How to eliminate (or minimise) downtime when adding your domain to Cloudflare

When you add your domain using the correct procedures, your site should not experience any downtime during the change. These tips cover the full DNS setup in Cloudflare.

Completing the setup in the following order should eliminate any downtime. Key points are in bold and explanations in italics.

  1. Add the site to Cloudflare - in your Cloudflare dashboard, add the site to your account.
  2. Check that all your DNS records are correct - when you add your site, Cloudflare will scan the most common records, however, you need to check that they all match and that there are none missing. Any missing or incorrect DNS records could result in issues with your site and possible downtime.
  3. Set your DNS records to :grey: - Once you have checked the DNS records and added any that you need, click the :orange: next to any that have it to make them all :grey:. This will disable Cloudflare on those records and will minimise downtime during the transfer, it can take a short while for Cloudflare to provision an SSL certificate for your site which could result in downtime if you don’t set the records to :grey:.
  4. Change the nameservers - at this point, while you have all DNS records :grey:, you can now change the nameservers to Cloudflare’s and you should not experience downtime during the process.
  5. Check the SSL mode in the SSL/TLS app of your Cloudflare dashboard - if your SSL mode is set incorrectly, it may cause issues/downtime for your site. You can read about the different SSL modes and find help to choose the most suitable one in this tutorial.
  6. Check if your SSL certificate has provisioned - in the SSL/TLS app of your Cloudflare dashboard, you need to look in the top section for ‘Active Certificate’, if you see that the certificate is pending, then you should not move on until it shows active (unless you have your SSL mode set to ‘off’ and don’t want your site to use HTTPS). If it has been showing as ‘pending’ for more than 24hrs, please see this post.
  7. Once you have an active certificate status, you can Enable :orange: on the relevant DNS records - this will enable Cloudflare on the site. You can click the :grey: to turn it :orange: on the DNS records for your site. You should not, however, set any records for anything non HTTP to :orange:, e.g. FTP or mail. You can read more in this tutorial.

This is a Community Tutorial, most are wiki posts, so can be contributed to by Regulars and MVPs here, you can view all the community tutorials here. If there is a tutorial you would like to see, you can request one here.

Other great resources on this community include the Community Tips . These address best practices when configuring Cloudflare, how to fix issues you may see, and tools to troubleshoot. Also you can view Expert Tips, great posts on the community that can help users with a similar issue.

We encourage users to check out these great resources and the Cloudflare Support Centre before posting