The Ultimate Guide to Cloudflare CDN – Complete Review

Is it as good as it claims? This Cloudflare CDN review covers it’s most critical features, pricing strategy, usability, customer support, and overall functionality.

We’ve all watched numerous action films. So here’s something I assume you’ve been asked before…

Ever wondered where you’d hide a dead body to avoid getting caught?

No. I’m not talking about destroying it. Of course, there are countless options if you decided to proceed with that.

But let’s say you only have a few minutes to think fast. What would be your best idea?

Rivers are too cliché by now. Besides, that body will flow downstream with the current, then end up in a fishing net.

Well, alternatively, digging a grave wouldn’t be such a far-fetched idea. But you’d only manage to excavate shallow one, maybe a foot or two deep, within the short time. And that will be picked up by dogs faster than they can sniff out possible mates around.

We could explore numerous additional possibilities. But here’s something I’m sure you’ve never heard before. An idea that is so unique and creative that it’s yet to be explored in any movie or book. Including fictional works.

Now, before I drop the secret, I need your word. That this won’t leak out to an actual serial killer. Because otherwise, investigation departments would have a much harder time closing homicide cases.

That said, here’s the big reveal….

There’s nowhere more secretive and unexplored than the second page of Google’s results. Yes, move that body and place it in the middle of that page. No one will ever find it.

Doubt it? Well, sites that frequently rank there can tell you how lonely it gets.

Admittedly, this might be hard to digest at first, especially considering the fact Google hosts more than 67,000 searches per second.

But, consider this. When was the last time you even thought of peeking into the second page of the search results?

Thought so. Not really surprised either. Because more than 75% of the search engine’s users have that same tendency.

Even when the results come in millions of pages, users still don’t advance past the first one. That’s where all the action is.

Yes, it’s true. That’s how bad it gets in page two. Now, imagine the echo you’d hear in say page ten?

Certainly explains why the SEO war is increasingly fierce. Both small and large enterprises are engaging in a brutal battle for a spot on the first page of their primary keywords search results.

Consequently, 61% of marketers now consider SEO and expanding organic reach their most critical inbound marketing priority.

That’s why they are spending money unsparingly. The average firm is now directing 41% of their marketing budget to this.

Quite a lump sum, to say the least. Because the stakes are exceedingly high, considering search engines generally supply 93% of a website’s traffic.

For what it’s worth, let that sink in for a minute. Particularly that part about funding.

Money is a deadly marketing ammunition against your competitors, I’ll admit. But only when you’re exceptionally skillful in SEO, and backed by a solid strategy.

And you what? This is, by far, the most crucial factor in search engine optimization.

What makes it particularly interesting is the fact that much of Google’s ranking algorithm is a mystery. And right when you deliberate assessing it comprehensively, you learn that Google actually changes it about 500-600 times a year.

Astonishing, isn’t it?

Well, of course, we know all that hullaballoo about keywords, content, link-building, and other commonly recognized tactics for influencing the algorithm.

And you know what ultimately makes the difference at the finish line? Those little-known strategies that are only leveraged by the gurus.

Like tweaking web pages to improve their loading speed.

In 2010, Google decided that it wasn’t going to sit and watch snails crawling around the web. It then started integrating webpage loading speed into its ranking algorithms. And it hasn’t looked back since.

google ranking update

Some slow websites, however, have still managed to hold on for dear life. Because fortunately for them, Google only implemented this on PC search.

So, they survived mostly on mobile search, which, as a matter of fact, has grown exponentially in recent times. It had even surpassed PC search by volume in more than 10 countries (including the US) by 2015.

page load time metrics

Fair enough. But here’s one thing you should always expect from Google.

google announcement

It might take time. But they eventually respond.

Well, they finally did, and quite decisively for that matter.

It turns out that from July 2018, mobile search will follow suit. Your mobile page load speed will now contribute immensely to search rankings on mobile.

But that’s not all. If you thought you could simply eliminate content to make your site much faster, you might need to sit down to hear this…

That Google further cautions you not to sacrifice webpage relevance for speed. That would be immensely detrimental to your overall ranking.

Simply put. There’s nowhere to hide anymore.

I tell you what though…

There’s this thing they call CDN. An increasingly effective tool for improving page load speed.

More precisely, ever heard of Cloudflare CDN?

Cloudflare CDN Review: Overview

The web has managed to combine information into a single global village. But that’s only the façade. The theoretical side of it all.

Supporting it are servers positioned everywhere on earth. They are interconnected to facilitate seamless transmission of data. They are the real deal.

But there’s one problem. Unless you can invent a way of bending time into space, transmission from one server to another will never be instant. It has to take some time, depending on the connection speed and distance.

So, what does it all mean?

Quite simple and straightforward. That you can increase page load time by moving your website’s server closer to the traffic source.

Unfortunately, such an option is practically impossible.

But, hold it right there.

Now, let’s try again, with slightly different parameters this time. We can essentially opt for numerous servers, placed on standby at different locations.

And that is the fundamental approach to content delivery networks, otherwise commonly referred to as CDN.

A CDN will not move the entire server. At least not literally. The system only shifts requests to alternative servers positioned relatively closer to the traffic source.

What about the content? No pressure there. Simply copy it to multiple servers scattered around the globe.

That’s how services Cloudflare CDN came into existence.

Surprisingly, Cloudflare CDN didn’t start out as a CDN. Michelle Zatlyn, Lee Holloway, and Matthew Prince founded it as a security tool.

