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 4 weeks, gather the load times from our Desktop Speed Test using GTmetrix
  3. Next measure the impact of each strategy by comparing the average speed before and after
  4. Ultimately decide whether the strategy works?

Speed Study #7: CloudFlare & WP Super Cache

After the failure of CloudFlare and W3 Total Cache in Speed Study 6, let’s turn our focus to seeing whether WP Super Cache can perform better with CloudFlare.

To perform this study, I will install CloudFlare and WP Super Cache on our 8 sites. I took screenshots of the steps here.


All Setup

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

Next up is 4 weeks of testing – after the very poor performance from the pairing of CloudFlare & W3 Total Cache, can WP Super Cache perform any better?


The Results – 2nd January 2017

After 4 weeks of testing, lets take a look at how much of an impact installing CloudFlare & WP Super Cache has had on our 8 hosts.

Speed Study 7 - CloudFlare & WP Super Cache Results Table


So before we get into the details, let’s first remember the previous Speed Study results:

  1. Imagify achieved a 14% improvement in Speed Study 1
  2. W3 Total Cache achieved a massive 37% speed improvement in Speed Study 2
  3. WP Rocket improved our load times by 3% in Speed Study 3
  4. KeyCDN achieved a further speed improvement of 25% in Speed Study 4
  5. CloudFlare achieved a 15% improvement in Speed Study 5
  6. Then CloudFlare & W3 Total Cache decreased our speed by a whopping 61% in Speed Study 6

So how did CloudFlare & WP Super Cache go? After the big drop in Speed Study 6, the hope was for some improvement here. Unfortunately, our speed has slowed by a further 4%!!

When it comes to making a call on whether CloudFlare & WP Super Cache is the best combination to install together, the answer is a resounding NO!!

Individual Host Performance

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

Speed Study 7 - CloudFlare & WP Super Cache - Individual Host Performance

Major Observations

  • The results are mixed when it comes to our individual hosts:
    1. HostGator was the only host to experience a noticeable 30% improvement, resulting in a big jump up the rankings from 8th to 2nd.
    2. A2 Hosting & DreamHost were the most negatively impacted, with a 51% and 34% slowdown respectively.
    3. The other 5 hosts were similar to the poor results experienced with W3 Total Cache.
  • The overall observation from where I sit is that the combination of CloudFlare & WP Super Cache has performed very poorly for 7 out of our 8 hosts, and would NOT be recommended!!

What’s Next?

With 2017 now upon us, I thought it would be a good chance to go back to square one. Let’s remove all the optimizations applied in 2016 and reset the “No Optimization” baseline. From here, we can launch into lots of speed improvements in 2017.

So Speed Study #8 will focus on the 2017 No Optimization results and compare them to 2016 results.