Cloudflare is a CDN ( Content Delivery Network ) that offers more features than the Standard CDN can offer , It offers added security to DDoS attacks , It caches the static resources of your website making your site load faster & putting less load on to the web hosting , It is the CDN which sits in the middle of your domain name & web host .
Cloudflare passes all the traffic which would hit your server to go through the filter process of Cloudflare and only the validated traffic is being routed to the host , You can have different security levels based on the spammers & the hackers that you want to be filtering out.
It is the commercial content delivery network with the integrated distributed denial of service (DDoS) defense , It can act as a reverse proxy & domain name server to your website , It offers a useful IPv6 transition mechanism if your hosting provider doesn’t present native IPv6.
It is the content delivery network which acts as a middle layer between your actual host & user browsing site using your domain name , It is a free service , with premium packages for high traffic site , You can change your web-hosting without waiting for the name-servers to propagate , It has many data-centers around the world , So , your visitors will be served by the data-center that is nearest to them.
Content delivery network or CDN is different from Cloudflare , You can use alternative mirrored CDN url to serve the static content from the CDN , CDN serves the content from the nearest location from where the content is being requested which makes the content served faster , The browser don’t need to send extra header information for the static content and you can reduce the packet size to speed up your site’s loading time.
If you are serving the CDN content from the same domain/subdomain , CDN can free up your server from serving static content , it can serve the content from the nearest location to the end user , It allows the browsers to fetch the content parallel to your site’s content and it makes faster user experience.
You can go-to Cloudflare.com and signup for a free account , Add your domain and it will automatically detect current name-servers and IP address of current host , Just select the security & cache settings you like and click next , Now copy the name-servers given by Cloudflare and add them in your domain registrar.
Pros of using Cloudflare
Cloudflare hides your web-host’s original IP address so that any hacker can not attack the server , It caches your site’s some (or all) resources to load the site quicker & making the actual server works less , It gives you the ability to block all the DDoS attacks by changing the site’s security.
As CloudFlare is like a CDN , it can continue to serve cached versions of most of your web-pages even if your website goes down , It enables you to add multiple number of domains , You can block access to your site for certain regions or countries , If you are receiving many attacks from particular countries , It gives you free SSL , which you can use on shared host as well.
Cloudflare is free to get started whereas the other CDN services are paid , As your site is being filtered and only genuine traffic is being passed , your site can save the resources as well as can increase the speed of your site because of the caching being performed by the Cloudflare.
Cloudflare blocks DDoS and DoS , DDoS is an attack on the server to send too many automated requests to the server from various locations to bring it down , If you your IP Address is known to the hacker , Cloudflare can protect your server from DDoS as the attacker targets IP directly by passing the Cloudflare.
CloudFlare is a middleman between your server and your visitors , Sensitive data go through the CloudFlare server when they are delivered to a client , CloudFlare has the ability to monitor all your traffic , It can inject the code into your HTTP headers and your web pages and it can have any consequences.
Cons of Cloudflare
For some reasons , CloudFlare can slow down the page load rather than speeding it up , It is normal as a step (a hop) is added between your server & a client , Since additional settings should be made on the CloudFlare website , The misconfiguration can lead to down times & traffic drops .
Unless your site has decent amount of traffic & you need the spam protection and have the issues with hacking or DDoS , Cloudflare had the issues with owners being blocked out of site , Cloudflare sometimes disallow access to the site , If it goes down , your site will go down , If you are looking for a way to make your blog or website more secure , speed it up , or make sure it is available .
If you are on shared hosting , you may need to check if your host supports Cloudflare or not though most shared hosts do not support Cloudflare , With Cloudflare , setting wildcard sub-domains are not possible , There is not enough information on the data that is cached .
Cloudflare offers limited security rules , Cloudflare’s basic/shared protection is great , but if you need custom page-rules you are limited to only 3 , If you are on a shared web-host , this is still a giant improvement over nothing , but if you are on a dedicated server running Mod_Security and integrated CSF , it’s very limiting .
Cloudflare has limited stats & analytics , The threat & attack statistics are very limited in detail – but still far better than nothing , The daily traffic reports are also limited , but you can still use your Google Analytics and this becomes a non-issue .