2011/07/01 22:57 CEST my BLOGGING

Incapsula versus CloudFlare

Regular readers of my blog will remember that a couple of weeks ago I posted about my website security and business or blog continuity efforts after signing up with CloudFlare for website protection and acceleration. While CloudFlare has been good to me so far, I now believe that I have found something even better: Incapsula. This post will present the results of my highly unofficial and probably highly biased comparison of Incapsula and CloudFlare. Incapsula works similar to CloudFlare, albeit slightly different, and while it would be grossly exaggerating to. After some testing I have decided to make the switch, and this post is about my experience with Incapsula compared to CloudFlare.

In short

In summary, as far as speed goes, it’s a bit inconclusive, and my guesstimate is that they’re about the same, but Incapsula seems to deliver more stable results in time and location than CloudFlare. Not being an expert as far as security and averting bad traffic goes, it’s impossible to tell who offers more in that respect, but features and options differ considerably. In terms of user interface I’m a bit undecided, but I’ll give Incapsula the upper hand, and there’s a couple of reasons for that, as I will get back to. Overall and to me, Incapsula wins…by a small margin. Update: After their latest release on September 21, Incapsula is now setting the standard for website security.

Personal and biased

Mind you, this is not meant to be a full review or side by side comparison of CloudFlare versus Incapsula, but only meant to highlight some of the differences between them and my personal reasons why I would choose one over the other. For a full comparison, take the CloudFlare tour and then take the Incapsula tour, and then make up your mind.

Price

Both offer free and paid plans. CloudFlare only has two options, Free and Pro at $20 per month. Incapsula has Free and Bronze/Silver/Gold at $49/$99/$249 per month. Clearly, Incapsula aims at the business market, while CloudFlare is for the average website owner and blogger. As I see it, free CloudFlare offers performance, paid Cloudflare offers you more security while free Incapsula offers security and paid Incapsula offers you more performance.

Speed

First out: web acceleration. For this I used watchmouse.com, and browser loaded my home page and this image-heavy post page at 15-minute intervals from a random selection of more than 60 locations worldwide, which ought to guarantee an even spread of the results.  I tested for 8 days straight, 3 days with Incapsula, 2 days with server cache only and another 3 days using CloudFlare. Using this much time I was able take into account the time it takes for the DNS changes to propagate throughout the Internet, since using CloudFlare or Incapsula involves changing the DNS. This post shows how to set up Incapsula in cPanel.

Both Incapsula and CloudFlare appeared to bring down my loading time to approximately the same level. What I noticed when looking at the numbers in more detail is that load time with Incapsula seemed more stable across the board regardless of time or location, whereas CloudFlare fluctuated a lot more, with far better results in the US than elsewhere in the world, but very dependent on the time of day. However, as even closer scrutiny revealed, that could be due to variations in connection speed rather than CloudFlare performance issues.

One thing that stands out from the above graph is that Incapsula seems to take a little while longer to connect, while CloudFlare takes a little while longer to render the full post content. This is confirmed when I look at how my site loads in Pingdom.

First, CloudFlare:

Second, Incapsula:

While Incapsula loads continuously taking 1.8 secs, CloudFlare loads some resources superfast in 1.4 secs or so and then slooowly gathers the rest, making it a total of more than 9 secs. Why is that? It’s simple: To keep visitors on your site and preventing them from clicking out, as they explain in the video below. Presumably, visitors will see how most of the site loads fast and then not notice that not everything is there yet. That said, looking at my site, I doubt that anyone is seriously going to notice 1.8 secs over 1.4 secs, despite CloudFlare claiming that for every 0,1 secs delay 2% of your visitors go away. Really?

For the record I also checked my home page and the post page using yottaa.com, loads.in, Firebug and although the absolute numbers were different, presumably due to differences in connection speed and the different way these monitors work, the trend seemed the same: both CloudFlare and Incapsula delivered the same performance, with Incapsula perhaps a few notches better, but my testing period is simply too short to state this conclusively. I should perhaps add that I am using Quick Cache as a server cache on my backend, so I didn’t expect a significant increase in loading speed in any case.