The prototype was so impressive that it won the Harvard Business Plan competition back in 2009. That’s the year they eventually set up base in California and launched their service in 2010.

The team was particularly concerned that their security service would experience latency problems. However, and rather interestingly, the results were the opposite.

In addition to security, the beta testers excitedly reported that their websites were loading about 30% faster. Then voila! Cloudflare became a thing.

Years later, the service now boasts that of user websites that are not only secure, but utilize 60% less bandwidth and load twice as fast.

cloudflare cdn time

Partly explains why it has grown to secure its position, top of the CDN food chain, with millions of users globally.

You’re dead right it’s one of the most prominent CDN services. But is it as good as it claims?

This Cloudflare CDN review covers it’s most critical features, pricing strategy, usability, customer support, and overall functionality.

So, let’s see how it performs…

Cloudflare CDN Review: Top Features

One of the principal things that stand out on Cloudflare is the extensive network of numerous servers. In total, it has 151 datacenters, all placed strategically around the globe in seven continents.

Cloudflare CDN locations

Europe and North America are notably predominant, holding the bulk of the datacenters. And it makes sense when you come to think of all the internet traffic originating from these two areas alone.

Cloudflare CDN continents

Quite a reasonable set of resources, to be frank. So, of course, I was pretty excited to try it out. Ensuring that all the stats were recorded accordingly over a period of two weeks.

The result?

Although I suspected that Cloudflare’s claims might only be marketing mumbo jumbo, I expected the actual site numbers to be within range.

Sadly, the service could only manage to save 37% of the bandwidth. Undeniably a far cry from the 65% Cloudflare promises.

Very disappointing. But, to be fair, I was on the free package. I’m assuming the service only optimizes speed and bandwidth for paid users.

Thankfully, that’s not all there is to Cloudflare CDN. For adequate website optimization, the service also comes with browser caching, cache header optimization, minification, JavaScript bundling, asynchronous resource loading, and gzipping pages.

Good enough. How about security?

Guess what? Cloudflare never dropped its security venture to focus entirely on CDN provision. It adequately protects websites against a wide range of potential vulnerabilities, including spam, SQL injections, malicious bots, and DDoS Attacks.

And get this. These features have been tried and tested before. And not by an ordinary hack. But by a record-breaking DDoS attack back in 2004. Unquestionably the largest in the history of the internet

And you know what? Cloudflare was able to handle it all.

That said, here are other notable features:

  • Monitoring of Google Analytics.
  • HTTP headers with IP geolocation.
  • Preloading of 200 of the most accessed content.
  • Caching with or without query string parameters.
  • Extensive analytics.
  • Integration with Kubernates, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace, Acquia, Magento, Google Cloud, WordPress, and IBM Cloud

Cloudflare CDN Review: Ease of Use

The simple and straightforward setup process is arguably one of the most outstanding features on Cloudflare CDN. It will only take you about five minutes to get everything up and running.

After signing up to create an account, enter domain names, scan DNS record, review records, and save.

If you face any difficulty, take advantage of the Help link, which comes alongside each feature. It explains all the elements accordingly, to help you set up everything as fast as possible.

The overall interface, on the other hand, is pleasantly smooth and simple. All the functions are displayed clearly, and it shouldn’t take you long to learn your way around.

Cloudflare CDN interface

Cloudflare CDN Review: Pricing

Cloudflare comes in four distinct plans- Free, Pro, Business, and Enterprise.

Cloudflare CDN pricing

Free is the most popular for obvious reasons. In addition to unlimited bandwidth for cached files, it provides SSL support, data analytics, and website security.

Unfortunately, it’s considerably limited. Data analytics can only be updated after 24 hours, and the whole setup is not compatible with some browsers.

The Pro Plan is optimized for professional websites and blogs, at $20 per month for every site. Upgrading to this unlocks image optimization, mobile optimization features, and 15-minute updates for the traffic stats, among other functionalities.

Small and mid-sized businesses are better off with the Business plan, at $200 per month for every website. Apart from prioritized email support, it offers PCI compliance, plus advanced security and performance.

Finally, the Enterprise plan is built for large businesses with advanced security and performance needs.

Cloudflare CDN Review: Customer Support

A solid knowledge base, by now, has become pretty standard in the CDN space. And Cloudflare is no different. It’s sufficiently informative and well-categorized to help you navigate with ease.

If you need additional help, you are free to email the technical support team. Unfortunately, this is where it ends for Free and Pro plan users.

Prioritized email support is only available to Business plan users.

24/7 phone support, on the other hand, is exclusive to the Enterprise plan built for large businesses.

Bottom Line

Want to know the best part? Well, it has to be the fact that Cloudflare is not just a CDN solution. Its packages additionally come with optimized security features.

And, of course, we all love the fact that there’s a permanent free plan. It might have nothing outstanding to sneeze at, but it’s pretty commendable. Especially considering how rare such plans are when it comes to CDN solutions.

Overall, Cloudflare CDN is pretty decent for individuals, small businesses, and large enterprises. Who wouldn’t want to try out those 151 datacenters?

Cloudflare CDN Rating: 4.5 - Review by

Davis Porter

Davis Porter is a B2B and B2C ecommerce pundit who’s particularly obsessed with digital selling platforms, online marketing, hosting solutions, web design, cloud tech, plus customer relationship management software. When he’s not testing out various applications, you’ll probably find him building a website, or cheering Arsenal F.C. on.