CloudFlare has been in the CDN industry for over 5 years now and already grabbed a mighty position and strong popularity across the website owners on the web. The reasons CloudFlare is so popular now of their Free DDoS protection service that you may not get anywhere with a CDN provider that CloudFlare does provide. Also 76 data centers located around the world on bigger contents, towns and cities ensure higher probabilities of conveying your website pages as faster as possible to your target audience (no matter where they are) in less than seconds.

If your hosting provider suddenly went offline your visitors can still visit your site with CloudFlare’s “Always Online” mode since it stores a cached version of your static files and until you purge your cached files your site will be remaining online.

Plus so many premium features you get with a free CloudFlare account. I will now discuss about CDN for Website, CloudFlare CDN, CloudFlare features in addition with a visual comparison between CloudFlare and MaxCDN and CloudFlare Installation on a Website for free.

What is a CDN for Website?

A CDN is a short form of Content Delivery Network is a system of distributed networks around the globe that delivers a website’s static resources CSS, JavaScript, HTML and Images etc. to a user based on geographic locations of the user, and origin of the webpage and a content delivery server.

This service is very effective for websites with high volume traffic in speeding up the delivery of content to the requested user in anywhere of the world near to the CDN server locations. The fact is that the closer the CDN server location to the user the faster the content will be delivered to the user.

A CDN service can be provided on the major contents of the Word including North America, European zone, Asia zone, Africa, Australia, and South America etc.

Look below image very carefully and you will see the Origin Sever is located in Europe but the webpage is distributed to the end users in major contents of the world with CDN Node services, so that a user who accesses to the site from anywhere near to the CDN server location will get faster speed of loading site content and other resources.

How CDN works

How CDN works

A CDN service not only provides faster page speed to a website but also can protect your site from malicious attacks like DDoS Attack, Brute force attacks, Spam comment attacks etc.

What is CloudFlare CDN?

CloudFlare is a free and powerful yet CDN service provider which is founded in 2009 in San Francisco, CA United States by Matthew Prince and his team. After official launch the CloudFlare had very few distributed networks (about 23 data centers) but today CloudFlare has 76 data centers (majorities are in USA and European zone) in all over the world.

Unlike other CDN service providers that only provide faster delivery speed CloudFlare provides both faster delivery rate and website security in many aspects. Once your site is a part of CloudFlare network your website’s all traffic is routed through CloudFlare intelligent global network before landing on your website pages. CloudFlare detects the traffic behaviors with its powerful technologies and only passes user if it detects a real traffic otherwise blocks user and never allows to land on your website.

CloudFlare CDN Features

Six ways a CloudFlare CDN Works to optimize your website speed and increase website security with its advanced features.

CDN

CloudFlare designed its own CDN (Content Delivery Network) without the legacy in the last 15 years of services. CloudFlare’s proprietary technology has taken advantages of recent changes to hardware, web server technology and network routing, in the other words CloudFlare has built the next-generation CDN services ever.

network-map

network-map

CloudFlare CDNs are distributed through 76 data centers (Check CloudFlare global network) around the world and their CDN automatically caches your website’s static files CSS, HTML, JavaScript, Images etc. at their edge node so these files are stored closer to your visitors while delivering dynamic content directly from your web server. In addition CloudFlare uses a technology called Anycast to route your visitors to the nearest data centers. These are all resulting in a faster page speed; on average your website loads twice as fast for your visitors regardless of where they are located.

CloudFlare never charges any bill for bandwidth regardless if your site suddenly gets popular or suffers an attack you won’t have to be dreading your bandwidth bill. The configuration process is very simple (which I will discuss below) and your site will always remain online during CloudFlare installation on your WordPress site.

More about CloudFlare CDN

Optimization

Website performance does not mean just about moving static files closer to visitors but it also about ensuring better web performance in rendering web page content and resources on all devices your visitors use to access your site.

optimization-asynchronous-loading

optimization-asynchronous-loading

With CloudFlare’s advanced webpage optimization feature your website gets blazingly fast page speed on cross devices and browsers used by your visitors. The optimization features include Rocket Loader, Reduced Connections, Auto Minify, Local storage caching, and Cache header optimization that can provider super fast page loading performances across your website.

More about web content optimization

Security

Online threats range from nuisances like comment spam, excessive bot crawling to malicious attacks like SQL injection and Distributed Denial of Services (DDoS attacks). With CloudFlare advanced security protection your website will remain safe from all kinds of potential attacks that you may not know.

security-analytics-dashboard

security-analytics-dashboard

CloudFlare’s security ranges from Automatic learning of new attacks which is a system that automatically detects new attacks arise against any website on its network. Once CloudFlare detects that there is a new attack, it starts to block the attack for both the particular website and the entire community.