Performance

CloudFlare has a lot of options for speeding up performance. Incapsula seems to have less. For example, while CloudFlare includes JS and CSS Minification in their free plan, at Incapsula this starts from the Silver plan at $99/month. In fact, CloudFlare’s settings and options (see below) are very extensive compared to Incapsula, but perhaps it’s too much? One thing CloudFlare has that Incapsula doesn’t is “Always Online”, in practice a more or less full cache of your website, allowing visitors to browse your site should the connection to your server go down for any reason. That may be a selling point, but I experienced way too many false positives, where CloudFlare’s cache would kick in when my site wasn’t offline at all.




Caching

While CloudFlare appears to have more performance options, there is one thing that Incapsula does better, and that is caching. CloudFlare only caches static content; Incapsula on the other hand also caches dynamic content, thus improving the distribution of your content.

This is what CloudFlare says, see blog.cloudflare.com/cloudflares-free-cdn-and-you

What kind of static content does CloudFlare cache?
CloudFlare caches common static content file extensions, including JavaScript, CSS and images. The full list of what CloudFlare caches can be found here.
Does CloudFlare cache dynamic content, such as HTML or PHP?
CloudFlare does not currently cache these content types.

And this is what Incapsula says, see incapsula.com/how-it-works/website-performance.

Dynamic content caching
Incapsula caches web site content on its proxies in order to return resources faster to users and reduce page load time, bandwidth and server load. Incapsula does not only cache static content but can also identify content dynamically generated by the application, which can be cached while it remains unchanged.

So, in terms of caching, Incapsula is better than CloudFlare, but it is only available starting with the Silver plan at $99/month. With a free account, both are equal, although there could be behind-the-scenes differences in technology that I don’t know of.

Security

I am not an expert in web security and for a lay person like me it is practically impossible to say which is better and which one is worse, and the description of their security features and options doesn’t exactly tell what they are doing to protect my website. The threat handling panel does not have many options: Observe and Report: Incapsula will issue an alert for every threat but will not block it. The alerts are visible in the Site Dashboard and in the Traffic tab under the Site Dashboard. Block Request: Incapsula will block any request that poses a threat to your website and issue an alert. Block User: Incapsula will block any user that attacked your website. The user will be blocked, starting from the first request that poses a threat. Block IP: Incapsula will block any IP that attacked your website. The IP will be blocked for 24 hours, starting from the first request that poses a threat. When an IP is blocked, Incapsula will also block the user to prevent the same user from executing attacks using other IPs. Do Nothing: Incapsula will take no action when detecting a threat.

It should be noted that while Incapsula includes a Web Application Firewall WAF, protection against SQL-injection and Cross Site Scripting in their free plan, CloudFlare does not and only offers it in the Pro version at $20/month, and thus, in my opinion, CloudFlare does not offer any real security in their free plan. Speaking about security, the other day my Incapsula dashboard alerted that it had blocked some illegal request originating from my own IP apparently during the editing of my blog, and it wasn’t long before I got an email from the support staff at Incapsula:

During our regular system monitoring we have identified a false positive in one of our threat detection engines. This caused an Illegal Resource Access threat alert on a legitimate request. As an immediate resolution we have added an exception for this rule on the following URL on your site: XXXXXX (this is a WordPress password protected page so there should be no risk with this exception). You can see this exception under the site threats settings. Within the next day we will issue a permanent fix for this issue and then the exception can be removed.

Now, that’s a company that truly values the security of their customers, and in my mind, it is one of the best arguments for staying with Incapsula. I mean, they could have just fixed this without telling me.

Visitor experience

Both Cloudflare and Incapsula present blocked visitors with an information page, explaining why they have been blocked. CloudFlare takes it further than Incapsula, and allows blocked visitors access, if they pass a Captcha challenge, thus proving that they are human. This challenge page can be customized to match you site’s colors, so it almost looks like being part of your website. A plus for CloudFlare is that blocked humans have the option to leave a message and ask to be whitelisted and allowed in permanently.

