Start here

Welcome! This guide helps new users like you get started with Fastly CDN services as quickly as possible. Whether you run a WordPress site that gets a couple thousand impressions per month or an enterprise web application that receives millions of page views per day, we want to help your websites and apps perform faster, safer, and at global scale. We want to help you get the most out of Fastly's edge cloud platform.

1. Get to know Fastly

New to the world of content delivery networks (CDNs) and edge computing? Learn how Fastly can speed up your website or app by reading through our guides on how Fastly's CDN service works and how caching and CDNs work.

2. Create an account

Sign up for a Fastly account if you haven't done so already. There's no obligation and you can test up to $50 of traffic for free.

  1. Point a browser to the signup form.
  2. When the signup form appears, fill in all the fields with your contact information. All the fields are required.

  3. Click the Create my account button. The confirmation screen will appear with instructions on what to do next and you'll be sent an e-mail that contains a verification link.
  4. Check your inbox for the confirmation email we sent you and click the email confirmation link. The account sign in page appears (we need to make sure you're not a spam robot and verify your email).
  5. Fill in the Email and Password fields to log in to your new account. A getting started page appears, showing you how to get started with Fastly and showing you important areas of the web interface.

3. Create your first service

Once you've created an account and you're logged in, familiarize yourself with our web interface so you can get more comfortable playing with configuration settings. Consult our guide on web interface controls for more information.

You'll be working with a service: a set of caching rules and settings for your website or application. Services are version controlled so you can always roll back to a previous version of a service. Our guide on working with services provides more information.

The configuration page allows you to apply settings your first service. You can experiment with and test initial configurations safely, without impacting any traffic to your origin (traffic won’t flow there until you update your DNS records).

As you experiment with service configurations, you can safely test their success before you start serving traffic through Fastly by opening http://www.example.com.global.prod.fastly.net in a new browser window (be sure to replace www.example.com with your own website's domain name). Your website should appear, though it may take up to 60 seconds for new configuration settings to take effect.

You can continue to experiment with and test initial configurations safely, without impacting any traffic to your origin, for as long as you like. Traffic won’t flow there until you update your DNS records. Then, when you’re ready, we’ll guide you through the process of creating a domain and a host and activating your first service.

4. Connect an origin server

To take advantage of your configurations, you need to connect your Fastly service to an origin server so we can cache your content. You'll sometimes see the origin referred to as a "host" or "backend" server. Your origin server is whatever cloud service or web server that contains the content of your website or application. Fastly caches the content stored on your origin server at points of presence (POPs) around the world.

You can add the hostname of your origin server on the Origins page, as shown below.

Create a host

5. Add a domain name

Once you've connected your Fastly service to an origin server, you can add your domain name to your service. Your domain name is what people type in a web browser to locate you (such as www.example.com). Don't worry — adding a domain name won't have any impact on your production traffic until you change your DNS records. More on that in a bit.

You can add your domain name on the Domains page, as shown below. See our instructions on working with domains for more information.

the Create a Domain page

We recommend that you don't use apex or second-level domains with Fastly. For example, you should use www.example.com and not example.com.

6. Activate and test

Now for the fun part: activating your service and testing it. Activation might sound scary, but you're just saving the origin server and domain name settings in your service (you do it when you click the Activate button as shown below). Activation won't have any impact on your production traffic. Our instructions on activating versions of services provide more information.

the Activate button

After your service is activated, you can start testing. Click the Test domain link on the Domains page to check how your website or application loads with Fastly. See our testing setup details for more information.

the Domains page

If you need to make additional changes to your service, click the Edit configuration button and then select the option to clone the active version. You can edit this version and then activate it when you're ready to save the changes.

7. Go beyond the basics

Congratulations! You've successfully configured Fastly to cache your content. But before you go live, take a look at some other features you can enable. After all, you've only just started discovering what Fastly is capable of doing. This section provides an overview of some of our most popular features. Of course, it's up to you to pick and choose which of these to enable, if any.

Purge content

When you make a change to your site, you have to purge the cached content so Fastly fetch the new content from your origin server. You can do this manually or programmatically. See our purging guides for more information.

Configure shielding

By designating a Fastly POP to serve as a shield for your origin server, you can increase the cache hit rates for your Fastly service and potentially protect your origin server from unexpected spikes in requests for content. See our guide on shielding to learn how to enable origin shielding.

Set up streaming logs

To help you tune the performance of your Fastly service, we support real-time log streaming of data that passes through Fastly. We support a number of protocols that allow you to stream logs to a variety of locations, including third-party services, for storage and analysis. See our guide on setting up remote log streaming to learn how to set up streaming logs.

Serve stale content

Fastly can optionally serve stale content when there is a problem with your origin server or if it's taking a long time to fetch new content from your origin server. For example, if Fastly can't reach your origin server, our POPs can continue to serve cached content when users request it. See our guides on serving stale content and staleness and revalidation to learn how to enable this feature.

Set up health checks

Health checks monitor the status of your hosts. Fastly performs health checks on your origin server based on a check frequency setting. To learn how to enable this feature, read our guide on working with health checks. Health checks are typically used conjunction with the serving stale content and failover features.

Configure custom responses

Fastly can send custom responses for certain requests that you don't want to reach your origin server. For example, you can configure responses for a robots.txt file and 404 and 503 error pages. See our guide on custom responses that don't hit origin servers for more information.

Enable automatic gzipping

Fastly's gzip feature dynamically fetches content from origin, compresses it, and then caches it. Compression is a simple, effective way to save bandwidth and speed up your site. See our guide on enabling automatic gzipping for more information.

Use conditions

You can use conditions to control how requests are processed. Conditions add logic to any basic configuration object in a service and control if and when that object is applied. See our about conditions guide for more information.

Embed Fastly in your application

Your application can use Fastly's API to programmatically interact with our products and features. See our list of API clients to get started. We also have a command line tool you can use to interact with the Fastly API.

Start using VCL

Fastly allows you create complex and specialized configurations using Varnish Configuration Language (VCL) files. See our guides on VCL Snippets and custom VCL for more information. We also provide examples and tutorials with step-by-step code examples to help you learn as you go.

Explore other products and services

CDN is only one of many products offered by Fastly. We encourage you to explore some of our other products and services like Compute@Edge, image optimization, security, and streaming delivery.

8. Go live

You've connected an origin server, added a domain name, tested your service, and added extras. Now it's time to go live. To move production traffic to Fastly, you need to modify your CNAME DNS records to point to Fastly. See our adding CNAME records guide for more information.

9. Set up TLS

We strongly recommend securing traffic between Fastly and your customers using Transport Layer Security (TLS) as soon as possible. Once you're a paid customer, Fastly TLS allows you to add five free domains to your account. See our instructions on serving HTTPS traffic using Fastly-managed certificates for more information. You can also enable HSTS.

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