One of our clients was chewing up bandwidth at an incredible rate due to spammers coming to the site from Russia and the Ukraine.  We needed to find a solution to keep them in the search rankings, but filter out unwanted spammers and potential threats, and speed up their website.  We found CloudFlare, and I’d like to share the results with you.

Below is the main dashboard view of a CloudFlare protected site.  It shows the various collected statistics and threats that were posed to your website within the past day.  The threat origins show what country is posing the most threat to your site, so you can easily block it if need be.

CloudFare Spam Blocker CloudFare Spam Blocker

CloudFlare saves your site a tremendous amount on bandwidth as well.  Within 24 hours of launching this site, CloudFlare saved our clients almost 133.8MB of bandwidth.

There are two versions of CloudFlare – a free version and a Pro version for $20 per month that works on SSL sites.  In both cases CloudFlare works like a proxy server between website visitors and the hosted site.  It caches the static content of your site, and shows visitors this, rather than the actual web pages.  This dramatically lowers the number of requests to your server but still allows visitors to access your site.

Many of the sites on CloudFlare see spammers drop from hundreds daily to almost zero.  CloudFlare identifies potential threats and spammers by looking at data from Project Honey Pot, and other sources and presents these potential threats with a CPTCHA page before they can even access your site (have to pass the captcha to enter). In addition, it speeds up your site.

So how does it work?   Basically it acts like a content delivery network (CDN) in that it is a series of servers that all have copies of the website’s data placed at random points in a network.   This maximizes bandwidth by allowing clients to accesses a copy of the data that is nearest to the client, as opposed to all site visitors accessing the same central server.  This helps to alleviate bottlenecks and speeds up the website.

So why are we recommending trying the CloudFlare system?

  • Faster Site with Lower CPU Usage
  • Protection from Malware and Spam
  • Dashboard Showing Blocked Threats
  • Alerting Your Site Visitors If Their Computer is Infected

There are some limitations of the CloudFlare system:

  • The site works off the www.$domain instead of $domain  so you may need a redirect.
  • Will change statistics on server logs, but won’t change web based analytics programs.
  • When you make a change to the site, it will be delayed as changes filter through the cached versions. To alleviate this, you can put CloudFlare in Development Mode so changes appear immediately.

Boomtown can implement CloudFlare for your site in under two hours in most cases.

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