Cloudflare Review

With data centers in Germany and the Netherlands, our sites render quickly for our EU customers, but the load times aren't as quick for our customers outside the EU, like those in Asia.


Valuable Features

Highly-configurable caching options is what sells this product. Having CloudFlare properly render every page has reduced load times, bandwidth usage, and, most importantly, our server's load. Reducing the load meant we were able to get rid of several PHP/Apache caching modules that consumed a great deal of resources that do the same, if not, a less efficient job.

Improvements to My Organization

CloudFlare has positively improved my site's speed, performance and security. Also, having servers with data centers located in Germany and the Netherlands, it worked great for our EU customers. However, we couldn't exactly deliver the same load times for clients located outside of EU, for example in Asia. Having our websites cached with CloudFlare's servers all over the world, this is no longer an issue.

Room for Improvement

I have found CloudFlare's support to be unresponsive at times, and not very helpful with providing technical details for issues that we have reported over the years.

Use of Solution

We've been using it for around two years with its cPanel plugin.
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Stability Issues

Luckily, we haven't encountered any issues with stability so far. In fact, it has increased our uptime since it wasn't unusual for us to deal with DoS/DDoS attacks on a weekly basis.

Scalability Issues

Since we are on the same plan since the first day we started with CloudFlare, we haven't had much experience with scalability.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Customer Service:

Since customer service goes hand in hand with technical support, I'm afraid we haven't experienced their representatives going above and beyond in terms of:

  • Responses within the SLA
  • Not using predefined answers for issues that were somewhat "unique"
Technical Support:

I have found CloudFlare's support to be unresponsive at times, and not very helpful with providing technical details for issues that we reported over the years.

Previous Solutions

We haven't used CDN networks, but we experimented with Varnish, xCache, Gzip, eAccelerator and other PHP/Apache caching solutions. Since they weren't very configurable (except for Varnish), CloudFlare has provided a much better solution, allowing us to move away from running multiple caching instances on our local servers.

Initial Setup

With every service out there, there will be hiccups every now, and then but as far as the deployment goes Cloudflare is extremely simple to implement. It is a low-risk solution since we can manipulate which DNS zones get cached and which don't. In case there's any trouble, we can disable CloudFlare, and switch to our local DNS in less than a couple of minutes.

Setting up CloudFlare is an easy gig. The only issue you might encounter is having your domain registered through a vendor that doesn't allow direct name-server manipulation.
For example, Enom resellers are known to have their domain control interface completely locked, so you have to rely on their support to handle this for you. If their support team has an issue with handling requests within the SLA - you have a problem.

Implementation Team

Fortunately, we implemented this directly through CloudFlare as we like to avoid third party resellers whenever possible.

ROI

Having several sites that sell products, our primary concern is:

  • Content deliverability
  • High availability
  • Fast response times

Since CloudFlare provided a solution for all the above, which indirectly affects and improves our business, our ROI has greatly increased.

Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing

The fact that CloudFlare offers a free solution, which is more than enough if you're running a low-medium traffic is just amazing. As far the pricing goes, although it's a bit pricey, it offers great value if you're running your entire business online. Content optimization and delivery is key, and CloudFlare does a great job on providing that.

Other Solutions Considered

CloudFlare was the first CDN we used, and luckily, we haven't been given a reason to use another solution. In the past, we used server-based software, caching modules, etc.

Other Advice

Since it's a low-risk implementation, I encourage all users that have issues with their response times, occasional DOS attacks and page rendering to give CloudFlare a go.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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