What is CloudFlare? How does it work?

CloudFlare is a system that acts a proxy between your visitors and your website, it accelerates and adds more security to your website, as well reducing bandwidth and page load times. Best of all in it's basic form it's FREE!

How Does it Work?

Once CloudFlare is enabled for your website, CloudFlare will clean and accelerate your traffic to your website as all requests to your website are now routed through CloudFlare. With network routing technology and 23 data centers around the world, CloudFlare is able to:

  • Screen your website's traffic for malicious visitors

    CloudFlare receives requests for your website and analyzes them to determine if a visitor is a threat based on the visitor's IP, the resource being requested, the payload being posted and how frequently requests are being made among other things. Threats are blocked and "good" visitors are able to quickly access the pages they request.

    Cache static content on your website

    CloudFlare caches static content on your website like images, JavaScript and CSS, not HTML. Cached content is refreshed frequently and delivered directly to visitors from a local CloudFlare data center at an extremely fast speed. Even when data is not cache-able, CloudFlare is able to respond to requests just as fast through premium routes.
To learn more about CloudFlare, you can watch the introductory video and take a look at their blog. We are delighted to offer this great service to you and help make your website faster and safer.

Advantages of CloudFlare

There are several advantages to using the CloudFlare service.

  • Site Performance Improvement:

    CloudFlare has proxy servers located throughout the world. Proxy servers are located closer to your visitors, which means they will likely see page load speed improvements as the cached content is delivered from the closest caching box instead of directly off our server. There is a lot of research that shows the faster the site, the longer a visitor stays.

  • Bot and Threat Protection:

    CloudFlare uses data from Project Honey Pot and other third party sources, as well as the data from its community to identify malicious threats online and stop the attacks before they even get to your site. You can see which threats are being stopped through your CloudFlare dashboard here: https://www.cloudflare.com/your-websites.html

  • Spam Comments Protection:

    CloudFlare leverages data from third party resources to reduce the number of spam comments on your site.

  • Alerting Visitors of Infected Computers:

    CloudFlare alerts human visitors that have an infected computer that they need to take action to clean up the malware or virus on their machine. The visitor can enter a CAPTCHA to gain access to your site.

  • Offline Browsing Mode:

    In the event that our server is unavailable, visitors should still be able to access your site since CloudFlare serves the visitor a page from its cache.

  • Lower CPU Usage:

    As fewer requests hit our server, the overall CPU usage of your account is reduced.

  • New Site Stats:

    CloudFlare gives you insight into search engine crawlers and threats.

Limitations of CloudFlare

Before enabling CloudFlare for you website, you may want to consider the following:

  • Currently, requests must be directed to www.$domain instead of $domain (which means you may need to make some configuration changes).
  • CloudFlare may affect internal statistic programs that read directly from Apache logs. (CloudFlare will not affect web-based analytic programs that use JavaScript like Google Analytics.) While your logs will reflect fewer requests to your server and therefore lower load, the experience to your visitors should be unaffected.
  • CloudFlare caches static content from your site. While this reduces the load on your server, it means that if you make a change to an existing static file, like an image, there may be a delay before the change appears. While you are updating your site, you can put CloudFlare in Development Mode so changes appear immediately.
  • CloudFlare's basic mode cannot handle SSL certificates. If you need to use an SSL certificate, that part of your site needs to be on a subdomain that is not protected.
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