Cloudflare: Full Setup, Best settings and Configuration (2022)

Last Updated on 27th November 2022 by Ajmer Singh

Cloudflare is one of the best and free content delivery network available in the market.

They offer a free CDN service that enhances the speed of your site,

alongside a security service that ensures your site is secured from bot and third-party attacks.

Often, beginners are of the opinion that setting up Cloudflare on WordPress is extremely difficult.

In this guide, you will learn Cloudflare’s best settings and configuration for WordPress.

I will also share screenshots of my website page speed at the end.

Recently, Google officially confirmed that page speed matters and is also one of the important ranking factors.

Before starting, let me tell you that

We are using Cloudways web hosting, Themify Ultra theme, Cloudflare free plan and Autoptimize for A+ scores in Gtmetrix and 95+ scores in Google pagespeed insights.

You can also read how I achieve a perfect 100 score in Gtmetrix & Pagespeed Insights.

Benefits of using Cloudflare on your WordPress site

The Cloudflare CDN services provide you with lots of benefits which include:

1. A faster page load time: This is because Cloudflare caches your content across a network of servers, based on the user’s location.

2. A decrease in bandwidth usage: Similarly, as Cloudflare enhances the speed of your site, it also decreases bandwidth usage via its caching features.

3. Traffic: Cloudflare helps to sort out bot traffic and other negative traffic from third parties.

4. Enhanced security: Conclusively, Cloudflare offers a firewall, DDoS protection, and free SSL to enhance security on your WordPress site 

Cloudflare Best Settings and Configuration

Installing and setting up Cloudflare on wordpress is easy, kindly follow the guide we have provided below:

To begin, you need to first,

1. Create a Cloudflare account

cloudflare best settings

Visit the Cloudflare website on cloudflare.com, and click on the Signup button to create an account.

On the next page, provide your email address and password, after which you click on the ‘Create account button’.

Check your mailbox from Cloudflare and verify your email.

2. Add your domain name to Cloudflare

The second step on how to set up Cloudflare in wordpress is to Click on +Add Site and write down your site name (like findmytricks.com).

cloudflare best settings

Do not use other things like https or www.

cloudflare best settings

3. Select a plan

cloudflare best settings

If it is a small business or personal blog we recommend that you continue with the free plan.

However, you can choose whatever plan suits your needs.

But in this guide, we choose the free plan.

4. Review your DNS records

After selecting the plan, Cloudflare starts scanning your DNS records.

Then they will display the list of DNS records.

Make sure the proxy status is set to orange. 

cloudflare best settings

 

Orange means – Proxied – Accelerates and protects traffic – managed by Cloudflare.

Grey means – DNS resolution only – Bypasses Cloudflare.

5. Point your domain name to Cloudflare nameservers

The fourth step is to replace your previous nameservers with Cloudflare.

Cloudflare provides 2 nameservers, copy them and replace them from your domain registrar website or hosting provider.

To do this, simply open a new tab and navigate to your hosting panel/ domain registrar,

replace your previous name server with Cloudflare and click on ‘update’.

Return to the Cloudflare page and click on the ‘done, check nameservers‘ button.

For example, if you are using Godaddy then:

  1. Login
  2. My products
  3. DNS
  4. Name servers (change). It will take around 24 hours as they say, but it generally takes only a few minutes. 
  5. Continue.

cloudflare dns settingscloudflare dns settings

After changing nameservers, click on done, and check nameservers.

cloudflare best settings

If you see the status: Website not active (DNS modification pending), then click on recheck nameservers.

After 5-10 mins, check again – you will see the status active.

Now let’s configure the main settings,

Cloudflare Dashboard Settings

Overview Settings

cloudflare best settings

Here you can check your website analytics. However, they provide overall stats including bot visits.

So, if you want to check real visitors’ stats, then make sure to add Google Analytics.

As you are just signed up… so wait, you will see your results after some time.

Analytics Settings
Traffic

cloudflare analytics settings

Same here, you will check your stats after some time.

Security

cloudflare security

Here you can check the threats blocked by Cloudflare security.

