What is CloudFlare?
CloudFlare is a Content Delivery Network provider. A CDN or Content Delivery Network is a system that uses a network of super-fast file caching servers that are geographically dispersed to deliver files very quickly. The CDN stores a cached version of your site’s pages and files. When a user tries to load your site, the request goes to Cloudflare first. If Cloudflare has the file/page, it delivers it very quickly. If not, it forwards the request on to our servers who serve up the file (which Cloudflare then caches).
Benefits of using Cloudflare
- If we have server issues, the cached version of the pages in your site will still be available (note: forms, transactions and other features dependent upon sending data to the servers will still be affected).
- Your site will load much faster. Because the content is physically closer and doesn’t require a database query to load, your website can be much quicker.
- Cloudflare also optimizes files for mobile, so when a device is loading your site, the images sent to it are the right size to load quickly.
Things to consider before using Cloudflare
1. Your site will be on a 20 minute cache.
- When you make changes on SiteWrench it'll take 20 minutes for them to be visible on your live site.
- When editing your site, you can use the .sitewrench.com development URL of your site (ex: https://mysiteURL.sitewrench.com) to bypass the cache so you will be able to view your changes immediately.
- In the event of an emergency, we can also manually purge the cache.
If you are unsure of your development URL, please contact our team.
2. Some features have to be excluded from the cache
- Version 1 forms use a “post back” to submit data to the server, this isn’t possible from a cached version of a page, so we either have to exclude V1 Form pages from the cache or migrate you to V2 Forms.
- Store Checkout, Donations and Registrations all have to be excluded from the cache. We can do this by writing page exclusion rules (we’ll handle this for you and let you know if there are any other caveats you need to know about).
3. We have to move DNS to Cloudflare.
- If we currently manage DNS for you now, we would handle 100% of this move. Cloudflare is actually a great DNS provider and boasts some of the fastest times available.
- If you currently manage your own DNS or your IT personnel manage it for you, then you can set up your own CloudFlare account directly with CloudFlare and extend access to your IT team and our team. See step 4 below for further information.
If you are unsure who manages your DNS, please let us know and we can assist.
4. CloudFlare costs $20/month. There are two options:
- We completely manage your CloudFlare move and we'd put your site on our account and pass along the monthly cost to you on your normal invoice.
- Alternatively, you can create your own CloudFlare account so that you and your IT team can retain access to your DNS. Then you would extend us login access through firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can complete the setup and help with any future concerns. CloudFlare’s $20/monthly billing will go directly to you and will not affect your SiteWrench invoice.
Here is CloudFlare’s site if you'd like to learn a little more about them, your site would use the PRO plan: https://www.cloudflare.com/plans/
If you want to consider Cloudflare, first, PLEASE make sure you have read the above article to be sure you understand the implications. Next contact our support team and we’ll help you get started.