Is Cloudflare Argo worth it?

Cloudflare Argo offers a significant reduction in network latency and connection errors—by an estimated 30%. Traditional network technologies often rely on static routing leading to slower and more congested paths, while Cloudflare Argo introduces a dynamic approach.

This smart routing algorithm navigates traffic across the quickest available routes, utilizing Cloudflare’s extensive network of over 300 server locations to enhance content propagation and maintain secure, latency-free connections.

Understanding web performance, especially in terms of loading times, is crucial. These issues can substantially degrade the user experience, leading to reduced engagement and potentially harming your digital reputation. Cloudflare routes more than 20% of all internet traffic. This provides them with real-time network intelligence and the true speed of network paths.

Cloudflare Argo, 6 years later

This article, was first published in December 2017 and years later is being refreshed to integrate data from 2023, ensuring you are equipped with the most up-to-date knowledge of Cloudflare’s Argo.

The bulk of this blog’s readership is from the United States and a substantial portion—nearly a third—comes from Europe, with the UK, Germany, and France leading the pack. This diversity served as a catalyst for our exploration of Argo’s capabilities. Even for sites with predominantly US-based traffic, Argo has been shown to deliver around a 20% improvement in response times.

We will discuss Argo’s effect on Time to First Byte (TTFB); how Argo’s Smart Routing optimizes the network transit time. Additionally, we’ll touch upon the pricing structure of Argo, balancing cost against the tangible benefits in speed and performance.

Also, read “Recommended Cloudflare Performance and Security Settings (Guide)” that will delve deeper into Cloudflare’s suite of performance and security tools. For now, let’s explore how Argo’s implementation reflects in real-world application and performance.

Note to Readers: I’ve added below a new screenshot from December 2023 (Cloudflare in dark mode) while keeping the 2017 screenshots in place for reference. Lastly, please also refer to my list of the 25 best CDNs, which includes Cloudflare.

Maximizing Performance with Cloudflare Argo

Cloudflare Argo response time (2017)
Histogram of Time To First Byte (TTFB). December 9th 2017.

TTFB measures the delay between sending a request to your server and receiving the first byte in response. TTFB, or Time to First Byte, encompasses both the network transit time, which is optimized by Argo’s Smart Routing, and the processing time on your server, which Argo does not influence.

The above histogram is a visual representation comparing the average response time of web requests with Cloudflare Argo enabled versus without it. It indicates that when Argo is active, the average response time over a 48-hour period in 2017 was significantly reduced to 157 milliseconds.

In contrast, without Argo, the response time averages at 459 milliseconds. The graph shows a clear improvement, with a percentage reduction in response times by 65.80%.

Additionally, the ‘Percent Smart Routed’ metric shows that 71.4% of the traffic was routed through Argo’s intelligent routing system, demonstrating its active role in managing web requests.

It also shows a higher concentration of requests with shorter response times when Argo is enabled, illustrating its effectiveness in enhancing the speed and efficiency of network traffic delivery.

This data underscores the value of Argo in improving website performance, particularly in reducing the Time to First Byte (TTFB), a crucial factor in web speed optimization. The stark contrast in response times vividly demonstrates Argo’s impact, making a compelling case—at least in 2017—for its implementation.

Cloudflare Argo response time (2023)
A more recent screenshot from December 19th 2023.

The updated 2023 graph above reflects the latest data on Cloudflare Argo’s performance, with observations pointing to a sustained efficiency in reducing response times. The graph also reveals that after the implementation of custom WAF (Web Application Firewall) rules, there’s been a noticeable reduction in slower traffic.

Without WAF custom rules and settings changes, originally, approximately 60% of traffic was smart routed through Argo’s intelligent paths, and this figure has now been refined to 33.7%. Also, the improvement was over 50% but now 33% with WAF custom rules and other Cloudflare security features configured.

Much of this traffic, especially from countries that were previously contributing to higher latency, is now being effectively managed by Cloudflare’s WAF. In fact, less than 5% of the Managed Challenges are solved, which indicates that the WAF is successfully filtering a significant amount of automated traffic.

More detailed analysis of these changes is covered in the article, “Recommended Cloudflare Performance and Security Settings (Guide)” the key takeaway here is that Cloudflare’s Argo continues to deliver robust performance improvements, just as it did in 2017.

Furthermore, the advancements in Cloudflare’s WAF capabilities have enhanced its ability to mitigate superfluous and potentially malicious traffic, contributing to an overall improvement in the quality and speed of web traffic.

This synergy between Argo’s smart routing and the WAF has led to an environment where legitimate traffic is expedited more efficiently, and unnecessary slower traffic is curbed, ensuring that Argo’s benefits are realized to their fullest potential.

Even if all of your web traffic is US-based, you will still see ~ 20% response time improvement.

Cloudflare Argo response time by geography
The larger the circle, the more traffic is being served via that Cloudflare location.

In 2023, the implementation of Cloudflare’s managed challenges has successfully reduced most of the automated traffic from China, Russia, and other regions.

Cloudflare page rules
Above: My current 2017 Cloudflare page rules.

Cloudflare Argo Cost

Cloudflare Argo Cost

Cloudflare Argo’s pricing structure is a crucial consideration for any website owner looking to optimize their web performance. As illustrated in the attached graphic, Argo operates on a usage-based model. The base cost starts at USD $5.00 per month, with the first gigabyte of traffic included.

Beyond this, the cost is USD $0.10 for each additional gigabyte of data transferred between Cloudflare and your visitors. While the fees may appear nominal at lower traffic levels, they can accumulate significantly as bandwidth usage scales up.

Reduce the cost of Argo by optimizing images

To maximize the cost-effectiveness of using Argo, it’s advisable to reduce the size of your website’s data wherever possible. Image optimization, for instance, can have a considerable impact.

By converting images to more efficient formats like WebP or AVIF, which offer better compression without compromising quality, you can significantly decrease the amount of data that needs to be routed through Argo, thereby reducing costs. Notice the download size of the images on this page.

Reduce the cost of Argo by offloading images

Another strategy to consider is using a CNAME record for static assets and directing it to one of the top 25 recommended CDNs. By offloading the delivery of images to another CDN, you can ensure that only the essential domain-root content is routed through Cloudflare Argo.

This approach can greatly diminish the amount of data processed by Argo and, consequently, the associated costs. While still lowering the TTFB of your web pages. I would recommend keeping all (or the more critical) js and css files routed via Argo.

While Cloudflare Argo presents a powerful solution for enhancing site performance, careful management of traffic and content can play a vital role in optimizing the cost-benefit ratio.


In short, Cloudflare Argo makes a noticeable difference! It’s enabled on this blog right now. It’s not free; however, you do get the advertised improvements in response times.

In closing, if you are obsessed with page speed and measurable performance improvements, you should give Cloudflare Argo a spin!

I’ll be uploading additional Argo screenshots to this article later this week, along with a new article about Cloudflare’s performance and security.

Published: December 9th 2017 | Updated: December 19th, 2023

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  1. Also, you can set up billing/usage alerts like this:

    This will send an email alert after surpassing ~ 100 Gigabytes.


    Login to the Cloudflare dashboard
    Select your account (if you have multiple)
    Click “Notifications” in the navigation
    Click “Add”
    Under Alert Type, Usage Based Billing, click “Select”
    Configure your notification and click “Save”

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