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Cloudflare CDN for WordPress: A Detailed Guide on Improving Your Website’s Performance and Security

Updated on September 7, 2022

12 Min Read
cloudflare wordpress

Speed and security are two essential requirements of a WordPress website. That’s why we’ve spent countless days and nights (and eaten yet more donuts) building the most impressive managed cloud platform for hosting WordPress sites.

However, hosting is not the only factor involved in improving the speed of your WordPress site. Another way to do so is through a CDN, the content delivery network. In this article, I’ll show you how to install and configure Cloudflare CDN for your WordPress website easily.

This article will show you how to configure Cloudflare CDN on WordPress. Before starting the setup process, let’s understand Cloudflare CDN and how it helps you optimize your website’s performance.

Cloudflare Overview and Marketshare

Cloudflare CDN is one of the most popular CDNs available, with a network covering more than 250+cities and 11,000 networks connected to Cloudflare. It serves the web content of websites based on the geographic distance of visitors on the site.

A question may arise in your mind: how big is the Cloudflare network? How many websites are using Cloudflare? According to the latest stats from trends built with, Cloudflare has 10+ million active websites and 4.1 million customers, including 119,206 paying customers.

Trends built With Stats Cloudflare

It delivers static, dynamic, and media content and services such as security, optimization, and SSL. Websites using a Cloudflare CDN service minimize latency at the user’s end, as their content is cached and delivered from the nearest server.

An additional question: Why is Cloudflare a preferable CDN? Well, Cloudflare functions as a reverse proxy in addition to a CDN. It servers the site assets immediately. The CSS, jQuery, and media files servers with blazing fast speed.

Cloudflare CDN improves your site load time by reducing the distance between a client and the requested data, improves server-side infrastructure performance by efficient load balancing, and reduces data transfer.

Cloudflare Position in the CDN Industry

Your position is revealed when you have a competitor in the market: Cloudflare is not the all-alone content delivery network in the CDN market. We have a list of CDNs available in the ecosystem, but Cloudflare always outshines.

If we look at the WordPress CDNs, they all have tons of users/customers, but how does Cloudflare stand out in them? Let’s have a look at the statistics and analyze the difference.

According to the w3techs survey, The Cloudflare CDN is used by 79.8% of all the websites. The diagram below shows Cloudflare’s market position in terms of popularity and traffic compared to the most popular reverse proxy services.

Cloudflare marketshare w3techs

Cloudflare stands out in the CDN market when you compare it with the other popular CDNs.

Advantages of Using Cloudflare CDN

Cloudflare CDN is a renowned CDN provider with servers spread all over the globe to serve the content of your website to every corner of the world. Cloudflare offers multiple features depending on the pricing plan.

DDoS Protection

Cloudflare provides comprehensive DDoS protection to secure your Websites, applications, and entire network. Cloudflare ensures the performance of legitimate traffic is not compromised.

The 155 Tbps (terabit per second) Cloudflare’s network blocks an average of 124 billion daily threats. It also includes some of the largest DDoS attacks in history.

Cloudflare is entitled as a Leader in the Forrester Wave™ report for the DDoS Mitigation Solutions 2021. Forrester states, ‘Cloudflare protects against DDoS from the edge, and fast.’ If your site, application, or network is under attack, Cloudflare can protect you from multiple threads, such as login attacks, bot attacks, layer 3 and 4 attacks, and more.

Cloudflare Security Solutions

Source: Cloudflare

Web Application Firewall (WAF)

The WAF functionality helps to protect your website by filtering and monitoring the HTTP traffic between your website and the internet. It protects your application from major attacks such as SQL injection, file inclusion, cross-site scripting (XSS), and others.

You can block the array of attacks and save your system from compromising with the proper web application firewall (WAF). Cloudflare’s WAF layered defense system protects you from vulnerabilities and makes your site secure from SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and zero-day attacks, including OWASP-identified vulnerabilities and threats targeting the application layer.

cloudflare WAF

Source: Cloudflare

Reliability

As we discussed earlier, how big Cloudflare is, from the reliability perspective, millions of people, internet properties, and ecommerce giants use Cloudflare DNS to make their sites available to anyone in the world. Cloudflare DNS service, resolving 1,706 billion DNS queries per day.

