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Why Aussie’s need to stop using Cloudflare caching

Cloudflare was a great product, and we’ve been using it, and recommending it for a few years now. Alas, we are now recommending against it’s usage. Instead of speeding up website access, Cloudflare is often slower.

It seems Cloudflare have made some changes that impact Aussies and Aussie websites. To be fair, it’s not every Aussie, but those using Telstra and Optus are affected – which I think is likely to be around half of all Aussies.

Cloudflare are now using settings that save them money. Previously Cloudflare were using settings that made sites load fast.

The upshot for Aussie websites is that most websites are being routed via the US. In many instances this is doubling or tripling the load time of the page. It’s most noticeable on fast sites that use https.

so now it’s like an anti-CDN – it’s making traffic slower, and further away. A CDN is meant to make websites load faster, and appear to be closer to the user – but Cloudflare is now the opposite of what a CDN should be.

The DNS is still fast, it’s just the caching they are re-routing. So you need to log into cloudflare, and turn off the caching.

 this is the icon for caching enabled; it needs to be clicked and turned off to look like this:

Technical

Cloudflare have changed their routing for web page requests from ‘shortest distance’ to ‘least cost’.

Optus and Telstra have high costs for using their networks. When an Aussie’s website visitor , that uses a Telstra or Optus internet , accesses a cloudflare cached website, the request is being routed via the US.

This ‘least cost’ is adding half a second to a page request, and sometimes 2 seconds if it’s a https page.

This effects the free and pro accounts at cloudflare. You can wrestle back ‘shortest distance’ by using the business account USD$200/month.

You can check routing used by cloudflare using this URL:

you can check the CDN/POP being used https://yourdomainname.com/cdn-cgi/trace  . If you access that URL on a Cloudflare cached site, from a Telstra or Optus connection, you’ll get a response showing a US location.

 

From the horses mouth

Here is cloudflare’s response to my support request

Hello,

We recently made some changes to our network routing that has effected how traffic is served for some of our Free and Pro customers. On our Free or Pro plans (or Business in Korea), we serve you locally with any ISP that interconnects with us, but not necessarily for traffic accessed only via an ISP that does not peer with us.

If some of your traffic is being served to users at ISPs that do not peer with us, there is a good chance it may be served from non-local routes. Despite being closer to one particular PoP you might find that your traffic is flowing through another one located further away. While performance for some of these customers may be reduced at times, all other Cloudflare benefits will work the same.

You can read more about this on our blog: The relative cost of bandwidth around the world

If you want to make sure you retain access to all Cloudflare transit providers worldwide, please upgrade to our Business Plan (outside of Korea) or our Enterprise Plan anywhere in the world in your Cloudflare dashboard, under the Overview section.

Kind Regards,

xxxx. – Technical Support Engineer

 

By on March 27th, 2017

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