If you haven’t heard of CloudFlare, they’re a web service that integrates with your site to increase site speed and performance while protecting against spam and attacks. I recommend checking them out for yourself (they have free plans) but here are seven reasons why I think CloudFlare rules.
Reason One: 100% Up Time
Reason Two: Development Mode and Cache Purge
Caching is rad, but what about when you’re making site changes and you need your new code to show up? Enter development mode! All you have to do is log in to CloudFlare, hit the development mode button and for the next three hours you’ll bypass caching and minification so that all your changes show up immediately. When you’re done working, just hit Purge Cache in the panel to expire all the resources that visitors have already downloaded so that they see the changes on their next visit.
Reason Three: Automatic Minification
Through the control panel, you can just click an option to selectively minify JS, CSS, and/or HTML. Minifying this stuff can do wonders for page speed (which, remember, is a ranking factor in 1% of searches) and without an automatic solution, you need to do it manually. CloudFlare makes the whole process so simple, you never have to think about it.
Reason Four: Hotlink Prevention
It’s been years since I was seriously worried about people hotlinking my images and stealing my precious bandwidth, but hey, this is a pretty cool feature. CloudFlare allows you to prevent hotlinking of images so that access is denied if a site isn’t in your network. One interesting thing to note is that you can bypass hotlinking prevention by adding a “hotlink-ok” sub-directory to the URL, like so, http://www.mikearnesen.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/hotlink-ok/scumbag-google.jpg. So, if you wanted to be jerk about it, you could bypass someone’s CloudFlare hotlinking prevention and make off with their sweet, sweet bandwidth.
Reason Five: Analytics
Reason Six: Search engine robots and last crawled
CloudFlare lets you see how many pages search bots are crawling on your website and when they last crawled you without forcing you to dig through your server logs. Super awesome for SEO specialists (a.k.a., geeks) like me.
Reason Seven: Ease of Set Up
And last but not least, CloudFlare is ridiculously easy to set up. I host through Dreamhost, so I was able to configure things right from my CP. All I had to do after that was signup at CloudFlare. And yeah, it was all free.
There are plenty more things that are cool about CloudFlare to discover. These seven reasons were just things that got me stoked on the service. I’m sure there are also reasons CloudFlare blows. Share those in the comments. 😉