I just recently started using CloudFlare, again. I’ve used it a couple of months ago when my blog was on shared hosting. I’m just using the free service so I don’t know how the paid version would be different. It’s amazing that one could use it for free considering the type of service it provides.
Why I use CloudFlare
Most other blogs owners that use CloudFlare might be after improving their website’s speed. I on the other hand use CloudFlare for protection, trying to keep spammers and malicious bots away. I have a fast VPS hosted on Atlanta so speed tests that are conducted on areas nearby have a lower latency than when CloudFlare is on. On a global scale though, I think having CloudFlare is beneficial for slow websites, especially for those websites that take more than 6 seconds to load.
Another reason I use CloudFlare is to be able to block certain IPs easily without them ever actually reaching my server. A somewhat funny sidenote – I originally wanted to use CloudFlare to block a certain bot named “Panopta”. I constantly see “checks.panopta.com” on my server logs. I tried to discourage visits from the bot by using a “robots.txt” file but to no avail. It doesn’t seems to follow any robot directives. I added my blog on CloudFlare then explored for a bit. Boom! What do I see? I see a Panopta Service offered on CloudFlare’s apps. Lol, they’re on good terms it seems.
Looking at CloudFlare’s Analytics page, you can gauge how much resource/bandwidth their service saves you. It also shows many bad IPs that have been blocked from reaching your site. Despite this, I still see a lot of malicious IP getting though and trying to login on my WordPress blog.
The Benefits of using CloudFlare
- Blocks spammers and bad bots.
- Save bandwidth and cpu resource. This could save you money.
- Speed-up website loading. Though not much in my case. I explained the reason above.
- Easily prevents hot-linking of your images. I used to do this via htaccess.
- All the services listed above are offered for free. FREE!
My Issues on using CloudFlare
IP blocking does not work properly in some cases. Though this could probably be a rarely seen glitch. For testing purposes, I added my own IP on the trusted list then I moved it to the blocked list. It works. I can see the CloudFlare Deny Page when visiting my blog. Then I moved my IP to the trusted list again. I repeated this process to see how well it works.
Sometimes it took a while for changes to take effect and sometimes it was instantaneous. As fate would have it, on my last try it did not unblock my IP. I waited 24 hours but my IP was still blocked. The only reason I got through is because my ISP uses dynamic IPs. So up to this day I’m not sure if that particular IP is still on the Blocked List.
The analytics page has some glitches as well. My pageview count just dropped to 0 and past page views just seemed to disappear. Notice on the header says “Analytics data will be filling in over the next several hours“. Still waiting after 3 days. Missing data is still missing.
The analytics dashboard just updated the notice to a more informative one “CloudFlare is currently in the process of upgrading equipment for our reporting servers and software. As such, some data for analytics may be delayed for hours or more while we complete upgrades over the next few weeks.”
I guess I’ll just have to wait.