Cloudflare began its journey as a CDN service in 2009. Within 9 years, the company has become a top web security, CDN, and DNS service provider. CF provides the world’s fastest DNS service. It also thwarts 100s of DDOS attacks every day. CF is used by over 500K large, medium, and small websites. It is also used by large corporations such as IBM, Cisco, DigitalOcean, etc.
What I use Cloudflare for?
- Caching static content.
- As a DNS service.
Cloudflare is an easy to use CDN service. The only thing required to get started with it is an email address. You won’t be asked to enter credit/debit card details if you’ll be using the free version of CF.
Unlike other premium DNS service providers, there’s no limitation on the number of DNS queries or amount of data your site can transfer if you’re using CF.
Once you register and login to your Cloudflare account, click on the “Add Site” option and enter a DOMAIN name (site address). Once you do so, CF will display two nameservers on your screen. You must now log in to your domain registrars website and change the nameservers to the one provided by Cloudflare.
CF will now check if the nameserver has been configured correctly. Then, it will give you access to the following tools:
To make users aware of the number of threats and the amount of bandwidth it has saved, Cloudflare provides an analytics interface.
This interface displays beautiful graphs of cached/uncached requests, top traffic sources, the number of unique visitors to the site, etc. CF allows you to see the analytics data for the last month, week and past 24 hours.
You can use Cloudflare as a DNS service provider as well as caching service. CF provides an option to turn off caching and its DNS service temporarily.
A website asking users to enter the credit card or debit card number, SSN, or any other private information should use HTTPS protocol instead of HTTP. If it doesn’t do so, the browser will display a warning message in the address bar. Setting up an SSL certificate manually is a difficult task. But with Cloudflare, it is as easy as cutting a cake. Cloudflare allows users to enable SSL certificate for their site with a single click.
Cloudflare offers the following security features:
Rate limiting: This feature ensures that the user or a malicious bot is blocked from accessing a specific page after several successive attempts.
Security levels: If you enable this feature, CF will make the user/bot pass a challenge if it finds the user’s IP suspicious.
IP level firewall: You can use this feature to block certain IPs from accessing your site or certain pages.
Login security: When you log in to your account and if Cloudflare finds something suspicious, it will dispatch an email to your inbox.
Caching is the most important feature of Cloudflare. In addition to caching your site’s assets and serving them from a nearby server, Cloudflare can minify CSS, JS scripts and the HTML code. The DNS service provider supports Brotli compression which reduces the size of GZip files significantly. It enables users to turn on the Rocket Loader feature which adds “async” tag to JS files/scripts. If you’re using a separate theme for mobile users, you can redirect users to the mobile version of the page from the Cloudflare dashboard.
Cloudflare can cache URLs with or without query parameters. It lets users specify the browser cache duration. CF allows visitors to access your website even if your server is down. To use this feature, you must turn on the “Always Online” option in the caching interface of Cloudflare.
CF allows users to delete certain cached URLs. It also lets you delete the entire cache so that the users and bots can find the latest pages.
Don’t want Cloudflare to cache certain pages? Use the Page Rules feature. Users of the free CF plan can create up to 3-page rules. They can buy additional rules by paying. The price per rule is $1.
Through this page, you can enable IPV6, HTTP/2 protocols, and set the maximum file upload size for your website.
To save their bandwidth, some users copy image URLs from other sites and embed them into the pages of their site. You can disable this by enabling the Hotlink Protection feature of Cloudflare.
CF can obfuscate email addresses so that bots designed for internet marketing purpose won’t be able to scrape your email address.
Am I happy with Cloudflare?
Yes, CF provides many powerful and reliable features free of cost. I’m using their DNS/caching service since 2014. I’ve never faced any issues with CF.
- Easy to use.
- Plenty of features.
- Reliable DNS servers.
Final thoughts: Cloudflare is a good solution for small businesses and enterprises who want to protect their site from DDOS attacks or make it faster for free or at economical costs.