It is a well-known fact that loading of a web page is one of the most important factors for search engine rankings these days.
Lesser known fact:
Google has made it official that a faster loading time will improve your search engine ranking.
Here at ShoutMeLoud, we have already covered what content delivery network is and it’s utility. In the market, there are many paid and free CDNs out there, and we have already covered MAXCDN. Today, I will talk about another popular (also free) CDN network called Cloudflare.
- Must read: What are the benefits of using Cloudflare
What Is Cloudflare CDN & Why It’s Free
Cloudflare CDN (Content 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.
Isn’t that awesome?
I loved it too.
With all these features your server load decreases gradually and the performance increases. It would also serve the cached version of your web pages when your web server goes offline for maintenance.
Now comes the best part:
The basic use of Cloudflare CDN is, wait for it…
How to set up Cloudflare free CDN from cPanel?
Now, how would you check if your web hosting company provides automatic installation of Cloudflare?
For that, simply log on to the hosting cPanel dashboard, and look out for the Cloudflare logo under advanced settings. In case you see the Cloudflare icon, proceed with automatic installation or else you’ll need to set up Cloudflare 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 the Cloudflare 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, 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 will now set up the basic Cloudflare protection and update the DNS on your behalf.
Configuring Cloudflare CDN manually (recommended)
What do you do in case the Cloudflare Automatic Installation is not provided by your web hosting company?
Or in case you are interested in using the advanced features of Cloudflare?
Well, the answer is simple. In both cases, watch this video by Harsh where he has explained how to set up free CDN using Cloudflare:
Simply 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 complete, 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 specific subdomain will be cached and will be served through Cloudflare, while a gray cloud represents that the particular subdomain will bypass Cloudflare and all requests will go directly to the web server.
4) Next, you can select the plan for your Cloudflare account. Remember that the basic use of Cloudflare is 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 ideal 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/bot attacks on your website. You may select a higher security level if your site is under attack. However, don’t do so under normal circumstances as it may cause inconvenience to genuine visitors.
Want to learn more about the various Caching Performance Levels and Security Setting?
Visiting FAQ’s on the 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 name servers on your domain name management dashboard to the ones provided by Cloudflare and wait for them to resolve.
This may take up to 24 hours.
Important Cloudflare Features
Here’s the deal:
I’ve listed 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’s 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 the bounce rate. UserVoice is another great 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 IPs is also shown which were challenged and failed. You may then choose to Block them.
Cloudflare WordPress plugin
In case you’ve installed Cloudflare on your WordPress website, you can additionally install its WordPress plugin.
How does the plugin help?
This plugin helps ensure that the correct IP address appears on comments posted on your website and also improves the 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:
Let me tell you this:
I’ve been on the Cloudflare CDN network for over five years now and I can confidently say that it improves the web server performance drastically.
You know what I like most about it?
It is the Threat Control feature which is extremely 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. However, that was never repeated. If you aren’t on Cloudflare yet – I suggest you get on it 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.
For further reading:
- How to Speed up WordPress (Performance tuning tutorial)
- How To Use Duplicator WordPress Plugin to Migrate WordPress Hosting: DIY Guide
- BlueHost Review: is it a Reliable Hosting for WordPress?
- WPEngine Review: One WordPress Engine You Should Never Drive