Add Cloudflare to your phone for speed, privacy, security

Cloudflare aims to boost internet speed, improve privacy, and hide online activities. It is free for iPhone and Android phones and the app could not be simpler. Here’s how it works. + WARP: Safer Internet (Google app store) and Faster Internet (Apple app store), has several functions and modes of operating. Although one says faster and the other says safer, both apps boost speed and increase privacy. They also protect you from malware and adult content, should you wish to do so.

What is DNS?

To understand what is, you need to know a little about how the internet works. Every device connected to the internet is given a unique number called an IP address and your computer has one. Websites like this one,,, and every other website has an IP address, which is a unique number like

Computers are number crunchers and working with numbers comes naturally to them. Long and complex numbers do not come naturally to people and they are hard to remember. Instead of typing numbers into a web browser’s address box, we use domain names like and, which are far easier to remember.

A web browser must convert the domain names we type into them into the IP addresses they understand. It does this using the Domain Name System or DNS. Basically, the browser sends the domain name to a DNS server, which converts it to an IP address and sends it back. The browser can then connect to the website.

Who’s watching you online?

Anyone that provides an internet service runs DNS servers and your ISP will have them. Your phone uses them when you browse the internet from home or at work. Public Wi-Fi hotspots provide them too. Whoever runs the DNS server can see which websites you visit, by looking at the URLs it is converting into IP addresses for you. Your internet activities could be logged and could even be sold to advertisers.

You cannot avoid using DNS because it is an essential part of the way the internet works. However, you can use a DNS server that does not track you, keep logs or sell your browsing data.

Cloudflare has a DNS server with the IP address and it is designed for privacy. It does not sell your browsing data to advertisers. Cloudflare also claims that its DNS is faster than many DNS servers run by ISPs, so browsing the internet is usually faster. The time taken to convert a domain name to an IP address is just a fraction of a second, so the speed benefits are tiny, but every little helps as they say.

Cloudflare DNS for Android and iOS

Changing the DNS settings on a computer is possible with a bit of technical knowledge and I previously looked at NextDNS and AdGuard. How do you change the DNS settings on a phone?

Cloudflare Warp app for Android phone.
Secure and private DNS on a phone with by Cloudflare

An easy way to use alternative DNS servers on a phone is by using the Cloudflare app, + WARP: Safer Internet for Android or Faster Internet for iOS. The apps are the same. There is nothing to them and there is just a simple switch in the middle of the screen. You are either connected or not. When connected, your internet activities are faster and more private.

Cloudflare WARP VPN

Actually, this is not the default mode for the Cloudflare app and when it starts up, it provides Cloudflare WARP, which is even better. It is like a VPN and in addition to the speed and privacy of DNS servers, you also get the additional benefits that come with a VPN.

Cloudflare WARP running on an Android phone.
Secure and private internet with Cloudflare WARP

When the app is installed on the phone, it asks permission to create a VPN and this is used to encrypt your internet connection. If someone was to eavesdrop on your internet activities, they would only see encrypted data, which is meaningless.

WARP is free and unlimited. WARP+ requires a subscription and the main benefit of paying is to gain more speed. It does this by finding better routes around the internet as you browse. Before you sign up for WARP+ though, try plain WARP, which I find good enough for use on my phone and it does not cost anything.

Cloudflare WARP VPN is free? Surely there are limitations? Yes. You cannot choose a location. It finds the nearest server to you and it is not like VPNs that let you pretend you live in another country so you can stream Netflix or some other video service.

Cloudflare and WARP in the phone app.
Cloudflare and WARP selection

Both DNS and WARP VPN are free and you can select the one to use in the app settings. No account and no payment is necessary, unless you want the maximum performance of WARP+.

Cloudflare WARP malware protection and more

Cloudflare WARP app advanced settings.
Cloudflare WARP app advanced settings

Go to Settings in the Cloudflare app and press Advanced to gain to access to some very useful options and settings.

Cloudflare DNS malware protection
Cloudflare DNS malware protection and adult filter

Go to Settings > Advanced > DNS settings and you can choose to block malware or malware and adult content. This is a very useful feature to keep you safe on the internet and it keeps unwanted content off your phone.

Cloudflare WARP advanced settings.
Exclude apps from Cloudflare WARP

Go to Settings > Advanced > Manage excluded apps. I am using the free Cloudflare WARP and Netflix, Google Photos and YouTube are always excluded. It says some things don’t work properly with DNS, but a common theme with the apps here is video streaming. All three excluded apps do it and they work, but they don’t go through Cloudflare. If you have other apps on your phone, check your excluded list so you know what is private and what isn’t.

If you want to pretend you live in another country and stream Netflix, there are other paid VPN apps that do that. Cloudflare WARP is designed to boost spped, privacy and security for free. If you are not currently paying for a VPN service, or want to quit your current paid provider, I recommend Cloudflare WARP on your phone.