Performance Netlify vs Cloudflare - is Netlify is slower?

For site, we disabled Cloudflare proxy (with Argo enabled) on August 23rd.

Direct to Netlify caused performance degradation in search console:

Here are our Netlify analytics over the same period, showing the increased traffic coming to Netlify:

Is this the expected behaviour?

Of course it may have been caused by something unrelated. We’ll re-enable Cloudflare now and re-evaluate.

Netlify is a platform that includes CDN functionality whereas Cloudflare is a CDN, and so as a much larger company that specialises in content delivery you can expect Cloudflare will be faster than Netlify, likewise if you were to look at other CDNs like Fastly or CloudFront or Akamai you will find that they’re faster (measured in milliseconds) than Netlify too.

That said, I think what’s interesting here is you have ~2500 URLs reported as “poor” with Cloudflare and then when you switch off Cloudflare you’re seeing a ~20% bump to ~3000 URLs “poor”. Although that’s a difference, and speaks to the fact that Cloudflare is faster than Netlify, I think you may want to first investigate why you have any “poor” URLs and focus on that.

For almost all use cases the speed difference between Netlify and Cloudflare isn’t going to be meaningful, there’s probably one or two rare use-cases where it makes sense to use Cloudflare on top of Netlify – e.g: you have a large userbase in a location that Cloudflare has a point of presence but Netlify does not – but in general, the speed difference between Netlify and Cloudflare is imperceptible.

So back to the “poor URLs”: there are a couple of easy ways to get started on investigating website speed, the first would be a tool like the Pingdom Website Speed Test or Google PageSpeed Insights which will measure the most important metrics and give you some pointers on how to improve the speed. I just ran a quick test for you and lots of things were highlighted:

  • Hundreds of background requests; many different advertisement networks and trackers are loaded on your pages (unfortunately this is the most difficult to tackle, many advertisement networks are using decades old technology that is very slow)
  • Asset heavy pages cause large numbers of assets to be loaded at once – lazy loading is a good remedy for this, only load assets when they’re required – a browser will only make so many requests at once, requests can block rendering
  • Complex styling is costly: the amount of time the browser requires to process styling and Javascript is measured by Google when they’re analysing speed, you should aim to minimise this

Focus on your website for now, with some sensible tweaks highlighted by the tools mentioned above you should be able to get rid of all of the “poor URLs” without needing Cloudflare :slight_smile: Page speed is something you typically increase tweak by tweak, grabbing an extra 100ms here and there until you’ve managed to shave seconds off the load time through changes to your website.

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I think that’s valuable advice.

I did a test without the ad stack, and it scores 92/100 on Pagespeed desktop. I think we’ll probably attack that first, and see what can be done in terms of optimisation.

PS I’ve re-enabled Cloudflare for now.

this a great response, @shrink!

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