A Content Delivery Networks (CDN) is a service that you use to speed up your site and decrease its load time by a significant amount.
Thanks to the immense popularity and user friendliness of WordPress, integrating a CDN in your WordPress powered site is a piece of cake! In today’s article, we’re going to take a look at some of the popular free and premium CDN services for WordPress.
What is a Content Delivery Network?
According to Webopedia,
A content delivery network (CDN) is a system of distributed servers (network) that deliver webpages and other Web content to a user based on the geographic locations of the user, the origin of the webpage and a content delivery server.
In a nutshell, CDNs are basically a network of servers located across the globe that are optimized to distribute files to a website’s visitors. In the term content delivery network, content can mean textual content, posts, scripts, images, videos, and any other kind of content that you publish on your website.
Perks of a Content Delivery Network:
Before we dive into the list, let’s take a quick look at the enormous benefits of using a CDN:
- A faster site always better than a slower one and Google prefers the former. Speed is one of the factors based on which a site’s PageRank is calculated
- A site that loads quickly improves the user’s experience, which is crucial for optimizing conversion rates.
- When you use a CDN, your files aren’t served from your hosing server, but from a worldwide distributed network depending on the CDN provider you choose. This saves a lot of bandwidth on your actual hosting provider.
Now that you know how immensely beneficial a content delivery network is, let’s get this party started!
Best CDNs for WordPress
1. StackPath (formerly MaxCDN)
Similar to the Genesis Framework, MaxCDN is the industry standard when it comes to WordPress CDN services. It’s very easy to setup and the prices are affordable. On December 2013, MaxCDN got a major makeover with a new design, new pricing plans and the merging of their parent company – NetDNA to MaxCDN Enterprise.
This service features 24/7 live chat access, phone access, and one on one integration call to help you resolve issues without delay. The efficient network system MaxCDN is founded on features 19 global PoPs, Nginx caching solution, Anycast Routing, and SSD servers. In addition to all of this, webmasters also get instant purging, real-time analytics on the performance of their WordPress site, and SSL support.
- Integrating with WordPress is very simple.
- Numerous coupons available.
- Great affiliate program to make some extra bucks.
- Phone, email and live chat support.
- RESTful API available for your apps.
- Compared to other CDN providers, MaxCDN could be a bit pricey.
2. Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Now this a company that’s everywhere. From online shopping across several continents, to providing unimaginably large cloud computational power to NASA and cancer research institutions and enabling high throughput networking and cloud computing services to the masses – Amazon is a name not unheard of.
When it comes to networking, Amazon provides two services (which are relevant to our list)
Amazon S3: This is Amazon’s online backup solution. You could backup a few bytes to 100s of petabytes into the cloud – starting at $0.095 per GB/month. Bandwidth is free upto 1GB/month, after which is costs 12 cents per GB per month.
Good news is the price of bandwidth & storage is inversely proportional to the cost – higher the storage need, lesser is the cost per GB.
For those of you who’re looking to save a substantial amount of bandwidth and have a speedy site, without having to pay for a proper CDN – Amazon S3 is your best bet. If your visitors are mostly from the United States, your site would load pretty darn fast!
Amazon CloudFront: This is the proper CDN service from Amazon. CloudFront is one of the most popular (and technically advanced) CDN providers – with a vast network of delivery nodes. Off the top of my head, 9GAG, Amazon.com and IMDb – all use Amazon CloudFront.
The pricing strategy of CloudFront is based on location and traffic demand. Bandwidth is usually cheaper when the data transfer is within the continent. There’s no minimum fee – you pay for what you actually you. If you’d like to get an estimate, you could try out their Monthly Bandwidth Calculator.
What’s awesome is you can try out the full CDN experience for free, thanks to Amazon’s free usage quota. However, you’ll need a Credit Card before you can deploy your CDN. You won’t be charged if you remain within the free bandwidth tier.
- Ideal choice for users who require tons of space.
- Cost efficient CDN solution.
- Blazing fast speed.
- Getting started with Amazon CloudFront is a bit tricky.
CDN77 is powered by 65+ globally distributed POP locations. Pricing is based in order of terabytes – $49 USD/mo for 1TB of high speed bandwidth, including a 14 day free trial and a price calculator to estimate your requirements.
Over 8,800 companies including CentOS, Wizz, Hubble, and phpMyAdmin use CDN77 as their main content delivery network service.
The service offers webmasters complete control over their content delivery network by allowing them to turn any data center on or off whenever they want. Best of all, the service is designed to integrate with CMS based websites without having to modify DNS settings or make manual configurations. CDN77 also provides 24/7 live support to all of their customers. The in-house engineers operating the customer service module are prepared to help you around the clock via a phone call, email, or even through the site’s built-in chat system.
- Competitive pricing models including pay-as-you-go starting at $49/TB.
- Trail period does not require a credit card.
- Expensive bandwidth in the Asia Pacific region – more than double the cost of the US/EU region.
If you’ve been using WordPress for a while now, I’m fairly certain that you’ve heard of CloudFlare. Operating for over 16 years, CloudFlare has emerged as the “go-to website” for free CDN and inbound traffic filtering service for enhanced security.
