Cloudflare CDN Network, an introduction

During 2021 we are rolling out CloudFlare's CDN network for all of our Managed Hosting customers. This article introduces the CDN and how we use it.

WordPress Performance
Cloudflare CDN Network

In this article you’ll find a quick introduction to the Cloudflare CDN system. We have for a number of years now, been using this tool in our Managed WordPress Solution. Until now (2021) we have been utilising CloudFlare for our larger / high traffic clients. However during May and June this year, we’ll be rolling out CloudFlare for all of our hosting customers. Read on to learn what it is and how it will benefit your WordPress site’s performance.

Let’s start here..

What is a CDN?

When you login to your WordPress dashboard, you’re working inside our hosting servers. Your uploading images, text etc.. it’s all being stored in our hosting setup. However when it comes time to serve the front end pages to your visitors, we load much of the website content not from our servers but from a global network of servers. A CDN network. Yes, there’s a lot of magic going on to make that happen. We’ll not get into the tech on how it works.

CloudFlare’s network stretches to 200 points of presence in around 100 countries. A visitor browsing your website from Melbourne will be served content from a machine close to them. A visitor located in London, would receive the same content but served from a local (to them) machine. The performance increase for your website is substantial.

While that tech alone is good, it’s not the full picture, there’s more secret sauce in the CloudFlare solution. Let’s look into this in more detail.

Offloading optimisation tasks

WordPress can be configured in  many ways, which is part of why it’s such an attractive platform However, sometimes removing some of the work from WordPress can benefit its overall performance. Many setups will see WordPress configured to do minification (making the code in the site smaller), cache content or optimise images. Utilising Cloudflare CDN tools we now prefer to offload most of this work from the WordPress layer. Instead the optimisations are preformed on the edge network, the CloudFlare network.

Image compression – Polish!

Polish is an image compression tool that works (magically) in the background when loading your WordPress website. It will compress images to make them smaller (in file size) but also where possible swap out images for more modern formats like WebP. As a user you still upload images to your WordPress media library. They remain untouched in the media library. As they are cached by the CloudFlare edge network, they are optimised and saved. Then delivered to visitors of the website transparently to them.

Code optimisation

As part of this new environment the HTML, Javascript and CSS code in your website is also optimised and cached (stored) on the CloudFlare edge network. Nothing is changed in the WordPress layer, it’s mostly done offsite.

We love managing WordPress sites for our clients, we thrive on making things perform as fast as possible. Learn more about our Managed WordPress Hosting here.

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