CloudFlare can be a useful option if you have a busy site that uses lots of resources. You can off-load some of your traffic to CloudFlare’s CDN, which could be a life saver for forums and other busy sites. Your host needs to have certain elements configured on your server to really benefit from CloudFlare though.
Make Sure Your Host is Optimized for CloudFlare
There are some Apache modules that your host should configure for optimal performance. In addition, once CloudFlare is integrated into your host’s environment (usually within CPanel), then you won’t need the WordPress plugin to run your site through their service. Once it’s integrated inside of cPanel, it’s easy for hosting clients to utilize CloudFlare’s services.
A couple more points:
- CloudFlare works by modifying your DNS, with no changes made on the server side. However, your host still should make some adjustments for CloudFlare. For example, the CloudFlare Apache module must be installed on your server in order to allow accurate logging of visitor IPs and other statistics.
- Being a Cloudflare hosting partner means that CloudFlare will allow that host to offer their Railgun technology to CloudFlare free/pro clients in a shared hosting environment.
Typical CloudFlare Problems
• CloudFlare will occasionally pop-up a captcha for suspicious visitors:
Make sure these captchas aren’t being triggered by your human visitors. I’m sure a few of them will let you know via your contact page if they’re being blocked from your site by CloudFlare.
• If you’re using the CloudFlare CDN network, make sure to monitor your latency (even 150ms of added latency can impact your site). Cloudflare is still prone to 502 Gateway errors that reduces your site’s uptime. This could cause 500 errors taking your site down for minutes at a time:
Here’s an interesting observation from a Site5 customer:
I too experienced a number of 500 errors initially after starting to use Cloudflare. Research from Site 5 found “It appears that your site has triggered mod_qos on the server. This happens when more that 50 concurrent requests happen to your website.” Note that the default Apache configuration for mod_qos is 150 connections. Site 5 has reduced it by 2/3. Once I knocked down the spammers, botnet zombies, and excessive googlebot page views the 500 errors went away and Cloudflare’s performance has been just fine.
Those looking for an alternative to CloudFlare can try Incapsula, who I’ve reviewed here: http://wpguidance.com/417/incapsula-vs-distil-it-for-content-and-bot-protection.