ABOUT CNAME RECORDS
DNS, or Domain Name System, is like the phone book of the internet. When you type “ilovecutepuppies.org” into your web browser, the browser looks up the DNS records to see what IP address hosts the domain requested.
CNAME records point a domain name to another domain name, instead of to an IP address. When using Global Edge Security, you must configure the DNS records for your domain to point to the GES CNAME. Additionally, your site will not benefit from the Cloudflare caching features that GES offers until your GES CNAME records are properly configured. By pointing your domain to your GES CNAME, this ensures your DNS will always resolve correctly because WP Engine automatically resolves your [geszone].wpeproxy.com CNAME to the correct Cloudflare zone on the back end.
Because CNAME records are often not supported for apex/root domains, changing your DNS records for GES can take some extra configuration. The standards governing the domain name system generally require that the root domain be mapped to an IP address instead. Though most DNS hosts certainly allow CNAME records for subdomains (such as “www.ilovecutepuppies.com”), others like Cloudflare, DNSimple, and DNSMadeEasy offer Alias-type records that bypass the requirements of A records for your apex/root domain. In the next section we will explain how each of these DNS solutions works.
HOW TO SET A CNAME RECORD FOR GES
In order to configure your DNS records, you will first need to locate your GES CNAME. This can be found in your User Portal, by navigating to your Tools page located at the top of the screen. Here, you will see the Global Edge Security option.
Locate the domain for which you wish to update the CNAME entry. The CNAME will be used when configuring your DNS records.
One of the most popular CNAME flattening services is Cloudflare. There are other DNS providers which provide other methods of pointing one domain to another domain rather than to an IP address:
- Option A (easiest): Point nameservers to Cloudflare and use their CNAME flattening service. With this method you will be offloading the DNS record management to Cloudflare and setting a CNAME in the Cloudflare dashboard.
- Option B (also ok!): You can use an ANAME record (which behaves like a CNAME record) if hosting with DNSMadeEasy. This method is only available if DNSMadeEasy is your DNS host.
- Option C (also ok!): You can use an Alias record (which behaves like a CNAME record) if hosting with DNSimple. This method is only available if DNSimple is your DNS host.
OPTION A: POINT NAMESERVERS TO CLOUDFLARE.
While GES is powered by Cloudflare, you won’t need to worry about your DNS being managed by Cloudflare while simultaneously having GES route through Cloudflare. CNAME flattening will prevent any unnecessary DNS redirects. Navigate to www.cloudflare.com. Here you can sign up for a free account to get started. Enter your domain name when prompted.
When you continue, Cloudflare will automatically lookup your DNS records as well as understand that you will be using GES. As it performs this lookup, click Next to select your Cloudflare plan. For the purposes of this article, we have chosen the free Cloudflare plan.
From here, Cloudflare will import your existing DNS settings from your DNS host. In this stage, remove the A record next to your root domain (ilovecutepuppies.org in this example), and add a CNAME record in its place. Enter the CNAME record from your WP Engine Tools page under Global Edge Security and click Add Record to save.
Now, look to your “www” record. If it is already a CNAME record pointing to your root domain (ilovecutepuppies.org in this example), no further action is needed. If it is an A record pointing to an IP address, perform the same steps to remove the A Record and replace it with the GES CNAME record instead. Once these steps are complete, click Continue.
In the next screen you will be prompted to change your nameservers to point to Cloudflare. This step is performed in your DNS provider’s dashboard (we are using 1&1 in this example). Navigate to your nameserver settings in your DNS provider’s dashboard, and choose to use custom nameservers.
When prompted, enter the settings from Cloudflare in the nameserver fields, and save.
Once the nameserver changes have propagated, your DNS should be pointed to GES successfully.
Review whether all DNS records were identified in the DNS query results window within Cloudflare.
OPTION B: POINT ANAME RECORD WITH DNSMADEEASY
DNSMadeEasy is a DNS management service to which you would also point your nameservers with similar steps to Cloudflare, above. However, instead of setting a CNAME record with DNSMadeEasy, you will add an ANAME record.
To do this, navigate to Managed DNS in your DNSMadeEasy dashboard and select your domain. Under ANAME Records, click the + sign to add a new ANAME record.
To configure an ANAME record for your root domain (ilovecutepuppies.org), leave the Name field blank. Enter your GES CNAME in the Resolves from box, and select your TTL (time in seconds for the change to take effect around the web). Click Submit to save the changes. Perform the same steps to change your “www” record, only entering “www” in the Name field.
OPTION C: POINT ALIAS RECORD WITH DNSIMPLE
In your DNSimple dashboard, click Domains from the top navigation, select your domain, and click DNS from the left-hand navigation menu. Click the Add record menu and select Alias from the menu. Leave the Name field blank to configure the Alias record for your root domain (ilovecutepuppies.org in our example). Set the value for the Alias field to your GES CNAME, and choose your TTL (time for the change to take effect around the web). Last, click Add Record to save your changes. For your www domain (www.ilovecutepuppies.org in our example), you can set a CNAME record to point to your root domain, or to your GES CNAME (either will resolve properly in this case).
Once your record changes propagate across the web, your DNS will be properly configured for GES!