New Domain Parking / Set-Up Notes

Steps to “park” a new domain with email and HTTP service. Total cost is ~$12/year assuming you already have a web server set up.

Domain Registration and DNS

  • Register domain with Amazon Route53 ($12/year for .com)
    • Delete the public “Hosted Zone” ($6/year) since CloudFlare will be used for hosting DNS
    • No Route53 Hosted Zone is necessary, unless you want to run a VPC with its own private view of the domain, in which case there needs to be a private Hosted Zone.
  • Create CloudFlare free-tier account for DNS hosting
    • Change Amazon Route53 DNS server settings over to CloudFlare
    • CloudFlare settings that you might want to adjust:
      • Crypto/SSL Policy: see below
      • Always Use HTTPS: On (unless you need fine-grained control over HTTP→HTTPS redirection)


Assume you have a web server that will respond to HTTP requests on the new domain.

  • Option 1: Direct Connection (CloudFlare ingress and SSL termination, but no SSL to the origin)
    • Use a single-host A/CNAME record in CloudFlare
    • CloudFlare will handle SSL termination, but must be used in “Flexible” crypto mode which reverts to HTTP when talking to the origin server.
  • Option 2a: Proper SSL Setup with AWS load balancer (~$240/year) and its built-in certificate
    • Create an EC2 load balancer with a certificate appropriate for the domain
    • Use a CNAME record in CloudFlare pointing to the load balancer’s DNS name
    • Now you can enable CloudFlare’s “Full” crypto mode
  • Option 2b: Proper SSL Setup with Let’s Encrypt (free)
    • TBD – needs some kind of containerized HTTP server that updates the certificate automatically

Email Forwarding

It is important to be able to receive email addressed to [email protected], for example to respond to verification emails for future domain transfers or SSL certificate issuance.

Email forwarding can be set up for free using Mailgun:

  • Create Mailgun free-tier account on the top-level domain
  • Add the necessary DNS records for Mailgun at CloudFlare (domainkey and MX servers)
  • In Mailgun’s “Routes” panel, create a rule that matches incoming email to [email protected] and forwards it as necessary

Email Reception

If you actually want to receive (not just forward) incoming email, either use Gmail on the domain, or the following (nearly-free) AWS system:

  • In Amazon SES, add and verify the domain
    • This will require adding a few more records at CloudFlare, including MX records
  • Set up an SES rule to accept incoming email and store messages in S3
  • Use a script like this one to poll S3 for new messages and deliver them via procmail

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