How CloudFlare Kept My Blog Running

How CloudFlare Kept My Blog Running

I have been using CloudFlare for about 5 months. I mainly chose to look into using CloudFlare because of the performance benefits for my blog. CloudFlare is similar to a CDN in that it will cache many of the static elements on your site, such as images, Javascript, and CSS, and then send them to your visitors when they are requested. This means that your host’s server just needs to worry about sending the dynamic content, such as the Web pages, which reduces the load on the server.

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Last week my host had an issue. There was a denial-of-service (DoS) attack against the server that hosts my blog. Because I am on a shared hosting plan, the DoS probably caused issues with several sites, and not just my blog

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The DoS attack prevented my blog from being displayed properly when visitors requested pages from my host. If it wasn’t for CloudFlare, only an error page would have been displayed for each visitor.

What happened instead is CloudFlare showed a cached copy of the web page to the visitor. While I can’t be sure it was like that for every page, many of the pages I viewed showed the content of the page.

While I’m not sure what exactly happens with CloudFlare, but it may be something like this. CloudFlare caches the content of the pages on their servers. The static content, as mentioned at the beginning of the article, is always sent from the CloudFlare servers, instead of your host’s server. The content is sent from your host.

If CloudFlare detects that your Web site, or blog, can’t be reached, it will send a cached copy of the requested Web page to your visitor. A message strip at the top of the page will indicate that the page is a cached version, and may not be the most current version. Once your site is up and running again, CloudFlare will stop sending the cache copy and begin sending the pages for the host.

So when my blog went down last week, CloudFlare sent the cached pages to my visitors, and once the problem was corrected, the current pages were sent to my visitors. In doing so, CloudFlare had allowed my blog to remain online, even though it was actually down.

While it takes time for CloudFlare to cache all pages of my blog, it seemed that the more common, high-traffic, pages were returned from their server, as I could see in my analytics log.

So, in addition to providing some performance benefits, CloudFlare also provides some added piece-of-mind with regards to my blog’s outages. For a free service, it has provided some great benefits.

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18 Responses to “How CloudFlare Kept My Blog Running”

  1. Steve says:

    How does this compare to using something like a caching plugin for WordPress. I’d be curious to see some performance comparisons.

    • Paul Salmon says:

      With CloudFlare, all your data is cached on their servers, which are housed around the world. With a caching plugin, your visitors will still be retrieving data from your web host in one location in the world. Caching plugins and CloudFlare can work together, as I always have a cache plugin in use with CloudFlare.

  2. Darius says:

    I’ve just installed CF on one of my sites. Things have certainly speeded up, but I have been having some issues with my site’s feed being found? Anyone else experienced this?

  3. I installed cloudflare hours ago and looking at the stats and stuff how this thing actually works. I’m most concerned about the dwindling Adsense earnings reported by many users. I installed getclicky so I can verify how many people have visited my site. Theoretically, the page impression in Adsense should coincide (more or less) with what getclicky has recorded.

    • Paul Salmon says:

      While using CloudFlare I haven’t experienced decrease AdSense earnings. Nothing changed on my blog except the load times decreasing. I’m not sure why many users faced issues with AdSense while using CloudFlare, and I’m thinking that there may be something else going on.

  4. Linesh Jose says:

    Hi Paul,
    I didn’t heard about CloudFlare. Now I decided to use CloudFlare service for my blog. In this post you mentioned that, when host server down the ClouFflare will send the cached copy of the requested web page to visitors. That’s OK, good one. But what happen if CloudFlare server down?.

  5. Greg says:

    Thanks for your post,

    I currently use cloudflare, however there are problems with google adsense clicks
    Appantly CF does not recognise google clicks as it is behind a proxy
    I have found that the host needs to add a mod rule

    Anyway I am going to try Speedymirror
    My question is will speedymirror ease queries on my hosts server?

    Hopefully some members can help with this

    Best Regards

    • Paul Salmon says:

      I’m not sure about Speedymirror as I have only used CloudFlare. I haven’t seen any problems with using CloudFlare as it pertains the AdSense clicks. Are you talking about AdSense click stats or actually have the clicks recorded by Google?

  6. Tony says:

    CloudFlare is good service. However, there are many errors was reported from users.

  7. Theresa says:

    Thanks Paul! Our network is on a dedicated server, but I do notice random periods of exactly 5 minutes where it shutdown to scan portions of the drive. This could be a very good solution for me, along with speedymirror (one or both). I have opened it in a new window and when I’m doing doing by CMFads visits, I’ll be checking it out.

    Again thank you!

  8. John says:

    I noticed Cloudflare take over TE last week and have to say it did a fantastic job. Okay, your site didn’t look as pretty but the content was all there.

    Cloudflare might be ideal for my web shop. The shop is static (uses PayPal for the cart) and I hate the thought of the host going down leaving me paying for ads that lead to a dead site.

    • Paul Salmon says:

      Yeah, the CSS maybe wasn’t cached. The cache for the static objects may have expired, but with my host being down, I guess it couldn’t retrieve an updated copy.

      There were times in the past where it would look normal except for the bar at the top from CloudFlare.

  9. Shiva says:

    Hey Paul,
    I have heard quite a lot about Cloudfare but never took the effort to give it a try. Cloudfare comes as a free version too right, which one are you using the free or the premium. I think I heard that there is a service called SpeedyMirror which provides free CDN, maybe we could use it in conjunction with Cloudflare and have a more secure site in any case it goes does.

    • Paul Salmon says:

      I haven’t heard of SpeedyMirror, but I may look into them. As for CloudFlare, I am using the free version. Maybe, as they grow and work out the kinks in their system, I may upgrade to the premium version.

  10. Greg Lam says:

    Huh, didn’t know that was possible with a CDN. I use Amazon for CDN on a few of my sites.

    My site also went down on a shared host, but because of CPU usage over the limit. I have since switched servers,

    Cloudflare sounds like a good backup option in case of a server going down.

    Thanks for the tip.

    • Paul Salmon says:

      I’m not sure what is possible with a CDN as I haven’t used one. CloudFlare technically isn’t a CDN, but it does cache your static elements and page content to safe guard your site in case it does go down.

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