CloudFlare Can Boost Sites Performance For Free

Website performance is a big deal. Experiments conducted by the biggest websites on the net conclude page performance is directly related to revenue. Bing.com found a 2 second slow down equals a 4.3% reduction in revenue per user. A 400 millisecond delay on Google search pages led to 0.59% fewer searches per user. Aol found users who experience the fastest Web page load times view 50% more pages per visit than users experiencing the slowest page load times.

Content Delivery Networks (CDN) can be a big boost in page speed by 1) saving a copy of the fully-rendered page and 2) serving that copy from a server as close to the user as possible. Big CDNs like Akamai and CacheFly charge hundreds of dollars a month at the minimum. CloudFlare, a new  start-up, is hoping to change that by offering a CDN for free. I tried it out with two of my sites, this blog and dummyimage.com, and below are my findings.

Setting up CloudFlare with my sites was a breeze. All you have to do is change some DNS settings to route your traffic through their servers. Since I use Dreamhost as a host, CloudFlare made it even easier by hooking into Dreamhost’s system to make the changes for me. An e-mail with the original DNS settings was also sent as a backup in case I wanted to revert back. Within 5 minutes, I was up and running.

Dummyimage.com saw the most benefit from CloudFlare as it serves up dynamically generated images. Once that image was cached, any subsequent requests for that URL would be for a static image without needing PHP to create it. Dummyimage is popular and the reduced load on my measly shared servers was noticeable.

CloudFlare provides a bunch of stats for monitoring the amount of traffic going through their network as well as the bandwidth saved.  In my case, for both of my sites, I’ve saved 11.5 gigbytes of bandwidth on 23,985,639 requests in 14 days.

Another advantage of CloudFlare is the security aspect. The network will identify and block threats ranging from botnet zombies to web spammers. CloudFlare presents suspected threats with a captcha and a chance for the user to leave a message if they might have been falsely accused. Part of their stats lets you see all of the threats including ones that passed the captcha and/or left a message. So far I have seen no false positives.

So while things have been mostly great, there are a couple of drawbacks. For one, the service is still figuring things out. There was about 50 minutes of downtime when all sites running through CloudFlare were inaccessible. It didn’t irk me too much. I figure I can’t really complain when the price is free. Another issue is the stats take forever to load. The stats for the free version are delayed 24 hours on purpose, but several times when trying to access the statistics dashboard the site would timeout.

Because all of the traffic is now coming from the CloudFlare servers, any code on your end that relies on the IP address of the end user will need to tweak their code. CloudFlare has a simple guide for how to do this on their wiki.

So if you’ve made it this far you’re probably wondering, “should I run my site through CloudFlare?” If you run a personal site and can live with a little downtime here and there, then absolutely. If your site is your sole means of income and any downtime causes your blood to boil, then you should probably find a more trusted CDN (and expect to pay for it). You could always experiment with it over the weekend for a couple of days and then switch back if you run into problems.

Content Delivery Networks bring a big performance boost to a site and with a free one out there like CloudFlare, there’s no excuse to not be using one.

A List Of Weird Song-Site Memes

trololololololololololo.com has been making the rounds around Twitter the past couple days. The site shows a Russian man singing a cheery song in what I assume to be Russian. How could you not listen to it over and over? Justin Erik Halldór Smith has a good write-up about the background of this video on his blog if you want to read all about its history.

Seeing this site reminded me of a few other wacky-song memes that made their way across the Internet. If you like trololololololololololo.com, you’ll like these similiar sites. All of them are songs and most of them loop infinitely. Enjoy!

http://www.lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala.com/

http://www.iiiiiiii.com/

http://www.ooooiiii.com/

http://www.dabadabadab.com/

http://www.lalalaa.com/

http://www.leekspin.com/

http://www.manamanadoodoodoodoodoo.com/

http://breadfish.co.uk/

http://www.getonmyhorse.com/ & http://shutupwomangetonmyhorse.com/

http://www.hristu.net/

All of these sites descend from badgerbadgerbadger.com which first launched in September, 2003.

The .ME Rush Of ’08

Red circle with white ME in the middle.

.Com, .net, .org. These are the website suffixes most people are familiar with. Today Go Daddy, and a slew of other registars, began offering .Me names in hopes of reinvigorating the domain squatter market. And boy did Go Daddy rile up a stampede of people. At 11 am eastern when the landrush began Go Daddy’s servers took a hit. The site was sluggish and searching for an available new cyber-property became grueling.

I was just poking around looking for something slightly amusing. I think I managed to buy beam.me but as of now it hasn’t shown up in my domain queue on my Go Daddy control panel. Other people are reporting failure notices after they think they have registered a domain which I have not received. A co-worker was trying to grab lemonli.me and treadon.me so he could create dont.treadon.me. As for me (pun intended), the possibilities of my geeky beam.me include a funny Star Trek reference at beam.me/up or something else. On the train ride home I was thinking I could partner with an uber Star Trek geek who would blog on my domain while I managed and ran the technical stuff. I would even be willing to split the ad revenue 50/50.

Star Trek Phasers

But this is most likely only speculation for now. If I don’t get it, no big deal. These secondary extensions will soon be just as worthless as .info, .ws, and the dreadful .biz. But this will be nothing compared to when ICANN roles out custom top-level domains in 2009.

Will Diet Coke Kill Us?

Beats me, but according to willdietcokekill.us it will. Pretty self explanatory site with a clever domain. I wish it would link to some information supporting its stance as I drink Diet Coke every Tuesday for the most part.

Diet Coke Spewing

Kudos Jon Maxfield of Saint George, Utah!