The Speed Study Goal

My goal with conducting these Speed Studies is to find out which strategies are the best at improving our site speed.

I’ll implement each strategy using the following approach:

  1. Setup the strategy on all 8 of our live test sites
  2. Then for the following 3 weeks, use hourly monitoring via GT Metrix to independently gather the load times. To eliminate the possibility of location bias, I change the test servers each week, starting in Dallas, then London and finishing off in Sydney.
  3. Next measure the impact of each strategy by comparing the average speed before and after
  4. Ultimately decide whether the strategy works?

Cloudflare & WP Super Cache Speed Study

With Cloudflare proving to be a massive boost to speeds with WP Rocket in Speed Study #16, its time to see whether WP Super Cache will get a similar spike?

To kick off this Cloudflare & WP Super Cache Speed Study, we simply deactivate WP Rocket and install WP Super Cache. With Cloudflare already good to go, I followed our step by step tutorial on How to Setup WP Super Cache with Cloudflare for each of our test sites.

All Setup

I have now followed this process on all 8 of our Live Test Sites.

Next up is 3 weeks of testing – I am curious to see whether Cloudflare will continue its brilliance when it’s combined with WP Super Cache?

The Results – 6th Aug 2017

After 3 weeks of testing, lets take a look at how our 8 hosts performed with WP Super Cache paired with Cloudflare.

Speed Study 17 - Cloudflare & WP Super Cache Results Table


So how did Cloudflare & WP Super Cache perform? Well pretty poorly, with the average load time across 3 different testing locations clocking in at 1.65s, which is a whopping 63% slower than WP Rocket & Cloudflare.

When we dig into the 3 locations we test from, Dallas was the closest at 24%, but massive drop-offs were seen in London & Sydney, where speeds fell by 76% & 83% respectively. The news didn’t get any better when we check in on Page Size, Google PageSpeed Score & Yahoo YSlow Scores, will all 3 experiencing poor results.

So when it comes to making a call on whether Cloudflare performs better with WP Rocket or WP Super Cache, the decision is really easy in picking WP Rocket.

It is worth noting, however, that when we look at the load times of WP Super Cache alone (see Speed Study 13) adding Cloudflare is helpful, as the average load times were 2.41s, which is a 32% improvement. So if your committed to WP Super Cache, adding Cloudflare is highly recommended, especially when you consider that it’s a FREE solution!!

Individual Host Performance

Let’s now take a look at how our individual hosts performed:

Speed Study 17 - Cloudflare & WP Super Cache - Individual Host Performance

Major Observations

  • The results are very disappointing across the board when it comes to our individual hosts:
    1. Lightning Base & GoDaddy were the best performers, with drops of 27 & 29% respectively
    2. The other 6 hosts experienced significant speed reductions, ranging from 57% with SiteGround all the way up to 82% with Namecheap.
  • The overall observation from where I sit is that Cloudflare and WP Rocket is a clear winner compared to WP Super Cache. But before I can declare WP Rocket as the best combo with Cloudflare, there’s one more Caching solution left to put through wringer.

What’s Next?

With Cloudflare & WP Rocket proving to be highly beneficial, lets find out how Cloudflare performs when combined with W3 Total Cache.

So Speed Study #18 will focus on what speed improvement is possible when we pair W3 Total Cache with Cloudflare?

Speed Study #18: Cloudflare + W3 Total Cache