How To Setup Free CloudFlare CDN For Your WordPress Blog

By Sam
IN Webhosting

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 & Why It’s free?

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 free CDN from cPanel?

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.

CloudFlare on Cpanel

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.

Setting CloudFlare Automatically

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.

Cloudflare sEtup via cPanel

3.) That’s it your host would set up basic CloudFlare protection and update the DNS on your behalf. Setting CloudFlare Automatically

Configuring Cloudflare CDN manually (Which I recommend)

Incase the cloudflare automatic Installation is not provided by your web hosting company or if you are interested to use the advanced features of cloud flare.  You can watch this video by Harsh where he explained how to setup free CDN using 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 :

Configuring 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.

Cloudflare DNS config

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.

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 

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 free 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 free 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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    Comments

    1. says

      Excellent article, thanks! I’m using Cloudflare on my WordPress site for about two months now, and it has increased the speed on my site a lot. The only thing I’m worrying about is the caching of my (latest) blogs. Before, when I searched for an article that I posted only a half hour ago was already visible on Google. Now not even after a day (or two). Did I miss a setting on Cloudflare or should I add my /blog page as a page rule? This is my site: http://www.jacktummers.nl

    2. says

      HI. I’ve searched, but I didn’t find a definitive answer, so sorry if it’s well documented and I’ve missed it:
      My question is – How many domains can I use free Cloudflare with? I have about 5 sites all hosted on one Bluehost account.
      Thanks.

    3. Hardik Lamichhane says

      Hey Harsh thanks for your wonderful video tutorials it makes me more understandable to configure my Cloudflare account.
      But after using Cloudflare for my domain nowadays my site having some “unexpected 520 error”, maintenance error and unexpected internal server errors time to time but after waiting some moments its works well but it goes all day long.
      But When I deactivate my WP3 Total Cache plugin it start to work fine. But why? WP3 Total Cache is the cause of this problem?
      Please can you help me?
      Thanks in advance.
      Regards
      Hardik Lamichhane

    4. Nijanthan Vijayakumar says

      Thanks! Harsh,

      I hope you are reading this comment.

      This was really helpful. I mean the first method. Seems HostGator has changed its interface and settings for CloudFare. You can now customize the CloudFare settings within HostGator’s cPanel. I used the automatic method because, that really saved my time of changing the DNS records and choosing the plans etc.

      HostGator automatically chose all the recommended settings.

    5. says

      Hi Harsh,
      Thanks for this useful post.I had uses cloudflare for a month or so with basic settings. I kept rocketloader off. Still I noticed a serious drop in adsense earnings. Any suggestions. Also I have noticed that u have completely stopped showing adsense. Any reason?

    6. sribathi says

      Thank you so much. I set the cloudflare for our [worldwide classified website] write away on reading the post. Actually even if the newbies just follow this post they will get a amazing results for them. Great Great Tutorial. Best Regards.

      -Sribathi

    7. Nizam Bakhshi says

      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

      • says

        @Nizam
        Basically when you do that, all the traffic will go through cloudflare server. They will block the bad bots and this will help to reduce the load of the server, saves bandwidth. Apart from that, Cloudflare also offers free CDN and caching mechanism, which will make your site load faster. I highly recommend you to start using Cloudflare. I’m also using it. Make sure to install the official Cloudflare pluugin.

    8. Achin Jain says

      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..

    9. says

      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!

    10. says

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

    11. Michael Aulia says

      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

    12. Ananya says

      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.

    13. Ankur Upadhyay says

      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?

      • sameer suri says

        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.

    14. says

      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!

    15. says

      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 .

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