Performance

cloudflare performance

To check the performance, you need to enable Argo (which is paid). So, leave this and move to the next step.

DNS

cloudflare dns queries

This tab is for those who are interested in checking their DNS queries.

Workers

cloudflare worker

You can check these stats after enabling worker mode. 

You can get Workers mode settings almost in the end.

Check the below screenshot.

workers mode

DNS Settings

cloudflare dns

Review, and edit your DNS settings here if you don’t change them at the start.

Leave the other settings below that as default.

Email (beta) Settings

cloudflare email beta

This is the new beta version of Cloudflare for people who wanted to create a custom email like support@site.com, info@site.com, care@site.com etc..

I am already using custom email from the Cloudways Rackspace server

But for you let’s check how to configure this.

Click on get started.

cloudflare email settings

Okay so here I am going to create info@findmytricks and the destination email address is findmytricks@gmail.com

“In short, when you mail to info@findmytricks.com, I will receive the mail at findmytricks@gmail.com”

Next is to verify your destination address.

cloudflare email settings

As I already have an email setup, so on the next page they want me to delete previous records and add the new ones.

cloudflare email settings

Here, what you can do is.

Open DNS settings, and add records one by one to set this custom email.

After adding records, click on next or skip.

cloudflare email settings

Then Enable the catch-all address and you are done.

You can check by sending an email to your new custom email address.

SSL/TLS Settings
Overview

cloudflare ssl settings

Check the full option, if you have an SSL certificate installed whether from your hosting provider or from any third party.

cloudflare ssl settings

Disable SSL/TLS recommender, as this is not important.

Edge Certificates

cloudflare ssl settings

You can check your SSL certificate status, expiry date, managed by etc. (If you have an SSL certificate installed)

You can also upload your SSL certificate and order to create a new SSL certificate from this tab.

cloudflare ssl settings

Make sure to enable “Always use HTTPS”. This will make sure that all the traffic will redirect from http to https automatically by Cloudflare.

Now, let’s configure HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) settings,

cloudflare ssl settings

Click I understand and next.

cloudflare ssl settings cloudflare ssl settings

Apply these settings,

Enable HSTS.

Max age header – 6 months.

Apply HSTS policy to subdomains – disable

Preload – disable.

No sniff header – enable.

More settings,

cloudflare ssl settings

cloudflare ssl settings

Minimum TLS version – TLS 1.2

Opportunistic Encryption – enable

TLS 1.3 – enable

Automatic HTTPS Rewrites – enable

Certificate Transparency Monitoring (Beta) – disable – No need to receive emails when a new certificate issued.

You can enable this option if you want to get email notifications every time your hosting provider issues a new certificate.

Disable Universal SSL – Do not disable universal SSL.

Because disabling Universal SSL removes any currently active Universal SSL certificates for your zone from the edge,

and prevents any future Universal SSL certificates from being ordered. 

Client certificate

cloudflare ssl settings

This is used for web applications. You don’t need to create one.

Origin Certificate

cloudflare ssl settings

This one is also not necessary. Leave this disabled.

Custom Hostnames

cloudflare ssl settings

There is no requirement for this. Leave this disabled.

Firewall Settings
Overview

cloudflare firewall settings

After configuring firewall settings, you can check the analytics of Cloudflare firewall events here.

Like the date, country, IP, action taken by which firewall rule etc…

Managed Rules

cloudflare firewall settings

You need the pro version for managed rules, so for now, leave this tab.

Firewall Rules

cloudflare firewall settings

Here you can add rules like https redirect, bypass admin cache, block an IP address or website etc.

For now, it’s not necessary until you have a specific demand.

Page Shield

cloudflare firewall settings

You have to upgrade to the premium version to enable the page shield.

Page Shield protects your visitors from Magecart-style supply chain attacks,

that steal credit card information and sensitive data through malicious third-party dependencies.

Bots

cloudflare firewall settings

This is a new feature by Cloudflare.

Bot fight mode adds a challenge request that matches patterns of known bots before they access your site.

I personally disable this because this adds an extra request and increases website load time.

My host Cloudways already provides bot protection without adding any extra requests.

