I rely on Cloudflare for a lot of things on the websites I run and manage. I realized the other day that if I needed to replace Cloudflare with another service I might have a hard time finding one service that has all the features that Cloudflare provides. That made me start a list of the basic features I use from Cloudflare that I would want to replace if I no longer had Cloudflare.
The basic Cloudflare features I have come to rely on are:
- DNS Management
- Content Delivery Network (CDN)
- Web Application Firewall
- Email Routing
These Cloudflare features are a part of all Cloudflare plans, even the free plan, in fact the majority of the sites I run or manage use only the Cloudflare free plan. It might be hard to find a service that can match the feature list that Cloudflare offers but there are some options. Here are some options to replace Cloudflare, or at least some of the features Cloudflare offers.
Gcore is an interesting company that offers several similar features as Cloudflare. Including DNS, a content delivery network, and a web application firewall. They also offer several other products and services but those are beyond the scope of this post. Gcore is also the only service that offers a free tier for their DNS and CDN services.
Sucuri is probably best known for their web application firewall and their website malware removal service. Their product offering has expanded over the years and they also offer a CDN. There is no free tier but plans start at $9.99/month. You might not get as much as Cloudflare but the price is not to bad to get started.
Imperva offers a wide range of services including a CDN, a web application firewall, DDOS protection and more. The website says that you can start for free but I could not find any actual prices, and that always makes me nervous. Looks like they are more aimed at larger corporate sites and not really interested small business or mom and pop type sites.
StackPath has built up a large array of services that you could use to replace Cloudflare with including DNS, a CDN, web application firewall, rules and even ssl from the edge. You will pay for every additional feature you use though so your monthly fees could be considerably higher than a free Cloudflare plan or even a Pro Cloudflare plan especially since the essentials web application firewall product starts at $60.00/month and pricing for DNS starts at $10.00/month.
Another option to replace Cloudflare with many similar features including DNS, CDN and web application firewall. Pricing is not as easy to sort out, which makes costs per month difficult to know, but it will certainly be more than Cloudflare. They do appear to offer a free trial.
ImprovMX is the only service on this list that I know of that matches only one feature provided from Cloudflare, email routing. I have not managed my own email servers for years and honestly I don’t know why anyone would want to manage their own email servers anymore. Unfortunately routing email has always been a bit of a pain if your hosting provider did not offer it (like DigitalOcean for example). Before Cloudflare started offering email routing ImprovMX was my go to service for routing email from sites that did not have a way to do it. Best part is most people can probably get by with a free account from them.
Do you need Cloudflare to run a website? The short answer is no. You could run a website by simply registering a domain and setting up hosting and continue on happily just like many sites have and continue to do. Using Cloudflare or one of the services I mention above is not a requirement to owning and hosting your own website, but there has been a constant rise in cyber attacks and the best way to stop a hacker is to prevent them from reaching your website/server in the first place. Running a website without Cloudflare or some kind of website protection is just asking for trouble and if your company relies on your website you need to protect that resource.
Just to be clear, Cloudflare has not paid me or anything to write this or support them. I am simply a customer who likes Cloudflare.
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