Caching

Cloudflare on WordPress offers an advanced caching mechanism that automatically saves the static content, cache purging, and tiered caching.

We have seen that a typical website uses both dynamic and static content. Cloudflare can save you on both CPU and the bandwidth juice of your web hosting by using its servers for content. Cloudflare on WordPress can reduce the latency of the end-user and enhance the overall user experience.

Read More: How To Use Cloudflare CDN with W3 Total Cache Plugin

Optimizations

At times we need to integrate third-party tools and APIs for specific functionality. These resources are not in our control and, if not configured properly, can cause lags.

Cloudflare is designed to deliver a fast web experience and optimize the order of page resources.

Large or non-optimized images can cause performance issues. The Cloudflare Image Optimization algorithm optimizes the web page automatically by minimizing the number of network connections and making image delivery seamless. Cloudflare prevents third-party resources from slowing down the web page.

Accelerated Mobile Pages

Accelerated Mobile Pages is a technique to load web pages faster on mobile devices when searched by Google’s mobile search engine. More and more users are using their mobile devices to browse the internet.

Cloudflare CDN accelerated mobile links are powered by AMP and load AMP-enabled web pages inside the viewing window three times faster than the standard mobile pages.

Cloudflare provides several options like CDN, optimization of ads, DDoS security, analytics, and more. They also offer a free plan you can use before purchasing a paid one.

Smart Routing

Smart Routing is routing traffic through the fastest network available, with an algorithm that utilizes real-time network intelligence to decide the quickest path.

Stream Delivery

Media streaming can be time-consuming to load if accessed from the other corner of the region. Cloudflare CDN offers a unique caching mechanism to deliver stream files to solve this problem instantly.

Load Balancing

Cloudflare offers a subscription-based load balancing feature that starts from $5 per month. It’s a DNS-based load balancing that helps applications improve performance and site availability.

Cloudflare Pricing and Plans

Cloudflare offers four pricing plans: Free, Pro, Business, and Enterprise. Cloudflare charges on the base of features instead of bandwidth usage.

  1. The Free plan offers basic performance and security.
  2. Pro Plan at $20/month provides advanced performance with image optimization and WAF.
  3. The $200/month business plan provides DDoS attack protection, prioritized support, WAF, and dynamic content compression.
  4. Lastly, the Enterprise plan is a custom plan based on customer requirements with a dedicated solution engineer and support.

You can see the Cloudflare pricing plans and features from here.

Cloudflare Free Version Limitations: Any services of the free and paid versions cannot be the same. Of course, the free version comes with some limited features. Some key features that are very important for your site are not available in the free version. It doesn’t include Image Optimization with Polish, Mobile Optimization, Header Rewrites, DNS Firewall, and more.

For better quality, performance, and security, Cloudways’ partnership with Cloudflare opens up enterprise-grade. With Cloudways, you can get enterprise-Grade DDoS, firewall protection, and enterprise-grade CDN and performance.

Here are the features you get with the Free vs Enterprise plan of Cloudflare hosting.

Cloudflare pricing with Cloudways

The starting price is $4.99 per domain; if you activate the add-on for hundreds of applications, the price goes down to $1.99 per domain.

Cloudflare with Cloudways pricing

What Do Experts Say About Cloudflare?

Cloudflare is one product with a global audience from different personas. Most likely, developers and speed optimization experts use Cloudflare CDN for better performance. We decided to share some of the expert’s opinions with our readers to show their experience with Cloudflare and Cloudways. We also included some of the tweets from experts using WordPress with Cloudflare and getting good results. Let’s have a look at some tweets.

Setting up Cloudflare CDN on WordPress

Cloudflare provides many options like CDN, optimization of ads, DDoS security, analytics, and more. Besides free plans, they offer multiple premium plans where you will have more powerful features.

