CDN Implementation– A Visual Walk-Through

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Have you been putting off installing a CDN on your website? Have you tried to follow the complicated instructions some CDNs require and failed?

A content delivery network (CDN) is the best way to speed up your website, so customers stick around for longer.

Most implementation guides just say do this, this and this. Done.

This guide includes all the scary stuff that nobody ever shows you, with screenshots of every single step.

Paying for a Trial

Bad news, free CDNs aren’t as good as paid ones.

It stands to reason: All the factors that make paid CDN solutions such as Incapsula’s better are expensive. The CDN company must be able to recoup its investments in the latest computer and hard drive technology.

The good news; you can get a free trial and after that monthly charges start at an affordable $59 per month. That kind of amount should be more than canceled out by increased sales because your website is online more of the time and it’s faster, so customers don’t lose patience with the choosing and buying process.

Every CDN provider has a different process. This walk-through CDN setup relates to Incapsula

Decision Time

You can change your level of service at any stage, so take the easy option now and click the green link in the $59 per month column (Screenshot below)

You will need to provide your personal details to progress to the next step. I have filled these in with my own information.

Click on the green ‘CREATE ACCOUNT’ link, and you get to the nasty part where you need to enter your payment details. Incapsula doesn’t take the money for 14 days, and you can cancel before the payment is due.

Fill in the form with your credit card number, expiry date, and security code: When you click the green button the company will check your account to make sure you have sufficient credit, and you will be sent to the next screen.

Installing Your CDN

All CDN providers skip over the tricky steps where you have to change nameservers and DNS details because they make the process look difficult. Never fear, this piece has visuals of EVERY step.

After you click the green ‘+Add Website’ button, you will see the screen below telling you that Incapsula is finding the server details of your site.

Incapsula will send you an email to verify your identity. This will go to your Incapsula login email address.

Open the email and click on the highlighted link.

When you return to the Incapsula setup tab, the message asking you to verify your identity has disappeared.

You need to click on the orange status triangle to start your website Incapsula setup.

You see the screen below. Click the obscurely worded ‘Set up HTTP’ button.

Your next screen shows you a summary of the on-boarding process. Don’t study it too closely, just click the ‘Let’s start’ link.

 

The next screen is a bit scary but just click on the ‘Check DNS’ link.

Decision time – For simplicity’s sake, this guide only takes you through the email setup validation procedure, so click the ‘Validate by e-mail’ link.

The next screen shows you possible email addresses Incapsula will use to validate your domain ownership.

Most people only setup domain email addresses as they need them, so you might not have one of these previously. If you havethen well done you, you can skip the email set up steps on the next few screens.

Log in to your domain cPanel and scroll down to the EMAIL section.

Find the Email accounts icon in the EMAIL ACCOUNTS section of cPanel. Scroll through your domains until you reach the one you are installing on Incapsula. Add an email address.

In the screen below, I am installing the CDN on Clanpreneur.com, so I have set up an address ‘admin@clanpreneur.com.’ Click on the ‘Generate’ link to get a random password. Click on the password visibility ‘eye’ icon which will allow you to copy your password into your email handling program.

Click on ‘Create Account.’

You also need to be able to access this account quickly and without using email clients like HordeMail or SquirrelMail. If you use Outlook, then you already know how to set up a new email account there. I use Thunderbird, partly because it’s free.

If you are unfamiliar with Thunderbird, you can download it here. The next few screenshots walk you through the process of setting up a new email address in your Thunderbird account.

Click on File, New, Existing Mail Account and a pop-up will appear as below.

Go to the File tab, click on ‘New’ and then on ‘ExistingMail Account.’ A pop-up appears where you can add your new email address and paste in the password you saved from your cPanel email setup page. The name on the box’s top line is what recipients of your emails will see as the sender.

Click the ‘Confirm’ link and re-open your Incapsula screen.

Click on the email address in the list that corresponds to the one you have just set up (In my case, admin@clanpreneur.com.) Hit the green ‘Send e-mail’ button.

Incapsula shows you the email they have just sent to your new address.

Go to Thunderbird or Outlook, find the email address you have just added and click on your inbox.

Find the Incapsula email and click on the blue link.

You have done everything you can for now. The SSL cert isn’t issued immediately but only after two or three hours.

Resist the temptation to click on the ‘Go to management console’ link because you will be prompted to set up another domain on the screen below, and at the moment you need to avoid confusion. Set up another domain in a few days, not now.

After a seemingly interminable few hours, you will find an email in your Thunderbird or Outlook dashboard as below.

Open it.

If you weren’t put off before, you might be by this gobbledygook. However, if you use the screens below to guide you, the process is a simple one.

Click on your cPanel tab and scroll down the page to the ‘DOMAINS’ section. Search for and then click on the ‘DNS Zone editor’ icon as shown in the screenshot below.

A new screen will open that you have probably never seen before, but never fear, even using the DNS Zone Editor is easier than it looks.

Locate the website you are installing your Incapsula CDN on, then click on ‘Manage.’

A new screen appears as below. Click ‘Edit.’

Change the ‘A record’ for your site by pasting in its new IP address from the email Incapsula just sent you.

Remember to click on the blue ‘Save record’ button after you have entered the new IP address.

The zone editor will only accept a valid data string, so it is difficult to get it wrong.

Step 2 is to add a second ‘A record.’

Find the blue ‘Add Record’ link and click on it, as shown below.

Clicking will present you with a new screen where you can enter the second IP address from the Incapsula email.

Type in your domain name without any ‘www’ and paste in the P address for the second ‘A record,’ then click on the blue button (Add Record.)

Now to change the CNAME record

Find the CNAME link s as highlighted below, and click on it.

Check the Incapsula email and then click the ‘Edit’ link for your domain. See below.

You will see a new screen as shown below. Delete the highlighted entry in the table and replace it with the new CNAME data that Incapsula sent you.

Remember to click on the ‘Save Record’ button.

You have completed the DNS changes that Incapsula needs, but these take a day or two to propagate over the Internet, so you will continue to see the ‘not configured’ warning in your Incapsula dashboard.

You will eventually receive the email below from Incapsula.

If you double-click on the email, you can cheer because you did everything correctly.

Now, when you log back into Incapsula, you find that orange warning triangle has been replaced with a happy green check mark.

That green check symbol is there now because your DNS changes have only just become readable by Incapsula. Every visitor to your website is now being directed through your new CDN.

Summing Up

A premium content delivery network (CDN) puts you ahead of competing sites. You are now ahead of the game regarding speed and protecting your site from the most common types of hacking attack.

Any CDN is better than none, but if it’s worth protecting, it’s worth protecting property. Incapsula’s CDN does the job you need it to do without any fuss, and the screenshots in this article provide the perfect walkthrough, even if you had never heard of CNAME and A RECORDs previously.

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