CloudFlare – Things to watch out for

At some point you’ll want to check out a company like CloudFlare to speedup your web site. I’m not an expert in this area but after reading some posts I thought I’d take a chance. I ran into some problems that I thought I would share so that you won’t waste time like I did trying to fix things that broke when I switched to CloudFlare.

So when you sign up for Cloudflare they want you to change your nameservers and point to theirs. This means you have to go into your host cpanel and try and figure out where this is.  The cpanel is usually a maze. That is why it is important to have a host that has 24-chat-service. You can use that to speed up your time to figure out how to change your nameservers. You could also look into their frequently asked questions (or maybe they are cool enough to offer well edited videos on how to accomplish this).

So when you sign up for CloudFlare they walk you through the process on their end (when you sign up for an account on their site). But at one point you will visit your host and change the nameservers (2 of them) to point to the nameserver names CloudFlare will provide you. This may take an hour or so to change over so grab some coffee.

I hate talking about nameservers and dns. It sounds so geeky. Who makes these names up? The gist of what they do (and please let me know if I screw this up) is nameservers are what connects you to the Internet. They are going to point to where your sites are. You went out at some point and bought a domain name like kony2012.com and that name is tied to an IP address. The way the IP address is mapped to the domain name is through a DNS server (Domain Name Server). The reason for the DNS server is people remember names better than numbers. Computers could care less but are perfectly happy with numbers like (123.123.123.123).

Once, I did that I noticed a speed increase on my site. It was noticeable. The problems I ran into is all my Dreamweaver FTP site definitions were broken. Why? Well I can’t use my domain name to FTP anymore so I had to go back into all those site definitions and replace my domain name (somesite.com) with an IP address (123.12.12.1234). I had to use the online chat to find out what my IP address was and this took 30 minutes. I now know where to find it on my site cpanel (it is well hidden). You can also see the IP address in your CloudFlare profile once you log into to CloudFlare. (Your account site > dns settings).

The 3rd problem is I was using a bunch of subdomains that were piggybacking off my domain name. All of those sites stopped working. I needed to manually add each one to cloudflare’s dns-settings page and then make sure they were running (the black cloud image on the right turns orange). It took a minute but now they are working again.

I am writing this blog because I wasted 3 hours of my life figuring this out today and I hope this post will save you that time so you can go to the beach or read a book instead.

2 Replies to “CloudFlare – Things to watch out for”

  1. Thanks for taking the time to help explain CloudFlare. You’re right that many parts of the Internet are too geek-centric and not user friendly enough. We’ve tried to make something that is very complicated under the hood (web security and performance optimization) as easy as possible. If you have any suggestions on how we can make the process easier, even for Luddites, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

    Best wishes,
    Matthew Prince
    Co-founder & CEO, CloudFlare
    @eastdakota (Twitter)

  2. I disabled cloudflare today. My site was down too much. It was a fun experiment while it lasted but cloudflare proved to be a trend and not a staple product that I could rely on.

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