What bugs me, however, are the Google ads displayed on this page, and in the customization settings this ad area is left “reserved for recommended software resources to aid in resolving virus or security issues”…yeah right, judging from the ads in the picture left. Add to that some sloppy Google-translations for the other languages, (see comment below) this does not look like a professional website to me, and I don’t want my blocked visitors to be greeted like this, even if they are only a handful. You can see an example of this challenge page, the ads and the translations here: anti-virus.cloudflare.com/cdn-cgi/anti-virus-challenge

Incapsula, on the other hand, looks neat and professional. Maybe it’s because I’m an engineer and like things squared and orderly presented, but it simply looks better.

Note that the blocked page displays my website icon in the address bar and the browser tab, so clearly this is part of my site. Very nice, indeed. In Incapsula, blocked visitors are just blocked and will have to trust that Incapsula staff will investigate the matter as they claim they say they will do.

I wish Incapsula had an option to leave a message, like CloudFlare has, even if it’s only an e-mail address, which could be forwarded to me the site owner, or to Incapsula, or both, but even without it this does look like a pro business blockage and very different from CloudFlare: incapsula.com/incapsula-errors

Support

One nice thing about Incapsula is that they send out weekly digest of how your site is doing, so you don’t have to log in to keep track.

Both Incapsula and CloudFlare have Support forums, and since CloudFlare has been around a bit longer and has a more active community, naturally their forum has more posts and more a more extensive range of FAQs. Incapsula’s forum is still a bit in its infancy, but is slowly gaining momentum. Staff usually respond questions quite promptly both at CloudFlare and at Incapsula.

CloudFlare versus Incapsula

One thing that really shows the difference between the culture of Incapsula and the culture of CloudFlare are these two video interviews with the founders and CEOs of either company.

CloudFlare

Incapsula

While Incapsula stays focussed on the topic, explains in detail what they are doing and why, and almost take you step by step through the whole product, CloudFlare is is a lot more chit-chat commercial and not so informative, mostly telling again and again how great and “cool” their service is, and almost scaremongering people into using CloudFlare. I prefer the hard fact technical approach by Incapsula.

Conclusion

First, both CloudFlare and Incapsula are about equal in improving performance, based on the short time I tested it on my blog. Either one would work for me here, and I do like CloudFlare’s “Always Online” cache of my site when my server or connection is down, but I had too many false positives with it. Second, CloudFlare’s options and features seem geared towards performance more than security, while Incapsula appears to be primarily concerned with security. I’m more concerned with security, so I’m going for Incapsula. Third, personally I prefer Incapsula’s easy and straightforward dashboard over CloudFlare, and I’m put off by CloudFlare’s cheap looking and Google-translated (see comment below) challenge page for blocked visitors. Fourth, in my opinion, CloudFlare is for the masses. Incapsula is for business. I’m business, and I’m going for Incapsula.

The verdict

Well, this is how I experienced CloudFlare versus Incapsula on my blog, and it may not be the same for other websites. Every website is different and every website owner has different requirements and preferences, as Rakesh Sharma writes in his post about Incapsula. The only way to find out what is best for you is to test it yourself. DiTesco did, and here is his opinion on Incapsula. What works for him or for me may not work for you. For me, Incapsula works.

Update 2011/07/16 – Speed comparison

I’ve now been using Incapsula for two weeks, and I’m impressed with the results. It isn’t any worse than CloudFlare, perhaps even a bit better, when going over my Yottaa records:

Only server cache (11 weeks of data)
Time to title: 477 ms
Time to First Paint: 2110 ms
Time to Display: 3830 ms
Time to Interact: 4630 ms

CloudFlare + cache (6 weeks of data)
Time to title: 438 ms
Time to First Paint: 1450 ms
Time to Display: 1870 ms
Time to Interact: 2820 ms

Incapsula + cache (3 weeks of data)
Time to title: 410 ms
Time to First Paint: 1180 ms
Time to Display: 1540 ms
Time to Interact: 2310 ms

Conclusion: Both CloudFlare and Incapsula improve my site speed considerably, with Incapsula being perhaps an inkling better…when measuring. Visually, from my location, my site did seem a bit “snappier” (as CloudFlare likes to call it) when using CloudFlare, but I also noticed that while the text appears instantly, some images take a little longer to load with CloudFlare than with Incapsula. So, as to Incapsula versus CloudFlare, performance is equal, but is security better in CloudFlare

