Loading of a web page is one of the known factor for search engine ranking these days. Along with many known technique like using a cache plugin, serving optimized images, using a content delivery network is one highly recommended way to speed up your website. Google have already made it official that if your page loads faster, it will improve your search engine ranking.
Here at ShoutMeLoud, we have already covered what is content delivery network and what are it’s uses. In the market, there are many paid and free CDN out there, and we have already covered MAXCDN. Today, I will be talking about one of the popular and free CDN network call Cloudflare.
What is CloudFlare CDN?
With all these features your server load decreases gradually and the performance increases. It would also serve cached version of your web pages when your web server goes offline for maintenance. And now comes the best part – the Basic use of CloudFlare CDN is absolutely free.
How to setup CloudFlare CDN ?
Certain Web Hosting Companies like HostGator, Bluehost have now integrated CloudFlare in their cPanel and it can be installed by just one click. To check if your web hosting company provides automatic installation of CloudFlare simply logon to the hosting cPanel dashboard, and look out for the CloudFlare logo under advanced settings. In case you see the CloudFlare icon proceede with automatic installation or else you’ll need to set up cloud flare manually.
If you see such an icon, you can quickly configure Cloudflare for your website via cPanel directly, or you can manually set it up, by updating your DNS records. Let me explain both the process of setting up cloud flare CDN:
Automatic Setup of CloudFlare via cPanel hosting:
1.) Click on the CloudFlare icon under the Advanced Tab. You’ll then be asked to select the domain name where you wish to set up CloudFlare.
2.) Once the domain name is selected simply click on the Gray Cloud icon to turn on CloudFlare or the Orange CloudFlare Icon to turn off CloudFlare.
3.) That’s it your host would set up basic CloudFlare protection and update the DNS on your behalf. Setting CloudFlare Automatically
Manual Installation of CloudFlare :
Incase the cloudflare automatic Installation is not provided by your web hosting company or if you are interested to use the advanced features of cloudflare. Proceed with the manual installation as steps given below :
1.) Log on to http://www.cloudflare.com/ and sign up for a new account. You’ll need to fill a sign up form.
2.) The next step would be to add your website by entering the URL as shown below :
3.) CloudFlare will then scan your existing domain records, this process is likely to take a few seconds. Once the scan is completed you’ll be directed to another your DNS Zone file where you can verify that all records have been successfully transferred.
Here you can choose to keep particular subdomains on or off cloudflare network. An Orange cloud represents that the particular subdomain will be cached and will be served through cloudflare , while a gray cloud represents that the particular subdomain will bypassed cloudflare and all requests will go directly to the webserver.
4.) Next you can select the plan for your cloudflare account. Remember that the basic use of cloud flare is absolutely free. You may choose a paid plan in case you want additional features. Now you’ll need to choose the caching performance level and the security settings. For starters the Basic Performance Level is recommended as it is unlikely to interfere with any of your existing settings. You may however choose a performance level that suits your need. Medium security settings are good to prevent spam-bots attacks on your website, you may choose a higher security level if your website is under attack however don’t do so under normal circumstances as it may cause inconvenience to genuine visitors.
You can Learn more about the various Caching Performance Levels and Security Setting by visiting FAQ’s on CloudFlare Website.
5.) Lastly CloudFlare will provide you with two DNS name servers for example : eva.cloudflare.com. You’ll need to replace your the DNS Nameservers on your domain name management dashboard to the once provided by CloudFlare and wait for them to resolve properly. This may take up to 24 hours.
Important Features of CloudFlare
I’ve listed down some features and terminologies that will help you make the best use of CloudFlare. You can access these features by Website Tab on the Top Panel of CloudFlare Dashboard. You can always know more about them by visiting FAQ’s on CloudFlare Website
- Apps – CloudFlare provides a range of free and premium apps that can enrich your user experience. Some of the best apps offered by CloudFlare includes : SmartErrors that replaces the dull 404 pages with a list of suggested pages to visit thereby reducing bounce rate. UserVoice is another good app that enables you to receive feedback and suggestions from your visitors. You may also offer rewards like free coupons to your loyal visitors using the PunchTab app. Most of these apps can be installed by simply toggling the on/off button.
Analytics – The analytics lets you see detailed analytics on your website that Includes information about page views, number of pages crawled, amount of bandwidth saved by using cloudflare and many other features.
Threat Control – The threat control feature lets White List and Black List IP , IP ranges or an entire country to prevent attacks on your website. A list of IP’s is also shows which were challenged and failed. You may then choose to Block them.
- Development Mode – This feature comes handy when you are making frequent changes to your website and want to temporarily turn off caching by cloudflare. Doing so is desired when you are making changes to Images, Javascipt and other content that is cacheable. The development mode lasts for 3 hours, though you may turn it off earlier if so is desired.
- Rocket Loader - This feature is only meant for advanced users, It reduces the page load time drastically by loading all Java Script code Asyncronously. It is believed that CloudFlare Rocket Loader may interfere with Adsense and thus I keep the Rocket Loaded feature turned off and would recommend the same.
CloudFlare Wordpress plugin
In case you’ve installed cloudflare on your WordPress website you can additionally install its WordPress plugin. This plugin helps to ensure that the correct IP address appears on comments posted on your website and also improves protection of your website from spammers as they get reported to CloudFlare. This feature is only available for those who install cloudflare manually as explained above as you’ll need to enter CloudFlare API keys and your email address to enable this plugin. You can get the API keys by visiting the My Account page on CloudFlare.
My review of Cloudflare CDN:
I’ve been on the CloudFlare CDN network for about 2 years now, it does improve the web server performance by a great degree. What I like most about it is the Threat Control feature which is very important if you are running a popular open source software like WordPress. Early in 2013, CloudFlare protected thousands of Wordpress websites being hosted on its network from a brute force attack. I’ve been very impressed with CloudFlare as a service though I’d like to warn that once I faced an outage for an hour when one of their routing tables had gone corrupt. Though that never got repeated and was a rare event. If you aren’t there on CloudFlare yet – I’ll suggest you come soon.
Do let me know your review and feedback of CloudFlare CDN? Are you using it or planning to integrate it with your Website? Don’t forget to share this tutorial with your blog readers and friends on Facebook and Google plus.