Combine CloudFlare with CDN.net for ridiculous speeds.

There’s a lot of reasons to use CloudFlare. There’s many more reasons to use CDN.net. But did you know you can use them together?

First, why would you use both CDN.net and CloudFlare?

Using a CDN.net & CloudFlare combination offers many performance and security enhancements to a website. CDN.net offers high performance CDN, that typically outperforms CloudFlare’s free offering. As we’re a paid product, while CloudFlare is freemium, we can focus our efforts on ensuring our clients get a high cache hit rate (see more on that here), and ensure we have proper capacity at each of our 86 CDN PoPs.

Using CloudFlare’s free plan in conjunction adds a few additional benefits, like real time analytics, basic DDoS, and WAF protection, email address obfuscation, and always online caching, so if your hosting provider goes down, CloudFlare can show a cached backup. It’s the best of both worlds – high performance CDN from CDN.net & added security through CloudFlare.

To get started, you’ll need to have an account with both CDN.net & CloudFlare. If you’re using another CDN provider, you can still follow along and see the benefits, but you’ll have the best experience if you’re using CDN.net. You can signup to both using the links below.

[Signup for CDN.net low latency CDN]

[Signup for Cloudflare]

Getting started using CloudFlare & CDN.net.

1.) First you’ll want to create a new resource in the CDN.net portal.

2.) Upon signup at CloudFlare, it will automatically recognize your existing DNS zones. You will want to make sure all appears correct before proceeding. If everything looks good, you’ll need

to create a new cname entry to your CloudFlare DNS zone. This cname entry will be the CDN hostname that you created in the CDN.net portal.

[Note: You will want to make sure the orange CloudFlare next to the DNS entry is not activated. When the cloud is orange, it is activated. In this case, we want it gray, otherwise you will not see all the performance benefits from CDN.net.]

3.) You’ll need to do some ‘advanced’ configuration of your CDN. service. Don’t worry, it’s super simple. First click on the advanced button under your CDN resource.

Next, just check the box set to ‘ignore set-cookie’ attribute. This will ensure that your static content is still delivered through CDN.net.

4.) There’s one final step! If you were not already using CloudFlare, you will need to change your DNS to point to CloudFlare’s DNS servers. CloudFlare will have given you the DNS servers at signup, however if not, you can retrieve them from the DNS section of the CloudFlare control panel.

Now you’re all set. You will need to setup your site to use CDN.net, however we’ve made that easy too. See our CDN integration guides for WordPress, Drupal and many other popular platforms in our knowledgebase.

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Why cache hit rate matters for CDN services.

A common misconception users make when implementing a CDN is their site will be higher performing, just by using a CDN. That’s not actually true — a CDN can actually result in worse performance and increased latency.

First lets quickly go over how a pull CDN, the method CDN.net uses, works. Your files are hosted on a server somewhere; this is called your origin location. Your origin location is typically just a single server. If you’re not using a CDN, users will download the file from that single server, no matter how far they are from it, or how many others are also downloading from it.

When you use a CDN, your CDN service will download your files and temporarily store them on the CDN PoPs, to serve to your visitors. When the files are temporarily stored, this is referred to as being cached.

What does it mean if the file is not cached? This actually results in poorer performance for your website, as the CDN PoP will need to download the file from your origin location and then serve it to your visitor. This is why cache hit percentage is extremely vital for a high performance website.

Lets go over how we can improve your CDN cache hit percentage.

1.) New files are not cached by our PoPs as they’re uploaded. You can have your files cached on demand using our prefetch utility in the CDN.net control panel.

CDN prefetch file

2.) Purge wisely! If you use the purge utility to purge your content from the CDN PoPs, all your content will be removed from the cache. If you update a single file, you’re able to purge that one single file using the purge utility. Don’t unnecessarily purge your entire site.

CDN purge file

3.) Query strings can result in unique file names for each individual visitor. This means that each new visitor will require the CDN to go back to the origin to fetch the file, due to a simple query string.

