How Does Cloudflare Benefit a Shared Hostgator Server?

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Hostgator offers Cloudflare as a free service along with all of its hosted plans. Normally to use Cloudflare, you need to manually redirect your DNS servers which can be a bit of a pain. But Hostgator allows you to turn on Cloudflare with the click of a button. This brings a host of benefits for all plans – not just shared and VPS services. Here are the important ways that Cloudflare benefits Hostgator customers.

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Now on the benefits of Cloudflare.

Caching

The most basic (and greatest) benefit of Cloudflare is its CDN caching service. Believe me when I say that I’ve tried all of the popular paid CDNs, and they’re not as good as Cloudflare. I’m still a bit puzzled over how exactly they manage to offer such an amazing CDN for free, but they probably make up for it in their business tiers!

So what is caching? A webpage has a bunch of components – most of which are static files like images, Javascript, CSS, and fonts. Every time someone requests a page, these have to be downloaded on to their browser – most of the time, the same ones again and again. Cloudflare helps you by taking on the responsibility of serving these files from their servers. This reduces the load on your site and improves the response time from your Hostgator servers.

Cloudflare has three layers of caching as shown here:

Cloudflare caching levels
Cloudflare caching levels

In addition, Cloudflare will serve your static files from servers that are closer to your visitors, regardless of where they are in the world. So in addition to helping your server, the user will also receive the static files much faster.

Every major website today uses a CDN. With Cloudflare on Hostgator, you get access to the very best CDN in the industry. For free!

DNS Management

If you want, you can enable Cloudflare for your site even outside the Hostgator environment. This will allow you to use Cloudflare DNS servers instead of those provided by Hostgator. I like doing this, because Cloudflare’s servers are typically much faster compared to those run by web hosting sites. I’ve tested the DNS response times of services like SiteGround and found a huge difference.

You can see in the screenshot below, that I’ve configured Cloudflare to manage my DNS:

DNS Management with Cloudflare
DNS Management with Cloudflare

Since DNS lookups are a constant each and every time a user visits your site, the improved response time from DNS lookups provide an immediate benefit to your website speeds. The difference is noticeable!

Free Firewall Rules

Cloudflare also allows you to configure firewall rules to protect your site. For example, I’ve blocked all XMLRPC requests to WP-Tweaks as shown here:

Block XML-RPC with Cloudflare firewall rules
Block XML-RPC with Cloudflare firewall rules

The benefit of doing this via Cloudflare, is that it doesn’t place any additional burden on your own site. Your Hostgator server doesn’t need to waste time filtering requests, running them through the processor, and deciding what response to send. Cloudflare intercepts requests and does the heavy lifting for you. So you don’t need to worry about a DDoS attack from that vector.

Assorted Tools and Benefits

In addition to the three concrete benefits outlined above, Cloudflare also has a huge list of settings that you can play around with. For example, I’d noted earlier that they’re signing on to the QUIC protocol, and you can join the waitlist for that. Similarly, they have settings for compression, minification etc.

They’ve even teamed up with some web hosts to provide the “Railgun” service. Hostgator hasn’t signed for this service yet, however. But it’s not a huge deal since I’ve found it to be rather buggy in any case. I’ve personally turned it off even though I have the option to use it.

Bottom Line

Cloudflare with Hostgator can be turned on in a matter of seconds with the press of a button. It provides your site with a bunch of services including caching, DNS management, firewall rules, and more. And considering that it’s the best CDN service out there, the price of free makes it an unbeatable proposition!

About Bhagwad Park

I've been writing about web hosting and WordPress tutorials since 2008. I also create tutorials on Linux server administration, and have a ton of experience with web hosting products. Contact me via e-mail!

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