What is caching?
When a web site is requested (ie: belikeliquid.com) a request is made from the server to the page, then the page requests resources from the server to load contents resulting in many requests back to the server (ie: scripts, images etc). To reduce the amount of requests, web developers have created a method to cache a version of the page requested (ie: save a copy to be used again) with all the resources for that page to load including dynamic data from database and remote locations. This speeds up loading time.
What is cloud caching?
Rather then save this cached/saved file of the page on the server, we can save it on a cloud network or CDN (content delivery network) where the nearest server can load the saved file to the user. Speeding up the process once again.
Who is CloudFlare?
CloudFlare is the chosen CDN I have selected as they provide the service for free and with a very strong DNS backbone. The DNS service allows us to make real time changes to resources of the domain, so we can migrate hosts and web services instantly.
Additionally CloudFlare has a strong firewall that stops many hackers and viruses from affecting your site, even spam comments are filtered.
Is it really free?
Yes, they do not charge for the firewall and caching service. At some point you might want to upgrade to the Pro Pan for $20 a month.
But not an issue for now.
When would I want to upgrade?
If you need SSL encryption (which normally costs hundreds to setup and yearly certificate fees) or improved GEO target location loading, file compression for even more speed improvements etc.
But like I said, not something you need now but you might see a value in the future. And it would save you money anyway, so the benefits out weigh the cost.
Google announced last week that sites with complete SSL encryption will be given a higher Page Rank.
What about SEO?
Google Page rank, which affects where your search engine index, factors many variables, one of them is page load. By improving your page load, you are positively affecting your Page Rank.
What are the costs and potential downsides?
We will setup an account for you that you will have access to, then migrate the DNS. Once migrated we will then configure software to turn off object caching on forms and tweak settings. After that we will test all the forms and pages to be sure everything is working.
We have discovered some issues with forms, for example;
1) a technical glitch can occur if a user begins to fill out a form that is cached, then decides to click back, then returns to the form later, this form could have issue sending because the data is overlapping. To solve this issue we disable object caching on contact forms.
2)If you are publishing new content (ie: blog page) and are making many changes to a post or page, the new content might take a minute to show up on the live site, as the caching service has made a copy of the older version. To deal with this we have a plugin for WordPress to clear the cache. CloudFlare will then make new copy of the page with the most recent data.
What about hosting?
Hosting is still hosting, all the server side stuff will still be happening and in your control via your host. The good news for the host is that caching will reduce bandwidth by quite a bit, as all requests will be diminished.
Another benefit is if you change your host, you can do so in real time AND with no downtime, as the caching service will keep all the old versions of your files and then start loading them from the new server location, bing bang boom, this is sweet!
CDN, Cloud and Caching is a big step in the right direction, get on board or get left behind.
If you are ready for us to enable CloudFlare please send me an email and we will get started.
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