It was an ordinary evening yesterday. Holden and I had just finished our dinner, and I was sitting down to play some Destiny on PS4. My phone kept vibrating with new email alerts, so I checked my inbox. Pingdom had been notifying me that my website was down and back up again for the past fifteen minutes.
I couldn’t access the Jetpack site stats from my dashboard, so I looked at the real time report from Google Analytics to try and determine how long the site had been down. It was there that I noticed 70 people were currently on my site at once… huh? I saw that the referrals had all come from Facebook, and I remembered that Whole30 had said they would be sharing my post this week.
The best way to handle a traffic spike is to be prepared for it beforehand. Unfortunately, I never imagined that a Facebook post could singlehandedly take down my server. I immediately called my host’s tech support to discuss options.
I knew that the “quickest” solution was going to be a CDN (Content Delivery Network).
A CDN is essentially a network of geographically dispersed servers. Each CDN node (also called Edge Servers) caches the static content of a site like the images, CSS/JS files and other structural components. The majority of an end-user’s page load time is spent on retrieving this content, and so it makes sense to provide these “building blocks” of a site in as many server nodes as possible, distributed throughout the world.
When a user requests your site, the node closest in proximity to user will deliver the static content, ensuring the shortest distance for the data to travel (reduced latency), therefore providing the fastest site experience. (GTMetric)
I needed help choosing between SiteLock and CloudFlare, two popular CDNs. SiteLock was included in my hosting account, but the technicians noted that it’s better for protecting your site from malicious attacks and CloudFlare was the best option for improved site performance. CloudFlare is actually available for free, but because of my SSL, I needed to sign up for the premium “platinum” version.
After signing up, it took awhile for the DNS to propagate, but as soon as it did (within an hour or so), my site was loading quicker than ever! Best decision, and well worth the monthly fee to keep my site running quickly. (Google loves a fast site)!
If you’re interested in CloudFlare’s premium service, I highly recommend going through your host if possible. They had a relationship with CloudFlare that offered me a discounted monthly rate, and the setup was a breeze.
Thank you to everyone who visited my site last night, and stuck around even with the technical difficulties! What an embarrassing first impression I must have left >.< Needless to say, the lesson was learned, and I'm excited for StephanieDrenka.com 2.0! (Powered by CloudFlare haha)