If you have a website and use it for work or any kind of professional activity, chances are you’ve heard of Cloudflare or the term Content Delivery Network (CDN).
What is a CDN?
A CDN (aka Content Delivery Network) is a web of proxy servers that are geographically distributed to cover the entire world (depending on the company), offering better site loading speed, security, and caching.
To simplify: if someone in France visits your website, your site will load from the CDN network’s closest server to France (very likely within France itself) for that visitor. This means that your visitors will get faster loading speeds from their specific geographical regions when loading your site.
Cloudflare is the most popular Content Delivery Network, and they offer both free and paid plans. One of the reasons for Cloudflare’s popularity is that its free plan provides a lot of useful features, and in most cases – you don’t need to upgrade.
To set up your website to use Cloudflare CDN, you will need to:
- Create a free account at Cloudflare
- Add your domain to Cloudflare
- Change DNS for your domain to point to Cloudflare
Free Cloudflare Account
Creating an account with Cloudflare is easy.
The first step is to sign up with an email address and password:
Next, check your inbox, and click the email verification link in the Cloudflare email:
Once your email address is verified, you will see the following screen:
Click the Continue to the dashboard button to go to the next step.
On the next page, click the + Add Site button:
Enter Domain Name
Put in your domain name, and click the Add site button:
Next, select the Free plan, and click the Confirm plan button:
Cloudflare will then scan for the existing DNS records on your domain name, and provide you a list that you can verify:
Cloudflare usually does a good job scanning the records, but glance over them and make sure that the records and IP they point to are correct.
MX And CNAME Records
If needed, you can add missing records using the Add Record button.
Make sure to set MX and mail CNAME records to DNS only setting by clicking on the cloud icon. If you’ve already moved on from the DNS screen, you can always alter the settings from Cloudflare’s main page > click the domain > DNS section.
Once you click the cloud icon, you can then switch the setting from proxied to DNS only:
Click the Continue button when you’ve done a double check of the DNS records.
Next, you will receive instructions to change nameservers for your domain to point to the Cloudflare network.
If your domain name is registered with Skystra, go to the AccountCenter Client Area and click Domains from the main menu, then select My Domains from the dropdown, and click on the wrench tool icon next to your domain and click the Manage Nameservers button:
Select the Use custom nameservers option, and input the Cloudflare nameservers into Nameserver 1 and Nameserver 2 fields. Once ready, click the Change Nameservers button to save changes.
If your domain name is registered elsewhere, you can find instructions on how to update nameservers at other registrars in this article.
Here’s how it looks for our test domain name:
Now go back to your Cloudflare tab, and click the Done, check nameservers button.
On the next page, make sure to select Full for the SSL/TLS encryption mode, and turn on the Always Use HTTPS option.
Here’s how the set up looks like on the Cloudflare dashboard:
Click the Done button once completed.
To verify your domain is pointed correctly to Cloudflare, go to https://intodns.com, type in your domain name in the search field, and then check the Domain NS records field:
You should see the Cloudflare nameservers there.
Please note that it can take up to 24 hours for the DNS changes to propagate globally and for the whole internet to see your site loading from Cloudflare.