DDoS

cloudflare firewall settings

You don’t need to change anything here. These are the default DDoS settings configured by Cloudflare itself.

Tools

cloudflare firewall settings

This tab is useful if you want to add a specific action to the IP addresses, country or ASN (autonomous system number).

Actions you can take,

  • block
  • allow
  • managed challenge
  • javascript challenge
  • legacy captcha
Settings

cloudflare firewall settings

cloudflare firewall settings

Security level – keep this essentially off, low or medium.

If you set this to high or under attack then Cloudflare set a challenge to visitors, which is very annoying (from the visitor’s perspective).

You need the pro version to select the “off” option.

Challenge pass – 1 hour is enough.

After 1 hour, the visitor will be issued a new challenge.

Browser integrity check – enable

If a threat is found a block page will be delivered.

Privacy pass support – enable

This is good because some users are using a privacy pass browser extension.

Privacy Pass is a browser extension developed by the Privacy Pass Team to improve the browsing experience for your visitors.

Enabling Privacy Pass will reduce the number of CAPTCHAs shown to your visitors.

Access Settings

cloudflare access settings

If you have users under this account then you can enable this option to secure access to internal applications without a VPN.

You can check user logins and activity.

As I am the only user of my account, so this is disabled from my side.

Speed Settings
Overview

cloudflare speed settings

In the overview section, you can check the loading speed of your website.

A comparing chart of website speed with Cloudflare and without Cloudflare.

And some recommendations for an upgraded version to improve your speed. But, that’s not necessary.

Optimization

cloudflare speed settings

Image resizing – premium version

You can resize, adjust quality, and convert images to WebP format, on-demand.

Cloudflare cache every derived image at the edge, so you store only the original image.

This allows you to adapt images to your site’s layout and your visitors’ screen sizes, quickly and easily,

without maintaining a server-side image processing pipeline.

Polishing – premium version

Improve image load time by optimizing images hosted on your domain.

cloudflare speed settings

Autominify – Enable java, CSS and Html.

Not recommended if you are using any other cache plugin with java, CSS and HTML enabled there.

Brotli – enable

This speeds up page load times for your visitor’s HTTPS traffic by applying Brotli compression.

cloudflare speed settings

Early hints (Beta) – enable 

This is the new beta feature of Cloudflare and it’s a quite good feature for users.

Early Hints allows browsers to preload linked assets before they see a 200 OK or other final response from the origin.

Results in increasing page load.

Automatic Platform Optimization for WordPress (APO by Cloudflare) – premium version

To enable Automatic Platform Optimization for WordPress, you have to purchase the subscription or upgrade to their pro plan.

They claim that the loading speed of a website increases drastically after using this plugin.

I also saw positive reviews and responses but right now I am not using this.

cloudflare speed settings

Enhanced HTTP/2 Prioritization – premium version

Optimizes the order of resource delivery, independent of the browser.

TCP Turbo – premium version

Reduce latency and increase throughput with custom-tuned TCP optimizations. 

MirageBeta – premium version (this was free before)

Improve load time for pages that include images on mobile devices with slow network connections.

cloudflare speed settings

Rocket loader – enable

Improve the paint time for pages that include JavaScript.

But I heard cases where this can break websites. Not in my case (It reduces extra requests).

So, crosscheck after enabling this option.

Automatic signed exchanges SXG’s (beta) – premium version

Improve the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) which is part of the Core Web Vitals.

cloudflare speed settings

Prefetch Urls – premium version

Cloudflare will prefetch any URLs included in the prefetch HTTP header

AMP real URL – premium version

Display your site’s actual URL on your AMP pages, instead of the traditional Google AMP cache URL.

Mobile redirect – if you have a subdomain for mobile users then use this option, otherwise, leave the default.

This can redirect visitors that are using mobile devices to a mobile-optimized website.

Browser Insights

cloudflare browser settings

Browser Insights is now Web Analytics.

Go back to your account, open the Analytics section and click Web Analytics.

Caching Settings
Overview

cloudflare cache settings

To check your cache analytics, you need to upgrade to their premium plan.

