CloudFlare vs Netlify: What are the differences?
CloudFlare: The Web Performance & Security Company. Cloudflare speeds up and protects millions of websites, APIs, SaaS services, and other properties connected to the Internet; Netlify: Build, deploy and host your static site or app with a drag and drop interface and automatic delpoys from GitHub or Bitbucket. Netlify is smart enough to process your site and make sure all assets gets optimized and served with perfect caching-headers from a cookie-less domain. We make sure your HTML is served straight from our CDN edge nodes without any round-trip to our backend servers and are the only ones to give you instant cache invalidation when you push a new deploy. Netlify is also the only static hosting service with integrated continuous deployment.
CloudFlare can be classified as a tool in the "Content Delivery Network" category, while Netlify is grouped under "Static Web Hosting".
Some of the features offered by CloudFlare are:
- WAF (Web Application Firewall)
- DDOS Protection
On the other hand, Netlify provides the following key features:
- Global Network
- Global Network
- Instant Cache Validation
"Easy setup, great cdn" is the primary reason why developers consider CloudFlare over the competitors, whereas "Fastest static hosting and continuous deployments" was stated as the key factor in picking Netlify.
Stack Exchange, Lyft, and Udemy are some of the popular companies that use CloudFlare, whereas Netlify is used by Startae, Ratio, and Flat. CloudFlare has a broader approval, being mentioned in 2328 company stacks & 727 developers stacks; compared to Netlify, which is listed in 85 company stacks and 104 developer stacks.
What is CloudFlare?
What is Netlify?
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When I first built my portfolio I used GitHub for the source control and deployed directly to Netlify on a push to master. This was a perfect setup, I didn't need any knowledge about #DevOps or anything, it was all just done for me.
Over the weekend I decided I wanted to know more about how #DevOps worked so I decided to switch from Netlify to Amazon S3. Instead of creating any #Git Webhooks I decided to use Buddy for my pipeline and to run commands. Buddy is a fantastic tool, very easy to setup builds, copying the files to my Amazon S3 bucket, then running some #AWS console commands to set the
When I made these changes I also wanted to monitor my code, and make sure I was keeping up with the best practices so I implemented Code Climate to look over my code and tell me where there
other issues I've been super happy with it so far, on the free tier so its also free.
I did plan on using Amazon CloudFront for my SSL and cacheing, however it was overly complex to setup and it costs money. So I decided to go with the free tier of CloudFlare and it is amazing, best choice I've made for caching / SSL in a long time.
I recently moved my portfolio to Amazon S3 and I needed a new way to cache and SSL my site as Amazon S3 does not come with this right out of the box. I tried Amazon CloudFront as I was already on Amazon S3 I thought this would be super easy and straight forward to setup... It was not, I was unable to get this working even though I followed all the online steps and even reached out for help to Amazon.
I'd used CloudFlare in the past, and thought let me see if I can set up CloudFlare on an Amazon S3 bucket. The setup for this was so basic and easy... I had it setup with caching and SSL within 5 minutes, and it was 100% free.
When my SSL cert MaxCDN was expiring on my personal site I decided it was a good time to revamp some things. Since GitHub Services is depreciated I can no longer have #CDN cache purges automated among other things. So I decided on the following: GitHub Pages, Netlify, Let's Encrypt and Jekyll. Staying the same was Bootstrap, jQuery, Grunt & #GoogleFonts.
What's awesome about GitHub Pages is that it has a #CDN (Fastly) built-in and anytime you push to master, it purges the cache instantaneously without you have to do anything special. Netlify is magic, I highly recommend it to anyone using #StaticSiteGenerators.
For the most part, everything went smoothly. The only things I had issues with were the following:
- If you want to point
wwwto GitHub Pages you need to rename the repo to
- If you edit something in the
_config.ymlyou need to restart
bundle exec jekyll sor changes won't show
- I had to disable the Grunt
htmlminmodule. I replaced it with Jekyll layout that compresses HTML for #webperf
Last but certainly not least, I made a donation to Let's Encrypt. If you use their service consider doing it too: https://letsencrypt.org/donate/
Platform Update: we’ve been using the Performance Test tool provided by KeyCDN for a long time in combination with Pingdom's similar tool and the #WebpageTest and #GoogleInsight - we decided to test out KeyCDN for static asset hosting. The results for the endpoints were superfast - almost 200% faster than CloudFlare in some tests and 370% faster than imgix . So we’ve moved Washington Brown from imgix for hosting theme images, to KeyCDN for hosting all images and static assets (Font, CSS & JS). There’s a few things that we like about “Key” apart from saving $6 a month on the monthly minimum spend ($4 vs $10 for imgix). Key allow for a custom CNAME (no more advertising imgix.com in domain requests and possible SEO improvements - and easier to swap to another host down the track). Key allows JPEG/WebP image requests based on clients ‘accept’ http headers - imgix required a ?auto=format query string on each image resource request - which can break some caches. Key allows for explicitly denying cookies to be set on a zone/domain; cookies are a big strain on limited upload bandwidth so to be able to force these off is great - Cloudflare adds a cookie to every header… for “performance reasons”… but remember “if you’re getting a product something for free…”
I use Netlify for all of my projects for the ease of setup and the huge Developer Experience they offer. From Netlify CLI, to the newly announced Netlify Analytics, we have no issues with Netlify and scaling is possible to a certain degree. We connect Netlify with our GitHub Repos and let all branches build to get a Preview. Also we connected our Domain with ease to it and were able to have the page be shown on our domain.