Update 2011/07/17 – WordPress plugin

Both CloudFlare and Incapsula act as a reverse proxy and all incoming connections to your website first pass through one of Incapsula’s servers, thus changing the originating IP to CloudFlare’s or Incapsula’s IP range. If you use filtering plugins on your WordPress blog, e.g. for spam protection or for banning certain users, this may render these plugins useless. Until now, only CloudFlare had a plugin for WordPress that ensured that the originating IP was passed on through the system, which meant that a plugin such as Bad Behavior wouldn’t work with Incapsula. No more, because today Incapsula released their plugin for WordPress. So, if you’re a WordPress user, there’s nothing to stop you from using Incapsula.

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  • http://cloudflare.com Damon Billian

    Thanks for the comparison.
    “Add to that some sloppy Google-translations for the other languages, this does not look like a professional website to me, and I don’t want my blocked visitors to be greeted like this, even if they are only a handful.”

    I just wanted to clarify that the translations were not done by Google at all. We actually had community members translate the content for us.

    “What bugs me, however, are the Google ads displayed on this page, and in the customization settings this ad area is left “reserved for recommended software resources to aid in resolving virus or security issues”…yeah right, judging from the ads in the picture left.”

    I also wanted to clarify that this will most certainly change down the road (something we’re working on).

    “That may be a selling point, but I experienced way too many false positives, where CloudFlare’s cache would kick in when my site wasn’t offline at all.”

    We only display a cached version of the site when we can’t connect to your server.

    • Jan Husdal

      Hi Damon and thanks for your comment.

      Translations: I should perhaps have said “Google-like translations”. The Norwegian translation could certainly do with some improvement though. “Et steg til så entre” should be replaced with “Et steg til for å entre” or better “Et steg for å få tilgang til” or “Et steg til for å gå til”. One does not “entre” a website in Norwegian. One can “entre” a building, a car, a room, but not a website. Going over the translations I can comment on again now, German, French, Dutch and Indonesian/Malay are fine as far as I can tell, so I officially retract my remark on your translations.

      Ads: I’m glad to hear that the ads are going to change. Thumbs up!

      Cache: Interesting. I never had any trouble connecting to my server at any time before using CloudFlare and as a blogger I’m pretty much on it 24/7 continuously, so I did find it odd that there should be server issues after starting to use CloudFlare.

      Anyway, I think CloudFlare is a great service, but it is maybe not what I’m looking for 100%. Having said that, I cannot exclude I may try it again in the future.

  • http://cloudflare.com Damon Billian

    “Translations: I should perhaps have said “Google-like translations”. The Norwegian translation could certainly do with some improvement though. ”

    More than open to suggestions. Since we currently work with community members to translate content, however, it is really hard for people in the company (that aren’t native speakers) to see if the translation is actually really *good*.

    “Ads: I’m glad to hear that the ads are going to change. Thumbs up! ”
    Definitely going to change. Since we are a security company, however, we have to be careful about letting random modifications to certain pages that display to end visitors.

    “Cache: Interesting. I never had any trouble connecting to my server at any time before using CloudFlare and as a blogger I’m pretty much on it 24/7 continuously, so I did find it odd that there should be server issues after starting to use CloudFlare.’

    This is one of the trickier issues that can be addressed by something like mod_cloudflare with hosting providers. If your host sees a bunch of connecting IPs from certain IPs only, then they make look at it as a threat (attack) and start blocking and/or rate limiting. Admins that have control over their server are more likely to be able to check things than something that is on shared hosting…

    “Anyway, I think CloudFlare is a great service, but it is maybe not what I’m looking for 100%. Having said that, I cannot exclude I may try it again in the future.”

    Always open to suggestions, of course ;-) A lot of changes on the way for CloudFlare…including more advanced features and functions for user types.

    • Jan Husdal

      Hello again, Damon and thanks for the additional clarifications and I look forward to visiting CloudFlare again in the future.

  • http://twitter.com/SHurleyHall Sharon Hurley Hall

    Thanks for this detailed review, Jan. I’ve had good results from CloudFlare, but it’s good to know there’s another option if that changes. The ‘always-on’ feature in CloudFlare is a must for me, because I’ve had hosting problems in the past.

