You might be looking to speeding up your website, adding free SSL or cloud based hosting, no matter the reason, if you’re looking to connect Cloudflare and is lost, here’s a complete guide on how to Enable Cloudflare step by step – Free SSL & Faster website.
Table of content:
- What does Cloudflare do? And why connect it?
- Step by step guide to connect Cloudflare
- How to activate free SSL
- Speed up your website with Cloudflare’s settings
What does Cloudflare do? And why connect it?
Cloudflare is a CDN (Content Delivery Network), simply put it is used to deliver your website from different cloud-based servers.
Let’s say your servers are located in Belgium, and a user from Canada is visiting it. Cloudflare would serve your website to that particular user from the closest server to him/her.
Here’s a video that gives a detailed explanation on how CDNs work, like Cloudflare https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bsq5cKkS33I
Why connect Cloudflare:
- Speed – Faster delivery
- Free SSL – Free SSL certificate
- Reduction in the amount of traffic that hits your original server
- Security – No direct interaction with the servers
Step by step guide to connect Cloudflare:
This is rather easy, follow the steps below and you will be able to connect Cloudflare easily:
- Go to https://cloudflare.com
- Create a new account – Sign Up
- Click on Cloudflare – Protect your internet presence
- Enter your website’s URL then click on Add Site
- In the Select a Plan section, scroll down, click on the free plan and then click on Continue. The free plan is located horizontally under the 3 packages.
- Cloudflare will automatically check for the DNS records, wait a bit.
- Review the DNS records and then click on Continue. If you’re not sure of the records, just click Continue, I am yet to get an error, and even if you get an error it is an easy fix.
- Now is the tricky part, but relax, it is really easy. All you have to do is replace the nameservers of your domain with the nameservers that Cloudflare is providing.
- Sign in to your domain registrar’s account – Wherever you bought your domain from, i.e. Namecheap, GoDaddy, etc…
- Go to your domain’s settings, there you should find the “Manage DNS” section, click on that.
- If you don’t have nameservers, choose custom nameservers, and then enter Cloudflare’s nameservers. If it is pointing to your current hosting, remove them, and then add the new nameservers.
- From the Cloudflare account, click Done, check nameservers.
- That’s it, in some cases it might take up to 48 hours for the changes to apply.
How to check the website on the new servers:
If you don’t want to wait 48 hours, here’s how you can check the website on the new servers:
- Go to https://skipdns.link/
- Enter your website’s URL
- Add Cloudflare’s nameservers
- Click on Fingers Crosses -> Click on the generated link
It should take you to your website on Cloudflare’s hosting, if it’s working fine, then just be patient, your website will soon be live on Cloudflare’s servers.
How to activate free SSL with Cloudflare
- From your Cloudflare dashboard, go to SSL/TSL
- Make sure Your SSL/TLS encryption mode is Full
- Go to Edge Certificates
- Scroll down, and check the Always Use HTTPS button
Speed up your website with Cloudflare’s settings
You have two places where you can speed up your website caching and page speed settings.
Speed and Caching
- Go to Speed
- In the Auto minify section, check all 3. HTML, CSS and JS
Note: You can optimize website speed by optimizing image sizes. Here’s a complete guide on the optimal image sizes for best performance.
- Go to caching
- In the caching level section, choose Standard
This is basically it, not a brainer, but you would have to be careful during the process, otherwise a 5 minutes work might turn into a headache.