If you are using CloudFlare CDN and demanding for a recommended way to give your users secure connections, installing an SSL certificate on your website is a good solution. To help people like you correctly to do so, the article is going to give an elaborate introduction on using CloudFlare CDN with an SSL certificate. Before that, knowing the basic information of CloudFlare CDN and SSL certificate is also necessary.
What is CloudFlare CDN?
As one of the best CDN solutions on the planet, CloudFlare CDN greatly reduces hops and lowers latency by taking advantage of 86 data centers around the world using the latest technologies.
CloudFlare CDN now is coming with one free plan in addition to three paid ones. Features included in the basic free plan are fast site performance, broad security protection, SSL, and powerful stats about users’ visitors, while the paid plans offer exclusive mobile optimizations, WAF, advanced denial of service attack mitigation, 100% uptime guarantee, and etc. Customers with CloudFlare CDN, either free or paid, will never be billed for bandwidth. Even better, they can have free and paid websites within one account and freely upgrade or downgrade as needed.
What is SSL Certificate?
SSL, standing for Secure Socket Layer, is the standard security technology which can be used to build an encrypted link between a web browser and a web server. Now it has been one of the most widely used security tools on the internet to secure connections and keep millions of websites’ data information safe from monitoring and tampering.
SSL Certificate is issued and validation assured by Certificate Authorities (CA). Judging whether an SSL certificate is properly issued is easy however. When visiting a website, if you find that there is an image of a closed padlock and along with the front of the web address is an “https”, then it is issued.
Most SSL certificates will only secure a single domain name or sub-domain. For instance, you could use a certificate to secure www.yourdomain.com or store.yourdomain.com but not both. Though the certificate will continue working on a different domain name, you cannot get access to the website under the domain name but an error once the web browser finds that the address in the address bar is not the one protected by the certificate. If you are looking for a way to secure multiple subdomain names on one domain name, wildcard certificate can be helpful for you.
How to Use CloudFlare CDN with an SSL Certificate
In order to offer secure connections for your users, you should ensure that you’ve already enabled CloudFlare CDN and installed an SSL certificate for your site.
Activate CloudFlare CDN
Before enabling CloudFlare CDN for your domain name, you will need to login to cPanel control panel and activate your CloudFlare CDN account first. You need navigate to Software/Services tab and click on the icon of CloudFlare. Then find the Sign Up/Log In field, and enter your email address as requested. After that, click the button of Signup Now.
When you get into the Activate CloudFlare page, click on the gray cloud for the purpose of automatically adding the corresponding website to your CloudFlare account and optimizing with the standard settings. Typically, orange cloud means that you have successfully configured your website with CloudFlare CDN. Along with the orange cloud appearance is a Statistics and Settings tab, where you can change your security settings, enable development mode, purge the cache for your website, and determine your CloudFlare caching level, etc.
That’s it. Now you have CloudFlare CDN activated and your visitors can load your website from the nearest geographic location.
Use CloudFlare CDN with An SSL Certificate (Paid Users)
Considering that SSL could be difficult to set up, especially for a group of new website administrators like you, CloudFlare allows its users to enable the support for SSL with an easy one-click. Because of that, all users don’t have to go to a CA to verify their identities and authenticities of their websites, install the SSL certificate on their servers, or keep it renewed any more. Far more than that, CloudFlare supports custom certificates from any certificate authority, full end-to-end SSL with robust certificates checking, and other more advanced SSL configurations.
So, if you are demanding for the best way to use the CDN service of CloudFlare with an SSL certificate, you should consider upgrading to a CloudFlare premium plan. To do so, you need to navigate to the CloudFlare Account, and then have the SSL support enabled on the page of Advanced Settings.
Use CloudFlare CDN with an SSL Certificate (Free Users)
However, if you are using a free plan of CloudFlare CDN which fails to support one-click SSL enabling, you still have at least two ways to enable it to work with your SSL certificate.
- If you have a private SSL certificate and have configured it to work for subdomains such as shop.yourdomain.com and store.yourdomain.com, try to disable the CloudFlare CDN service for such subdomain names. Doing so can ensure that the CloudFlare servers will not accessed by visitors visiting the web pages being protected by the SSL certificate. While another group of visitors can get benefit from the CloudFlare CDN. Nevertheless, there is no necessary to worry about domain like yourdomain.com or yourdomain.com as most private SSL certificates can be used to work for them.
- You’ve probably noticed that enabling CloudFlare will automatically edit the DNS zone of your domain at the same time. However, as the CNAME record of DNS for the domain name www.youdomain.com has been set to point to the CloudFlare servers, which means that it’s impossible for you to make use of SSL for the web pages under this domain. But it is possible to have the pages under non-www domain name protected by SSL by configuring the pages secured by your SSl certificate to use links of such domain. Assuming you’re running a business website, you can do it via configuring the website to take advantage of youdomain.com, enabling the checkout pages to be protected by SSL, and configuring these pages to use links of non-www website step by step.