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After adding CloudFlare’s protection and speed service to my website and seeing an immediate boost in speed, (which I will document in another post), I thought I would post a tutorial about how to install CloudFlare on GoDaddy hosted WordPress websites.

My own site crashed briefly during installation because I failed to configure my plugins when I should have, and it wasn’t fun. So maybe I can spare you that frustration. (I will try to do a screencast on this as soon as I can, and will post that here as well.)

Before we begin, I will answer a few quick questions about this process for which I had trouble finding answers.

The answer to each of these is a resounding, Yes, CloudFlare does this:

  • Integrates seamlessly on GoDaddy shared Linux 5+ servers
  • Integrates seamlessly with the BulletProof Security plugin
  • Works with multisite WordPress websites
  • Can be installed on multiple aliased “sub” websites on the same GoDaddy server (Deluxe or Premium hosting accounts)
  • Immediately reduced my site’s load time by two seconds
  • And P.S., their online tech support is super-fast, friendly, and knowledgeable, so contact them if you run into a problem

For sites hosted on ISPs other than GoDaddy, check with your host or this page before doing anything to see if they are a CloudFlare hosting partner. If your ISP is already a CloudFlare hosting partner, then just follow the steps provided for you by your host to install it and save yourself time and effort.

Note: You may have read that you need to add the mod_cloudflare Apache module to ensure that your visitors IP will display properly in your analytics data, but that information is several months old, and you should not need to do that now (September, 2012) if your site is hosted on a GoDaddy Linux 5+ server. You can now install a plugin that will specifically handle that for you.

These instructions include using a specific caching plugin designed to integrate with CloudFlare, but so far, I haven’t seen any difference between its performance and the “Quick Cache” plugin. I have one of the plugins installed on one of my sites, and the other on a different CloudFlare site. I will update this post later if I find that one or the other works better as tested by Pingdom’s speed testing tool.

How to Install CloudFlare on a GoDaddy Hosted WordPress Website

1. Backup your WordPress website and database. You probably won’t need it, but you should always have a recent database backup handy, just in case. GoDaddy does provide an easy ‘restore’ feature in your File Manager, but it may not fully restore your WordPress site if something happens to your database.
2. If you have Bulletproof Security (BPS) installed, activate the default mode temporarily before installing CloudFlare. If you don’t use BulletProof, see the section below on why you probably should use it in addition to the nice layer of protection added by CloudFlare.
3. Install and activate the CloudFlare plugin, but do not configure it yet
4. Caching:

a. If you are already using the W3 Total Cache plugin on your site, leave it installed, but disable all options for now.
b. If you are using another caching plugin, disable and uninstall it, but be careful to follow any warnings issued by the developer.
c. If you do not have W3 Total Cache plugin installed, install and activate it now, but do not configure it yet.

5. If you have not already signed up with CloudFlare, do so now, and add your domain to your dashboard. If you want the free package, you will choose this from a dropdown box when adding your domain. CloudFlare will walk you through the process and will give you the DNS server information to set on GoDaddy. Keep this tab or window open in your browser.
6. In another browser tab or window, log in to your GoDaddy account. Next, click “My Account,” in the upper left corner of your screen, then click the green “Launch” button to the right of “Domains.”

a. Click on the name of the domain for which you are installing CloudFlare, then look down on the left side of your screen to find the “Nameservers” section, and click the blue link under and to the right of that labeled, “Set Nameservers.”
b. In the pop-up dialog box that opens, select “I have specific nameservers for my domains” and add the first nameserver from your CloudFlare instructions into the input box labeled, “Nameserver 1,” and enter the second into the box labeled, “Nameserver 2,” then click the black “OK” button.

Technically, it could take as many as 24-48 hours for your nameservers to transfer to CloudFlare, but realistically, you will probably receive an email from GoDaddy in less than an hour notifying you that the change is complete.

After you receive the notification email (or check your GoDaddy dashboard and see that the nameservers have been set), it’s time to configure your new plugins in your WordPress dashboard.

7. Click, “Plugins” on the left side of your WP dashboard, and under Plugins in that left side panel, you should see CloudFlare. Click to open it, then right-click (on PC) the little (Get this?) text to the right of the CloudFlare API input box, and open that link in a new browser tab or window. Hover your mouse over your API number, and copy and paste that into your plugin’s corresponding input box. Do the same for your email address, and click “update options.” You should see three lines of messages after updating:

Your key has been verified. Happy blogging!

Your email has been verified. Happy blogging!

Development mode is Off. Happy blogging!

Note: This is probably NOT a good time to run the optional Database Optimizer, because if something goes wrong, you won’t know which action caused the problem.

Check your website and be sure to reload/refresh your browser to make sure that your site is up and running before configuring your caching plugin.

If you run into trouble, you can always temporarily pause CloudFlare by following these instructions.

8. Under your active plugins list in your WordPress dashboard, find your WP Total Cache plugin and click “Settings” under its description. Uncheck everything in the settings except for CloudFlare, which should be checked. For GoDaddy websites, you will need to leave your “Security Level” set to HIGH, or the plugin will not work, but CloudFlare’s settings will override this. Add your API key and email address as you did for your CloudFlare plugin, and add your domain name, beginning with: http://  and save all settings.
9. Verify that your site is up and running well, then go to your CloudFlare dashboard to configure your settings there.
10. REMEMBER to go back and re-activate Bulletproof mode if you have BPS installed!!!

Are you reading through this before deciding whether installing CloudFlare is worth your while? It is. The learning curve is short, and even the free version will significantly speed up your site and protect it.

And now a note about why I highly recommend using the BPS (BulletProof Security) plugin in conjunction with CloudFlare:

Maybe you know for sure that you will only ever have one site on your GoDaddy server and you don’t selectively block hotlinking to your content, plus, you’re pretty sure that one layer of protection is all you need for website security. In that case, you can skip this and go have fun.

But if you would sleep better with additional security for your site, or if you are taking advantage of GoDaddy’s free hosting for several domains under one Deluxe or Premium account, (or plan to), or if you block hotlinking in general while allowing access for some sites, then this is why you also need to install BPS:

If you block hotlinking to your images or other content via .htaccess, but allow a few sites (your own, for example) to hotlink, CloudFlare does not yet have a procedure for this. It’s all or nothing. However, you CAN do selective blocking and more in BPS. BPS allows you to fine tune your .htaccess file, and since you install it on your primary domain only, every rule that you set covers all of your aliased domains (in the sub folders of your GoDaddy hosting account).

You will need to remember to turn BPS off before installing new sites (including subdomains on multisite installs), and back on again immediately afterwards, but it’s completely worth your time if you care about your website security.

Please comment about your related experience with using CloudPress and GoDaddy below to help others, or if you have any questions.

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