4.) No cache headers. Our CDN will follow the caching instructions set by the origin. If the headers say “no-cache” or have a short TTL (time to live), you will have a poorer cache hit rate. For static files that do not change, you can set a long TTL period, ensuring a higher cache hit rate.

How do you know if your files are cached? You can check this by running a simple script in terminal, and checking the return for X-Cache. A return of “HIT” means that the file is cached on the CDN, while “MISS” would mean the file is not cached on the CDN.

tmyers$ curl -i https://i.cdn.net/wp-content/plugins/column-shortcodes/assets/css/shortcodes.css
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Server: nginx
Date: Tue, 11 Apr 2017 13:20:38 GMT
Content-Type: text/css; charset=utf-8
Content-Length: 3185
Connection: keep-alive
Last-Modified: Tue, 21 Mar 2017 16:43:54 GMT
Vary: Accept-Encoding
Cache-Control: max-age=31536000
Expires: Tue, 10 Apr 2018 08:23:24 GMT
X-Age: 104234
X-Cache: HIT

Following these tips will help improve the cache hit rate, thereby dramatically increasing the performance your website and taking full advantage your CDN’s capabilities. If you’re a CDN.net user, we’re continuously monitoring the cache status, to allow for the greatest hit rate possible. We do this by increasing the number of servers, and cache capacity as necessary. If you’re still struggling with poor website performance, and a low cache hit rate after implementing these steps, just reach out to us. We’re happy to help.

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Web Performance Weekly – November 14th, 2016.

Hope you had a great weekend. We’ve put together the latest news in web performance and site accessibility. As always, we welcome your feedback – let us know how we’re doing. Reach out on Twitter, or leave us a comment on Facebook.

Offer your clients a Turbocharger for their web presence.
Web designers, do you build in CDN as a standard for your client’s web sites? If you don’t, here’s a few reasons you should start.

H.264 is magic: a technical walkthrough of a remarkable technology
Everything uses H.264 now, but do you know how powerful it really is?

Progressive Web Apps with React.js
Addy Osmani put together a whole series on using progressive web apps with React.js. Part 2 especially gets into the web performance details, and explains how you can ensure your page loads fast even in poor network conditions.

When it comes to web performance, we are all winners.
How did the news sites handle the spike in traffic on the US election day? Although a few struggled with high response times, all stayed online.

Why You Should Build a Startup in Your Community
Are you building your startup and unsure where to make your home base? Sam Davtyanputs together 5 reasons why you should keep it local, instead of making the trek to Silicon Valley.

Google and Facebook are building a new transpacific submarine cable.
Google & Facebook announced they’re joining a consortium to build a new transpacific submarine cable which be ready for use in 2018. Once ready, it’ll be the largest-capacity transpacific link, transmitting up to 120 terabits per second. Fun fact: the cable will go from Los Angeles, California to Tseung Kwon, Hong Kong, and stretch 12,800km.

AT&T announces ‘stream saver.’
Very similar to TMobile’s Binge On, AT&T has announced it will automatically start to cap mobile customers on video sites to 480P. Customers will be able to opt out if they choose. Unlike Binge On, bandwidth will still count towards a customer’s mobile data plan.

Video: Faster is better, from Hristo Pandjarov
At WordCamp Nederland, Hristo Pandjarov went over the best ways to test the performance of your WordPress site, and then how to optimize it for scalability and high performance. You can see the slides from the presentation here.

Offer your clients a Turbocharger for their web presence.

When your client asks you to design a new website for them, do you build in a CDN as standard? No? Then you’re missing a trick that will benefit them and, maybe even you.

CDN used to be complicated, inflexible and expensive. That couldn’t be further from the truth today. At CDN.net, you can subscribe as an agency with a single account (in effect, a “reseller” account) that you use for all your clients or, you can have an individual account for each client that remains their responsibility.

If you operate a single account then what, when and how you charge your clients is entirely up to you. The activity of each site is individually managed and monitored to give you complete flexibility in how you use it.

What is a CDN?

