Is it required for the dns to be hosted by cloudflare for the free plan to work?

I’ve had setup a cloud flare free plan for one of our websites. A cname was setup on the dns to point to cloudflare for the website domain but the nameservers were never changed.

We had someone assist in the setup, does this mean this whole time cloudflare was not setup for this domain? or is that dns switch for cloudflare to host it isn’t necessary?

thank you for any assistance.

The Free and Pro plans require you to move the entire domain to Cloudflare name servers. The CNAME setup approach is available with the Business and Enterprise plans. I don’t know whether it is possible to get around this, but it is very likely to be detected at some point.

https://support.cloudflare.com/hc/en-us/articles/360020348832-Understanding-a-CNAME-Setup

Hard to tell what’s happened in this specific case without knowing the domain name and subdomain involved, though. There are situations where a CNAME would be perfectly fine, like if you’re hosting with a third party that leverages Cloudflare under the hood (such as Shopify shops).

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