You may have heard the term CDN used when talking about your website, you probably got told that a CDN can make your website go faster, and even prevent your site from being taken offline. One such service you’ve probably been told about is CloudFlare. While CloudFlare is a CDN service, it’s also distinct in a lot of crucial ways.
In this article I am going to explain what a CDN is, what it isn’t and some of the differences between a traditional CDN and CloudFlare.
So What Exactly Is a CDN?
In Short, A CDN or Content Delivery Network is a service that takes your websites static content (images, videos, and even the code that makes your website look the way it does and be functional) and puts it on a server that is closer to the person requesting the content. There are a few important benefits to this, first it means these assets have to travel less physical distance meaning it’ll take less time. But it also allows you to serve assets from a different server meaning you have more bandwidth available so your site can load even quicker.
What is CloudFlare?
CloudFlare works just like a CDN taking your static content and bringing it closer to your customer. Where CloudFlare is different is it works as a reverse proxy for your website. A reverse proxy sits in front of your website, and when someone requests your website it sends those requests on to your server (or serves them directly from it’s own CDN).
Why does this matter?
By working as a reverse proxy, CloudFlare can detect malicious activity on your site and block it before it makes it to your site. Sometimes this can be many devices working together to take your site offline by flooding it with more requests then it can handle (known as a DDOS or Distributed Denial Of Service). CloudFlare can detect and block these types of attacks, keeping your website online.
What isn’t a CDN
Some people get confused between a CDN and hosting. a CDN works with your current hosting to make your website load faster. You still need a hosting provider to hold your website’s data, and other dynamic content. If you want to learn more about that, see our article on web hosting.
A CDN isn’t a backup of your website or images. While a CDN does store a copy of your images closer to your customers, many services such as CloudFlare regularly check your server for the original image to make sure it still exists, and hasn’t changed. If you delete an image from your website, it will be lost from the CDN too.
Do I Need a CDN?
CloudFlare, one of the most popular CDN services provides many benefits for even the smallest websites, and has a free tier too! given all the benefits that a CDN can provide, nearly every website should consider using one. Setting up your website to use a service such as CloudFlare is actually really easy to do.
How Do I start?
Setting up your website to use a CDN is as simple as going to CloudFlare.com and creating an account. From there add your website and change your name servers to the one’s they provide! Need help? The professionals at Think Forward Media can get your website set up on a CDN lightning quick!
Want to speed up your website? Give the folks at Think Forward Media a call, we specialize in making websites that load in a flash.
Call today 705-302-1869