Using Cloudflare with PythonAnywhere

Warning -- this will only work in paid accounts

Cloudflare is a security and acceleration service that sits between your application and the big, bad internet. It provides DDoS protection, acceleration of your site through caching, and a bunch more good stuff. Here's how to get all that goodness for your PythonAnywhere website.

One note first; Cloudflare can currently only be used with custom domains, and won't work with PythonAnywhere subdomains (like That's because it works by taking over the DNS configuration for a site. We have used as an example for this blog post.

Initial setup

The setup of a website on CloudFlare is pretty straightforward. If you give Cloudflare your domain, it automatically interrogates the DNS system for the domain's current settings and provides excellent instructions about what needs to be changed. You will see something like this afterwards:

screenshot of cloudflare dns settings page

Now, you just need to set up a simple CNAME record for your PythonAnywhere web app. Assuming you've already created a web app on PythonAnywhere like this:

Screenshot of web app creation

...then on the web app config tab you'll have a CNAME target for your site -- something like

On the CloudFlare DNS config screen, create a CNAME for the www subdomain to point at this web app. That's all you need to do to get your site working!

Note: you will see a warning saying that "You do not have a CNAME set up for your domain" even after you've created that CNAME. One of the security features CLoudflare provide is that they hide where your site is actually hosted, which means that when the PythonAnywhere servers query the DNS system to check if you have a CNAME, they get responses saying that you don't. You can ignore this message.

Origin certificates

In order to completely secure the connection between Cloudflare and your site running on PythonAnywhere, they will provide you with what they call an "origin" certificate, and its associated private key. You can upload that in the "HTTPS certificate" part of the "Security" section of the "Web" page on PythonAnywhere. It is a "Custom" certificate; the "Auto-renewed Let's Encrypt certificate" system won't work with Cloudflare.

Note: you will get a warning saying something like "Mismatch between certificate Common Name (CloudFlare Origin Certificate) and webapp (". This is a similar issue to the CNAME warning above, and is also something you can ignore.

Checking that your site is protected

Now when you go to, you'll see your site, but how do you know it's going through CloudFlare? looking at the network logs in our browser's developer tools, we can see that there are plenty of indicators in the response headers.

Here are the response headers for a dynamically generated html page:

Screenshot of dynamic response headers

and these are the response headers for a static resource on that page:

Screenshot of static response headers

"Naked" (aka "Apex" domains)

If you're a completist and you want to get the naked domain working (that is, instead of, you need something a bit more complicated called a "page rule". Check the cloudflare documentation; essentially you'll want to point* to$1.

Common issues

  • If you use PythonAnywhere's "Force HTTPs" option then you may get a "too many redirects" error when you visit your site. This is due to both Cloudflare and PythonAnywhere trying to force the browser to use HTTPS; only one should be configured to do that, and given that you're using Cloudflare for security, it should be Cloudflare. You should just switch off "Force HTTPs" on the PythonAnywhere side.
  • You will get the same problem with if you use your web framework's system for forcing HTTPS, like Django's SECURE_SSL_REDIRECT setting. The solution is the same, just switch off the framework option.