Tiered Cache

cloudflare cache settings

Cloudflare’s Argo is a service that uses optimized routes across the Cloudflare network to deliver responses to your users more quickly, reliably, and securely.

Tiered caching is a practice where Cloudflare’s network of global data centres is divided into a hierarchy of upper tiers and lower tiers.

In order to control bandwidth and the number of connections between an origin and Cloudflare,

only the upper tiers are permitted to request content from an origin and are responsible for distributing information to the lower tiers.

By enabling Tiered Cache, Cloudflare will dynamically find the single best upper tier for an origin using Argo performance and routing data.

This practice improves bandwidth efficiency by limiting the number of data centres,

that can ask the origin for content, reduces origin load, and makes websites more cost-effective to operate.

Configuration

cloudflare cache settings

Purge cache – if you are using the Cloudflare auto minify option as we mentioned earlier, then you can purge the cache here.

Caching level – set to standard

cloudflare cache settings

Brower cache TTL – 1 month

This is the time a visitor’s cache will expire after visiting the page.

CSAM scanning tool – Leave for now. It’s not necessary.

This feature allows website owners to proactively identify and take action on potential CSAM (Child Sexual Abuse Material) located on their website.

cloudflare cache settings

Crawler hints (beta) – enable

It is something that every user wants.

With this feature enabled, whenever you make changes to your site, Cloudflare tells search engines about the change.

Which as a result helps in crawling the real change, not the whole website.

This allows crawlers to precisely time crawling, and avoid wasteful crawls.

Read our tips to increase your google crawl rate.

Always online – Disable

If your hosting is good (like Cloudways) then disable this and avoid extra load.

But if you have cheap hosting whose servers are down from time to time, then enable this.

When enabled, this keeps your website online for visitors when your origin server is unavailable.

cloudflare cache settings

Development mode – Temporarily bypass Cloudflare cache allowing you to see changes to your origin server in real time.

When you are doing changes on your website and want to check changes made to your site immediately, then enable development mode.

But make sure to disable it after done with changes, as this can increase the origin server load.

Enable query string sort – premium version

Cloudflare will treat files with the same query strings as the same file in the cache, regardless of the order of the query strings.

Workers Settings

cloudflare worker settings

If you are using Cloudflare super cache plugin then this will be automatically added by Cloudflare.

I enabled the worker mode in the plugin to avoid URLs with swcfpc at the end.

Page Rules Settings

The page rule setup allows you to customize how you want Cloudflare to work on some of your specific pages.

Cloudflare is quite useful in securing the most important pages on your WordPress site like the WPadmin area, login page, etc.

The Cloudflare account is limited to three-page rules.

However, if you are interested in adding new page rules, you will be charged $5 on a monthly basis.

This package unlocks 5 more additional rules.

However, in this guide, we will be using the free plan.

From the image below, you can see that I have already created my page rules, but not to worry,

I will walk you through the process of setting yours up.

cloudflare page rules

To set up page rules:

First, navigate to the page rules option at the top of your Cloudflare homepage.

Click on the ‘create page rule’ button

Page rule 1

Click on create page rule.

cloudflare page rule settings

Enter your website name,

Okay, let me show you an example of my website. 

findmytricks.com/*  (for those who don’t have an SSL certificate)

https://*findmytricks.com/* (for SSL certificate users)

Add a setting (click)

select

Browser cache TTL – a day

Cache Level – cache everything 

Save

Page Rule 2

Create a new page rule (for the home page)

cloudflare page rule settings

Enter your website name 

https://*findmytricks.com/wp.admin* (for SSL certificate users)

findmytricks.com/wp.admin* (for non-SSL certificate users)

Add a setting

Select 

Browser integrity check – ON

(With this Cloudflare will stop blacklisted IP addresses or websites to visit your websites and make harm.)

