Website Performance – Using the CloudFlare CDN service

By | September 11, 2012

This article is about the CloudFlare CDN service, helps improve website performance, as well as providing security features.

Note: This is a guest post, but not written on behalf of CloudFlare.

Most people understand how a website cache works. Usually it takes the form of regularly accessed database queries being saved as static files, which then can be loaded quicker, as static files load quicker than retrieving the data from the database. When a website is going through a period of heavy demand, else the server is underpowered for the requirement, a website cache can be a great help.

However as the world becomes more connected, people are accessing sites from more locations around the world. This means your visitors could be using any number of far-flung routes to visit your website, and the networks which they travel could vary in performance.

By using a CDN, some static content from your website, could be cached at various locations around the world. This means that when a person visits your website, some static content actually could be loaded from another server closer to them, thus helping to load your website content quicker, than it otherwise would have been.

With great connectivity, comes great threats, which we have been covering on the Geonet Solutions blog. The CloudFlare service also can help tackle some of these threats, such as spammers and ‘botnet zombies’. How does it do this? Well to use the CloudFlare CDN service in the first place, you need to allow it to be the first port of call for your website traffic, thus giving it permission via your DNS records. So as it is deciding which server in the world to serve the static content, it can also keep an eye out for security threats.

Incredibly the basic CloudFlare service doesn’t come with a price tag, it is free to setup and once your DNS records have been updated around the world (usually 24 – 48 hours), the service can be helping to protect your site, whilst also increasing its performance.

The service provides detailed statistics to help you gauge the effectiveness of the service. You can even grant permissions to ip addresses whether you felt it was a false alarm, and assign trusted statis to IP addresses.

The CloudFlare service is not a one-stop location for your performance and security needs, but instead can be used to lend a helping hand, whilst your development and design team also implement performance and security tweaks.

About the guest post author: Dave writes about website performance, amongst other website topics, including LemonStand.