    • http://www.husdal.com/ Jan Husdal

      You’re welcome, Sharon, and thank you for your comment. I like the “Always Online” faeture, too, but my webhost has been up most of the time and matbe down only a couple of hours per year, which for all practical reasons is 100% uptime. If I had more traffic than I do, I might consider going back to CloudFlare, but for the moment Incapsula does what i need for my blog.

  • http://www.iblogzone.com/ DiTesco

    Great review and comparison between the CF and Incapsula. I have to admit that this is the first time I hear about Incapsula and  I will definitely take them for a test drive on sites that I have which are not (yet) powered by CF. We’ll see how it goes. Thanks for your comment on my blog and for introducing me to this new service. Always good to have some alternatives, just in case… you never know

    • http://www.husdal.com/ Jan Husdal

      Hello DiTesco and thank you for joining the discussion. I hadn’t hard about Incapsula either until two weeks ago, and I was quite happy with my CloudFlare experience, but I’m always eager to try out new things, so I decided to test it. Neither Incapsula nor CloudFlare are 100% what I am looking for, but I still prefer the former over the latter. As you say, it’s always good to have alternatives, i.e. don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Cheers!

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  • http://twitter.com/ARub1 Adam

    I don’t think you have tried both services for long enough. I would have tested both for a full 2 weeks – 2 months before coming up with a verdict. I believe that CloudFlare would have won if you gave it more time. They seem to have advanced further than Incapsula.

    • http://www.husdal.com Jan Husdal

      Hi Adam and thank you for sharing your opinion. Well, maybe I should have given it more time, but truth is, I was with CloudFlare one month before I tried Incapsula, so I know quite well how good (or not so good) CloudFlare performs without comparing it to anything, as I wrote about when I compared CloudFlare against CloudFront.

      CloudFlare more advanced than Incapsula? I don’t think so. Maybe there are more options for tweaking performance, and maybe there’s more hype to CloudFlare (thanks to LulzSec), but more advanced, no, not really.

      That said, Incapsula will still win, simply because they offer for free the security that CloudFlare doesn’t have without paying for it. Besides, I really don’t like the ad-filled challenge page they have, and the “site is offline” glitches I experienced while using their service, even when posting on my own blog. After being with Incapsula for two weeks I haven’t had even one of those; with CloudFlare I had at least one per day. And CloudFlare doesn’t even offer dynamic content caching, so no, I’m really not convinced that a longer testing period would have made a difference.

      CloudFlare may work for you, but not for me.

      • http://twitter.com/TechnicallyEasy Technically Easy

        For a site like mine, Incapsula won’t be free for very long.  I am testing out the service at the moment, as I heard about it from you, and while the service is impressive, I may have to upgrade to a paid package.

        The question is whether Incapsula is $49/month better than what CloudFlare has to offer, which is the cost of their Bronze plan. In reality that seems quite expensive for a similar package that is offered by CloudFlare for free, with the exception of some of the security features.

        While security is a huge concern, I haven’t had any security issues whether I use CloudFlare of Incapsula, so I would work with either.

        While I had a few mishaps with CloudFlare, it has been improving recently as they have been working at improving their service.

        In the meantime, I’m still looking at Incapsula, and have been for a few days, so it is still too early for me to make an informed decision either way right now.

        • http://www.husdal.com Jan Husdal

          Interesting…The only difference between Free and Bronze Incapsula at $49/mo is the addition of https, which CloudFlare offers in their PRO plan at $20/mo, and if that is what you need rather than free WAF, plus protection against XSS, SQL injection, and POST, (for free in Incapsula, but which CloudFlare only offers in their PRO plan), then I agree that CloudFlare may be the cheaper option.

  • Sam

    Hallo Jan, takk du for din kommentar (and that’s the limit of my Norwegian).

    I thought I would reply to your comment on http://www.samclarke.com/2011/07/cloudflare-review/ here.