Always online – Off

Security level – High 

Browser Cache TTL – 30 minutes

Disable apps – apps are disabled

Disable performance – performance is disabled

Save

Page Rule 3

Create a new page rule

cloudflare page rule settings

enter https://*findmytricks.com/*preview=true* (for SSL Certificate users)

findmytricks.com/*preview=true* (for non-SSL certificate users)

Add a setting

Select

Browser Integrity Check – On

Always online – Off

Security level – High

Browser cache TTL – 30 minutes

Cache level – Bypass

Disable apps – Apps are disabled

Disable performance – Performance is disabled 

Save

These 3-page rules are recommended by Cloudflare, so if you can’t understand anything then just copy these rules.

Note: Changing your domain nameservers can take a few days to propagate the internet.

During this period, your page may or may not face any downtime issues.

To check if the nameservers update has been completed, you will receive a confirmation email from Cloudflare,

on the other hand, you can check your status update on the Cloudflare website consecutively.

Network Settings

cloudflare network settings

HTTP/2 – by default enabled (you can’t change this)

HTTP/3 QUIC – enable

Accelerates HTTP requests by using QUIC, which provides encryption and performance improvements compared to TCP and TLS.

0-RTT Connection Resumption – enable

Improves performance for clients who have previously connected to your website.

cloudflare network settings

IPv6 Compatibility – by default enabled, nothing to change here

gRPC – disable

Cloudflare offers support for gRPC to protect your APIs on any orange-clouded gRPC endpoints.

However, there are some complications and requirements to use this option.

So, we don’t recommend enabling this, if you don’t know what you are doing.

WebSockets – enable

WebSockets are open connections sustained between the client and the origin server.

This makes exchanging data within a WebSockets connection fast.

cloudflare network settings

Onion routing – enable

Onion Routing allows routing traffic from legitimate users on the Tor network through Cloudflare’s onion services rather than exit nodes,

thereby improving the privacy of the users and enabling more fine-grained protection.

Pseudo IPv4 – disable

It is not necessary as it adds an IPv4 header to requests when a client is using IPv6, but the server only supports IPv4.

IP Geolocation – disable

Cloudflare can geolocate visitors to your website and pass the country code on to you.

Once enabled, Cloudflare will add an HTTP header named “CF-IPCountry” to all requests Cloudflare make to your website.

cloudflare network settings

Maximum upload size – 100Mb

As a free user, this is the only option available.

Response Buffering – premium version

Use Response Buffering if you would prefer Cloudflare to deliver a full payload all at once to the client.

True Client IP Header – premium version

If True-Client-IP is enabled, Cloudflare will add a True Client IP header in the request sent to the origin with the IP address of the end user.

By default, Cloudflare sends back packets with a Cloudflare IP address.

True-Client-IP is a solution that allows Cloudflare users to see the end user’s IP address, even when the traffic to the origin is sent directly from Cloudflare.

Traffic Settings
Argo

cloudflare traffic settings

Argo is a service that uses optimized routes across the Cloudflare network to decrease loading times, increase reliability, and reduce bandwidth costs.

Enabling Argo activates Argo Smart Routing, reducing Internet latency by 30% and connection errors by 27% on average.

Argo is a usage-based product and costs USD $5.00 per month, plus usage.

After exceeding the first gigabyte of traffic between Cloudflare and your visitors, you are charged USD $0.10 per additional gigabyte.

Cloudflare Tunnel

cloudflare traffic settings

Cloudflare Tunnel provides you with a secure way to connect your resources to Cloudflare without a publicly routable IP address. 

If you want then you can launch the Zero Trust Dashboard to view your Tunnels and create Zero Trust policies for your team.

Load Balancing

cloudflare network settings

Cloudflare Load Balancing allows you to distribute traffic across your servers, which reduces server strain and latency and improves the experience for end-users.

cloudflare traffic settings

It’s a premium feature. 

Load Balancing Analytics

cloudflare traffic settings

Here you can understand where your Load Balancing traffic is going, why, and minimize your time to resolution.

Health Checks

cloudflare traffic settings

Here you can monitor the health of your origin by creating a Health Check.

Waiting rooms

cloudflare traffic settings

Cloudflare Waiting Room protects websites from surges in legitimate traffic that may otherwise bring an application down.

Custom Pages Settings

cloudflare custom page settings cloudflare custom page settings cloudflare custom page settings cloudflare custom page settings

Custom Pages are used to personalize the error and challenge pages that Cloudflare presents to your visitors.

