October 23, 2021
Why you should avoid Cloudflare's CDN
Wait!? I thought the Cloudflare’s CDN was good? Is it not responsible for fast loading times, server-side caching and local nodes, providing low response times? And is Cloudflare not the hero of the internet, saving us from DDOS attacks and securing our websites? I hate to tell you this… but no, Cloudflare is not that great.
First of all Cloudflare might slow down your website. Yup… not speed up, but slow down. The delay caused by a CDN can be quite significant. This website on Cloudflare has loading times of up to 0.8 seconds, while it loads in 0.1 second without a CDN when it is hosted on a VM in Amsterdam. Even when you visit it from San Francisco, this website loads in 1.2 seconds, which is certainly not fast, but acceptable. So, without CDN my website is 8 times as fast from the Netherlands, while from the other side of the world it is not even that much slower. Amazing right?
A single point of failure
Sure, your normal hosting server is a single point of failure too… but that is one you DO control. Additionally, pointing your DNS to Cloudflare makes a timely recovery unlikely, unless you want to trade the little speed you have left for a low TTL on your DNS record. The recent outages of Cloudflare and Amazon have shown how real this threat is and how extreme the consequences are.
Cloudflare’s CDN is acting as a reverse proxy, so Cloudflare can read all passwords, emails addresses, everything that gets entered on your website. This is in fact a man-in-the-middle attack, as they also handle the SSL certificate. Do you really trust them that much?
You must have seen them on Cloudflare: captchas before you can enter a website. They might work against DDOS attacks, but they are also the best way to nullify any conversion your website has left.
CDNs are extremely cheap. You get them almost for free. This should have you worried. Because we all know that when you are not paying… you are the product. But here it might be even worse. You are probably selling your clients visitors data in exchange for hosting, similar to what Google is doing with its Google Analytics and Google Fonts product. I think it highly unethical for web developers to sell something that is not theirs or theirs to sell. We all should ask a fair price for our products. Everything else is just deception, which might even be punishable by law.
The bottom line is that it is generally speaking bad practise to use Cloudflare. That is why I am moving away from Cloudflares CDN.
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