As we recently posted, having a faster website for your church, ministry or non-profit leads to more conversions (and helps Google like it more!). Getting good hosting is a great start; and it’s worth spending time making sure your images (and other assets) are small as can be.
However, there’s also another very simple (and free!) way to help make your site faster, more secure, and can save you lots of bandwidth on your existing hosting account.
That might all sound too good to be true, but it’s really not! CloudFlare offers site optimisation, security, and a CDN all in one package – and it’s free!
CloudFlare works by creating a special cache of your site and when someone visits it, they’re receive the site via the cache from the nearest CloudFlare server. They have a network of robust servers all over the world, so it can really help your site to load much faster.
You simply sign up for a CloudFlare account (you can have multiple sites/domains on one account), add the site to CloudFlare, then follow the on screen instructions to set things up. You will need to update the nameservers of your domain to point to CloudFlare. This is pretty simple to do with most domain management sites (like NameCheap, GoDaddy, etc.).
As well as the CDN/cache to help your site load faster, these are some other advantages of using CloudFlare:
Extra Security: As well as protecting the site from a multitude of bots and other nasties, with CloudFlare, you can easily switch on hotlink protection and add email address obfuscation on ‘mailto’ email links.
Adding Extra Goodies: You can easily add services like Google Analytics, Google Webmasters Tools and Pingdom all without having to touch any code on your site!
As well as free plans, you can upgrade to pay plans (starting at $20 per month for your first website and then $5 per month for each subsequent website in an account) which adds more optimisation and security features including SSL.
You might be thinking, can I really trust this service and point my nameservers to it? Well CloudFlare is used by many top brands including Metallica, Zendesk, Cisco and the UK Government! Many hosts even have a CloudFlare setting in their control panel, making it even easier to use.
I use CloudFlare on a number of my sites, including my large Christmas site. In the last 30 days (I’m writing this in mid September) it’s saves me about 13GB of bandwidth and has blocked nearly 700 security threats! My Christmas site had over 6.5 million pageloads in December 2013 and CloudFlare (on a free account) didn’t even cough – and probably kept the site online!
So why not give CloudFlare a try – you’ve got nothing to lose and it could help your site get much more zippy!
[Editor’s Note: ChurchMag also uses CloudFlare—saving us bandwidth on our server.]