Cloudflare is a service that provides website protection and acceleration.
Cloudflare’s primary feature is its global Content Delivery Network (CDN), which provides web content optimization technologies that improve how quickly resources on your site load. The network also provides protection from malicious traffic, such as botnets and internet attacks.
- Cloudflare provides visitor data via its custom analytics and additional security through enhanced security features, including free Universal SSL and basic DDOS protection. Some features can be configured in the DreamHost panel while others need to be managed directly at Cloudflare using a free cloudflare.com account.
- Cloudflare is also only available on fully hosted domains – if you host your DNS elsewhere, you must take additional steps to enable Cloudflare.
Any website can benefit from using Cloudflare, including the free version.
There are a number of different ways Cloudflare can benefit your site:
- User experience: A responsive, fast site increases user satisfaction and encourages repeat visits.
- Boost your SEO: Higher site speed is a factor in increasing your search engine ranking as well as improving ecommerce conversion rates.
- Free Universal SSL: Helps to make your site more secure as well as improving your SEO. View Cloudflare’s blog post about this. Please note that this is not a fully functioning SSL certificate.
- High traffic: Using a CDN properly can mitigate or reduce the impact that a heavy surge in traffic that may occur on your site.
- Protect your site: Cloudflare protects against malicious traffic and internet attacks.
- Reduction in server load: Caching your content in a CDN reduces the load on your server and the bandwidth used. DreamHost provides unlimited bandwidth for all hosting plans so this is not so much of a concern as reducing the server resources.
Only static files that are accessible via HTTP (or HTTPS) will be distributed on Cloudflare’s CDN. This means that scripts or other files not accessible via HTTP (for example, files in your user’s home directory outside of your web directory) are not shared with Cloudflare.
Cloudflare can only cache resources or data on your server or site directly. External resources (such as content linked from other sites) is not cached. Cloudflare caches based on file type and does not cache by MIME type.
Cloudflare Basic (FREE)
Cloudflare Basic includes:
- Global CDN with multiple points presences around the world
- Front-end web content optimization using RockLoader and AutoMinify
- Broad security
- SSL support
- IPv6 compatibility
- Site analytics (24-hour delay)
- Railgun optimization
Cloudflare Plus ($9.95/month)
In addition to all the benefits of the Free service, the Cloudflare Plus plan includes:
- Faster website performance and advanced imaged optimization (better mobile performance) through access to Cloudflare’s Polish, Mirage, and Lazy Loading features
- 10 URL rules
- Site analytics (1-hour delay)
Cloudflare with SSL overview
Cloudflare offers several options to enable SSL within the panel. This article is an overview of how to enable SSL for a Cloudflare-enabled domain.
When setting up Secure Hosting with your Cloudflare account, you’ll notice a few different available options. The following sections detail these options.
Selecting a Cloudflare plan
- The first step to setting up SSL on your domain using Cloudflare is to add a Cloudflare plan to the domain. Both FREE and Plus plans work with an SSL certificate.
- It’s also currently not possible to add Cloudflare to a dreamhosters.com subdomain.
- Go to the (Panel > ‘Domains’ > ‘Manage Domains’) page.
- Do one of the following:
- If you have not added your domain on the panel yet, click the Add Hosting to a Domain / Sub-Domain button near the top of the page.
- If you’ve already added your domain on the panel, click the Edit button under the ‘Web Hosting’ column to the right of your domain.
- Confirm that the ‘Enable Cloudflare on this domain’ checkbox is checked.
- Two drop-down lists, ‘Cloudflare Account’ and ‘Cloudflare Subscription’ appear beneath the checkbox once this option is selected.
- Select either the FREE or Cloudflare Plus option from the “Cloudflare Subscription” drop-down.
- If you are adding a new domain, scroll down and click the Fully host this domain button.
- If you’re editing an existing domain, scroll down and click the Change Settings button.
SSL options in the Cloudflare panel
Once you create a Cloudflare plan, use your newly-created login credentials to log in to the Cloudflare panel:
- Go to https://www.cloudflare.com/login and log in.
- On the overview page, your domains are listed along with what type of plan you’re using:
- Click your domain to alter its settings.
- If you’ve enabled the paid Cloudflare plan in the DreamHost panel, ‘Flexible SSL’ is selected by default:
- Click the Crypto button at the top to adjust the security settings.
- Select an SSL option from the dropdown to the right of the SSL section:
- Flexible SSL
- Full SSL
- Full SSL (Strict)
An explanation of the plans is mentioned below, but you can also view further information by visiting the Cloudflare support page.
- means that visitors to your site will be able to connect using https, but the connection between DreamHost and Cloudflare is notencrypted.
- is the default setting for your domain when you add a FREE Cloudflare plan to your domain without an SSL certificate.
- is NOT recommended if you have any sensitive information on your website.
- View Cloudflare’s blog post about this Universal SSL option.
It’s possible you may see an infinite redirect loop on your site when enabling ‘Flexible SSL’. View the following page for details on what may be the cause of this error:
Full SSL and Full SSL (Strict)
Full SSL means that the connection between DreamHost and Cloudflare is encrypted.
- Your visitors will see HTTPS and a secure padlock in their browser.
- You must have a self-signed, professionally-signed certificate, or ‘Let’s Encrypt‘ certificate installed to use the Full SSL service.
- View Secure Hosting for information on how to create an SSL certificate with DreamHost.
To set up Full SSL:
- Complete the steps described in Selecting a Cloudflare Plan described above.
- Confirm that Secure Hosting is added to your domain.
- Use the Cloudflare dashboard to enable Full SSL (or Full SSL Strict) on your domain.