Cloudflare overview

Cloudflare is a service that provides website protection and acceleration. DreamHost is an "Optimized Hosting Partner" of Cloudflare, which means that any of your domains can benefit from Cloudflare's content optimization.

Cloudflare's primary feature is its global Content Delivery Network (CDN), which provides web content optimization technologies that improve how quickly resources on your site load. The network also provides protection from malicious traffic, such as botnets and internet attacks.

  • Cloudflare provides visitor data via its custom analytics and additional security through enhanced security features, including free Universal SSL and basic DDOS protection. Some features can be configured in the DreamHost panel while others need to be managed directly at Cloudflare using a free cloudflare.com account.
  • Cloudflare is also only available on fully hosted domains – if you host your DNS elsewhere, you must take additional steps to enable Cloudflare.

Do I need to use Cloudflare?

Any website can benefit from using Cloudflare, including the free version.

It’s ideal if you want to optimize your site. When visitors request cached content from your site, they connect and download the content from the closest Cloudflare server possible instead of connecting directly to the DreamHost server. As a result, this shortens the amount of time it takes for pages to load.

There are a number of different ways Cloudflare can benefit your site:

  • User experience: A responsive, fast site increases user satisfaction and encourages repeat visits.
  • Boost your SEO: Higher site speed is a factor in increasing your search engine ranking as well as improving ecommerce conversion rates.
  • Free Universal SSL: Helps to make your site more secure as well as improving your SEO. View Cloudflare's blog post about this. Please note that this is not a fully functioning SSL certificate.
  • High traffic: Using a CDN properly can mitigate or reduce the impact that a heavy surge in traffic that may occur on your site.
  • Protect your site: Cloudflare protects against malicious traffic and internet attacks.
  • Reduction in server load: Caching your content in a CDN reduces the load on your server and the bandwidth used. DreamHost provides unlimited bandwidth for all hosting plans so this is not so much of a concern as reducing the server resources.

What are Cloudflare’s other features?

Cloudflare has a wide variety of optional performance features which can be enabled within the DreamHost panel. Some of these extra features include:

  • Railgun – dynamic content optimization
  • Lazy Loading – optimizes page loading process
  • Polish – 'lossless' image compress (plus plan)
  • Mirage – improves image loading on a mobile connection (plus plan)

Other features like Always Online, Auto Minify, and Rocket Loader can be managed from the Cloudflare account associated with the domain directly at Cloudflare.com.

How much does it cost?

The basic plan is Free when you enable it through your DreamHost panel. You can also purchase a paid "Cloudflare Plus" plan in your panel for $9.95/month. This is a step-up in terms of optimization capabilities and adds features like automatic image optimization and image compression.

How is it billed?

  • The basic plan is entirely free.
  • The Cloudflare Plus plan is billed monthly to your account.

Setting up Cloudflare subscriptions

Cloudflare subscriptions control which features are available for a Cloudflare-enabled domain at DreamHost.

If you currently have the Plus option for SSL support and no longer want it, you can switch to Basic by canceling the Plus option and then switching to the free option instead. In order to facilitate the switch to the Basic option, you must enable the 'Add WWW' option in the DreamHost panel in order to complete the process. For more information about adding 'www' to your domain, please visit the following article:

  • All Cloudflare-enabled domains have access to the free Basic Cloudflare subscription at no cost.
  • The Cloudflare Plus subscription provides additional features such as image compression and is $9.95 per month.

For more information on the two Cloudflare subscriptions, please see the Cloudflare Subscriptions article.

See also

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