Cloudflare CDN Review (2023) Features, Benefits & Pricing
In this Cloudflare CDN review, we’re going to be looking at one of the most popular Content Delivery Networks on the market. Cloudflare offers an ultra-fast, dynamic content delivery service through a global “edge” based network.
This company ensures you get absolute control over how content is cached. You get to reduce bandwidth costs and take advantage of built-in protection from a DDoS perspective too. If you’ve never used a CDN before, Cloudflare is a great choice.
Cloudflare is available as an add-on for solutions like WordPress, and it can work with a wide range of sites, all around the world. There are tons of features to explore, and even a free plan to help you get started. Today, we’re going to be looking at all of the incredible things Cloudflare can do, to help you decide whether you should be investing in this CDN.
What is Cloudflare? An Introduction
Cloudflare isn’t just a CDN solution provider, it’s a global network, designed to help you ensure everything you connect to the internet remains fast, secure, and private. You can use Cloudflare to secure internet applications, websites, and APIs. The service works for protecting corporate networks, devices, and employees. Plus, there are tools for writing and deploying code on the network edge.
From a CDN perspective, Cloudflare has quickly emerged as one of the most impressive content delivery networks. Launched in 2008, the company now delivers its services to more than 12 million domains, and it has over 155 data centers worldwide.
According to Cloudflare, another 10,000 new customers sign up for the service each day. Every week, Cloudflare also notes that the average person interacts with Cloudflare over 500 times. The focus of the company is mostly on providing security and performance services, operating to deliver lower latency for mobile applications, websites, and APIs on an end-to-end basis. The solution protects against data breaches, bots, and DDos attacks.
Cloudflare Review: Features
Cloudflare is made up of a huge network of expansive global centers caching static content around the world. The solution delivers dynamic content across the fastest and most reliable links in the digital landscape. The Cloudflare network is also API-first, allowing consumers to easily automate workflows with high levels of granular control over content caching and purging.
Cloudflare networks also allow users to customize their caching requirements based on application needs. What’s more, when you cache content within the Cloudflare network, you reduce the need to source content from the origins, and therefore minimize costs. All of the shared customers of Cloudflare partners are also entitled to discount fees through the Bandwidth Alliance too.
Supporting millions of internet properties around the world, Cloudflare intelligently routes content based on network requests, using the fastest paths available through Argo Smart Routing. Traffic can be load balanced across a range of environments, using network and proximity latency to determine the most effective destination for requests.
Here’s a quick insight of what you get:
- Global content delivery network: The global content delivery network features more than 155 data centers across a total of 75 countries. The CDN caches your static content on edge servers, reducing latency by bringing content as close as possible to visitors. The Anycast network is also ideal for absorbing distributed attack traffic.
- Website optimization: Cloudflare can help to ensure your website is performing at its best, with a host of performance optimization tools, like HTTP/2, file minification, and even GZIP solutions. Depending on the package you get, you can also access things like Accelerated mobile page loading speed, and image optimization (lossless)
- DNS: It’s not just CDN support you can get with Cloudflare. This company also offers a fast, easy-to-use DNS experience too. Currently, Cloudflare holds a significant portion of the managed DNS domains. The company is the largest, and some say fastest, DNS network provider in the world. If you’re looking for excellent speed, Cloudflare has you covered.
- Load balancing: Load balancing is just one of the many ways Cloudflare works to make sure your website is performing as rapidly as possible. You can set page rules to determine how data is distributed and use geo-steering to route your traffic to the location closest to their needs. Health checks are available with fast failover to rapidly route visitors away from possible failures.
- Web application firewalls: Enterprise-grade Web Application Firewalls conveniently detect and block common vulnerabilities in the application layer. Cloudflare uses the OWASP top ten, along with application-specific rule sets.
- TLS/SSL: Cloudflare provides SSL protection for customers for free. You can get the TLS 1.2 and 1.3 solution as part of any package, with shared or single custom uploads.
- Bot analytics and advanced mitigation: High-level bot solutions can help you to pinpoint potential problems in your connection.
The higher you go with your Cloudflare plan, the more features you’ll get, including things like minimum edge cache expiration TTL at thirty minutes, and access to things like waiting room traffic regulation.
Cloudflare CDN Pricing
One area where you may have some confusion with Cloudflare CDN, is in its pricing. The company offers a range of pricing packages, but they’re not just for the CDN. You also get features like an easy-to-use DNS, Global Content Delivery Network, and help mitigating DDoS attacks.
