If you are doing the research before launching your first website, or you already have one and are now making sure that you have covered everything — you should definitely know about global CDN solutions like Cloudflare.
Whether you heard the name before or not, this is something that your website needs to have. Our Cloudflare review will explain how the service works and how a global CDN, DNS and DDoS protection would benefit your website and your users.
Besides CDN, Cloudflare comes with numerous advantages and no real flaws of any kind, which is why you should definitely ensure that it becomes a part of your site. To explain matters in detail, keep reading our Cloudflare review, where we will explain what is Cloudflare, what it does, how it works, its prices, and more.
Cloudflare is a Content Delivery Network, or a CDN. This is a distributed network that consists of servers, and that is used for providing numerous advantages to websites, but we will talk more about that later on.
Cloudflare was created more than a decade ago, in 2009, by the members of a different project, called Project Honey Pot. It was developed due to the project members’ desire to track malicious behavior online and protect websites from such threats.
Considering that the decade that followed its creation was marked by some of the worst malicious attacks and incidents in the history of the internet, you could say that Cloudflare came just in time. In this Cloudflare review we will explain why.
Cloudflare Review – How Does it Work?
When it comes to how Cloudflare works, the concept is quite simple to understand.
Basically, when you activate it on your site, your site joins its network. The network is used for routing website traffic through its data centers, which are spread all over the world. It then acts as an intermediary between a server and a client, and in the meantime, it uses a reverse proxy that allows it to mirror and cache websites.
What this means is that it optimizes web content delivery by creating duplicates of static content, and storing them on its own servers. That way, the content on your site is served from Cloudflare’s servers which are located as close as possible to each individual visitor to your website, instead of the traffic having to arrive from the other side of the world.
The same design which allows Cloudflare to place itself between the client and a server also works as a security measure. Basically, Cloudflare can detect malicious traffic before it reaches its location, and so it can intercept and block DDoS attacks and remove spam that would have otherwise caused the server hosting your website to crash.
You can even use it with SSL, which is another necessary protection layer for your website which encrypts traffic that flows between your website and visitors.
However, to do so, you will have to upgrade to Cloudflare Pro in order to use them at the same time. There are two Cloudflare SSL options:
1) Full SSL, where you need a self-signed SSL certificate
2) Full SSL (strict), which is an option for which you require a valid SSL signed by a Certificate Authority.
However, it should also be noted that, if you have SSL enabled for a subdomain only, you do not need to upgrade to Cloudflare pro, and your Cloudflare free version should still work on a root domain.
However, you will have to ensure that the subdomain that has SSL enabled is not supported by Cloudflare, which you can ensure in the settings.
What Does Cloudflare Do?
The next thing that we will talk about in this review is what exactly does it do, or what services does it provide.
As mentioned, Cloudflare’s primary purpose is to act as a content delivery network, meaning that it provides something called an edge network.
We have talked about this previously, but the easiest way to understand it is to remember that each website is stored on a server, and each server sits in a specific location.
Now, if the visitor to the website lives on the other side of the world, it will take significantly longer for the website to load for them.
Cloudflare speeds up your website by keeping a copy of the content in different locations around the world, and so no matter where the visitor is located, they will receive information from the data center that is closest to them, instead of from the physical location of the original server.
That way, the process is much faster, and the problem of latency is resolved.
Now, Cloudflare features as many as 155 data centers around the world (At the time this article was writte), which means that users can access any website that is a part of the Cloudflare network at rapid speed, no matter where in the world they might be.
We also mentioned that Cloudflare provides security that includes DDoS protection, but it also features web application firewall access, email obfuscation, and threat blocking. All of this is possible due to the fact that it acts as a mediator between a website and its viewer, so it can act as a filter and ensure that no harm can come to the website.
This is especially useful when it comes to protecting sites owned by public interest groups, political election websites, healthcare sites, and other websites where speed and top security are highly valued.
Of course, you should also consider using it for your own site, regardless of the type of website that you run.
Even if it is a regular blog, speed is of utmost importance on today’s internet. Your typical user is not interested in being patient and waiting for 10+ seconds for a website to load. If the site does not open within only a few seconds, the user will be ready to move on, according to Google.
Naturally, security is just as important, if not more. The lack of speed can lead to the viewers’ irritation. The lack of security can cause real problems for the website and its users,
How a CDN Speeds Up Yor Site Delivery
Cloudflare has an extensive datacenter network in many locations around the globe where copies of your website are cached.
When a visitor wnats to access your website, Cloudflare routes him to the nearest datacenter from his location. A proprietary technology called Anycast makes sure that each user is redirected to the closest datacenter.
Therefore, the user doesn’t need to reach your original server location, which might be very far from his position. Hw will be rerouted to a cached version of your site that will open twice as fast as the normal load time.
Moreover, the CDN utilizes an IPv6 network that will optimize even more your site speed even if you are still on the old IPv4 infrastructure.
Review of Cloudflare – Pricing
Earlier in our Cloudflare review, we mentioned that you might have to upgrade to Cloudflare Pro in order to use it with an SSL certificate. Naturally, this indicates that there are different plans that the service offers, which is also worth mentioning.
Cloudflare actually offers four different plans for you to choose from, each with a different price. They are as follows:
- Free plan — $0 per month — best for individuals with personal websites
- Pro plan — $20 per month — best for portfolios, blogs, and professional sites that need to have SSL enabled for extra security
- Business plan — $200 per month — for businesses and websites that require truly advanced security and performance, with prioritized support
- Enterprise plan — custom price — best for companies that require enterprise-grade security, performance, and emergency support
How to Install Cloudflare?
If all of this sounds good to you, then the next step would be to enable Cloudflare on your website. The process is pretty short and simple, so you don’t have to worry if you are not particularly tech-savvy.
There is no need to make any changes on the hardware level, or even on the code level.
Simply go to Cloudflare’s website and create an account.
Then select the plan, depending on the type of website that you are building, and choose which site you want to protect by updating the DNS point to it.
If you do not know how to point the DNS to Cloudflare, get in touch with your web hosting provider to receive assistance (you understand why a hosting provider with good customer care is always a plus!!)
If you don’t have your website yet, you should also know that there are some hosting providers that integrate Cloudflare themselves, and for free, at that.
How to Disable Cloudflare?
Finally, let’s talk about how to disable Cloudflare. Doing this is a good idea for instances where you need to do some maintenance, testing, or further development of your website.
Doing this is also very simple. Following, we will show you how to disable Cloudflare from Bluehost cPanel. The procedure may be slightly different with other hosting providers but it will be in any case fairly simple.
1) Log in to your website’s cPanel
2) Go to the Software section, and click Cloudflare
3) Using the dropdown menu at the bottom of the page, locate the Domains button in the toolbar and click on that your domain name.
4) To disable Cloudflare, just click on the button “Disable”
Do what you need to do, but remember to follow these exact steps to reactivate Cloudflare. Make sure you click on “enable” and Cloudflare will start to work again.
At this point, you should know all you need in order to get Cloudflare for your website(s), including why using it is a good idea.
With Cloudflare, you will ensure that visitors to your website do not have to wait and lose their patience during the loading process, and you will also increase the security of your site, as well as your visitors.
Doing this is important, especially in this day and age, when DDoS attacks can easily be conducted, or even ordered. Not to mention all the malicious traffic that is targeting sites around the world.
All of this makes Cloudflare one of the most important cloud hosting services of which regular internet users never heard of, not knowing that they and their favorite websites have been protected by such a service for over a decade.
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