A CDN (or Content Delivery Network) is a global network of datacenters with “Edge Servers” that cache and deliver your web content. Any site using a CDN has content requests intercepted at the DNS level and the requests are automatically and transparently routed to the nearest node or PoP (Point of Presence) on the network. Your content is then cached in each PoP and the primary advantage is that you see a dramatic increase in available bandwidth to your site and a similarly dramatic reduction in response time to content requests (i.e. page load times), thanks to lower latency.

For more information on this, you can read our “What is a CDN page.

How do I set up a CDN?

If you are new to CDN then there is no substitute for testing the improvement in user experience and site accessibility.

Go to CDN.net and select the plan that you want to start with – don’t worry, CDN.net is contract free. You can change plans at any time so you’re able to just start with the lowest cost option (2TB on the CDN-X plan) that will require a deposit of $20.

Once you have signed up, your dashboard will show the service “CDN Low Latency Guaranteed.” Click on “Manage” and then add a new resource.

add-resourceYou will be asked for a CDN hostname, which would normally take the form of “cdn.yourdomain.com”, and an Origin, which would normally be the domain name of the site you want to use the CDN with – e.g. “yourdomain.com”

Finally, select the Edge group shown – in this case, CDN.NET Package 1 and the display will expand to show all the physical locations in your CDN. Clicking on the “Create CDN Resource” button will take you to this screen:

resource_added

To use this resource in your web site you have to make sure that any resources such as images, downloads, css and javascript files are provided from the CDN. This means, in this case, that the URL for each of these assets must either be prefixed with cdn.3daudiodesign.com.com (if you have set up a CNAME record in your DNS server) or 218614634.r.worlddn.net.

So a relative link in your header file like this:

<link rel=”stylesheet” href=”/assets/css/styles.css”/>

needs to be changed to:

<link rel=”stylesheet” href=”http://cdn.3daudiodesign.com/assets/css/styles.css”/>

or:

<link rel=”stylesheet” href=”http://218614634.r.worldcdn.net/assets/css/styles.css”/>

Depending on what tools, CMS, frameworks etc you are using for building the website in the first place, there are many ways of making these changes.

As an example, if you are working on a WordPress site, you can just install the W3 TotalCache plugin and let it do all the work for you.

totalcacheSimply enter your CNAME (cdn.yourdomain.com) or the full CDN resource URL (“123456789.r.worldcdn.net”) in the relevant box and you’re away… For full details on how to use W3 Total Cache to install a CDN in WordPress CLICK HERE

Your CDN is now set up and, the content of your website is being cached into each of the edge servers throughout the CDN as it is accessed for the first time.

Why use a CDN?

1. Speed matters

Use a speed testing utility such as GTmetrix  or Google’s PageSpeed to measure the overall speed of a selected page and it’s constituent elements.

Once you have installed a CDN, try these speed tools with and without the CDN enabled – the results will be spectacular. CDN should be as integral to your site performance optimisation as file minification, consolidation and compression.

Even if you are not overly concerned about the speed of the site in terms of user experience, Google and other search engines, still factor in site speed when ranking your site. On this basis, using a CDN will improve your SERP score.

2. CDN as an insurance policy

You build a new site for a client and it turns out to be much more popular than you or your client anticipated – it goes viral. Unless you are lucky and the web server already had bandwidth capacity far in excess of what you expected, there is a very real possibility that the server will be overloaded and will become unreliable, slow or even crash completely. Over spec’ing the web server capacity in the first place is not a good idea financially but if you implement pay-as-you-go CDN, you get the capacity if you need it and only pay for what you use.

About CDN.net

CDN.net provides you with low latency CDN, with over 170 PoPs across 113 cities in 43 countries across the globe. You can get started with CDN.net for as little as $20 and we provide a comprehensive range of plans to suit your needs.

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Tips on scaling from Uber & avoiding outages due to DNS DDoS attacks.

Welcome to the 2nd edition of the CDN.net web performance newsletter. This week we have a collection of newsworthy items to help you maintain peak web performance and site accessibility.

Why low latency CDN is important for eCommerce stores.
When establishing your new eCommerce site, research shows it is especially critical to use a CDN to keep abandonment low, and users happy.