In this tutorial, I will share how you can install Cloudflare on a WordPress website hosted on Cloudways.

  • Step 1: Signing Up for Cloudflare
  • Step 2: Adding Site URL
  • Step 3: Select Your Cloudflare Plan
  • Step 4: Review DNS Records
  • Step 5: Change Your NameServer
  • Step 6: Change your NameServer from Domain Registrar
  • Step 7: Cloudflare Quick Start Guide
  • Step 8: Check Cloudflare CDN Status

Step 1: Signing Up for Cloudflare

  • First, you need to create an account on Cloudflare. If you already have it, you can skip this step.

Get started with Cloudflare

Step 2: Adding Site URL

  • Once you sign up on Cloudflare, a new screen will pop up where you’ll see a welcome message.
  • Click on the Get Started button.

Welcome to Clouflare screen

  • Here you have to provide your domain.
  • Click on the Add site button.

Add domian Cloudflare

Step 3: Select Your Cloudflare Plan

Once you add the site URL, Cloudflare will ask about the plan you want to avail of. For this tutorial, I’m going with the Free plan.

Cloudflare Plans

Step 4: Review DNS Records

  • The next step is to review your DNS records and check whether they are configured correctly or not.
  • Cloudflare will fetch all the DNS configurations from your domain registrar.
  • In my case, only two DNS records (Type A) exist.
  • Review your records and click Continue.

DNS record cloudflare

Step 5: Change Your Nameserver

  • As you can see in the image below, you need to change your domain registrar’s nameservers.
  • Replace them with the ones Cloudflare has provided.

Namrserver Cloudflare

Step 6: Change your Nameserver from Domain Registrar

  • Now, open your domain registrar and change the name servers.
  • Copy Cloudflare’s Nameservers.
  • Paste them on your domain registrar Nameserver option.
  • My domain is with Freenom, and I’ve successfully changed the nameservers.

Freenom nameserver

Step 7: Cloudflare Quick Start Guide

  • Once you change the nameservers on the domain registrar, go back to the Cloudflare CDN Settings tab.
  • Click on the Done, check nameservers button.
  • You’ll see a recommendations option on the next screen.
  • Click on the Configuration recommendations button to configure the domain settings to improve your security and performance.

configuration recommendation-cloudflare

  • Under the Configuration recommendations panel, you’ll see two options: Enable Always Use HTTPS and Enable Auto Minify.
    Click on the Apply recommendation button for both options.

security and performance recommendation settings

  • Settings will apply to your website to improve security and performance.
  • All changes take effect immediately.

security-and-performance-recommendation-settings-applied

Note: If you select minification on Cloudflare, avoid it on Breeze or any other Cache plugin. Why? Enabling minification on both ends will cause issues, and using one at a time is recommended.

  • Now, go back to your Cloudflare dashboard.
  • You see the notification: ‘Great news! Cloudflare is now protecting your site.’

Cloudflare activation message

  • The status also changed to ‘Active.’

Cloudflare activated

  • You also receive an email notification that your site has been added to a Cloudflare Free Plan.

Email notification

If you want to take full advantage of Cloudflare, I recommend installing the Cloudflare plugin on your WordPress website.

Step 8: Check Cloudflare CDN Status

Follow the below steps to check your Cloudflare CDN is working on your WordPress site.

  • Open your WordPress site on a web browser.
  • Right-click on the site and click on Inspect.
  • Now, click on the Network tab on an Inspect console.
  • Click on any JS or CSS file from the left corner.
  • Now, if your cf-cache-status shows HIT, your CDN is working fine.

Cloudflare CDN Status

Integrate Cloudflare Enterprise via Cloudways

Cloudways partners with the world’s current leading-edge development platform, Cloudflare. With Cloudflare Enterprise, score higher on Core Web Vitals, safeguard your websites from DDoS attacks, avoid malicious traffic with Web Application Firewall (WAF), and receive HTTP3 support.

