We’ve been having some serious downtime over on our survival blog, More Than Just Surviving – literally for the past day. It’s no secret – there’s no perfectly reliable web host, and while we absolutely adore the one we’ve got right now, every so often they, like every other web host, seriously drop the ball. In the past 24 hours we’ve seen only 65% uptime – absolutely brutal, especially when you’re a full time blogger and (obviously) need your sites up to make a living.
Enter CloudFlare. Now we’ve had CloudFlare installed for quite some time; I think a couple of months at minimum if I’m remembering correctly. Thomas realized just how amazing it was for security and reducing the load on your own server prior to these downtimes with our web host.
That being said, when our site went down yesterday, we weren’t really feeling the love. Their “Always Online” feature we couldn’t really seem to get to work. I knew there had to be something more to it, and once Thomas and I did some due diligence, Googling and reading a bunch of reviews, it became pretty dang clear that we were actually using CloudFlare all wrong.
The key to that “Always Online” feature is actually hidden away in the “Page Rules” part of the plan – check out CloudFlare’s packages page and you’ll see that for the Free package, you get 3 page rules, for the Pro, you get 20, and for the Business, you get 50.
See their free package – absolutely great; but nowhere near as good as it gets.
Their $20 a month package – which we upgraded to sometime between all these downtimes – that’s where the party’s at, and it’s well worth the small fee. Especially, especially if you’re down on your luck a little (or a lot) like we seem to be with hosting.
So what’s so special about the $20 a month package? What’s the huge deal with these “page rules” that makes it a completely different ball game to go from the 3 page rules given to you by the free version to the 20 page rules you get with the Pro package?
Well that “Always Online” feature – it actually works, though maybe not in the way you might’ve imagined.
In order to get it to work, you have to set a page rule to get it to work. And now you can see where that upgrade comes in handy.
When you pay $20 to upgrade to the Pro plan on CloudFlare, you get to keep 20 pages of your choice (and not just 3) cached and completely served by CloudFlare if you want – meaning that whether the rest of your site is up or down, your readers are still going to see those pages as up.
We currently have some of our most viewed content, pages like this article about super gluing cuts being served by CloudFlare, cached every 24 hours (you get to choose how often you want the page re-cached with those page rules as well), and so while our website is currently down (again!), this page is (hooray, hooray!) still up and running!
Sure, it’s not as great as having the whole website always online, but 20 pages is plenty, and if we really desperately need more than that, we can upgrade to the Business plan, which lets us keep up 50 pages – quite a large number and pretty reasonable if you ask me. It’s likely that the majority of your top content will be covered by that 20 or 50 pages if your site is small- or medium-sized.
Shit happens. You really can’t trust a web host to stay up the 99.9% of the time that they all seem to promise they will. In the meantime, at least you can get some of your popular posts to display for your visitors even while the rest of the site is down.