With advanced and highly equipped analytics dashboard you can simply navigate through your website’s security performances choosing between I’m under attack!, High, Medium, Low and Essentially off modes.

CloudFlare shows you a list of threats that have been stopped from reaching your website; you can narrow the results by sorting out threats type, country origin and severity. Till today CloudFlare protected websites against a range of threats: cross site scripting, SQL injection, comment spam, excessive bot crawling, email harvesters, and more.

Providing full armor defense or stopping the worst threats CloudFlare system will keep your site always online with 100% guaranteed security protocol.

DDoS Protection

Denial-of-service (DoS) attacks are on the rising and coming to an evolved complex and overwhelming security challenges for organizations small or large. DoS attacks are not any recent phenomenon or practices , the methods and resources available to conduct and process such attacks have dramatically increased and even developed to a distributed (DDoS) and more recently, distributed reflector (DRDoS) attacks—attacks that are simply not addressed to traditional on-premise solutions.

ddos protection - cloudflare

ddos protection – cloudflare

But thanks to CloudFlare’s advanced DDoS protection, provisioned as a service at the network edge, it alleviates DDoS attacks, including those that target UDP and ICMP protocols, SYN/ACK, DNS and NTP amplification and Layer 7 attacks.

Read following news about DDoS threats in Europe

DNS

CloudFlare is now powering over 35% of managed DNS domains, running one of the largest authoritative DNS networks in the world. CloudFlare’s DNS is to be fast, powerful and secure than any other DNS providers in the market.

Apps

Apps that are enabled on your personal device (Computer or Smartphone) expedite your process of chores and bring your more advanced and evolved results within shorter time. CloudFlare provides number of web analytics and marketing related apps that you can install no your computer or smartphone and track your analytics reports for any platform you want.

apps-illustration

apps-illustration

Learn more about CloudFlare Apps

CloudFlare CDN vs. MaxCDN in Performances, Optimizations and Pricing

Comparison CloudFlare MaxCDN
Global CDN Servers CloudFlare has extended their global servers to 76 different locations (majority in USA and European zone) around the world MaxCDN has global severs to 57 different locations (majority in USA and European zone) around the world
CDN Locations CloudFlare CDNs are located mostly in Asia zone (27), European zone (21), North America zone (14), Middle East zone (4), Oceania zone (3), South America zone (5), Africa zone (3).

Check CloudFlare's global CDN locations
MaxCDN CDNs are located majority in European zone (31), North America zone (22), Asia zone (3) South America zone (1).

Check MaxCDN's global CDN locations
Server Type CloudFlare works as reverse proxy taking request from the internet and forwarding them to servers in an internal network. MaxCDN does not work as reverse proxy but it stores static resources (CSS, JavaScript, HTML and Images) of a website and deliver cached version of the website in twice faster than origin server.
Optimization CloudFlare optimizes your website with Rocket Loader, Reduced connections, Auto Minify, Local storage caching and Cache header optimization. MaxCDN's optimization features include Creating a custom Edge Rule, Hiding X-powered-by Header, Hiding S3 Headers, Adding X-XSS-Protection Header, Blocking by country, Redirecting all Bots, Adding X-Robots-Tag, Cors Headers, Hiding Server Header, Adding Canonical Header etc.
Mobile Optimization CloudFlare optimizes your website for mobile devices using a developed custom cache key to deliver web resources specifically tailored to each device type. CloudFlare uses other technologies like Railgun™ that accelerates connections between each ClouFlare data center and your origin server(s), Mirage and Polish also deliver faster page load times on mobile devices. MaxCDN also provides optimization for both desktop and mobile devices. For mobile device you can create separate caches, one of mobile devices and other for desktops. In this way MaxCDN serves better content delivery ratio and provides the best experience for your users on any device.
DDoS Protection CloudFlare is a remarkable service for protecting a site against DDoS attacks with its advanced security services. CloudFlare's DDoS is an affordable service that anyone can claim for website for free. MaxCDN does not provide any protection against DDoS attacks for website but it can protect your site using Two Step Authentication, API Security and Create Secure Tokens methods.
Realtime With CloudFlare's advanced realtime analytics reports you can get information about your website traffic data, bandwidth save ratio, recent protection against attacks, traffic blocked and much more for 24 hours basis. MaxCDN also provides realtime reports about your website analytics data regarding Realtime Purge, Realtime SSL Integration, and Realtime Reporting of content behavior and traffic your website receives.
API CloudFlare's API provides the entire CloudFlare infrastructure via a standardized programmatic interface. With CloudFlare's API, you can do just anything you can do on cloudflare.com via the customer dashboard.

