w3techie is a low budget website; there’s no use hiding it. I think I know better than most people how important it is to have a site load quickly. Fast sites increase sales, they have lower bounce rates, their visitors are happier. At one point I was obsessed with getting w3techie to load faster. I did lots of optimization and I tried many different paid CND solutions; I didn’t like any of them for the money I was paying.
Today I found CloudFlare, a free CDN and website security service. When I first saw it I couldn’t believe it. CloudFlare gets your site to load faster, it reduces your requests and bandwidth, and it stops spambots and website attacks. It also makes sure your site is always online, even if your servers temporarily go down. It’s also easier to set up than all the other CDN solutions I’ve seen; all you need to do is change your domain’s DNS settings. It’s simply amazing!
It took me less than 5 minutes to setup from the time I began registering to the time it was active. Pingdom speed tests already show the advantages of using CloudFlare. It’s designed better than the paid solutions I tried and it’s cheaper; I mentioned that I was using a free version which gives me faster site performance, security protection, and enhanced uptime. CloudFlare pro is cheap (only $20 per month for an account with $5 extra for every added website) and offers even more advanced security protection, virtually real-time statistics, and smart preloading of subsequent resources that may be requested.
If you have any questions about the service you can take a look at their FAQ or send a question to their support (they got back to me in less than 30 minutes when I asked the questions below). These are some other questions you may have:
Are there any plans to make CloudFlare a paid-only service?
today. If anything, we hope to move more of the features in the paid service
to the free service over time.
Will legitimate users ever be asked to enter a captcha code to reach a website? (Detected attackers are shown a captcha)
We try very hard to ensure that legitimate users don’t ever get
challenged. When a user who is not running an infected computer gets
presented a CAPTCHA we consider that a failure on our part. Our system gets
smarter over time, so these false positives inherently decrease. We’re
pleased with the low false positive rate we have today, but we continue to
get smarter and better over time. If a particular website is seeing more
false positives than they are comfortable with, they can always reduce the
security level from the default (HIGH) setting to either MEDIUM or LOW. On
the LOW setting, only the worst of the worst visitors are challenged.
Are there any limits to the bandwidth an account can use before prices are raised? Or can all sites – no matter how big, use CloudFlare for the same free or pro prices?
There are no limits to the bandwidth so long as you abide by our terms of
service. For example, we are not a file storage service and our algorithms
optimize what is cached based on seeing the entire HTML stream. If we find
that a site is serving only image files through CloudFlare without any HTML,
that would likely result in us sending a note to the site owner to figure
out what is going on.
cross-browser compatible. To be clear, the way the prefetcher works is if
you have two pages: A & B. Page A requires resources 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Page B
requires resources 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. If you’re a PRO user we look at the
traffic patterns to your site continuously. We know, for example, the
probability that if a visitor is on Page A that they’ll go to Page B. If
resources 6 – 10 in the background while they’re reading Page A. If they do
click to Page B, it will load almost instantly. We also make sure that the
prefetched resources are all cached with CloudFlare, so this doesn’t cost
the site any bandwidth/load if the visitor never goes to Page B.
CloudFlare helps smaller sites like w3techie load quickly and ensure maximum uptime without spending thousands on hosting services. The average website will load 30% faster, use 60% less bandwidth, and make 65% less requests to your server with CloudFlare. Not only are you offloading your resources, you’re also blocking spambots from your user-generated content submission forms. It will also help your site’s search rankings. There’s no reason not to sign up and start using the service now.
Edit: We have not seen one spam comment on the blog today. There have been no spambots at the forum. It’s amazing that CloudFlare is stopping all the bad guys before they even get to the site.
Reviewed by w3techie.