One of the most attractive features of Cloudflare CDN is the fact that it comes with a free plan. This individual solution is intended for people with personal projects or requirements which aren’t business critical. You can access the fast DNS within the free plan, as well as:
- 3 page rules
- 30 scripts
- Unmetered DDoS attack mitigation
- Content delivery network
- Free automated SSL certificates
There are some limitations to what you can do for the free plan, but it’s a nice start. After that, you can update to one of three plans:
$20 per month when billed monthly, the Pro plan features everything from the free plan, as well as some extra bonuses. You’ll get 20 page rules with this package, as well as enhanced security with a web application firewall built into your service. Other features include:
- Bot reporting and and attack protection
- DDoS alerts
- Optimization of images (lossless)
- Privacy-first analytics
Accelerated mobile page load speed
You’ll also receive a slightly faster response time from the team if you have any issues. Most replies to questions are available within four hours. There are also community forums available for troubleshooting and tips.
The Business package is quite a bit more expensive than the Pro, billed monthly at $200 per month. This is the PCI-compliant package from Cloudflare, equipped with everything small businesses need to get started online. You’ll also get prioritized customer support, with responses to your questions within 2 hours. Features include everything in Pro, plus:
- A web application firewall
- SSL and TLS 1.2, 1.3 with single or shared upload
- Bot analytics and advanced mitigation
- Minimum edge cache 30 minute expire
- 50 page rules
- Analytics time-range of 15 minutes
- Prioritized customer support with chat and email
- Waiting room traffic regulation
- 100% uptime SLA
The final version of the CloudFlare solution doesn’t have a price attached to it, as you’ll need to request a custom quote. The Cloudflare enterprise plan is for mission-critical requirements to your business. There’s advanced security and reliability features. You also get responses to questions in an hour or less. Features include everything in the Business plan plus:
- 125 page rules
- Audit logs and enterprise raw logs
- Analytics time-range at a one minute scope
- 100% uptime SLA with up to 25x reimbursement
- Prioritized customer support via email, chat and phone
- Role-based account controls
- Network prioritization
- Single sign-on support
- Enterprise bot management
- Layer-3 Network DDoS protection
- Spectrum for UDP and TCP
- SSL and TLS for SaaS
- China network access
What are the Benefits of Cloudflare CDN?
A CDN can be an important investment for your business. Cloudflare promises it’s customers a combination of exceptional ease of use, granular controls, and faster loading times. In fact, you can provide customers with up to two times faster loading times, so they’re more likely to want to stick around and continue using your website.
A CDN is all about making sure your customers can load essential pages as quickly as possible, even in times of peak demand. Cloudflare doesn’t bill users for spikes in bandwidth, and the company only ever charges a flat rate based on the kind of plan you choose. This means you can rest assured that the globally distributed network you’re using to support your customers won’t end up breaking your budget. Cloudflare even allows you to maintain a higher level of control over your site.
If you have visitors coming to your website from all over the world, you can choose exactly where you want versions of your website to be saved and stored. Users can quickly make fine-grained changes to improve performance in all kinds of complex applications.
Cloudflare CDN can:
- Improve the performance of internet applications. Long distance from the origin of the website or application reduces the speed of loading times. Access to Cloudflare CDN will allow you to serve content from a location closer to your customers, using edge servers. This improves engagement, and conversions, while lowering costs.
- Enhance mobile experiences: As customers continue to interact with brands through mobile devices, Cloudflare and solutions like it allow you to deliver faster experiences with improved content availability and redundancy, even when you have spikes in traffic.
- Offer SEO: Google has long considered the speed of a website as an important factor in SEO rankings. Faster sites deliver better experiences, which places you higher on the search results. This could mean you find more customers and convert them more frequently.
- Lower costs: You can reduce the bandwidth consumption costs associated with running a website with help from Cloudflare CDN and ensure application availability regardless of infrastructure outages.
- Improve protection: Security and DDOS protection features improve your site’s security by protecting against all kinds of data breaches and attacks.
For video content, Cloudflare services also include a global network of video content delivery solutions, with no need for additional plugin options.
Combining security features with dynamic content delivery, detailed analytics and ease of use, all versions of Cloudflare (including the free version) offer fantastic functionality for web hosting clients.
Cloudflare promises companies from San Francisco to Australia an easy-to-use environment for their web hosting solution. To start building an account for an ecommerce or standard website, you can enter your email address and choose a password. If you have special requirements like WAF needs, help with CSS, or security measures for healthcare companies, you can contact the team.
To enhance the site speed of your first website, all you need to do is enter the domain name into the Cloudflare system. Cloudflare will grab every DNS record available and ask you which solutions you want to access. After this, the only step you’ll need to take involves getting your domain name servers to point to Cloudflare. The system even tells you which records to change.
The whole process is extremely straightforward. However, it’s worth noting www.cloudflare.com will only proxy HTTP traffic. Once you’ve scheduled the setup of your Cloudflare hosting solution, you can visit your domain registrar to make changes within your control panel based on your new CDN services. Cloudflare is pretty simple to set up here, although you might need to wait a full 48 hours with some domain providers to access all features.
Once Cloudflare is fully implemented, you’ll be able to access the web console, which offers a convenient walkthrough of the security settings available, as well as what specific changes will do. You can even access Brotli compression for shrinking your text files.