If you’ve heard of Cloudflare, you’re likely already using it, if not, then take a few minutes while we explain the benefits of the platform.
First, let’s talk about how Cloudflare works.
Cloudflare is a worldwide network of data centers that sits between your server and the rest of the world. When someone clicks a link or types in your URL, they are first directed to Cloudflare.
When this happens, it happens in milliseconds, but a lot of work is being done. Cloudflare is first and foremost delivering your content from one of its 32 global networks, ensuring fast and reliable delivery no matter where the visitor is located. Second, and some would say even more important, Cloudflare filters the traffic ensuring that only real people and not malicious bots are orchestrated attacks slow your server and eat your bandwidth.
NOTE: Cloudflare cache of static is allowing the delivery of same to be much faster and more reliable than traditional delivery methods.
If you’re not familiar with the cached content, you might wonder whether or not it’s a good idea to cache it.
Can Cloudflare Be Used by Anyone?
Pretty much, yes. No matter what type of site you have from HTML to WordPress, Drupal or Joomla, Cloudflare can help your site load faster and be protected from bad traffic, something we all need.
What is meant by bad traffic and how does Cloudflare filter it?
Because Cloudflare handles so much traffic, approximately 5% fo the entire Internet and growing daily, they have a proprietary ranking system for threats. Beyond that, they partner with other companies who also do threat assessment. With this knowledge, they can spot attacks coming from global hot spots and block the IP from ever reaching your website. And while that’s a perfect solution for most, the end user also has the option of assigning the level of security desired.
Another excellent feature of Cloudflare is their ability to allow good traffic through, even during a concentrated DDOS attack on a server. This is based on their global network and proprietary way of filtering and routing traffic.
While it might seem hard to believe, the basic Cloudflare service is free of charge, easy to setup and offers most of what you need for security and protection.
If you have a larger site or are delivering a lot of mobile traffic, Cloudflare Plus should be considered. Plus uses a proprietary technology called Mirage and Polish which offer increased security and optimized images, designed to give mobile users the best and fastest experience possible.
CloudFlare Plus enhances security by providing SSL, allowing encryption of data between the origin server and their datacenter. It is necessary for the end user to have their SSL certificate in place.
Sounds great, how is Cloudflare activated?
You’ll be surprised how easy it is, which is the best technology. Powerful, yet easy to use, the video below gives a good overview.
What about dynamic content?
NOTE: The tech is called Railgun and essentially creates a secure connection between the origin server and the CF network, saving time and delivering any changed, or dynamic content in a seamless fashion.
Besides what’s been mentioned, what else does Cloudflare do to enhance the delivery of content?
While on a single web page, removing extraneous HTML (like code comments) would yield little, collectively these little changes add up. Cloudflare uses advanced technology to remove any unnecessary HTML delivering only what is needed for the page to load and display properly.
What about traffic spikes, how does Cloudflare help?
The wonderful thing about Cloudflare is that they do NOT charge for bandwidth. Couple this with the fact they are caching your images and the overall effect is reduced bandwidth on your origin server and faster delivery of content during high traffic spikes.
So if my site is targeted for a DDOS attack, how exactly does Cloudflare help.
There are multiple ways that Cloudflare can help.
1. You can block specific countries if desired.
2. You can easily block IPs if needed, although Cloudflare handles this automatically based on their proprietary threat assessment.
3. If you feel your site is currently undergoing a DDOS attack, Cloudflare can put a CAPTCHA page in front of your home page, causing bots to be stopped before ever reaching your site.
Since Cloudflare caches my site, what happens when I make changes?
Don’t worry; you’re not the first person to wonder about this one. If you’re making substantial changes to your site, Cloudflare has an option to simply click one button (once you are logged in) and erase the cache they have on hand. Once this happens, a new snapshot (or cache) is taken, and your changes will then be reflected.
So what’s the bottom line? The bottom line is simply this, anyone interested in enhanced security and speed should give Cloudflare a try, afterall, it’s free.