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Cloudflare is a really awesome CDN (content delivery network) that does more than just serve files across their global network. They claim to make your websites faster & safer and I can personally attest to these claims.

Cloudflare works as a reverse-proxy, meaning that instead of people connecting to your website, they are passed through Cloudflare’s network, which in turn forwards the traffic to your server. This puts Cloudflare in a great spot to prevent DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks and common exploits against web apps (which is available in their Pro versions). Cloudflare also provides free IPv6 support & validated SSL (more on this later).

In addition to preventing attacks, Cloudflare caches static content (CSS, JS, and images), meaning that when someone loads your website these files are sent directly from Cloudflare’s network, cutting down on bandwidth and page load times.  Using page rules you can tune the settings to maximize the effectiveness of Cloudflare’s network. Here’s a screenshot of a file server I have cached fully by Cloudflare.

Cloudflare has saved me 25TBs in bandwidth costs a month, which pays for itself tenfold.

Cloudflare comes with some drawbacks. Some applications will need to be rewritten to use Cloudflare’s IP header, as the requesting IP is Cloudflare’s server, not of your user. Cloudflare SSL also has some security and privacy implications, as Cloudflare by design decrypts all requests before passing them along to your server, and when using anything except the “SSL (Strict)” setting is vulnerable to man in the middle attacks between Cloudflare’s network and your server.

Overall Cloudflare is a really great product and I recommend most of my friends to add their website to it. It is amazing what they provide for the price.

 

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