There are many popular paid and free CDN available out there. MaxCDN is very popular paid CDN but when it comes to free CDN, no one can beat free CloudFlare CDN.
So today I will be discussing the most popular and free CDN called CloudFlare. Also, I will be discussing how to setup free CloudFlare CDN for your WordPress blog.
What Is CloudFlare?
CloudFlare in a CDN, a distributed proxy server, and a firewall. When a website is integrated with CloudFlare then your website traffic is routed through CloudFlare global network. CloudFlare distributes your content around the world, so whenever a user visits your site then it is served by the server closest to the requesting machine, thus resulting in the fast serving of your site.
CloudFlare also provides your site with an extra layer of protection and security. It protects your website against DDoS attacks and various online threats with their WAF (Website Application Firewall). Thus CloudFlare decreases the load on your server by filtering the unwanted spam traffic.
Apart from all above features CloudFlare also allows you to install web apps on your website with just one click.
One of the best features I like is their “Always Online” Feature. What this feature does is that whenever your server faces outrages or whenever your site goes down., then it will display the static pages from the cache.
The most important thing is that these all basic features of CloudFlare CDN are free.
How To Setup CloudFlare For Your WordPress Site
Before integrating CloudFlare on your WordPress blog it is recommended to have a quality hosting for optimal performance. So you should have quality hosting for best results.
To Configure CloudFlare Free CDN
1) Firstly, signup for an account. Now enter the requires information and click on “Create account”.
2) In the next step, you need to enter your website URL and click on “Begin Scan” .
CloudFlare will now scan your website. Now wait for the scan to finish. Once the scan is finished, click on the “continue setup” button
3) Now CloudFlare will scan DNS records. You need to verify all the DNS records that are listed.
Here you can also choose to keep CloudFlare on or off on particular subdomains. Orange Icon represents that traffic will be accelerated and protected by CDN on that particular domain and Grey Icon represents that traffic on that particular subdomain will bypass CloudFlare network.
Usually, CloudFlare itself will set this for you. So if you are not sure what you are doing, then leave these icons as they are.
Once you are finished with these settings, click “Continue”.
4) On the next screen, you need to select a plan for your CloudFlare account. Select “Free Website” and click “Continue”.
Remember you can choose any plan of your choice. Apart from Free plan, CloudFlare offers three more paid plans. Each comes with more advanced features.
With the free website plan, you will get all the essential features required for a faster WordPress blog.
5) After selecting a plan for your CloudFlare account, you need to change your nameservers and point them to CloudFlare’s nameservers. To Change the nameservers follow the following steps:
Changing Nameservers To CloudFlare
The steps will be same for every domain name registrar whether it's GoDaddy or NameCheap. (The screenshot will be of Godaddy account dashboard, your nameservers settings may be different)
First of all, login to your domain name registrar. Now under “Domains” select your domain for which you are setting CloudFlare CDN. Then click on “Manage DNS”.
Under Nameservers click on Change. Now replace your current nameservers with CloudFlare's nameservers and click on "Save".
After you have changed your nameservers go back to CloudFlare setup page and click on Continue.
In the next page, you may see Status: pending like in below screenshot. In that case, just click “recheck Nameservers. Please note that usually take few seconds to 24 hours to propagate.
Once your Nameservers are successfully propagated, you have successfully integrated CloudFlare on your WordPress site. You can see Status Active on your CloudFlare dashboard.
Recommended CloudFlare Settings For A Faster WordPress Blog
I will cover only that settings that you need to edit for a faster blog. If you not sure then please don’t change any other settings excepts the ones I will be discussing below.
1) Under Speed Tab and under Auto Minify settings check all the three options and your changes will automatically get saved.
Rocket loader is known to interfere with Adsense by some of the users. If you also face this issue then switch Rocket loader off. BroughtMeUp's speed drastically increased after I activated Rocket Loader. But in case if you're are facing any issue it is better to set rocket loader to off.
2) Now click on Caching tab and set cache level to "Standard".
And turn on the Always online feature. Now in case your server goes down, CloudFlare will serve your website's static pages from the cache and your visitor will not get the error.
3) Under "Page rules", I recommend you to create page rules for WordPress to increase security for your WordPress admin area. Refer to screenshot for better understanding.
Click on "Create page rule" and under URL field add http://www.domain.com/wp-login.php* replace domain.com your own domain name. Now click on "Add a Settings". Select security level and set it to high and click on "Save and Deploy".
Now again click on "Create page rule" and under URL field add http://www.domain.com/wp-admin/* replace domain.com with your own domain name. Now add the settings in the screenshot one by one and click on "Save and Deploy".
Remember to replace domain.com with your actual domain name and do not forget to end your URL with an * (asterisk sign).
CloudFare only allows 3-page rules under their free plan. For additional 5 page rules, you need to pay $5/month.
4) Under Crypto tab, set SSL to flexible if you are not using SSL.
Important Features Of CloudFlare
- Analytics: You can view all security as well as performance statistics under Analytics tab. Important information including bandwidth saved by CloudFlare, page views, total threats stopped by CloudFlare, also geographic location of threat sources and of Couse no of pages crawled by various crawlers/bots.
- Apps: CloudFlare makes installing web apps simple and fast with one click. These include various free as well as paid apps. You cam find the complete list of the app under Apps tab or over here. You can install any app just by the toggling button on and off.
- Threat Control: You can check threats report under “traffic” tab. This feature allows you to protect your website from various attacks such as brute force attacks. This feature allows you to whitelist or blacklist IP ranges or entire country from accessing your site. List of IP which was challenged and failed will be shown in this window. You can block them by click on details and select "Block" from the action field.
- Development Mode: This feature allows you to temporarily bypass the CloudFlare cache and allow you to see changes to your origin server in real time. This feature comes handy when you are frequently making changes to your website. Once activated Development mode lasts for about 3 hours but you can turn if off earlier if you want to. Enabling this option will increase the load on your server but you will change real time.
That’s all now your WordPress blog is optimized with CloudFlare CDN. You can either use GTmetrix or Pingdom to check your website speed.
Tip: Using a Cache plugin will further optimize your WordPress blog. Consider selecting and setting up a cache plugin from this list of best cache plugins for WordPress.
- BroughtMeUp's speed test using these CloudFlare settings with W3 Total cache.
If your website is broken after setting CloudFlare CDN. Then the first thing you need to do is to set "Rocket Loader" to "Off" and check if it fixed the issue. Few of the users have gone through this issue and solved the issue by simply disabling Rocket Loader feature.
I hope this guide will help you to add CloudFlare Free CDN to your WordPress blog. If you have any query or if you are facing any issue after integrating CloudFlare, then please let me know via comments.
Please share your results after setting CloudFlare CDN for your WordPress blog. Also, do subscribe for regular updates.