CloudFlare Cloud Proxy Review: Faster and Safer Site in 5 Minutes

cloud flareIf you own and run a website, performance and security have always been THE issues to tackle. CloudFlare offers cloud proxy solutions that can help you with both; is it any good?

Running a site is more complex that you think. Spammers harvest email addresses found on your site to send their spam emails; hackers mingle with your codes behind your back; those issues are not only affecting your site – they also affect your site visitors. Not stopping there, your slow loading web pages are major turn-offs for your web visitors (and for some search engines, such as Google, slow loading web pages can negatively affect your search engine rankings.)

CloudFlare offers you a simple but powerful solution, addressing those issues: It directs your web traffic to the cloud proxy and it will do the rest. This will make your site faster, safer and smarter.

Faster

In addition to CloudFlare’s ability to cache your site content, it is also identifying a web visitor’s geolocation and the cloud will have the closest proxy to handle access requests.

An example to illustrate: If you are living in Orlando, Florida, accessing a site which web servers are located in Tokyo, Japan will give you about the same loading time as other web visitors located in Tokyo, Japan – all thanks to the cloud that automatically take your visit to the nearest proxy to your location, and send your requests through the cloud to the Tokyo, Japan-based website. All done in real time and automatic ways in the cloud.

The fast loading web pages also means less bandwidth and server resources usage.

Safer

The cloud proxy helps you thwarting known attackers, blocking web spams, and “trapping” malicious code. CloudFlare also helps you block email harvesters, SQL injections, etc. – literally rendering your site hacker-safe and spammer-safe.

Smarter

The most apparent benefit of the cloud proxy is that your site will always appear online, even if your web server was down. The CloudFlare community is also available to help you solve your problems.

My first-hand experience in integrating CloudFlare

I decide to try CloudFlare’s service on this Cloud Business Review site.

CloudFlare comes with 3 plans – Free, Pro and Enterprise. The Free plan, well, is free. The Pro plan can offer you more perks, especially in term of control and analytic, at $20/month for the first site, plus $5/month for each additional site. The Enterprise plan is for the big guys with demanding needs – it’s a custom-pricing plan.

Just like any other good cloud solutions available today, you can upgrade/downgrade from one CloudFlare plan to another easily, with no contract required.

At first I was skeptical whether the whole process will last in only 5 minutes, as advertised, but I must say integrating CloudFlare to your site is really simple and fast.

Signing up

Signing up is super-simple. Just fill in your email address, username and password, and you are ready to go.

Cloud proxy setup

Inside, you can add the URL of your website, and CloudFlare will gather your site’s DNS zones, automatically. Most likely, you don’t need to update or add the DNS zones, but in order to enjoy the full benefit of CloudFlare, you need to update the zones.

Your DNZ zones information is then collected by CloudFlare and the system will do the rest. All you need to do next is to change your site’s domain name servers (DNS) to CloudFlare’s.

That’s it – your site has been supercharged! My timer says 15 minutes, not 5 minutes, but that’s because I can’t find my site’s DNS zones information to cross-check with CloudFlare’s DNS zone crawl fast enough.

CloudFlare – is it any good?

My verdict: Yes, definitely.

Even with the Free plan your site is better off than 80% of the sites on the web today – all achievable in 5 minutes flat. 5 minutes are a minuscule amount of resource to invest, compared to the benefits presented by CloudFlare.

The integration result: For some reasons, this site seems to load faster. I can tell because the difference is relatively significant.

Please consider trying CloudFlare cloud proxy services and let me know how it goes.

You might also like

  • At first, having tried W3 Total Cache with CloudFront CDN, I didn’t think that CloudFlare would be able to improve my site speed much further, since CloudFront really hadn’t done much in the first place. But the results were really shocking:
    http://www.husdal.com/2011/05/28/cloudflare-or-cloudfront-who-wins/
    Even more suprising, CloudFlare seemed to work best with WP Super Cache and not W3 Total Cache, where it is integrated.

    • Ivan

      Jan,

      That’s interesting! Indeed, CloudFlare works wonder with WP Super Cache on CloudBusinessReview.com. According to CloudFlare, our site is 75% faster. That’s good news, I suppose…

  • Just tested CloudFlare with MaxCDN and W3. So far, so good. Will wait a day or two as well to see any other differences.

    • Ivan

      Gary,

      Just wondering – how is it going after a month?