Last week I routed the lesjones.com domain through Cloudflare. Their service serves as a content delivery network (CDN). They have locations around the world and can deliver files faster than my one location.
When a browser requests a file, Cloudflare fetch the file from my site and caches it. The next time the file is requested it comes from Cloudflare instead of my site. Their servers and Internet connectivity are faster than mine, so visitors get the file faster. The caching also reduces the number of requests my website has to handle, which should increase the speed of the website for other tasks.
One week later, total page transfer time (the page plus the images) across the entire site is a little faster, about 17%. Roughly the entire 1 second load time speed up looks to be the average server response time.
Question is, is the change in page load time a fluke not related to the CDN/Cloudflare change? Or did relieving my website from serving all of those files free it up to serve out pages faster? It’s hard to say. I’m going to keep running Cloudflare for a few weeks to get a better idea.
I’m going to try something to see if I can improve the performance. I’ve got a big site with a lot of posts and images. Many of them may not have been requested yet. Cloudflare probably has just a fraction of the images cached. When those files are requested, Cloudflare doesn’t have them (what’s called a cache miss) meaning they’re still having to download them from the website for the first time.
To get all of the files in the cache I’m running a link check this morning. The linkchecker will access all of the links and embedded images on the site, which will prime the cache.