Website Optimization with CloudFlare Free CDN

Websites hosted on shared server often face a lot of downtime and security issues. Content delivery networks help reduce the downtime and avoid security attacks on such websites. They also help reduce the comment spam and protect the website from bot traffic. Cloudflare is one such content delivery network that offers security and speed optimization. If you're not sure how cloudflare can help your website then keep reading.

There are many content delivery networks (CDN) out there which serve your website data from data centers spread around the world. Out of all of these CDNs very few of them offer free website security and speed optimization.

Cloudflare is one such CDN that offers free website acceleration and security service. Keeping a website up all the time not only helps your visitors but also for SEO as loading speed is now considered as an important factor. In this article, we will highlight the benefits of using CDN for websites hosted on shared webhost.

What is CloudFlare?

CloudFlare is a content delivery network that distributes your website content across multiple servers and proxies. This helps to access your website from multiple locations reducing the bandwidth and improving loading time. As content delivery network acts like a proxy in between your website and user, it saves your host from DDOS attacks. The primary goal of CloudFlare is to accelerate the loading time and secure the website.

Why CloudFlare?

There are many benefits of using it on your website especially if it is getting large spikes of traffic every now and then. You can use this service to reduce the spam comments. It filters the spam bots from posting comments on the website. By filtering DDOS attacks, spambots, and web scraper bots, you end up saving a lot of bandwidth for the shared hosting websites which are limited on the bandwidth benefits from such service. It also serves static pages once it caches your entire website and reduces calls to your webserver. Cloudflare being content delivery network also accelerates the speed of such cached pages. As your website is served from multiple locations there is less downtime on your website. This helps your website in terms of SEO and doesn't get devalued due to uptime issues.

Setup CloudFlare for Your Site

To set up CloudFlare for your website you need to register for an account. The paid plan starts from 20$ onwards and for those with a limited budget can make use of the free account. After registration, you'll be asked to enter the details of your website. CloudFlare scans your website to show you what performance and security benefits you'll get after setup. Once the scan is completed the installer asks you to input the new DNS records. You can update the DNS record from your webhost's dashboard or Cpanel. You have to input the DNS records to point to the address given to you by the CloudFlare. It takes few hours for new DNS records to propagate and in between your website is likely to show downtime.

Webhosts like Hostgator, Bluehost, and Arvixe have Cpanel support for CloudFlare. You can use CloudFlare from within the Cpanel and get your website up and running within a few minutes. Hosts which have CloudFlare integration reduces the time it takes for the new DNS records to propagate through the network. Cpanel based hosts are now offering CloudFlare integration, so check with your host if they offer you such service. You'll find CloudFlare in the CPanel as shown in the screenshot below. You can also choose to buy a cPanel license and WHM to simply setting up and maintaining your hosting.

Your settings for nameserver and DNS records configuration will be different based on the domain registrar or hosting service. If you have a WordPress website then you can download the plugin and install. The plugin helps you set up the options right from the dashboard. If you use this plugin then you don't have to enable any additional caching plugin.

Cloudflare Developer Mode

There are times when you are making changes to your website and want to see the updated changes instead of cached view. In such a case, enable developer mode by going into the account settings. Once enabled you can make CSS or other media changes on your website and still be able to see the updated changes. If you don't enable this mode then you may not be able to see the changes immediately.

Issues with Cloudflare

Like most of the things in life, CloudFlare has its share of issues. Many high traffic websites have faced downtime from the CDN level. That means even if your host performs better, downtime from Cloudflare could lead to visitors not able to access your website.

Another issue with CloudFlare is that most of the data-centers are in US, Europe and few locations in Asia. This adds latency in the countries which are away from the nearest data-centers. For them, the website either loads slower than the usual loading speed or normal website loading time is served by CloudFlare.

Minification from Cloudflare often breaks most of the WordPress themes. Though this is possible if your theme has built-in feature to minify at the run time. Enabling minification from CloudFlare at the same time will break the design eventually. Though to some extent, this problem is easy to resolve, however, on most of the scenarios this feature happens to break the site design.

Cloudflare can optimize your website and helps get most out of your traffic. The speed optimization not only helps your SEO but it also helps from the security standpoints. If you are on shared webhosting and wish to secure your website while speeding it up, then try CloudFlare CDN.


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