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:
- Setup the strategy on all 8 of our live test sites
- 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.
- Next measure the impact of each strategy by comparing the average speed before and after
- Ultimately decide whether the strategy works?
MaxCDN + Cloudflare + W3 Total Cache Speed Study
In our last speed study, KeyCDN totally outperformed MaxCDN when added to WP Super Cache. So this speed study will look at whether MaxCDN will play better with W3 Total Cache?
How to Setup MaxCDN & W3 Total Cache
To kick off this MaxCDN + Cloudflare + W3 Total Cache Speed Study, we first need to setup MaxCDN. Once that’s complete, we then integrate it into W3 Total Cache. With Cloudflare already setup, I followed our step by step tutorial on How to Setup MaxCDN with W3 Total Cache for each of our test sites.
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 MaxCDN can redeem itself when paired with W3 Total Cache & Cloudflare?
The Results – 31 Dec 2017
After 3 weeks of testing, lets take a look at how our 8 hosts performed with MaxCDN paired with W3 Total Cache & Cloudflare.
Let’s first see how W3 Total Cache performed compared to WP Super Cache, when both are paired with MaxCDN & Cloudflare? The average load time across our 3 different testing locations is 2.22s for W3 Total Cache, which is 14% faster than with WP Super Cache.
When we dig into the 3 locations we test from, all experienced speed improvements, ranging from 2% faster in Dallas through to 26% in London. Also Google Yahoo YSlow Scores jumped up with W3 Total Cache, while Google Page Speed was unchanged and Page Size actually increased.
So when it comes to making a call on whether W3 Total Cache was beneficial, the decision is easy -> YES, W3 Total Cache performed better than WP Super Cache in this combo.
MaxCDN vs KeyCDN with W3 Total Cache
So how did MaxCDN compare to KeyCDN when both are added to W3 Total Cache & Cloudflare? Well the difference was massive, with the average load time for MaxCDN being over double that of KeyCDN.
Dallas experienced a slowdown of 94%, while London & Sydney were even worse, with dropoffs of 108% & 114% respectively.
So when it comes to making a call on which CDN is best when paired with W3 Total Cache & Cloudflare, the decision is really easy: KeyCDN!!
Individual Host Performance
Let’s now take a look at how our individual hosts performed:
- The comparison between WP Super Cache & W3 Total Cache are all favoring W3 Total when it comes to our individual hosts:
- All 8 hosts experienced faster speeds with W3 Total Cache, ranging from 3% with Lightning Base up to 23% with Bluehost.
- The overall observation from where I sit is that W3 Total Cache is the better option when paired with MaxCDN & Cloudflare.
Individual Host Performance – MaxCDN vs KeyCDN with W3 Total Cache
- When we look at the comparison between MaxCDN & KeyCDN when combined with W3 Total Cache & Cloudflare, all of our individual hosts were much better off with KeyCDN:
- All 8 hosts were slower with MaxCDN, ranging from 73% with GoDaddy up to 142% with Namecheap.
- The overall observation is that KeyCDN has significantly outperformed MaxCDN when paired with W3 Total Cache & Cloudflare.
With KeyCDN proving to be much faster than MaxCDN with W3 Total Cache, that completes our Speed Studies for 2017.
It’s time to look ahead to 2018, and that means removing all Caching plugins & CDN solutions from our test sites. This will allow us to set a new baseline, before diving into a new set of Speed Studies for 2018.
In the meantime, let’s enjoy some fireworks and celebrate New Years 2018!!