This tab is for premium users.

Apps Settings

cloudflare apps settings

At this tab, you can explore popular apps, install apps and also develop apps.

Basically, this section is for developers and you are here for the best Cloudflare settings so let’s move on to the other tab.

Scrape Shield Settings

cloudflare scrape shield settings

Email Address Obfuscation – disable

Email harvesters and bots are roaming the Internet looking for email addresses to add to their spam lists.

Cloudflare’s Email Address Obfuscation encrypts email addresses on your web pages.

This means that email addresses are hidden from harvesters and bots, but still visible to human visitors.

Email Address Obfuscation is only applied in certain instances.

It will work for email addresses within documents with a MIME type of text/HTML or application/xhtml+xml. 

Server-side excludes – disable

This will automatically hide specific content from disreputable visitors.

Place the content you want to hide from disreputable visitors inside the following conditional comment:

<!–sse–> <!–sse–>

Not necessary, right?

Hotlink Protection – disable

Hotlink Protection prevents your images from being used by other sites. This can reduce the bandwidth consumed by your origin server.

Hotlink protection has no impact on crawling, but it will prevent the images from being displayed on sites such as Google images, Pinterest, etc.

Not recommended.

Zaraz beta settings

cloudflare zarage settings

It’s a beta feature by Cloudflare.

Zaraz is for developers who want to run third-party scripts from the cloud. You can check the full documentation here – Cloudflare Zaraz

Now we are done with Cloudflare’s best settings, but it’s not over now.

To get the best results you need to set up Cloudflare super page cache plugin in wordpress.

I know you got a question…..Why?

Let me clear,

When you check your page speed in Gtmetrix or Google pagespeed insights, one thing is always common for almost every user:

Reduce initial server response time

You always look for the solution by searching how to reduce initial server response time, how to reduce TTFB time and in the end what solutions you get…

“choose a good hosting, upgrade your hosting plan, check bloated plugins, change the theme and all other shits….”

Yes, these things matter but not for every question asked on google. For every question, they paste the same solution.

Want a proper solution,

Here comes WP Cloudflare super page cache.

Setting up WP Cloudflare super page cache plugin in WordPress

cloudflare wp super page cache settings

1. Visit the plugin section on your WordPress dashboard
2. Click on “Add new”
3. Type “Cloudflare” into the search query
4. Click on ‘install’
5. Click on ‘Activate’

Once you have activated the plugin, go to settings>cloudflare on your WordPress dashboard.

how to setup cloudflare in wordpress

Click the link to sign In.

On the next page, you will need to type in your email address and API key.

How to setup cloudflare on wordpress

To get your Cloudflare API key, visit your ‘account area’ on the Cloudflare website.

Simply navigate to the “My Profile page, open and click on the API tokens as displayed below.

After that, navigate to the global API key sections.

cloudflare plugin

Click on the ” View” button and submit your Cloudflare password to get your API key.

Your API key will be displayed as a popup message.

Copy the key.

how to setup cloudflare in wordpress

Return to your WordPress dashboard to enter your email address and API key.
Click on the “Save API credentials”.

how to setup cloudflare in wordpressNow enable page caching.

page caching

Test the cache if it’s working or not.

Done.

The default settings are working properly. No need to change other settings.

If you are using any other cache plugin then deactivate it.

For caching that supports the wp Cloudflare super cache plugin – use Autoptimize.

Great… all settings are done, now go and check gtmetrix or google pagespeed insights report.

If this helps then don’t forget to mention it in the comments section.

My page speed score reports

cloudflare best settings cloudflare best settings cloudflare best settings

Conclusion

In conclusion, I hope you have learned Cloudflare’s best settings and how to set up WP Cloudflare super page cache on your WordPress site.

Remember that the main goal of the Cloudflare CDN is to enhance the effective distribution of website files,

to avoid delay or lagging of your site if the content is served on a single server.

Setting up Cloudflare on your WordPress site is an easy task as long as you follow the guidelines I have provided above.

In case you encounter any difficulty during the setup, I will be in the comment section waiting for you.