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    What is CloudFlare CDN & How to Set Up For WordPress Blog

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    Bluehost hosting

    What is CloudFlare CDN & How to Set Up For WordPress Blog

    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?

    CloudFlare CDN (Contend Delivery Network) caches the most popular content of your website on it’s strategically located servers across the globe.  Every webpage access request is served by a server that is closest to the requesting machine. Apart from caching the content it also serves optimized versions of your web pages by minifying Javascript and also provides an extra layer of security by challenging attackers and spambots and thus filters the unwanted traffic before the request reaches your server.

    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.

    cpanel cloudflare

    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.

    cpanel cloudflare1 125x121

    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.

    cpanel cloudflare2

    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 :

    Setting up CloudFlare CDN

    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.

    cloud flare step dns e1378536247510

    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.

    Cloudflare pricing

    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

    cloudflare features e1378540854157

    • 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.cloud flare apps e1378542049958
    • 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.
      cloudflare analytics e1378541928744
    • 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.
      cloudflare threat control e1378542385713
    • 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 

    cloud flare wordpress plugin e1378540156261

    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.

    This tutorial is by Sameer from LoudBlogger. If you would like to share a tutorial, check our submission guidelines.

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    { 17 comments… read them below or add one }

    Nizam Bakhshi

    But I am Still don not understand why cloud flare is needed and If I removed my own webservers name and updated cloudflare ns then what will happen to my my website

    Reply

    yathav

    is that enough to add cloud flare cdn in nameservers list …. else need to replace the name server given by host with the one cdn provides

    Reply

    Achin Jain

    Hello,

    I am also using cloudflare CDN and getting good results. It also helps me in reducing web page loading time to a great extent..

    Reply

    Ashley

    Hey thanks for reviewing this, I was just trying it out the other day. I still don’t have it running as it complained about a www redirect conflict, which I need to find and sort out, but for the rest it was quite simple to change via cPanel as you mentioned. I have been looking at lots of ways to improve my site speed and this seemed to be a no brainer!

    Reply

    Rahul

    Awesome post Sameer. I just setup free cloudfare cdn. You really helped me increase my blog speed with protection from various attacks too.

    Reply

    Sameer Suri

    Keep rocking :)

    Reply

    Abhay

    Now added one of my site in cloudflare cdn. Waiting to update nameservers

    Reply

    Deepanker

    I am using this service for long time. Not only speed, it also makes the blog secure from various web attacks. And all these things are for free. :)

    Reply

    Michael Aulia

    I’ve also been with CloudFlare for some years. Loving it so far as well (still on the freemium model)

    The security is good but can sometimes block legitimate people using the same IP (like university, etc), but you can change the Security level in the settings

    Reply

    Sameer Suri

    Agreed, that’s why its best to keep the security profile to be medium unless you are under an attack.

    Reply

    Ananya

    Hi Sameer, great post and really an easily understandable guide to setup CloudFlare. I have used it in the past on a blog that was generating enough pageviews that my shared hosting could not handle it. It’s a great free solution to get rid of high CPU and bandwidth consumption. Thanks for this great post.

    Reply

    Ankur Upadhyay

    I got to know about CloudFlare some days ago when I was searching for the best ways to increase the blog speed. What I like most about this service is that it improves load time as well as security at the same time.
    I will integrate my WordPress blog with CloudFlare very soon. My blog is on hostgator. I hope they provides automatic installation.
    I have a question. If i opt for automatic installation, would it take time to update DNS records across all servers? Is there no way to use its WordPress plugin with automatic installation?

    Reply

    sameer suri

    Hell there, hostgator does offer automatic install, so you can be sure to use it. Unfortunately there is no way to use the plugin without getting the API keys and for which you need to have access to your account and that is not possible with automatic install currently. DNS takes upto 48 hours to update depending on your provider but dont worry you shouldnt have downtime as cloud flare ultimately points to your hosting account to which your domain would be already pointed.

    Reply

    Amal Rafeeq

    I was a Zero Dude when it comes to CloudFlare knowledge and I really needed to learn more about it since my next online project requires CloudFare.
    You totally changed the my view on it and thanks a lot.

    Cheers!

    Reply

    sameer suri

    Thanks for your kind comments.

    Reply

    Kinjalk Tripathi

    I switched cloudflare few days back and amazed when my blog performance increased rapidly. Now my Blog loads 2 times faster and it’s secure also .
    Thanks @Sameer for Sharing about this great tool .

    Reply

    sameer suri

    Glad you liked the post :)

    Reply

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