Video: What I wish I had known before scaling Uber to 1,000 services.
Matt Ranney from Uber shared his advice at GOTO Chicago 2016, on things he’s learned scaling Uber up to 1,000 services. Matt shared something we preach all the time: performance doesn’t matter until it does. Simply put, everything you do should be with performance in mind. Fast forward to 22:50 for more performance tips from Matt.

More on the Dyn DDOS attack, from Easy DNS
Easy DNS elaborates on the increasing size of DDoS attacks, and ways to protect yourself. Scary thought: many security experts are worried about a massive internet attack on November 8th.
How can we help? As EasyDNS recommends (and Dan York suggests), websites can use a ‘multi-DNS solution’. Cloud.net, our sister company, offers DNS hosting out of 21 locations around the world, for free. Give it a try – if you’re in need of a server use coupon code 50OFFNET to save 50% for 12 months. Alternative solution, HE.net also offers free DNS hosting.

Thought provoking article: Want more startups? Build a better safety net.
This coincides with an older article showing Nordic cities among top 10 startup hubs in Europe.

Project Quantum promises high performance for Mozilla Firefox.
Head of Platform Engineering at Mozilla said, “We are striving for performance gains from Quantum to be so noticeable that your entire web experience will feel different.” We’re excited!

5 Unconventional Benefits Your Startup Will Get from a Hackathon.
Consider doing a hackathon if you want to force your employees to try on a different ‘hat’ and bring your team closer together.

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Why low latency CDN is important for eCommerce stores.

You’ve established your eCommerce store, using your favorite hosting provider. Influencers are tweeting positive press about you; shoppers are purchasing their favorite goods, and things are looking bright. So why do you need a CDN? Everything is good, right? Not.

Shoppers are finicky and vocal, and increasingly demanding. In 1999 shoppers were willing to wait 8 seconds for a page to load; by 2010, shoppers said they’d leave if a page took more than 3 seconds to load. Downside – you’re not just losing that deal, but potentially many more as 79% of shoppers said they would not return to make another purchase, and 44% said they’d tell a friend about a bad online experience.

Why low latency cdn is important. Internet users are increasingly demanding.

Internet users are increasingly demanding.

Shoppers experience significant problems when using mobile devices, requiring eCommerce sites to take responsive design and web performance especially serious. 73% of mobile internet users say they’ve encountered a site too slow to load, 38% said they’ve run into sites that were completely unavailable on mobile.

In the user experience driven world today, accessibility has become extremely important for eCommerce stores. In 2014, 50.3% of all eCommerce traffic came from a mobile device. This means the user experience for mobile devices should be given significant thought. In bandwidth limited situations, low latency CDN becomes critical to the user experience as it’ll improve the speed of your eCommerce store. This is especially true in emerging markets, where access outside of the country is limited, and the closer the PoP, the better. With more than 60 PoPs, our CDN-Lux plan performs especially well worldwide, including locations in South America, Africa & throughout Asia.

In summary, statistics show that if your store is making $100,000 per day, you could lose up to $2.5 million in sales each year due to a 1 second delay in loading times. Amazon has even said a 100-millisecond improvement in page speed translates to a 1% increase in revenue. With those numbers, it should be very clear why CDN.net’s sub-50ms low latency CDN is especially critical for a growing eCommerce site. It’s about making the user experience the best, and maximizing your revenue, at just a cost of $20 a month.

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Preparing your eCommerce site for Cyber Monday.

Update: In addition to the ideas discussed here, we’ve put together a full post explaining why low latency CDN is so important for web retailers here: Why low latency CDN is important for eCommerce stores.

Build ‘gift guide’ landing pages.
Make it easy for shoppers to find the perfect gifts for their loved ones. Who knows what to get their nieces or nephews? Siblings off at college – it’s a complete mystery as to what appeals to them. As the expert, build landing pages with the best gifts for specific audiences, such as “Best gifts for a sibling at college” or “Grandpa’s favorites on the golf course.

