Cloudflare Review 2021
Cloudflare’s CDN service has been praised for improving website performance and security. It is one of the most well-known CDNs in the market, and it is utilized by several of the world’s largest companies, such as Lyft.
What is a CDN, and how does it work? A CDN acts as a secure entry point for your website, keeping undesirable actors at bay while also providing the best possible experience to your visitors. This article examines Cloudflare’s capabilities and explains how they might be utilized on sites ranging from personal blogs to large business websites.
What's on This Page
What is a CDN?
A content delivery network (CDN) is a group of servers scattered across the globe that collaborate to deliver online material quickly and securely. Even web traffic from some of the internet’s most popular sites, such as Facebook, Netflix, and Amazon, is now served through CDNs.
CDNs help secure websites against deliberate attacks like Distributed Denial of Service, also known as DDoS assaults. An assault utilizing a DDoS attack occurs when an attacker sends numerous requests to a website with the goal of clogging it up and overtaking its capacity to process all of them. When this happens, the website is unable to operate correctly, leaving it exposed.
A CDN isn’t a substitute for web hosting, but it can help cache content, which will boost the performance of your website. Caching reduces web hosting costs, resulting in fewer outages and greater security.
The benefits of a CDN include:
- Improved security – CDNs provide DDoS mitigation and improve security certificates
- Reduced bandwidth – By caching and other optimizations, data is reduced for the origin server, reducing hosting costs
- Improved load times – Using nearby severs, CDNs distribute content closer to website users, resulting in visitors experiencing faster load times. This means CDNs can reduce bounce rates and increase the time people spend on your website.
What is Cloudflare?
Cloudflare is an integrated security and performance suite for web apps. It acts as a reverse proxy that requests go through to access your website. Think of it as the guard at the front door of your website. The platform is built with three verticals in mind: security, performance, and reliability.
On the security front, the software scans requests pointing at your web property and looks for malicious content and bad actors. It also offers a firewall that website owners can define the parameters of.
When it comes to performance, Cloudflare has over 200 data centres strategically located all over the world, this allows for a faster and more smooth browsing experience for web visitors.
How reliable is Cloudflare? Well, it solves hundreds of billions of DNS queries each day on over 25 million online properties that include government agencies, social networks and e-commerce.
Cloudflare Pros and Cons
How do I use a CDN like Cloudflare?
Adding a CDN to your website has a different process depending on where and how your website is hosted. If your website is hosted by a provider, you may have access to a CDN as a service. For example, Bluehost, provides Cloudflare for free and it’s enabled by default for all plans. If your web hosting provider doesn’t offer a built-in option, you may need to resort to one of the following options.
If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, you can use a plugin to implement a CDN.
If your website is self-hosted, you’ll have the most flexibility in what CDN you implement, but it will require more setup. Once you’ve selected the CDN you’d like to use, you’ll have to do your research to find out how to activate it. Not to worry though, most modern CDNs manage your DNS records for you which means you won’t have to make changes to your website to get a CDN up and running.
Our Rating Process
We tried out Cloudflare and assessed it based on features, price, user experience, and customer support, so you don’t have to! We gave each category a rating out of 5, to help you make the best decision when it comes to choosing a CDN that works for you and your business.
Features – 4.5/5
Cloudflare has loads of features that act as your best friend when it comes to managing your site. When you open up the dashboard, you’ll see icons for analytics, DNS, firewall, speed, caching, network, traffic, and customization.
Speed runs performance tests on your site and will send you reports on any improvements made from using the CDN. If you click optimize, you’ll gain access to tips and tricks on how to make your site even faster and more responsive.
The analytics area will give you detailed reports that keep you appraised on your bandwidth usage, cache effectiveness, threats blocked, and more. If you’re on the free plan, the DNS report will only cover the last 6 hours, while a pro account will extend that to a day.
The Always Online feature makes sure your content is served even if the original server is down, this limits any effects that may come up due to downtime.
When it comes to security, the system lets you block IP address so that you can keep known threats away. It also has a Reputation Threat module that blocks threats by identifying IP addresses.
Along with robust features, Cloudflare lets you integrate apps to your website, including Paypal, Google Analytics, and social media buttons.
Price – 4/5
The free plan allows full access to the global CDN, security features, SSL encryption, and analytics reports. There are limitations, however, on the free plan you’ll only get weekly site crawls, and an activation period, and analytics updates that take effect after 24 hours. The free plan offers basic DDoS protection with 3-page rules included. If the free plan is enough for you – you won’t have to worry about restrictions forcing you to upgrade, because that doesn’t exist! The plan is free for the foreseeable future and there are no bandwidth limits.
The paid plans will allow for better site protection via a Web Application Firewall and OWASP ModSecurity Core rule set, more site crawling, 24/7 support, and the ability to upload your own custom shared SSL.
User Experience – 4.5/5
Cloudflare has spent a lot of time working on its user experience. Their goal is to build a better internet and bring protection to anyone and everyone. Customers have celebrated Cloudflare for how easy it is for IT professionals at any level to use. For any roadblocks, resources and support are provided, making your CDN journey one that is safe, secure, and stress-free.
Customer Service – 5/5
Cloudflare’s support center is jam-packed with the information you need. They have troubleshooting guides, video tutorials, and knowledge base articles to get you started. If you have more questions or require support after this, the service offers both phone and email support, with the email support getting an average response time of two hours.
Price per month
Unmetered Mitigation of DDOS
Custom certificate upload
Web app firewall
25+ custom rule sets
“I’m Under Attack” mode
Technical / Product Details
Desktop: Internet Explowerer 7, Firefox 2, Opera 8, Google Chrome v5.0.342.0, Safari 2.1, Mobile browsers
Mobile: Android 3.0 (Honeycomb and later), Windows Phone 7
Phone, email, knowledge base
Up to 100 page rules
Small to medium businesses, enterprise businesses
Frequently Asked Questions
To set up a Cloudflare account you need to visit cloudflare.com and click ‘sign up’ at the top of the page. You’ll be prompted to create an account using your email address. Once you’ve set up your account you will be prompted to add your domain name. Next, the CDN will run a scan of your DNS records, this could take up to an hour.
When your list of DNS records appears, you can decide which subdomains you want Cloudflare to run on. Next, you choose the plan that best suits your needs! Lastly you’ll need to add Cloudflare nameservers for your domain.
Using a massive network of servers spread across more than 93 countries Cloudflare caches data and enacts firewalls on a large scale, making sure that malicious traffic from bots, crawlers and hackers is blocked while safe traffic from web browsers is approved. Cloudflare acts as a shield between your website and the rest of the internet.
Many well established companies use Cloudflare including Udemy, Tinder, Lyft, and Medium.