those were really the only two ExpressionEngine related hiccups we experienced.
I'm pretty pleased with CloudFlare at the moment, especially since its making our test sites faster for free. I'm going to continue testing it for the rest of this week. If I encounter anymore issues, I'll update this post.
Do you have any experiences with CloudFlare on your EE site? Please share in the comments!