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Cloudflare image optimization with Cloudflare Polish

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December 13, 2022

Want to learn more about Cloudflare Polish but need help figuring out where to start? Read on to get a better understanding of this user-friendly image optimization solution.

Cloudflare image optimization — the importance of image optimization

With today’s high-resolution screens and the growing demand for quality content, it’s no wonder images take up most of a website’s size. That’s exactly why most active websites require and take advantage of some form of image optimization to improve their page load speed.

Reducing your page load speed leads to a better user experience and SEO results. And as we all know, satisfied website visitors are much more likely to turn into new customers.

Here’s what image optimization tools actually do:

  • Decrease the image resolution.
  • Compress the image using compression algorithms.
  • Remove header data and metadata.
  • Take advantage of caching.

Regardless of which steps are applied, the goal is always the same. So how can we reduce the image size while keeping the highest possible quality

Thankfully, there’s one Cloudflare image optimization solution that does it all. To learn more about image optimization, consider the following article:

9 Ecommerce Optimization Tips for Fast & Effective Sites

Cloudflare image optimization — what is Cloudflare Polish?

Cloudflare Polish is an automated image optimization tool available on paid plans starting from $20/month.

Now you might be wondering what exactly it does with your images? To put it simply, it reduces their size so they can load faster. This size reduction, in turn, improves the experience of browsing your website. We will explore the exact two ways Cloudflare Polish does this in the next segment.

Are you a WordPress user? With this tool from Cloudflare, your WordPress images will be optimized in a breeze! Improve your website's load time with Cloudflare image optimization and Polish using the tips in this article.

Cloudflare image optimization — lossless vs. lossy

As mentioned earlier, there are two modes to pick from when setting up Cloudflare Polish: Lossless and Lossy. Here’s what each does.

Lossless only strips the unnecessary data from your images, such as header and metadata. One study conducted by Cloudflare discovered an average image size reduction of 21%.

Lossy, on the other hand, goes a step further. It applies image compression to your files while attempting to retain a good level of quality. The same study showed an average reduction of 48% in image size.

It might be hard to decide which mode to pick, so we suggest testing both. Cloudflare claims they can’t tell the difference in image quality with Lossy, and we couldn’t agree more. If the highest image quality is absolutely essential for your industry, go for lossless.

How to use Cloudflare Polish for Cloudflare image optimization?

To use Cloudflare Polish for optimizing your site's images, follow these steps:

  1. Log into your Cloudflare account (or create it if you don’t have one yet).
  2. In the left menu, click on Speed to expand it.
  3. Click on Optimization underneath.
  4. Find Polish right under Image Resizing
  5. Use the dropdown to pick Lossless or Lossy.

As mentioned earlier, there are two modes to pick from when setting up Polish: Lossless and Lossy.

You can also enable WebP on the same page to convert your images to this format. They will only be served as WebP to supported browsers, otherwise, the original format will be shown.

To make sure everything runs smoothly, disable webp support on your source server. Additionally, you should confirm that “Image Resizing” is disabled under Cloudflare > Optimization.

Cloudflare image optimization — is it worth the extra cost?

To make the best decision, consider the price, convenience, and expertise required to implement this Cloudflare image optimization solution.

There is a no faster and easier way to optimize your images. Here’s why:

  • It takes just a couple of clicks to enable it in your Cloudflare account, and no extra configuration is necessary.
  • No changes need to be made to image files on the source server.
  • No changes need to be made to your web server configuration or any other server software.
  • No need to install any plugins or extensions to your Content Management System (CMS).
  • It’s likely that you are already using Cloudflare for your website or at least have an existing account.

Finally, here are some reasons why you might want to use a different solution:

  • You don’t want to use a Content Management Network (CDN).
  • You prefer a different CDN provider.
  • You have a great solution implemented already.
  • You need a custom-tailored solution.

To learn more about CDN, consider the following articles:

Cloudflare image optimization — resolving common Cloudflare Polish errors

Below is a list of common errors encountered when working with Cloudflare Polish:

  • not needed or not compressed: It’s not possible to further compress the image since it’s already perfectly optimized.
  • input too large: Your images are too big to process requiring a lower resolution. PNG or JPEG formats with a resolution of up to 1000 pixels and a file size up to 10 MB are supported.
  • format not supported: You are using an unsupported file format. To resolve this, convert the image into PNG or JPEG. If the issue persists, make sure that there is no active image optimization on the source server.
  • vary header present: Some form of WebP support is active on the source server, causing it to send a vary header. Deactivate it to resolve the issue. The only allowed exception is if the header contains just “accept-encoding” and nothing else.
  • cannot optimize (internal error): The image is corrupted, and a fresh copy will need to be re-uploaded to your server.
  • webp bigger: Conversion to WebP failed because the image was already optimized on the source server.


Time to wrap things up. We covered what Cloudflare Polish is, how to set it up, if it’s worth the added cost, as well as how to troubleshoot common issues.

Cloud done your way

We believe in the promise of cloud: scalability, security, performance, and ease of use. Together with our team, clients, and partners, we’ve built better cloud hosting.

Hopefully, you can now decide if this Cloudflare image optimization tool is the right solution for you. If it is, we highly suggest implementing it using our guide.

It’s time to upgrade your hosting experience

Are you ready to get the best hosting for digital commerce and take control of website optimization in one go? Want to take advantage of a built-in CDN? Try Nexcess today!

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Joseph Molloy
Joseph Molloy

Joseph is a Liquid Web Security Operations Technician. He spends his days cleaning up malware and doing his part to keep the internet safe. He is interested in all things Linux and is always looking for something new to learn.

He enjoys cooking and playing guitar, is an avid horror and sci-fi reader, and fan of black metal music.

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