Learn more about CloudFlare API
MaxCDN's API integrates with Full control with SDKs, Automate with Github and fully documented API systems.

Learn more about MaxCDN API
Origin Shield With CloudFlare the origin shield is protected with reverse proxy that retrieves resources on behalf of a client from one or more servers around the globe. With MaxCDN the origin shield is protected with Overload Protection, Efficient Origin Requests, and Better Purging & Provisioning methods.
SSL SSL (Secure Socket Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. CloudFlare makes SSL easy with configuration and installation processes.

Learn more about CloudFlare SSL
MaxCDN also provides one-click, simple and instant SSL services. MaxCDN SSL service is instant, served from the edge and fully optimized.

Learn more about MaxCDN SSL
Support CloudFlare's highly skilled and developed team members provide 24/7 support for a range of different topics like Getting Started, Troubleshooting, Billing & Account Management, DDoS, Firewall, Speed etc. A team of support engineers at MaxCDN available 24/7 to provide you support on tickets, live chat and phone calls for a range of topics Network, Realtime, Security, Account and Billing, Security, Origin Shield etc.
Analytics Dashboard CloudFlare provides highly equipped insights about your website traffic requests that other analytics can't provide. From CloudFlare analytics you can monitor threats, control threats, control traffic, get realtime traffic report, track search engine crawlers, augment with third party analytics and get visitors GeoIP locations etc. MaxCDN also provides realtime analytics for everyone. You can access your logs realtime through MaxCDN API, their log viewer in the Control Panel or via MaxCLI—their command line interface. MaxCDN realtime advanced reporting system allows you to view, calculate and predict future behavior. Learn more about MaxCDN analytics
DNS CloudFlare provides custom DNS to hide origin server's DNS and route all your website traffic via CloudFlare so only real and genuine traffic pass on and malicious traffic is blocked by CloudFlare's automated system. MaxCDN provides custom DNS on your website name to hide your origin server's DNS and provide an extra protection alongside your website.
Apps CloudFlare provides 30 more apps for website analytics and marketing related jobs in your industry. Third party apps may contain bugs and cause your system damages but CloudFlare's apps are secured and so powerful to track your website analytics from any device you want. MaxCDN does not provide analytical and marketable apps for users that CloudFlare do.
Pricing CloudFlare pricing plans are divided into 4 groups.

Free: Provides you very limited features with weekly crawl-ability features, but their DDoS protection, Rocket Loader, Global Anycast DNS are available in free plan

Pro: In Professional plan you will get few extra services like Polish and Mirage image optimization, Mobile optimization, Web application firewall, Interface customization etc. Pricing starts at $20 per month for a specific website but after that each website you add only for $5.

Business: With Business plan you will get all pro features, plus full customization. Advanced denial of service attack mitigation, Railgun™ web optimization and 100% uptime guarantee. Pricing starts at $200 per month after that the same price for each website added to your account.

Enterprise: All Business features, plus setup consultations. Dedicated solutions engineer. 24/7 phone support. Multi-User access and more. You have to call for a quote.

Learn more CloudFlare pricing
MaxCDN’s pricing plans are divided into 3 groups.

Starter: MaxCDN's starter plan that provides your Restful API, More Locations, Origin Shield, Shared SSL, 2 Step Authentication, IP Whitelisting, 24/7 Support and more. Pricing Starts at $9 per month for 100GB bandwidth/mo, $39 per month for 500GB bandwidth/mo, $79 per month for 1TB bandwidth/mo and $299 per month for 5TB bandwidth/mo

High Volume: MaxCDN's High volume plans are suitable for high volume traffic sites that receive millions of traffic views per month. With MaxCDN's high volume plan you will get all services of starter plans with extended bandwidth per month supports. Pricing starts at $499 per month for 10TB bandwidth/mo, $2560 per month for 50TB bandwidth/mo, $6144 per month for 150TB bandwidth/mo and $12544 per month for 350TB bandwidth/mo.

Enterprise: MaxCDN's enterprise custom plans did not provide any specific value but to order enterprise CDN you have to contact MaxCDN support team first.

Learn more about MaxCDN pricing availability

So you have learned both CDNs CloudFlare and MaxCDN from a comparison chart and I especially dug deeper about CloudFlare CDN and features which are incredibly popular to 20+ million users across the globe.

To my sight CloudFlare is not only a CDN service but it’s more than website security service provider than professionals in the industry. Again MaxCDN is a complete and powerful Content Delivery Network that’s sole focus is CDN service that can speed up your website with advanced caching technologies.

Both services are winner but I will keep CloudFlare a step ahead due to its advanced security features in addition with its CDN services.

