Notice anything different about Weblog Tools Collection? The name of the post probably gave it away. This blog is rocking in speed and deliverability! How you ask? Thanks to the fine work of the people over at Cloudflare.com
The free CloudFlare product, which is what we use on here, is substantial enough to depend upon and is easy to set up. I might upgrade to their paid version once I am more comfortable with the results and have let it bake for a month or two. Signup was easy and it really took just under a few minutes to setup this blog. We have been running it for about three days now, with positive results and zero downtime. Let us go over some the details.
It takes just a few minutes to add your site to CloudFlare.com. Add it in, watch a video while it figures out all the details of your DNS, and then turn around and make the name server changes it asks you to make. There are instructions included on the page and it tries to help you make the best choices. It is worth noting that only self hosted WordPress blogs are capable of using CloudFlare. Since the actual change needs to happen at the registrar and name server level, TTL reduction will not help propagate it faster. While Go Daddy seemed to push the changes through quickly for us, it can take up to 48 hours for everything to work properly.
Once the name server changes are made, you just sit back and watch. The free service from CloudFlare performs a bunch of automated magic, including using location aware technology to redirect your visitors to the right cache of your content. I know that the content is still live and interactive, but the seamless nature of the change makes this so easy and attractive. It speeds up your site using a variety of caching technologies and a CDN, including automatically minifying your scripts, reducing extra items in your HTML. It eventually reduces the amount of bandwidth you consume on your server and the number of requests actually hitting your server.
- It works with static and dynamic content. Direct access is no sweat since a subdomain is created that goes directly to your site! For all of you using virtual hosts, let me calm your fears. CloudFlare works fine with virtual hosts.
- It is always online, even buffeting traffic surges and reducing downtimes. (I have a concern about this. I turned off the MySql server by mistake and the blog displayed a DB error. I assume that if my server is down due to spam storm, the same thing will happen. I will have to investigate that.)
- Reduces slowdown effect of third party tools and scripts such as FaceBook, Google AdSense or Analytics and Twitter. We have a lot of those!
- Protects against network threats such as spammers, uses previously reported information for protection. This is fantastic, if it works.
- Provides a host of other third party plugins that can easily be installed. I use a couple of them.
Some recommendations for WordPress users:
- There is a WordPress Plugin, use it to be safe. http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/cloudflare/ Once it is installed, there is a setup page (which is not linked from the plugin page, fix?) that asks you to put in an API key and then lets you optimize your database.
- Continue to use Akismet and any other Caching plugin you have. Instructions are everywhere. Be sure to mark spammers etc. All of it helps the ecosystem.
- Be patient. In my case, the changes were up within an hour. It might take longer for you.
- If all else fails, switch your name servers back and ask for help.