Create holiday specific navigation for your site
Much like how grocery stores stick the impromptu purchases at the check-out lines, optimize your store for the holiday season. Put your holiday specific ‘hot gifts’ in an easy to use navigation menu, that allows new visitors unfamiliar with your site a way to quickly find what they’re looking for. Pro tip: Link to your landing pages suggested above!

Code freeze!
If you know your site works, lets keep it that way for the biggest shopping season of the year! Prevent site upgrades, until after the New Year, when bug fixing can be prioritized, and potential income loss from downtime is minimized.

Beef up the customer support.
Now is the season when your customers need you most. You’ll have shoppers who have (surprisingly!) never bought goods online before, and will require help finishing their purchase. You’ll also have others asking for a second opinion, ensuring they’re getting the right gift for a loved one. We suggest using Olark for live chat – it’s easy to implement with WordPress, Magento & Drupal, and is just a quick code insertion for custom developed sites.

Automate everything, everywhere.
Seriously, automate everything you can. Setup your social media promotions well in advance. HootSuite allows you do this easily with their scheduled post option. Trust us – the last thing you want to be doing is a manual tweet, when you could be packing new shipments or answering customer questions. Also setup email response templates for gift or shipping related questions so you can quickly, and easily answer customer questions.

New Marketing Promotions
There are a lot of really great marketing promotions you can use to maximize your customer life time value, and encourage repeat shopping. Both are critical towards a healthy holiday shopping season. We’ve put together a few ideas.

  • Hello Bar: Hello Bar is a powerful tool to help you direct your visitors to your most important content. We use it at CDN.net to promote new plans, or locations that we’ve added. You can use it as a top ‘hello message’ or a complete page takeover, to collect email address or to promote new products.
  • Check out Coupons: There’s no better way to encourage repeat business, than by giving your (new) clients a coupon after they purchase a gift from you. After they finish checking out, notify them of a new coupon they can use. If you want to be really fancy, automatically apply it to their account, and add to the “stickiness” by emailing them the coupon information.
  • Mailing list: Email marketing is one of the most powerful marketing channels out there. Offer your visitors a small percentage off in exchange for sharing their email address. You’ll make the money lost by the coupon in no time, with a strong email marketing campaign. We really like the Opt In Cat plugin for WordPress, combined with MailChimp.
  • Guest Blogs: Build SEO and attract new visitors by posting guest blogs on similar consumer facing web sites. Put together gift guides, coupon saving tips… anything that will help out potential customers – they’ll pay back your kindness by shopping at your site.
  • Retargeting: You can use a tool like AdRoll.com to show ads to users who have visited your site, but not purchased anything. You can even use their dynamic ads to advertise the specific product they viewed in the past. Retargeting is commonly used now to bring back visitors who have abandoned their shopping cart.

Security audit immediately!
If you haven’t reviewed your security, you are already behind the game. It’s time to make sure your store is safe and secure – not only from just defacements, but that you’re practicing safe security measures for keeping your customer’s information safe. If you’re running WordPress, WordFence is a great tool at protecting you from future attacks. If you suspect you have been a victim of a previous breach, Rack911 is our recommended vendor for clean up — in fact, we’d recommend them for proactive maintenance!

We hope these tips help you keep your site online during the holiday season, and long afterwards. As always, you should be using a low latency CDN from CDN.net for the best performance for your site. More than 60 global PoPs ensuring sub-50ms latency worldwide.

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Even Lower Latency from CDN.net

We’ve made big improvements to our low latency CDN plans at CDN.net. In total, we’ve added 9 new locations across our plans. In addition to the new locations, we’ve added more capacity to our PoPs in Chicago, Illinois, and Hong Kong.

CDN-X
Düsseldorf, Germany

CDN-Exec
All locations in CDN-X
Bucharest, Romania
Kiev, Ukraine
Oslo, Norway

CDN-LUX
All locations in CDN-X & CDN-Exec
Astana, Kazakhstan
Khabarovsk, Russia
Novosibirsk, Russia
Rostov Na Donu, Russia
Saint Petersburg, Russia

As always, please do let us know if we can help in anyway. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at anytime.