How to Setup CloudFlare CDN on WordPress Site for Free

Now I will show you all how you can setup CloudFlare CDN free on your WordPress site from two different methods (1) Basic Method and (2) Advanced Method. Basic method is easy enough and better for newbie users and advanced method is not so easy and it requires your tech skills to properly setup.

If you’re not savvy enough then follow Basic setup method otherwise proceed with Advanced setup method.

Basic Setup

To setup CloudFlare with basic setup mode you have to register CloudFlare from any of their partnered hosting provider sites. Check CloudFlare hosting partners.

After making sure your hosting provider is a partner of CloudFlare then login to your hosting account with username and password.

Now on cPanel head to CloudFlare section and click on CloudFlare icon

Cloudflare icon

Cloudflare icon

On next page you can login your existing CloudFlare account or create a new account inputting an email address and checking terms and conditions for CloudFlare.

Signup - basic setup guide

Signup – basic setup guide

After clicking on “Sign Up” button you will be given a link to setup your CloudFlare account providing your account details and personal details.

When your CloudFlare account is setup you can manage your website URL with CloudFlare from your hosting account.

Now click on “Manage” button to setup CloudFlare CNAME records over your existing website Name

My websites records

My websites records

Click on “CloudFlare” icon to activate CloudFlare with your site to point CNAME records from www.yoursite.com to www.yoursite.com.cdn.cloudflare.net

My websites active

My websites active

Your website’s CNAME records are successfully pointed to CloudFlare hosted CNAME and all your website traffic will be routed to CloudFlare network before landing on your web server.

You’re now more secured from potential malicious attacks and your site users will experience twice page speed than before.

You can view your website analytics reports from CloudFlare account or your hosting account’s CloudFlare section

Note: You don’t need to change domain nameservers after pointing CNAME records to CloudFlare hosted CNAME as you have configured CloudFlare from a hosting partner so your domain nameservers will remain unchanged.

Advanced Setup

In Advanced setup you can configure CloudFlare CDN with your WordPress website from your CloudFlare account and without any hosting partner’s support.

In this way you have to change your domain name servers and point to CloudFlare hosted DNS in a safe environment.

First of all login to your CloudFlare.com and click on “Add Site” link on top right of menu bar

Now type your domain URL in this format yoursite.com

Begin scan

Begin scan

Note: You can setup CloudFlare for multiple domains using comma separated domain names

Click on “Begin Scan” and CloudFlare system will scan your website for preparation.

Scanning started

Scanning started

If the status still shows “Scanning…” then click “Continue Setup”

Continue Setup

Continue Setup

On the next page CloudFlare allows you to setup A, AAAA, and CNAME records configured with CloudFlare hosted records, so that your origin server’s IP address will be hidden and your hosting account will remain more secured.

DNS records for mybestwikis

DNS records for mybestwikis

For ensuring maximum security make sure to activate CloudFlare on for all records pointed there. If you want to add any record then use above “Add Record” forms to add a new one.

Now click Continue to proceed

You have to select a plan many people have gone with Free Website with limited features. If you run small business website then go with it otherwise if you have bigger projects then consider choosing a pro plan.

Select a cloudflare plan

Select a cloudflare plan

On next page CloudFlare will provide you unique DNS which required changing from existing nameservers to CloudFlare hosted nameservers.

Change nameservers

Change nameservers

To change your domain Nameserver login to your Domain registrar account and head to domain section > Nameservers

Nameservers

Nameservers

Now replace your existing nameservers to CloudFlare provided nameservers.

After making changes go to your CloudFlare account and click “Continue” button

Zone Verified

Zone Verified

You will see your account status is pending, click on “Recheck Nameserver” and instantly your account status will be active after “Zone Verification” completed

CloudFlare Analytics

CloudFlare provides an improved and visual Analytics reports for your website performances to track Requests through CloudFlare, Overall Performance, Security, and Geography.

Analytics report

Analytics report

Performance

Performance

Security

Security

Conclusion

CloudFlare is really an incredible CDN provider for any content management system you operate. The main reason of enabling CDN with website is that lacking of web hosting performances. If you think your hosting provider lacks in 100% uptime and slow page loading issues then you should take support from a Content delivery network unless you want to lose traffic and user experience across your website.

CloudFlare can help you taking from slow loading to faster loading status but your deficit of your hosting provider performance can’t be solved with this. The only solution is to migrate your website to a trusted and reliable hosting provider that is Bluehost.

You can read this WordPress site migration process which is written for newbies and easily migrate your site from any host to Bluehost.com

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Ahmed Shawan
Ahmed Shawan is a passionate blogger, WordPress enthusiast, digital marketer. He is the top author and founder of TheWildBlogger.com

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