What Does It Do?
The question on the lips of everyone who has run, is running, or ever will run a website is: “How Can I Make My D*!#$ Site Load Faster!” Cloudflare believes it has an answer. To quote directly from their website copy:
CloudFlare operates out of 14 data centers around the world. Our CDN automatically caches your static files at our edge nodes so these files are stored closer to your visitors while delivering your dynamic content directly from your web server. CloudFlare then uses a technology called Anycast to route your visitors to the nearest data center. The result is that your website, on average, loads twice as fast for your visitors regardless of where they are located.
I decided a little while ago to try it out on a site of mine and see what would happen. If you are curious how to install Cloudflare, check out this tutorial.
Installation went reasonably smoothly. One thing must be noted, though. When they say five minutes to set up, they are not counting the time it takes for the new name servers to propagate. So pick out a low traffic time to handle the install unless you enjoy using the flurry of emails from disappointed users as a way to connect with your customer base.
- Significantly decreased comment spam. Comment spam that previously was caught by Akismet just doesn’t reach my site anymore.
- My site did, in fact, load faster. Not twice as fast, as they might have suggested, but certainly faster.
- More hits!
There are a couple of things that a potential user should be aware of. The first is that changing name servers can be a big deal and have unintended consequences. Installing Cloudflare on another of my sites caused a very tricky error that took a while to isolate. The second issue that could come up is that of SSL certificates. If you have installed an SSL on your site, Cloudflare will break it. If you want to continue to use an SSL on your site, you will need to upgrade to the Pro version. Again, an issue I learned the hard way.
Does It Work With WordPress?
Yes! In terms of installing it on your WordPress site, there are a couple of options. This is the basic single site plugin. For multi-site, there are a couple of plugins as well – one free and the other not (an informative and link-rich discussion on the topic can be found here). I installed the basic single site plugin on one of my own sites and I am sad to say that I found it doesn’t actually do an awful lot extra for you that isn’t done better with other plugins (I am looking at you, Database Optimization).
The primary benefit of installing the plugin is for the customer base, as a whole. If you report a comment as spam, then the spammer’s info will automatically be added to the blacklist for all sites that use Cloudflare.