Before I get into my review. Here is an overview is what CloudFlare is about:
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 optimize the delivery of your web pages so your visitors get the fastest page load times and best performance. 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. | More information about CloudFlare can be found here.
Best of all it is FREE! You get a a lot of features on the free version as well. There is a pro version if you interested in that. But I don’t see a need to upgrade to the pro version currently. But who knows maybe down the road I might.
CloudFlare will cache static files such as images, css and js files. So if your site is dynamic it will run exactly as before but with a key difference. It’s dramatically speed up and protected from the evil doers of the web. I have CloudFlare enabled on several WordPress installs and a Joomla install as well. No issues on any of them whatsoever.
The website speed difference is night and day. With CF (CloudFlare) enabled it was loading within a couple seconds. Here is a 3rd party test I did on a page where the content rarely changes:
On my CF Dashboard it says the average page load time is:
Without CloudFlare: 4.21
With CloudFlare: 0.94
It without a doubt speeds up my website tremendously using CF. Don’t think I could ever go back now.
Another benefit is reduced blog comment spam. Before CF I would have pages and pages of comment spam to go threw daily. Notice the huge drop in spam around the first part of October on the Akismet Stats page? That drop happened with CF was turned on! I now very rarely see a spam member sign up now as well. I currently have my security setting on CloudFlare set to Medium.
Now when I first started out with CF, my stats with Google Analytics no longer worked. BUT now it does, they had an issue but it’s now corrected, so if you decide to try it out, you’ll be fine. That’s why I blacked it out above.
I went into my Google Analytics for my primary traffic website as far back as December 2009. The average bounce rate was pretty much around 80% which is awful. But after I enabled CloudFlare the bounce rate was dramatically lower! Get this … it was averaging about 6% with CloudFlare enabled, which is great! Page views are also up 2 – 3 times than the previous average.
Above are the stats for my main website for the past 30 days. As you can see, CF serves the majority of the requests and bandwidth. If you happen to pay for how much bandwidth you use, this will be a big money saver for you.
On my cPanel before CloudFlare my “Processes Running” sometimes would spike up to 25 (max) under heavy traffic and bring my site down. Now with CloudFlare enabled when I check it, the highest I’ve seen is 3 – 5 at the most. Most of the time is around 2-3.
If one of your website visitors happens to be greeted with CloudFlare Challenge page like so, then all they have to do is enter a Captcha to gain access and they can leave a message for you, so you can check your threat control panel on your CF account to whitelist their IP address so they don’t get that challenge page again. What’s great is now you can customize how your challenge page looks, something I highly recommend doing.
My main websites are located on HostGator and they are a launch partner with CloudFlare so setting up CloudFlare is as simple as clicking a Grey Cloud so it turns orange in the cPanel, seriously that it! You will still need to create an account on the CloudFlare website so you can monitor it there.
I’ve also set up a website to run on CF at work and it was active and running in about 10 mins since I had to manually set it up. But it’s an easy setup, don’t let the word DNS scare you. Here is a good place to get started on finding your DNS info.
I first starting using CloudFlare in early October 2010 and I had a slightly rocky start for the first month or so. Site would go down off and on, but never for very long at least. For the past few months it’s has been rock solid and has not gone down. They have made a lot of improvements since then.
Note: This is not a paid review, this is of my own free will. But they did send me a pretty sweet CloudFlare t-shirt which I wear off and on.
To see my final score or to add your own score of CloudFlare check out the listing on SlySpyder.
Here is some other helpful info if you decide to give CloudFlare a try:
Security Level Setting
We’re tuning these over time, which is why we haven’t made them 100% clear.
We also incorporate non-Project Honey Pot data, which makes the mappings
difficult. However, the approximate thresholds currently are:
HIGH – Anything >0
MEDIUM – Anything >25
LOW – Anything >50
If you keep seeing a “My Site is Offline” message click the link below, that will show you the IPs CloudFlare is using. Make sure these IPs are not blacklisted or blocked with your hosting company.