    I know the paid version of CloudFlare has more security features but those extra features also have the same problem as the free ones. If the attacker gets the servers IP address then they offer no protection at all. Getting the IP wouldn’t be that hard either, since direct.domain.tld by default points to it. Even if you delete that you can still get the IP if the server sends e-mails as they will contain the originating IP. CloudFlare is a good first line of defense but like you say it should not replace other security measures. People may think it is all they need though and use it as their only line of defense making them very insecure.

    As for the price, yes, it isn’t that much for any medium to large site. If you only have one or two fairly small sites though it could be more than your hosting or very close at least which is quite a jump. If you have a few sites or a bigger site then it is extremely cheap! I do like CloudFlare though and think it’s worth it if you can justify the extra expense.

    I have heard about Incapsula before I just decided to try CloudFlare first and found it did all I wanted. I am planing to look into Incapsula and see if it is any better.

    • http://www.husdal.com Jan Husdal

      Hei Sam og takk for din kommentar også.

      You’re right about one thing: CloudFlare should not be your only line of defence, just like Incapsula shouldn’t. I do have a couple more security plugins besides Incapsula on my blog, which perhaps may slow me down a bit, but better safe than sorry, is my motto.

      In the battle of CloudFlare against Incapsula – if there indeed is a battle – I think it comes down to a matter of choice and what think works best for you and whichever product you are satisfied with. Besides, the more I study them after having written this review, the more I realize that they cater to different market segments and can perfectly well live side by side, just like Macs and PCs do.

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  • http://www.google.com KhorneBunny

    IMHO What is a real down for Incapsula is the bandwidth.

    My hosting (VPS) gives me 3TB (in theory) x month for $50, while it gives me 500gb for $249 x month.
    So this service fail as a CDN, MaxCDN gives $40 x TB, so it is 12x more expensive.

    • http://www.husdal.com Jan Husdal

      Hello KhorneBunny and thank you for commenting.

      You do have a point, but Incapsula is not a CDN. It acts as one, but you have no control over it as you have with a regular CDN. Besides, Incapsula is first and foremost for website security, not for distributing your content.

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  • http://eugenearmstead.com Eugene Armstead

    There’s so much I can say about CloudFlare, but I’d sound like I lost my head up their rears… In a nutshell, I enjoy the service very much and the all-you-can-eat bandwidth for a flat rate per month is pretty awesome. I also love how they keep up with keeping their users informed of attacks and outages via Twitter. Excellent service IMHO.

    • http://www.husdal.com Jan Husdal

      Hello Eugene and thank you for your comment. CloudFlare is a great service, I have to agree with that, and I was quite happy when I found them, but Incapsula won me over in the end, since they are more what I want. Here I get the security for free that CloudFlare charges me for, and since I am far from exceeding my bandwidth that counts more than having an excess of bandwidth I am not using while also having less security.

  • http://www.husdal.com Jan Husdal

    Hello Eugene and thank you for your comment. CloudFlare is a great service, I have to agree with that, and I was quite happy when I found them, but Incapsula won me over in the end, since they are more what I want. Here I get the securty for free that CloudFlare charges me for, and since I am far from exceeding my bandwidth that counts more than having an excess of bandwidth.

  • http://www.queentorrent.com Queentorrent

    Cloud fire could in theory block requests by the adsense bot and thus showing less relevant ads and reducing CTR.

  • Mike

    Hi,Jan. Thanks for the detailed and informative article. And now I am considering to use Incapsula + amazon Cloudfront in my WordPress website(with w3 total cache). Will that be a problem if I enable both of the “CDN” services above?
    I used to enable both amazon Cloudfront and Cloudflare as a solution and also test with only Cloudfront enabled and only Cloudflare enabled respectively in my website.(with w3 total cache).  And I got the similar results and experiences as yours. What annoys me is that sometimes cloudflare page just show up telling error even my site isn’t down. (well, frequently enough).So I think it is wise to switch to Incapsula. But will it work with Cloudfront?Thank you in advanced. 

    • http://www.husdal.com Jan Husdal

      Hi Mike and thank you for your comment. I haven’t tested CloudFront w/ Incapsula as I am quite happy with the results I get from Incapsula alone, but it shouldn’t be any problem.

