Every day, we get lots of messages from website owners and admins asking us what Cloudflare actually is, what are its benefits, and why use Cloudflare for WordPress. We’ve deployed Cloudflare on thousands of websites as part of our WordPress speed optimization service, and we continue to recommend it.
If you’ve ever used any of our services, then you remember the part of the onboarding form where you were asked if you want to get Cloudflare and if you’d like for us to set it up for you. A great number of people ask us why we do that, and what is the benefit of Cloudflare. Others mostly just click on the “no” option, without even knowing how helpful Cloudflare can be. That’s why, in this article, we’re going to get more into the matter and provide you with more facts about Cloudflare’s services.
What Is Cloudflare
Cloudflare offers many features and services that can improve the security of your website, but also increase its speed and boost its overall performance. The most notable aspects of Cloudflare include its:
- CDN service;
- Website acceleration service.
Cloudflare also offers a free plan, which is especially useful if you are running a small to medium-sized site. Paid plans also come at great prices, which are preferable for medium to large-sized sites. The difference they bring to your site speed is huge, so they are definitely worth paying for.
Cloudflare can significantly improve your site’s speed, security, and overall performance. In the following paragraphs, we are going to have a more detailed look at how Cloudflare boosts each of these segments.
It Has The Fastest DNS Host Worldwide
Domain Name System (DNS) hosting plays an extremely important part when it comes to a website’s speed. DNS is responsible for translating a site’s domain name to an IP address, so you could tell that it serves as the internet’s phonebook.
The first thing that happens when you type a domain name in your browser’s URL bar is that the browser “goes and talks” to the hosting provider. It does a DNS lookup, which translates that domain name into an IP address, so it can find the server that hosts that website on the internet. This implies that the faster your DNS hosting is, the faster the search process will be.
The speed difference between using fast and slow DNS hosting is massive. A great number of people still use the DNS host that came with their domain name or their web hosting when they purchased it. In case your DNS host is bad and slow, a lookup can last between 0.5 and 1 second, or even longer, while with a fast DNS host, such as Cloudflare, it takes only 10-20 milliseconds. That makes a huge difference in speed, which is one of the reasons why you should consider going for the Cloudflare DNS hosting.
As you can see, we strongly recommend Cloudflare because it dramatically improves website performance.
Besides being the world’s fastest DNS host, Cloudflare has other qualities as well, such as extremely low time to live (TTL). TTL is a value which tells the network router if the data packet has been in the network for too long and should be deleted. This process prevents error packets from circulating around the internet forever so they don’t get stuck and cause the network to slow down. Cloudflare’s TTL is usually around 3-5 minutes. With other DNS hosts it can be around 5-6 hours, or even a whole day, so the difference in the quality of service is obvious here.
Sometimes, however, you can’t use Cloudflare because of some technical reasons. If that’s the case, you should still look for DNS hosting as an important part of speed optimization work. As an alternative option, we usually suggest DigitalOcean DNS hosting, which also provides good quality, and is typically among the five fastest hosts in the world.
It’s a CDN Service
Cloudflare is a content delivery network (CDN) service, which is a huge plus from a speed optimization perspective. CDN is a group of servers that hosts parts of a website or a whole website. So you have your web hosting and a network of CDN servers around the world that reduce the load of the hosting, while typically being located geographically closer to the visitors. This means that if you were, for example, in Australia, and you wanted to access a site in the US, without a CDN service, your browser would have to travel to the US and download the site from that server. Simply because of geography, the website would be around 1 second slower for you than for someone located in the US.
On the other hand, with a CDN service, your browser would use one of the local CDN servers located in Australia and download most of the website from the closest one. And this is what makes a CDN service the most needed site speed optimization. A CDN service reduces the impact of geography on the speed, while also easing a lot of the load of your web hosting.
It’s apparent that a CDN service is a must-have in 2021. Cloudflare has its CDN servers in more than 160 locations worldwide, so this is another reason why we recommend using Cloudflare.
It Has a Built-In Firewall Service
Cloudflare is also very useful when it comes to your website’s security. It comes with a basic firewall service built-in. Their paid plans also include a web application firewall, which allows a user to easily put up some mighty rules that will protect their key web applications from malicious attacks.
Even with the free plan, Cloudflare allows you to implement some firewall rules and do things that will block particular types of traffic, or block traffic from accessing certain parts of the website. Showing a captcha page on the WordPress login is also an option. If you want to learn more about Cloudflare’s rules for filtering brute force logins, click here.
Paid Cloudflare Services We Recommend
From the speed perspective, the APO service further reduces the impact of geography and therefore increases your site’s speed. It also reduces the load on the hosting dramatically, which is another boost for your site’s performance. This $5/month plan is particularly a great choice if your site is targeting an international audience.
2. A level up from there, costing $20 a month, is a plan which involves APO service, web application firewall, as well as some additional optimizations. We especially recommend a web application firewall to users who run a site that has to do anything with WooCommerce, payments in general, or simply has a lot of crawlers, scrapers, or garbage traffic.
The $20/month package is also a great choice if you have a bigger site because unwanted stuff are all over the web, so the full firewall will cut a lot of that rubbish out and stop it from hitting your site.
This plan also brings some additional speed optimizations including image optimization. If you, for any reason, can’t use an image optimization plugin on your website, or your site has thousands of pages with a lot of images, the image optimization feature Cloudflare offers will speed up your WordPress significantly.
This concludes our post on why use Cloudflare. Hopefully, we helped you find out everything you wanted to know about Cloudflare’s services. We understand that the article is a bit technical, so here’s an audio version of it. In case you still have any questions about the topic or you would like to go deeper in detail, post in the comments, and we will be happy to answer.