Cloudflare Enterprise CDN supercharges your site performance when compared to the free CDN. You can easily and quickly activate the Cloudflare Enterprise add-on for your applications. Let’s have a look at the steps.

Step 1: Select Cloudflare in WordPress Application

  • Log in on a Cloudways Platform and go to Applications.
  • Select the WordPress application on which you want to add Cloudflare Enterprises.

Select Cloudways Application

  • Under the Application Management tab, Click on the Cloudflare option.
  • At the bottom, enter your domain name and click on the Enable button.

Cloudways application cloudflare option

  • It will take some time.

Enabling Cloudflare on CW application

Step 2: Verify Domain Ownership By Adding TXT Records

  • A new window will pop up named Verify Domain Ownership.
  • To enable Cloudflare services, you will need to verify the ownership of the domain by adding the TXT record to your DNS management service.
  • Copy the Name/Host and Value of the TXT Record 1 and TXT Record 2.

verify domain ownership

  • I’m using Freenom, so I’ll go to the domain management, select the TXT Record option from the drop-down and paste the Name/Host and Value. (The DNS settings may vary according to your provider).

freenom DNS management

  • Once you have added the TXT records to your DNS management service, click Next on the Cloudways platform, as mentioned above.
  • You’ll see the next pop-up showing we are verifying your domain. It may take up to hours.
  • Click on the Finish button.

verifying txt record

  • You’ll redirect to the Cloudflare screen under the Application management tab.
  • Here you can see the status that the verification is pending. You can click on the refresh icon to see the updated status.

pending verification cloudlflare

Step 3: Point Your Domain to Cloudflare By Adding A Record

  • Once your domain verification is complete, you’ll see a prominent ‘View A Record’ button. Click on it.

view A record

  • Here you’ll see an A Record. Copy the Name/Host and Values (IPs) of A Record.

Cloudways A record host and value

  • Go to your domain service panel, paste the A Record Name/Host and Values (IPs), and save changes.

A records

  • As mentioned above, click the Done button on the Cloudways platform
  • Now, click on the refresh icon, and the status will change to Active, and at the top-right corner, you’ll see a message ‘your domain is successfully pointed to your Cloudflare Enterprise Network.’

successfully pointed cloudflare

You have successfully integrated Cloudflare Enterprise Add-on at your WordPress application hosted on Cloudways. You can also read the Cloudflare integration KBs for more detailed information.

Summary

If you are a blogger, developer, or agency who is concerned with the security and performance of your website, you must try out Cloudflare CDN. It might be possible for you to think it is difficult to set up and configure Cloudflare on WordPress. In this article, I’ve explained everything related to Cloudflare – from overview to setup and integration of Cloudflare Enterprise add-on via Cloudways.

After reading this article, you’ll be able to know how it is easy to use Cloudflare CDN when you host your WordPress server on the Cloudways Platform. If you still have any questions related to Cloudflare CDN, please write them in the comments section.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is Cloudflare free of cost?

A: Cloudflare is a Freemium service. They provide the Free version, but it has some limitations. You can select their Pro, Business, and Enterprise versions to enjoy full access to the features.

Q: Is Cloudflare good for WordPress?

A: Yes, Cloudflare is one of the best WordPress CDN services for your site security and performance. Cloudflare is an extensive CDN network of globally distributed servers.

Q: How to add Cloudflare to WordPress?

A: Log in to your WordPress website, Plugins > Add New, and search Cloudflare on the top-right search bar. Install the plugin by clicking on an Install button and then activate.

Q: How do I secure my WordPress site with Cloudflare?

A: Connecting your WordPress website with Cloudflare makes your site safe and secure. You can install and activate Cloudflare on your WordPress site, and if you are a Cloudways user, you can integrate Cloudflare from the Cloudways platform.

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Arda Burak [Agency Owner]

Danish Naseer

Danish Naseer is a WordPress Community Manager at Cloudways. He is passionate about designing, developing, and engaging with people to help them. He also actively participates in the community to share his knowledge. Besides that, he loves to watch documentaries, traveling and spending time with family. You can contact him at [email protected]

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