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CloudFlare Guide

CloudFlare is a FREE system that acts as a proxy between your visitors and our server. By acting as a proxy, CloudFlare caches static content for your site, subsequently lowering the number of requests to our servers while allowing visitors to access your site.



Pros and Cons of CloudFlare

Advantages of the CloudFlare System

  • Site Performance Improvement- CloudFlare has proxy servers located throughout the world. Proxy servers are located closer to your visitors, which means they will likely see page load speed improvements as the cached content is delivered from the closest caching box instead of directly off our server. There is a lot of research showing a correlation between the speed of a site and the length of time that a visitor stays.
  • Bot and Threat Protection- CloudFlare uses data from Project Honey Pot and other third party sources, as well as the data from its community to identify malicious threats online and stop the attacks before they even get to your site. You can see which threats are being stopped through your CloudFlare dashboard.
  • Spam Comments Protection- CloudFlare leverages data from third party resources to reduce the number of spam comments on your site
  • Alerting Visitors of Infected Computers- CloudFlare alerts human visitors that have an infected computer that they need to take action to clean up the malware or virus on their machine. The visitor can enter a CAPTCHA to gain access to your site.
  • Offline Browsing Mode: In the event that our server is unavailable, visitors should still be able to access your site since CloudFlare serves the visitor a page from its cache.
  • Lower CPU Usage- As fewer requests hit our server, this lowers the overall CPU usage of your account.
  • New Site Stats- You have good tools to evaluate human traffic coming to your site, but no insight into search engine crawlers and threats. With CloudFlare, now you do.

Limitations of the CloudFlare System

  • Currently, requests must be directed to www.$domain instead of $domain (which means you may need to make some configuration changes).
  • CloudFlare may affect internal statistic programs that read directly from Apache logs (CloudFlare will not affect web-based analytic programs that use JavaScript like Google Analytics.) While your logs will reflect fewer requests to your server and therefore lower load, the experience to your visitors should be unaffected.
  • CloudFlare caches static content from your site. While this reduces the load on your server, it means that if you make a change to an existing static file, like an image, there may be a delay before the change appears. While you are updating your site, you can put CloudFlare in Development Mode so changes appear immediately.
  • CloudFlare's basic mode cannot handle SSL certificates. If you need to use an SSL certificate, that part of your site needs to be on a subdomain that is not protected.

Do I Need to Change My Name Server to Use CloudFlare?

When you change your domain's name servers to CloudFlare name servers, you keep your current hosting provider and registrar; but this allows CloudFlare to become your DNS provider. CloudFlare is then able to route potentially malicious traffic away from your site before it reaches your server.

CloudFlare can be accessed in two ways: through cPanel (basic mode) or by visiting CloudFlare directly (advanced mode). If you signed up for CloudFlare through cPanel, you should not change your name servers.

If you signed up for CloudFlare directly, you must change your name servers to use CloudFlare. Once your name servers are changed, any changes you make in cPanel will have to be made to the zone file containing CloudFlare. Advanced mode is only recommended for advanced users who cannot make the redirections that basic mode demands. If you attempt to add a domain via advanced mode, you will not be able to add the domain via basic mode until you remove it from the CloudFlare dashboard.

Enabling CloudFlare

Shared plans may enable CloudFlare services via the control panel by using the icon located in the Domains or My Sites section. CloudFlare is also available on VPS and dedicated servers upon request, though it is not currently available on Windows servers.

Legacy

  1. Click the CloudFlare icon, located in the Domains section.
  2. Under the Enable CloudFlare section, click the Next button to create your "Free CloudFlare Account."
    Note: You will need to agree to Terms of Service.
  3. Under the CloudFlare Account View section, click Activate to enable CloudFlare.

Rock

  1. Click the My Sites tab from the side navigation bar to the left.
  2. Look for the site you wish to set CloudFlare up for, then click Manage.
  3. Click the Performance tab.
  4. Towards the top right-hand corner of the Performance section, you'll see an option for CloudFlare, then click the toggle to enable CloudFlare.
  5. Prompts to install will pop up once you click the toggle 'on'.
  6. Follow prompts, and allow some time for installation to complete. 
  7. Cache settings will appear once CloudFlare has successfully been enabled. 


Disabling CloudFlare

Legacy

  1. Click the CloudFlare icon, located in the Domains section of your control panel.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page.
  3. Choose your domain name from the dropdown menu.
  4. Click the Disable button to disable CloudFlare.

Rock

  1. Click the My Sites tab from the side navigation bar to the left.
  2. Look for the site you wish to update CloudFlare up for, then click Manage.
  3. Click the Performance tab.
  4. Click the toggle for Single-server towards the top left-hand side of the Performance section.
  5. You will see a pop-up asking you to confirm the removal of CloudFlare. 
    • When the Toggle appears blue, it is on.
    • When the Toggle appears gray, it is off.
CloudFlare's searchable knowledge base is available at CloudFlare Support.