CloudFlare Free, and Why You Need It.

Old 2 Comments on CloudFlare Free, and Why You Need It. 17

After reading a great in-depth post here on geek brain dump about enterprise class cloud flare I thought I would review the best free business class product I’ve been able to find out there. *full disclosure I’m a web hosting provider and I include this in my commercial web packages.

If you are doing web work and not using this, you’re a mad man.(or woman)  CloudFlare offers 4 pricing tiers, free, pro, business, and enterprise. Paid plans range anywhere from $20/month up to $5,000+ but we are here to look at the free plan.

CloudFlare Free

I have been rolling this product out for each of my clients sites since I first learned about it, with the free plan you gain access to a ton of features fully listed here but the big ticket items are as follows:

· Access to a globally load balanced CDN

· Weekly crawls of Always Online ™

· Basic DDOS protection and security

· Rocketloader ™

That’s a great list, but what does that actually mean?

Access to globally load balanced CDN

Basically this is one of the core services CloudFlare offers, they have 24 data centers around the world. They have proprietary technology that caches all of the static files in your website in their edge nodes so that your site is physically sitting closer to your end users. This gives you two huge benefits a dramatically faster loading site and huge cuts in bandwidth consumption on your web server (that’s a potential money saver)

Always online ™

This is a child service of the CDN, because CloudFlare knows all about your website and caches a copy of all of your static content if your server ever goes down due to an outage, update, or act of god CloudFlare will load up the “always online” version of your site made up of your most commonly accessed static pages.

Basic DDOS protection and security

They make this too simple, CloudFlare by design will automatically detect if you are under attack and harden your site based on the threat. Additionally you can log into your CloudFlare account and select from various options ranging from “basically off” to “I’m under attack”. They also use a variety of methods to protect you from comment spam and content scraping. CloudFlare checks the visitors browser integrity, threat reputation, and verifies against your black lists for your site. (You can even block entire countries!)

Rocketloader ™

As a developer this is my favorite, what I consider the “killer feature” of CloudFlare. Rocket loader is a proprietary software that CloudFlare uses in all levels of plans. It ties back into that first feature set we talked about the CDN, but it really brings  it over the top. Rocketloader utilized the CDN to limit connections between the website and the user, and when I say limit connections, it’s actually smart enough to ball all (or most) of your javascript includes and call backs into one file and present it all at once. That translates into a HUGE reduction in bandwidth and server stress, this even works if your stuff isn’t locally loaded, it can cache third party resources (like jQuery or the like).

CloudFlare is an amazing service, I highly recommend you use it on your site, you’ll see what I’m talking about and what to deploy it out to all of your clients. What are some other free services you guys like for your clients? Leave me some tips in the comments I would love to hear them!


Jimmy Simpson III

I work small and micro businesses (between 1 and 75 users). I offer WordPress Development, Virtual IT Director Services, System Administration and Web Hosting.

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  1. Jerin Saji February 28, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Hi again Jimmy,
    I work as an intern at a company that have 8 servers. As far as I know, two are Citrix for managing users, 2 file servers, 1 web, 1 SQL and idk what the other ones are. Again, as far as I know, we are not facing any kind of DDOS attacks since we aren’t that popular and only have around 10 locations. What do you think about this? Do you think we can benefit from this free service from cloudflare? If yes, how do you go about implementing it? Is it something you talk to cloudflare and they perform magic and it’s all good? I am not a webdev so idk anything about these kinds of stuff.

    • Jimmy Simpson III February 28, 2014 at 3:11 pm

      Jerin, setting up CloudFlare for your web apps / web servers is very straight forward, it starts by getting your account set up, and then telling CloudFlare which domains to care about. It does some “magic” and then comes back with a to-do list to button up your sites, it’s usually dns entries that they want you to adjust. VERY straight forward and their support is killer.

      DDOS protection is their “big sexy” feature, but you’d benefit from bandwidth use reduction and performance gains just by setting it up even if you’re not attacked ever.

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