Cloudflare is one of the most well known names in the web industry today. They provide essential services to websites all around the world.
They ensure that users can access web content no matter where they are – and all without ever knowing that Cloudflare is even playing a part!
Cloudflare is a company that operates a massive network of computers that all provide crucial services to websites and web users. From the point of view of the user, Cloudflare’s services are transparent – they don’t interfere with their browsing experience at all.
In fact, they work to improve things behind the scenes for users – making browsing the web a safer, faster, and better place without the user ever needing to know what’s happening.
From a host’s point of view, these services are often a key part of making sure that their sites and content are quickly available to users all over the world, thanks to the way that CLoudflare uses its huge network of servers to provide content to different geographical locations.
They also provide security services for websites, protecting them against mass denial attacks.
What Services Does Cloudflare Provide?
Cloudflare has a lot of extremely powerful and important services on offer that can boost the usability and reliability of websites. These services work in many ways to speed up delivery of content to users, even when considering the massive distances that users can be from the original server of the website or content.
Content Delivery System
One of the most important services that Cloudflare provides is a Content Delivery Network, also known as a CDN. What exactly is a CDN, and what makes it an essential part of ensuring site and content deliverability to users across the globe?
Well, one of the key things to remember about internet speed is that it’s very much dependent on distance. If a user viewing a website is on the other side of the planet to the server that’s hosting it, then it can take a very long time for content to be sent!
So, when someone clicks a link on a computer in Australia, and the server hosting the website is in America, all the information passing between them has to cross all that distance!
Even at the speeds of modern internet, this takes a lot more time than if the user and the server were closer together.
You can see a similar effect really quickly with your home WiFi signal, actually!
The further away you get from the router with your device, the slower the internet speed gets – and the closer you are, the faster!
Even if you’re using ethernet cable for your internet at home, there’s a limit to the length of the cable before the signal speed will be reduced, or will drop entirely.
And if a user’s computer is on the other side of the world, the content their computer requests from the website likely has to pass through a lot of other servers on the way, slowing things down even more!
If the user’s computer and the distant server take too long to communicate with each other, the connection can fail completely, meaning that the user can’t see the website at all.
Why A CDN Is Important
This is why a Content Delivery Network such as the one offered by Cloudflare is so important to keeping internet speeds fast for everyone across the planet.
A CDN essentially makes an exact replica of your website and content, and replicates this on servers all across the world. Any time you make changes to your site, the CDN automatically updates the copies of your site too.
So, when a user far across the planet visits your website, they’ll actually be connecting to a server much closer to them instead.
They’ll still type in the website address as usual, but the DNS (DOmain Name Server – the computer that essentially holds the “phone book” of all IP addresses for web servers), will give the computer the IP Address (the “phone number for web sites and servers) for the closer CDN instead.
They’re still seeing your website exactly as if they were connecting to the original server, of course – but with the increased speed and reliability that comes with connecting to a server that’s closer.
Using a CDN is normal for many websites and web services nowadays. For example, Netflix relies on an extensive network of CDNs in order to be able to provide videos to users all across the globe.
If all of their content was hosted in one geographical location, then Netflix wouldn’t be able to work as well as it does!
And, as your website isn’t only hosted on one server, the owner of the website also ends up with a much more robust delivery system for their site!
They can guarantee that users in other countries will be able access their sites without issue, regardless of where in the world they are.
Another essential component of Cloudflare’s services is their protection against DDoS attacks. DDoS attacks (Distributed Denial of Service) are a way that malicious actors attack websites.
They are remarkably effective ways of disrupting the services that a website provides, as they can stop users from being able to see the webpage at all.
A DDoS attack uses thousands, sometimes even millions of connections all at once to completely flood a server with requests. This is often done by using virus-infected computers to do the work, without the user of the computer even knowing about it.
With so many requests, the server can’t possibly respond to any real users – meaning that the website is essentially offline, as far as anyone who needs to use it is concerned.
Cloudflare’s powerful network of servers ensures that your website isn’t susceptible to DDoS attacks, as there isn’t a single point of failure for your website.
Even if a DDoS attack does happen, users will still be able to access your site because Cloudflare will simply route the connection to a server that’s able to be reached.
Hopefully this guide has helped you to learn all about Cloudflare services, and how they help web users and website owners!
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