Why Every Site In The World Should Be Using CloudFlare

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Jay Dillon

Director of Strategy and Creative at Inbound Experts
Jay is a digital marketer and producer whose creative and technical skills have developed digital brand strategies and sales campaigns using a range of complex internet applications from stand-alone websites through to Facebook API integrations.
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What is CloudFlare? In my own simple words: A website supercharger that also acts as a 24-hour bodyguard, in most cases, free of charge. In the words of their creators:

“CloudFlare protects and accelerates any website online. Once your website is a part of the CloudFlare community, its web traffic is routed through our intelligent global network. We automatically optimise the delivery of your web pages so your visitors get the fastest page load times and best performances. We also block threats and limit abusive bots and crawlers from wasting your bandwidth and server resources. The result: CloudFlare-powered websites see a significant improvement in performance and a decrease in spam and other attacks.”

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I personally am a visual learner, so feel free to also click play on this 5-minute intro video to CloudFlare.

What’s even better, CloudFlare does not require you to purchase hardware or even install software or modify any code to get the benefits of its Content Delivery Network (CDN) or security. To activate/use CloudFlare, you just need to register with them (for free) and change the name servers of your domain (so that CloudFlare can act as middle tier). Obviously you can always change the setting back if you decide that CloudFlare is not for you (although it’s hard to think up of a reason why not).  Once you sign up, CloudFlare is able to route potentially malicious traffic away from your site through its advanced filtering network and stop attackers before they reach your server as well as accelerate your content. This makes CloudFlare your free DNS provider and you keep your current hosting provider and registrar.

Before I list the top reasons why every website in the world should use CloudFlare, I’d like to share a little of it’s history and current accomplishments. What started off as a 30-person San Francisco start-up for protection has grown to become a company whose quality of service and rock-bottom prices have been attracting new customers at the rate of 1,500 a day (including Fortune 500 companies). It has grown so much that any given day about 25% or more of the Internet’s visitors pass through this network. CloudFlare currently has servers running in 14 data centres around the world.

Enterprise-class DDos protection on the low-end usually costs a few thousand dollars and ends up rising steeply (up to six figures). In contrast, CloudFlare offers a basic protection package that renders the same quality and level of enterprise-class DDos protection, FOR FREE. This basic package not only includes Website security but also content delivery, which can come to be another expensive service.

TOP REASONS WHY TO SAY YES TO CLOUDFLARE:

  1. CloudFlare also offers caching, a service that stores static elements on a Web site as close as possible to the customers that are requesting that site so that when it is clicked on, it loads faster. In general, CloudFlare makes your sites load about 50% faster.
  2. Thanks to this caching, if your server goes down, CloudFlare’s servers will serve your visitors closest to that data centre it’s whole cache (including your pages, posts, etc.) so you won’t have to worry about your webpage not displaying to potential customers. Technically, your website/blog will never go offline.
  3. If you own a WordPress blog, CloudFlare’s caching system does not interfere with WordPress’ caching plug-ins. Although I had some issues with W3 Total Cache in 2013.
  4. With CloudFlare, you can block spammers or annoying IP addresses easily using their control panel. Again, it’s your 24-hours website bodyguard.
  5. Email address obfuscation – if you have published your email address on a website previously your probably aware that bots find it and its not long until your inbox is cluttered with junk. Obfuscation from Cloudflare hides the email address from these pesky bots but allows your visitors to see it as they should.
  6. If you need to switch servers or redirect emails through an alternate server from your website. You can do this in an instant within Cloudflare instead of waiting for nameservers and DNS records to propagate. Alternatively, if there is an issue, you can switch it right back.

In summary, CloudFlare offers authoritative DNS with a twist because not only does it translate a human-readable domain name into a machine-readable name and pass on the traffic to a Web site, it also filters the traffic first for a variety of malicious code. So really, CloudFlare is like a friendly post office that scans all dangerous mail before sending it out, only that here we’re talking about electronic packets and weapons of electronic sabotage. So now you know why every website in the world should consider CloudFlare.

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