Recently, there has been a lot of buzz regarding the use of Cloudflare service to speedup and “optimize” websites. I am writing this post to warn fellow webmasters and bloggers to avoid using this service. While the Cloudflare advertisement is quite attractive and might have you convinced regarding the benefits that it is suppose to bring, all is not milk and honey.
What is Cloudflare?
Before I proceed further with my rambling let me first explain what Cloudflare actually does. it distribute your website’s copies to servers around the world so that your websites loading time might increase. When you switch to Cloudflare your DNS (Domain Naming Service) is switched to Cloudflare (instead of your hosting service). Furthermore, Cloudflare offers some very experimental features and some very unstable ones. While it might seem like a good idea to enable security for your blog, keeping your Cloudflare account even at a “Medium” level of security means loss of visitors due to repeated Captcha prompts. For some general details, see the introductory video from Cloudflare, followed by the long list of issues that this service can cause for your website.
Cloudflare Introductory Video
The Catch With Using Cloudflare
The above video correctly states that it takes 5 minutes to setup Cloudflare, however what they do not tell users is that if you disable Cloudflare, you will face several hours of downtime (which is currently the case with my site). I am currently writing this post on Windows Live Writer and have lost access to even my Dashboard for possibly several hours, until the Cloudflare DNS is replaced with the DNS of my hosting service. Nonetheless, I am willing to face 1-4 hours of down time (which you get after disabling Cloudflare), instead of using this horrible service. The below screenshot show how my website is currently looking like (at the time I wrote this post).
Issues Caused Due o Cloudflare Features
The below screenshot shows the options that you will be offered with Cloudflare. Since this service seems to have teamed up with several famous hosting service providers, you will get all the options right from your cPanel. Let’s take a look at the numerous features of this service and the possible repercussions of using them.
- Security Settings: Sends out useless Captcha prompts to legitimate visitors who are by no means a threat for the website. This means that any visitor willing to see the site might have to first enter a Captcha. It is set to Medium by default and that’s enough to ruin your traffic stats. The only solution is to select the “Essentially Off” option for “Security Settings”. Why do I think this is useless, well it kept on giving me Captcha prompts until I selected “Essentially Off”. Guess I must be a threat for my own site as far as Cloudflare is concerned!
- Development Mode: Gives a breather to temporarily turn off Cloudflare features.
- Automatic IPV6: Not much to talk about.
- Caching Level: Can make it quite difficult to see changes on a timely basis unless you are using the Development Mode. Cache plugin works much better as far as I’m concerned. Not worth the effort to use Cloudflare.
- Rocket Loader: At least they had the courtesy to tell users that it’s an experimental feature for optimizing website load time.
- Minification: I kept this off anyway, since such meddling can get you in serious trouble with your ad partner like Adsense or ruin the look of your website as it manipulates Java and CSS.
Since I was using the free version (glad I didn’t make any purchases), the rest of the features were turned off by default.
Cloudflare Complaints From other Users
If you still think that Cloudflare might be worth a try or are convinced by seeing the flashy advertisement videos, then I suggest you check out the opinion of a few other bloggers which I found while dealing with my Cloudflare issues. I really wish that I was writing a positive review to recommend this service but I was thoroughly disappointed by the service I got.
Want to find out about more issues that Cloudflare can cause for your website? Google is your friend.