Do you really buy into that old fable? Slow and steady wins the race? Maybe for foot races, but for a web server, I want it all hare speed.
Make that flare speed.
Both CogDogBlog and ds106 (we are neighbors on the server farm) were suffering recently from the dreaded “over usage of resources”. Thanks to the advice of Tim Owens to set up CloudFlare (he did ds106, thanks), I have my domain running at what feels like super hare speed.
Here is the official description:
CloudFlare protects and accelerates any website online. Once your website is a part of the CloudFlare community, its web traffic is routed through our intelligent global network. We automatically optimize the delivery of your web pages so your visitors get the fastest page load times and best performance. We also block threats and limit abusive bots and crawlers from wasting your bandwidth and server resources. The result: CloudFlare-powered websites see a significant improvement in performance and a decrease in spam and other attacks.
Oh yes, get this. It’s free.
I set up an account, and entererd the cogdogblog.com domain. It does some checking, and tries to find all of the subdomains and network settings it needs. It did not find all of the subdomains I set up, like 5card.cogdogblog.com and mooc.cogdogblog.com, so I added those. I can then select which of them and other services are run on Cloudflare (the public sites). You also get to make a custom domainfor SFTP and SSH that are off of the cloudflare network (direct to the server). I had to add a PageRule (docs on that) so the wordpress admin site is off the network. Ai also had to set up a URL Redirect rule to handle tweets.cogdogblog.com (my Martin Hawksey wizardized twitter archive) which points to a google drive URL (again docs on that).
Anytime I fiddle with DNS settings I get nervous.
There was a bit of a transition period, but it appears to be going smoothly. The page loads are way more hare than tortoise. A few times in the wordpress dashboard I get a blank page, but a reload kicks it in (caching??)
And I get analytics! Free data! Numbers AND charts, just in a few days, its cutting a lot of flab off of the site:
So it seems that 21% of the bandwidth is crawling action by search engines, and 2% is malicious traffic; both which I gather CLoudflare handles so my poor web site can focus on the content. It identified 600 known threats it blocked.
The big deal is that CloudFlare managed 51,915 total requests and out of those, half did not have to be hitting my web server, ot 27,627 requests saved by CloudFlare.
I am still not 100% sure all that it does, but it sure is more fun to run like a smart alec hare than a plodding tortoise.
One might ask (I did) why they would do this for free (there are advanced fee-based services that might be useful on a super important site) why they would do this for free. After all, everyone is out to monetize us. According to the overview
CloudFlare’s system gets faster and smarter as our community of users grows larger. We have designed the system to scale with our goal in mind: helping power and protect the entire Internet.
So by managing my small site, they add data that helps them better route other traffic. Nice.
CloudFlare > Tortoise