Create a Cloudflare Account and Add Your Website

First, navigate to the Cloudflare homepage and click on the Sign Up button at the top of the screen. On the next page, type in your email address and password:

Signing up to Cloudflare.

Now, Cloudflare will ask you to enter the URL for the site you want to link your account to:

Linking your domain to Cloudflare.

Cloudflare will then start analyzing your Domain Name Server (DNS) records. The service needs to update them so it can route visitors to its own servers whenever necessary. This is a simple and automatic process, so you’ll just need to wait for a moment. Click on Continue when it’s done, and move on to the next step.

Update Your Domain Name Servers and Choose a Plan

On the next screen, Cloudflare will display a list of the DNS records associated with your domain name. You’ll find a Cloudflare icon (an orange cloud with an arrow behind it) next to each record, as seen below:

Toggling Cloudflare on and off.

By default, Cloudflare will enable the option to route traffic to your domain through its servers. You can toggle off this option by clicking on the icon. However, doing this means you’ll lose out on the platform’s features, so this is an option to leave on until you want to switch CDNs or disable the service.

For now, click Continue once more. On the next screen, you’ll be able to choose which plan you want. We recommend starting with the free tier until you’ve decided you’re happy with the service. You can upgrade to a premium plan at any time:

Cloudflare's pricing plans.

Cloudflare will now provide you with new nameservers for your domain:

Cloudflare's nameservers.

You will need to add these manually. This is necessary, because Cloudflare can’t just take over your DNS records automatically. Otherwise, people would be able to sign you up for the service against your will.

To do this, you’ll need to log into the web host or registrar where you signed up for your domain. How you go about this will depend on your registrar’s setup. For example, if you bought your domain through our service, you’ll simply need to log into your account and click on the Manage button next to the domain you want to update:

Managing your domains.

Look for the option to edit your nameservers. In this case, it’s called Custom Nameservers. After choosing it, you just have to add the nameservers into the corresponding fields, and save your changes:

Customizing your nameservers.

Review Your Cloudflare Security Settings

At this stage, Cloudflare is up and ready to go. Each time you log into the platform, you’ll see a dashboard displaying the status of the service and the details for your linked domain:

The status of your Cloudflare services.

You’ll notice that one of the sections above is called Security Level. This is one of Cloudflare’s most interesting settings, and it’s worth looking at in a bit more detail. By default, your Cloudflare security is set to Medium, which means that the platform will automatically route ‘bad’ traffic to a challenge page (a type of CAPTCHA) to weed out bots:

Changing your Cloudflare security level.

If you think this setting isn’t right for your site, you can lower or raise the security level at will. You have full control over your configuration, so be sure to check out Cloudflare’s documentation to see what every option does.