Why you need CloudFlare on Your Website
Free stuff isn’t always great – but CloudFlare truly is, and the best part is, their free plan is probably perfect for your website.
Let’s talk about what CloudFlare is, which isn’t that simple – because they do more than one thing. Think of CloudFlare as a DNS provider, WAF, and CDN, all in one. Don’t know what those things are? No problem, I’m going to explain it right now.
CloudFlare DNS – DNS, or domain name system, basically takes your request for a website, and routes it to the server that’s handling that request. The simple way to make it clear what DNS does is that humans talk words, computers talk numbers, and DNS is the translator. Let’s say you go to example.com but the server that hosts that website is located at 184.108.40.206. DNS needs to make that connection happen – and it has to happen in just a few milli-seconds, every time you ask it to. I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritty details, but CloudFlare’s got a huge network that outperforms pretty much the best DNS performance anywhere in the world – and that type of performance and reliabilty is the first step to a happy website visitor and potential customer.
CloudFlare WAF – A WAF, or web application firewall, doesn’t just allow or deny a connection like a regular firewall – it actually filters the HTTP content to and from the website. Whether it’s an outdated WordPress plugin or misconfigured server software, a web application firewall like CloudFlare might save your bacon, and your reputation – because let’s face it – your customers data and search engine rankings are worth a lot.
CloudFlare CDN – a CDN, or content delivery network, is a smart way to speed up your site as well as decrease your server load and lower bandwidth ussage. In short, images and other static assets (things that don’t change) are cached by the CDN and delivered to your visitors browser by the CDN, rather than the host server. This is a good thing because a global CDN is closer to your customer and has more infrastructure behind it to deliver those assets faster than some random server in a single datacenter somewhere that’s probably hosting a thousand other websites – because that’s how most hosting companies work.
In addition to improving the performance and security of your website, and saving you money on infrastructure, CloudFlare has a bunch of other handy features too, including analytics as well as support for many third-party apps and features to enhance your website.
So, why wouldn’t you use CloudFlare? That I don’t know, because their free plan is more than enough for more than 95% of all the websites I’ve built or manage. Anyway, check out CloudFlare, or ask your website guy (or gal) to enable it on your website.
PS: I’ve been a CloudFlare customer for years – I even have a CloudFlare t-shirt floating around here (though, hey, if y’all read this, I could use a new one, size small).