Benefits of Using MaxCDN With CloudFlare
What is MaxCDN and Why Use It?
MaxCDN is a very popular and powerful content delivery network. I wouldn’t have just said any old CDN if I didn’t think this one was worth it. It made a noticeable difference in speed to my site with local servers worldwide to make sure it has the best effect. They also have a great offer going on, they are giving you 1TB of storage for a year and the price is $39.95, but even if that’s still a bit too much you can use ‘wpbeginner’ as a promotion code to knock 25% off the price so it’s probably worth it. There’s many benefits, they have shared SSL and provide you with your own temporary domain for the path to the files. You can either use that or create a sub-domain and then use a CNAME in your DNS records to point it to the temporary URL.
Push and Pull Zones
There are two types of zones you can create once you’ve got it all up and running. Push zones and pull zones, both are different, and have their own advantages as well as disadvantages. Pull zones work like this – a user accesses a file, if it hasn’t been accessed before, MaxCDN has to go load the original and cache it on their servers. Once this is done it usually stays cached so it’s only slightly delayed the first time. Push zones are a little different and can be more expensive too. You upload all the content to their servers then it’s served from there. This means there won’t be any delays in loading content and most CMS plugins can do this automatically. Though usually push zones are used for larger files such as video and audio so I would suggest using a pull zone because it’s easier and more affordable.
What is CloudFlare and What Does it Do?
CloudFlare is a free service and does a hell of a lot to supercharge your site and have it better protected. For starters, you replace your nameservers with with the ones that CloudFlare gives you so your details can be kept anonymous, you have to do this in order for the service to work. Once they have control over your domain it performs a variety of tasks to ensure your visitor will never have to sit down and wait for your site to load again. It caches resources, it has a new beta feature to minify your HTML, CSS and JS if you aren’t already, the Pro version can preload other pages before you go to them so they appear instantly, it can manage integrating Google Analytics and has hotlink protection for your images. That’s barely covered half of what CloudFlare can do if you’re finding this interesting already.
The main feature is their advanced firewall feature which challenges dodgy visitors with a capture code page and blocks certain people from accessing the website automatically. How does it do this? Well, everyone who uses CloudFlare powers it so when other people have problems with certain visitors such as spam, then everyone else know about it and automatically challenge that person. You can block certain individuals yourself and it even scrambles email addresses or phone numbers on the site to heavily reduce spam. It’s always online, even if your websites server is down, CloudFlare will ensure that the site still works for them and does all this seamlessly.
Using the Services Together and How
So CloudFlare speeds up my site by caching resources and managing complex security tasks behind the scenes, and MaxCDN acts as the content delivery network with conveniently located servers to get media loaded at blazing fast speeds. The end result can be pretty fantastic upgrading your security and boosting loading speeds which ends up with a boost in Google’s rankings. It probably sounds complicated to implement, but all this can actually be done in less than 5 minutes or so.
If you’re using WordPress with W3 Total Cache then this would be very convenient to set up, all you need to do is specify the CDN to be MaxCDN and it will come up with a preset list of fields to fill it. API ID, key and hostname are the main ones, with the hostname being either the temporary URL you were given, or the subdomain with the CNAME record pointing to it. This makes all your specified media content, images, scripts and stylesheets to load from that URL instead of your normal one. If you use testing tools such as PageSpeed and find that some ones aren’t using it, then you may need to change these links manually, though it’s all usually done without you even noticing.
To set up CloudFlare is even easier, scroll down to the CloudFlare area and simply enter your account email, API key, domain and save. You may notice the two services both use an API to everything work better for you. MaxCDN’s API allows you to purge content and automatically upload files if you’re using a push zone. So even if you blog often your images are uploaded automatically with ease. For the other, you are able to turn on development mode which turns off the cache temporarily for you to debug and develop anything you’re working on before it’s finished. There’s also a purge button next to it to flush all the content they’ve kept for your website.
Does it Really Work?
I would suggest using an online service such as Webpage Test to monitor the length in time it takes for your website to load content with graphs to show details for each individual resource and optimisation info along with grades for using a CDN and other tasks. If you unfortunately don’t use WordPress and use another CMS, there are a wide variety of options and plugins available at your disposal. Try doing a test before and after to see if it makes a real difference because if you don’t, MaxCDN offers a 30 day money back guarantee in case the service isn’t for you. They have a great support service. Good luck getting your sites up to speed in today’s fast paced world.
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