How to use Cloudflare tunnels for free

Jan 31, 2022

You've built an app but it still lives on your localhost:3000. You want to share a preview of this app with your friends, boss, or client without the need to deploy it. Or you might just want to test a service worker. Whatever the case, something or someone needs access to your localhost.

This is where tunnels come in. Here is a quick overview of what this article covers:

  • what is a tunnel and free tunnel services available
  • how to set up Cloudflare tunnels for Windows, macOS, and Linux
  • how to use your free Cloudflare tunnel
  • REST clients to test your API endpoints for Chrome, native desktop tools, and VSCode extensions

What is a tunnel and free tunnel services available

A tunnel is a secure connection between your localhost and the internet. Here is a quick list of tunneling services available:

  • ngrok - comes with a free tier that allows for up to 4 tunnels and 40 connections per minute.
  • - tunnelto is an open-source software that is available on GitHub with no vendor lock-in. However, if you don't want to do the setup yourself, there is a $2 option for up to 50 dedicated custom subdomains <yourapp>
  • localtunnel - localtunnel is another open-source MIT licensed project that lets you expose your localhost for easy testing and sharing. All you have to do is install it and run npx localhost --port 8000.
  • Cloudflare - Cloudflare is a cloud hosting service that provides a content delivery network and DDoS mitigation. In addition to this, Cloudflare also provides a free tunnel service that we will be using to demonstrate how to use tunnels.

How to set up Cloudflare tunnels

Cloudflare free tunnel for Windows

  1. For Windows, go to the download page here and download the executable for your system.

  2. rename your download to cloudflared.exe

  3. (optional: move your cloudflared.exe to where you want it to sit and point your PATH to it)

  4. open up Powershell and run the following command:

    • If you didn't set your PATH, make sure you navigate to where your cloudflared.exe is before running the command below:
    cloudflared.exe tunnel localhost:8080
    • If your PATH is set:
    cloudflared tunnel localhost:8080

Cloudflare free tunnel for macOS

  1. For macOS, you can install Cloudflare tunnel with brew command as below:
brew install cloudflare/cloudflare/cloudflared
  1. Once completed, you can create a tunnel using the following command:
cloudflared tunnel localhost:8080

Cloudflare free tunnel for Linux

  1. For Linux, you can download and install via .deb or .rpm. amd64 / x86-64 is used in the examples below.

    Installing cloudflared with deb.

wget -q dpkg -i cloudflared-linux-amd64.deb

Installing cloudflared with rpm:

wget -q

Once completed, you can create a tunnel using the following command:

cloudflared tunnel localhost:8080

How to use your free Cloudflare tunnel

Once your run the tunnel command, you will get something like this:

2022-01-29T23:40:16Z INF Thank you for trying Cloudflare Tunnel. Doing so, without a Cloudflare account, is a quick way to experiment and try it out. However, be aware that these account-less Tunnels have no uptime guarantee. If you intend to use Tunnels in production you should use a pre-created named tunnel by following: 2022-01-29T23:40:16Z INF Requesting new quick Tunnel on 2022-01-29T23:40:17Z INF +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+ 2022-01-29T23:40:17Z INF | Your quick Tunnel has been created! Visit it at (it may take some time to be reachable): | 2022-01-29T23:40:17Z INF | | 2022-01-29T23:40:17Z INF +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+ 2022-01-29T23:40:17Z INF Cannot determine default configuration path. No file [config.yml config.yaml] in [~/.cloudflared ~/.cloudflare-warp ~/cloudflare-warp] 2022-01-29T23:40:17Z INF Version 2022.1.2 2022-01-29T23:40:17Z INF GOOS: windows, GOVersion: go1.17.5, GoArch: amd64 2022-01-29T23:40:17Z INF Settings: map[protocol:quic] 2022-01-29T23:40:17Z INF cloudflared will not automatically update on Windows systems. 2022-01-29T23:40:17Z INF Generated Connector ID: 9d4b898f-ceab-43fa-bab6-bee8f90ef3e2

Use the quick tunnel link as your base URL. So if your API route is localhost:8080/users, then your tunnel API URL will look something like this based on the given link above -

If you are using a tunnel for API requests, here is a list of REST clients you can use to help you test your endpoints.

Top 9 REST clients for testing API endpoints

If you're working with APIs, you're going to need to test them somehow. This is where REST clients comes in. A REST client lets you test your endpoints easily allows you to mock requests and receive responses back for you to verify or debug your APIs. Using a REST client is also a great way to test if your Cloudflare tunnel is working as expected with minimal effort.

REST client via Chrome extensions

Boomerang - SOAP & REST Client

Boomerang SOAP and REST Client has over 80,000 users and is a must-have developer tool for your Chrome extension. It is easy to use with call histories that you can use to quickly create a working API call example reference. You can also export the data and share it as projects.

Yet Another REST Client

Yet Another REST Client is used by over 50,000 users and has over 120 positive reviews. It is easy to use with the ability to add custom authentication credentials. You can also re-use headers and payloads with a click of a button. In addition to this, it also comes with an import and export functionality.


JaSON is a minimalistic REST client that comes with a beautiful interface to work with. It's great for testing and debugging JSON, XML, RESTful APIs, GraphQL and web services. It also automatically sends Chrome cookies with it, making it useful for testing authentication.

REST client via downloads

Postman REST Client

If you prefer a stand-alone desktop REST client, then Postman REST Client might just be the solution for you. Postman can be used to create and execute queries, and it also works with SOAP and GraphQL.

Advanced REST Client

Advanced REST Client is a free and open-source API testing tool that you can use to create built-in API documentation for RAML or OAS. You can also view the details for each request, helping you debug your issues faster and more efficiently.

REST client via VSCode extensions

REST Client

If you prefer to stay within your editor and work with Visual Studio Code, the REST Client by Huachao Mao is a free tool with over 2 million installs and a 5-star rating. With this tool, you can send, cancel and rerun HTTP requests in the editor and view the response in a separate pane with syntax highlighting. It also covers GraphQL queries and you can author GraphQL variables in the editor.

Thunder Client

With approximately half a million installs, Thunder Client is a free REST API client extension for Visual Studio Code. It is voted #10 Product of the day on Product Hunt and has an easy-to-use interface with response syntax highlighting.

Simple REST Client

Simple REST Client is exactly what its name implies - simple. This extension plugin is great if you just want to quickly make an HTTP call and it will give you the barebones basics of the response in a separate panel.

Cloudflare tunnels are quick to set up, easy to use, and a great way to test applications that lets you use webhooks.

If you are using UseCSV, you can use Cloudflare tunnels for your test CSV uploads and hook your frontend up with your backend without the need to deploy.

Add CSV Import To Your App

Get Started free and start integrating UseCSV today

Add CSV Import To Your App

Get Started free

and start integrating UseCSV today

Add CSV Import To Your App

Get Started free

and start integrating UseCSV today