So, CloudFlare or CF for short is a “free” service, it is used to speed up, and “protect?” your blog or website from spammers, hackers, etc. I decided to try it on this blog and see how it can help, what’s the worst that can happen right?
Activating CloudFlare is easy, create a free account, add your site, it will sniff some of your DNS records, you need to confirm them, and then it asks you to change your DNS name server from your host to them.
How Does CloudFlare work?
– A visitor try`s to visit your website.
– CloudFlare will decide if this visitor is a nice guy or a malicious creep.
– A nice guy will have immidiate access, while the creep get’s a “challenge”, a page from CloudFlare asking for your visitor to enter a captcha.
– If cloude fire has some of your static contents cached, it will serve them to the visitor instead of loading them from your server, as a CDN of some sort. and that is how CloudFlare will speed up your website.
CloudFlare: The good, the Bad and the Ugly:
Truth be told, the speedup part is real. page load times are improved, and you will consume less bandwidth. The protection bit anyway is a little of an over stretch. CloudFlare may really protect you from some bots, vulnerability scanners etc, but it will challenge many of your legit visitors as well, making many bounce directly off the challenge page. And the tricky part is: you can not fully disable CloudFlare secuirty, if it wasn`t for the adsense disaster that I’ll discuss in a bit, I would have stuck with CloudFlare just for the caching part, if I was able to turn security off.
In my case. CloudFlare considered around 50% of my visitors to be a threat! and that my friend, is with the security level set to LOW! As we all know,”free cheese is in the mouse trap” I think CloudFlare is making some money off the challenge page, and that`s how they can afford to offer “free” CDN for everyone.
CloudFlare and Adsense
Now for the worst part: Adsense. although this really shouldn’t happen as CloudFlare only acts between the server and the browser, while adsense loads directly from the visitor browser to Google`s servers. CloudFlare ruined my Adsense income.
For the two days that I had CloudFlare on, my income dropped to less than 0.5$ a day!!! my average CPC dropped to $0.01, and click count dropped to half what it usually is. Some might argue that the rest of my income was coming from malicious robot clicks, but do you really believe that google will pay you for such traffic?
I honestly don’t have a clear Idea about the source of this conflict between CloudFlare and Adsense, I was not willing to stick around for long to find out! I tried white listing some IPs from the US assuming that one of them may be an Adsense crawler that is used to determine the contents of a page. but it didn’t work. So I just opted out, restored my original Name servers, and now my income is starting to get back to normal.
Bottom line is CloudFlare can really speed up your website, and protect you from some potential hackers. But you may want to test the effects of it on your adsense, and visitors before permanently applying it to all your websites.