      However, as I see it,  this sort of “doubling” your CDN could potentially introduce some lag to some visitors depending on which data center they are closest to.

      Since all traffic is routed via Incapsula, first the Incapsula data centers will respond and fetch their cached content, and in addition, Incapsula will have to fetch some of its content from Amazon’s data centers plus from your website server.

      The only way to find out is to install and test it with and without using watchmouse.com, loads.in, webpagetest.org or yottaa.com and see if there is a difference in loading speed from different locations.

      As to site down when it isn’t, it does happen with Incapsula, too, but while I experienced it on a couple times daily with CloudFlare it’s perhaps only once weekly with Incapsula.

      Hope this helps.

  • http://shanx.com Shanx

    Sorry, this is not only a highly unscientific test  — which is fine as you announce it as such at the very outset, but do then proceed to make conclusions — it is also insignificant standard deviation. In my tests, CF servers seem to perform considerably better than Incapsula and Yottaa. This is based on Pingtom and the yet-to-be-released Google Page Speed tests for some of my sites that get over 1 million hits an hour.

    For dynamic caching, use Nginx + some kind of caching on your own server. E.g., with WordPress, Hyper Cache works quite well. Having a DNS-level cache do dynamic caching is soon going to become a headache, so CF’s choice is a very smart one.

    CF also has some good locations globally. A lot of my traffic comes from Asia, and their Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore CDN hubs have made a huge difference.

    This is a new and emerging space, so I’m hardly a devout fan of any one of these. But CF really seems to have their act together — superlative interface, a pretty good FREE service (which neither of the other two offer at all), and some excellent CF apps. Their security stuff is pretty good at fencing the known spammers although I’m not ditching my mod_sec in a hurry.

    CF wins for now.

  • http://www.excelformulas.me enad

    if i used cloudflare, what ip’s do i need to whitelist in my vps?

  • http://www.netbooklive.com Mike

    Hey Jan.

    Two quick questions.

    1. If i understood corectly, both these services require me to change ny NS towards them. Right? I’ve read that this might cause Google ranking drops, what’s your take on this?
    2. Analyzing my site, it seems that a big part of the loading time is due to some external javascript files, from facebook, google plus and google analytics. Will these cdns take care of those? If not, do you have any advice on what could i do about them? Can i host them locally somewhat so they can be compressed and cached? Unfortunately removing them is not an option here.

    Thanks in advance, a reply would be most appreciated.

    • http://www.husdal.com Jan Husdal

      Hi Mike and thank you for your questions.

      1. No I did not experience a rank drop. The opposite, actually, my PR increased from 4 to 5, but whether that is due to Incapsula or not is anybody’s guess.
      2. As I understand it neither CloudFlare nor Incapsula will cache external content, only what is on your web server. The only advice I can give you is to ask yourself whether you really need all of them.

      • http://www.netbooklive.com Mike

        True. I just keep the minimum required, google+, adsense, analytics and facebook and I can’t really drop them right now. Hopefully I will add some tweaks to load them after the entire page loads or something, if possible. Still, those 4 scrips take my loading page from 1.2s to 2.5s+ , and that’s a huge difference

  • http://www.dialme.com/ Ray

    Would you happen to know or have an opinion on how safe either Incapsula or Cloudflare is with Google Adsense? It is sort of using a proxy. I did some searching and never did find a suitable answer from a Google employee in their forums. I checked Cloudflare’s knowledge base, support, question and answer area and one minute it they seem to say it would be fine. The next minute they say you should install mod cloudflare or some plugin. Besides making things a little more difficult to mange seeing as visitors seem to be coming from the same ip address with either of these services, my main concern would be Adsense and similar advertising programs. Any thoughts or input?

    • http://www.husdal.com Jan Husdal

      Hi Ray and thanks for you comment. I haven’t seen any issues with my Adsense with both services, so I consider them “safe”.

      • http://www.dialme.com/ Ray

        Great, thanks for the reply Jan. Both Cloudflare and Incapsula don’t really have any topics about this. I am currently testing Incapsula going on 3 days now. So far so good. I know you have been a strong supporter of Incapsula and have seen you comment on several sites that mention it. This post is an excellent write up and part of the reason I decided to try it.

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