Using Cloudflare Without Changing your Name Servers

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Can I use Cloudflare without changing name servers?

Image 2022-03-18 at 12.28.09 PM

If you’ve ever been in a situation where you wanted to use Cloudflare services for a domain name, but you couldn’t change the name servers on the domain.

Or you had done what is described in the Facebook post above. You have multiple clients that point their domain name to your server, and you want to use a CNAME so that if your server goes down, you can simply change the CNAME record. But, you also wanted to mask the server IP address and use the famous Cloudflare security features.

Well, this guide is for you!

Why can’t I just point the domain to a Cloudlfare protected record?

So the issue is that Cloudflare can only really deal with domain names if they’re set up in their system. So trying to point a domain name not configured on Cloudflare to Cloudflare protected IP will result in an error due to the Cloudflare system not knowing about the original domain name. And will result in Cloudflare returning 10116 error.

What are the possible solutions?

There are a number of possible solutions that you can use to use Cloudflare on a domain name without updating the domain names name servers.

Become a Hosting Partner or utilize an existing Hosting Partner

You can become a Hosting Partner or use a hosting partner. This is what most people do when they want to use the cPanel / WHMCS integration. But you can also simply just add domains using the API and manage them. This actually works well with WHMCS, but you don’t get all the Cloudflare goodies, unfortunately. This use to be the partner login for Hosting Partners, but it looks like Cloudflare has been changing things around.

Cloudflare Partner Portal

New Hosting Partner Program

When you become a hosting partner now, it’s a little bit different. There is a new partner program that provides not just the old Hosting Partner option, but you can resell Cloudflare and become an implementation or integrator preferred partner. Here’s a couple of links for reference.

Partial Domain Setup using a Cloudflare Business or Enterprise Account

If you have a Business or Enterprise account, you can setup a domain name through the Cloudflare control panel as a “Partial Domain”. Here are the instructions

This KB answers the question about how to use the Partial CNAME

Can I use Cloudflare without changing my nameservers to Cloudflare?

Conclusion

If you can splurge $200/month on Cloudflare Business, then the Partial CNAME zone setup will work well. Otherwise, you’re out of luck unless you want to go through a Hosting Partner, or use the Cloudflare API and build your own interface.

Ultimately though, if you’re running into this issue you’re most likely able to afford a Cloudflare Business account.

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