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Opinions about Cloudflare


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@Havouza I have the same question because from my cPanel, it looks like recommended feature to speed up the website.

@Random - how long have you tried CloudFlare? From what I've read, it sounds like they protect your data more than if you don't use it. Sounds like propaganda but who knows? :)

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Just trying a provider won't reveal whether this provider looks into your data. But data is there and unencrypted, so he can. The same is true for any other provider, of course. Unless you rent/own a full server equipped with an encrypted filesystem and do server maintenance yourself.

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I use Cloudflare and I love Cloudflare. Why?

  1. There's a free option! Obviously it's not as feature rich as the paid versions but hey, it's free! It works well too.

  2. Distributed DNS. This is a huge plus in my book. They have DNS servers all over the globe that will automatically have your DNS data in them. Fast DNS lookups are one factor in attaining faster first page loads. If you're using Cloudflare then you are also using their DNS.

  3. Their page rules are powerful, flexible, and not difficult to learn. You can use them to force https, do page redirects, exempt certain areas of your site from Cloudflare's cache, etc.

  4. There are no traffic limits or data transfer fees. Free is free and unlimited. $20/month for their business plan, also unlimited.

  5. They have CDN servers all over the world, more than other (affordable) CDNs I have checked out.

  6. It's entirely automatic. Once you have turned it on it just works. You don't need to upload data to them or manage the cache in any way.

  7. You can cloak your IP if all your domains and subdomains use the Cloudflare cache. This makes it quite a lot harder for an attacker to take down your domain. Cloudflare has DDoS protection that works quite well and will generally keep your server up and running if you do end up under DDoS attack.

There are a few downsides to Cloudflare as well, though for me personally these are not serious problems:

  1. The first time your site is accessed via a Cloudflare node there will be little performance increase. This is because the cache is built dynamically as users use your site. This is the downside to #6 in the benefits. If some parts of your site are rarely used they may also not be cached by Cloudflare. They don't talk about how their caching system works but as more people in a given geographic area use your site the performance will get better as Cloudflare caches more and more of your site.

  2. All accesses to your site will come through Cloudflare, nothing will be directly to your IP from the end user. This means that your logs will all show Cloudflare IPs instead of the end user IP. Cloudflare has a workaround for this and many webhosts have options to make this work for Cloudflare users. I host on Cloudways and in their control panel they have an option to work with the way Cloudflare forwards the actual user's IP. It works flawlessly once set up.

  3. Cloudflare serves cookies with all content. There is no way to disable this at the current time, AFAIK. This will come up in all performance testers telling you that for static content you should serve it cookieless. I haven't looked into why Cloudflare does this or if they have plans to change how they do this in the future.

Overall I think Cloudflare presents an incredible value, either with their free plan or with their $20/month business plan. It's easy to set up and is in my experience an effective CDN and DNS service.

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While it's definitely not my decision what goes in docs and what doesn't I would say this is more of a forum discussion topic than a docs topic. Different people have different needs, goals, and budgets so there will be some services that will better suit some people than others.

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