Yesterday we moved away from using CloudFlare towards Amazon Route 53 for a few reasons. Although CloudFlare is a great platform, once you reach almost a 100% AWS Service integration, it makes it hard to still use CloudFlare in the stack. Also being able to use Aliases for DNS makes it faster because instead of doing a CNAME and an A record lookup, you will be able to receive the A records from the end services directly. We always loved working with CloudFlare , especially for DNS as we already used Amazon CloudFront for CDN. But having everything within AWS makes it "cleaner" when deploying automatically using AWS CloudFormation. All that aside, the main reason for moving towards Amazon Route 53 for DNS is the ability to do geolocation and latency based DNS responses. Doing this outside the AWS console would increase the complexity.
To start off, check this out: https://perfwars.com/netlify.com/vs/godaddy.com/
If you are new to Netlify, it will take you less than 5 minutes to get your site up and running, 3 minutes if you are fast. To get started simply go here: https://app.netlify.com/
Choose one of the following options to sign up: GitHub, BitBucket, GitLab, or you can use your email address.
If you sign up with your email address, it will ask you to enter a 4 digit verification code that they sent to your email address.
Once signed in, you will be shown a quick intro:
- SIMPLY PUSH TO DEPLOY
- FREE ONE-CLICK HTTPS
- NEVER HAVE TO LEAVE TERMINAL
These are three huge benefits of Netlify over most other hosting platforms.
OK, now that you have signed up and gone through the highlights, you need just select new site. From there you can either link a Git repository or just drag and drop your site folder into the browser window. Your site will be uploaded and available for browsing within a minute or so.
Once your site is on Netlify, you can setup a custom domain by selected the settings tab, if you are not already there, then click edit next to domain. Simply put your domain in, save and then follow instructions on Netlify's documentation page on how to set up your DNS: https://www.netlify.com/docs/custom-domains
So easy! You are done setting up your site! Now for making changes and adding features. You no longer have to do crazy manual set ups to get SSL installed on your site, with Netlify even my grandma could do it! You can still use your own certificate if you prefer, but if you wanted it even easier, all you have to do is select "Lets Encrypt Certificate" from the SSL tab on your site in Netlify.
When you select "Lets Encrypt Certificate", Netlify shows a dialog entitled "Automatic TLS Setup" and asks you to ensure that your DNS is set up properly before you provision the certificate. This is important, and it will be fine so long as you set up your DNS properly according to their custom domains documentation that I shared earlier. All you need to do here is click save. The SSL will start to work shortly and all http URLs will automatically be redirected to https! And the best part is, it is free!
Recap of the setup process: 1. Sign up and verify your account 2. Link repository or drag and drop site folder 3. Change domain and setup DNS 4. True One-click SSL 5. Upgrade your site for more awesome features (Optional)
That's it! You are done! Takes less than 5 minutes!
Before I came across Netlify, I would often use drag and drop web builders because the complication of managing servers and setting up configurations to handle forms and SSL were too complicated. With Netlify however, all you need to do for form handling is to put in a little call out to Netlify to say, hey, this is a form I want you to handle. It is so easy! You already know how easy it is to set up SSL now too. I now have no fears in launching a site, setting up form handling and SSL.
If you are interested in setting up the form handling, you can go here: https://www.netlify.com/docs/form-handling
Netlify also has amazing and simple documentation. I have never had a problem figuring something out. If ever I have had a question, I have found a resolution with in 1-2 minutes in their documentation. They have thought of everything!
My favorite tools in Netlify are the notifications! You can set up your form handling to automatically notify you via email or even Slack. I love Slack too by the way, and being able to get updates about my deployments or form handling via Slack is a huge plus.
The notification integrations are my favorite, however, I still cannot get over how easy it is to set up SSL and form handling. They are by far the most useful features for me. Another very useful feature is being able to see a history of your builds and having the ability to restore to a previous build or download it. I have been unable to find any of these features in their simplicity anywhere else. Netlify is literally the easiest to use, most reliable and overall best hosting platform out there.
One more mention, the founder of Netlify is involved in the JAMStack Revolution. Here is a quick blurb from their site (Looks Awesome!):
I first wore my first domain cloudflare IE "https://rifqiarief.tk" until now can still be visited, I am really grateful to the cloudflare, thanks to rare to my website down cloudflare, before my website is down so often, because I'm wearing a great resource, and dilimit by my hosting party "be advised, I wear free hosting:D" now thanks to him, to my website really stable, unless it's really my full server connection my server, run faster, regardless of my location in Indonesia, unfortunately the cloudflare doesn't have a datacenter in Indonesia, if you don't believe me, please visit my website "https://rifqiarief.tk"
Cloudflare sits in front of the entire site providing HTTP2 and HTTPS, which is particularly important due the large number of SVG images for the headings that need to be send down to the browser in parallel. Cloudflare also manages the DNS for DKIM TXT records, a dynamic root ALIAS record to the Heroku application, and GeoIP country headers.
We use CloudFlare to protect our network from breaches as well as to reduce bandwidth on the servers themselves and therefore freeing up the bandwidth for our other projects. We also use CloudFlare for instant DNS propagation across the internet where possible.
We love the free SSL and extensive CDN network. DDoS protection is a plus. Great premium features for rapidly growing projects. Cloudflare has helped us forget about silly things like asset minification and email obfuscation.
Serves the main site through CDN. Provides super easy password protection and third-level domain for staging. Uses web hooks from Contentful and Github to know when to trigger new build and update the site. Perfect.
We use CF for DNS hosting, since their AnyCast DNS provides the best latency in the business, and they support DNSSEC + IPv6. We don't use the CDN or website optimizations.
lots of good stuff available for free that you don't even think about it, default configuration saves you weeks of work, painless https setup, good to kickstart projects
Netlify makes it super-easy for various team members to deploy whenever there's a push to our Git master branch. Automatic build, deployment, and setup on CDN.
It's free and has so many features - just perfect for open-source projects like GitDocs.