Strangely though, CloudFlare does not have a bandwidth based pricing policy, but a flat-rate plan starting at $20/month, per domain. The service also offers Websockets feature with all plans.
CloudFlare also provides real-time protection against DDoS attacks, custom site analytics, and integration with an increasing number of web applications. In addition to all of this, the service also guarantees protection from online threats with CloudFlare’s exclusive enterprise-grade Website Application Firewall (WAF). When it comes to optimization, the service includes features which make your site load fast on both desktop and mobile devices – even if your web pages have ad servers and third party widgets powering them.
- 23 data centers spread all over the world.
- Comes with a WordPress plugin for seamless integration.
- Performs real-time threat analysis of incoming traffic to your site.
- Configuring CloudFlare is tricky.
- Customers have reported that they faced downtime.
For those of you who are new to the CDN business and/or would like to carry out some experiments first, this is the perfect choice for you. CDN.net offers a full terabyte (1024 GB) of CDN bandwidth – absolutely free, for a period of 30 days. You can carry out all the tests you want – without spending a dime!
CDN.net is the first Content Delivery Network to guarantee low latency for your users, with complete transparency about the performance you’ll get.
The overall setup and activation process is incredibly user-friendly, however, if you need some additional assistance, the CDN.net team is available to help you out around the clock. The service’s intuitive control panel makes is easy to supercharge your website and maintain full control over it. CDN.net also features rich media support, purge and archive, persistent connections, and free shared SSLs.
- Ability to test the CDN in a high traffic website for 30 days, thanks to the generous 1 GB bandwidth.
- No credit card required during the evaluation period.
- Competitive location based pricing including the pay-as-you-go and enterprise model.
- Variety of geo-targetted locations.
- Recurring 15% commission on every referral earned for the first year.
- The CDN.net blog is outdated and the site has several broken links.
The service currently has over 110 POP locations across the world. jsDelivr’s free WordPress plugin makes it easy for webmasters to integrated this incredible service with their website in minutes. jsDelivr guarantees maximum performance and uptime with the service constantly being improved to deliver optimal results to all of their customers.
- Free, open source CDN service.
- Comes with a free WordPress plugin for easy integration with your website.
- Supports version aliasing.
- jsDelivr’s libgrabber scans for new versions regularly ensuring that your site is up to date.
- Some technical knowledge is required to configure jsDelivr.
- Dedicated customer support staff is not available to answer queries.
7. Photon in Jetpack
Jetpack is one of those plugins which fall under the “must-activate” category in most WordPress sites. It has tons of useful modules the most interesting one being “Photon”. Once activated, all your site’s images are uploaded to WordPress.com’s servers (which run on the EdgeCast network) – automattically (pun intended!).
When someone visits your site, the images are served from WordPress.com’s servers – thereby proving you with an absolutely free CDN service. The service is ideal for webmasters who aren’t looking for an all-out CDN service but would still like to have their site load faster by dropping image file delivery.
The only major downside of availing this CDN service is that any image that is uploaded to WordPress.com’s servers is immediately cached which means that if you replace it then you will also have to be sure to change its filename else the original image will be displayed.
- Photon is a Jetpack module and setting it up is incredibly easy.
- Ideal for webmasters who’d like to speed up their site without a full CDN service.
- All images uploaded to WordPress.com’s servers are cached.
- Not a complete CDN solution.
8. Free Image Hosts & Cloud File Storage
If your site is heavy on images or you have a lot of stuff to offer as downloads – say for example high-res images, ZIP files, PPTs and eBooks, uploading them to your hosting provider would consume a lot of disk space and bandwidth.
The smart thing to do here is use the free image hosting services to display your photos and use file sharing services to distribute your content.
Granted, your files won’t be loading really fast, but the whole deal is free. Following are a couple of services I recommend:
- Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, etc.
- MediaFire (has download count and custom analytics)
Swarmify is a new peer-to-peer based content delivery network that offers 100 GB of bandwidth in their free plan. Commercially, they offer a pay-as-you-go pricing model which is good for websites with medium traffic.
This CDN service is geared towards improving your visitor’s browsing experience – especially on websites that are video and media intensive. The service features real-time network delivery adaption which works to avoid congestion on your website and ensure smooth traffic flow as well as blazing fast speeds. Swarmify’s services also guarantee that your website will maintain high-quality video content delivery – even if it faces any kind of network issues.
The standout feature on offer here is that video-centered CDN service optimizes delivery network usage in order to reduce costs. Webmasters can try out Swarmify’s Image Plan for free and when they want to take things to the next level, the Video Plan will set them back $4.99 per month for 100 GB of video bandwidth.
- Ideal for image and video intensive websites.
- Competitive prices and plans.
- Offers priority email support on the Video Plan.
- Not a complete CDN service.
CoralCDN is another peer-to-peer based CDN which was developed at MIT. It’s absolutely free of cost, and requires almost zero configurations.
CoralCDN replicates content in proportion to the content’s popularity, regardless of the publisher’s resources – in effect democratizing content publication.
Publishing content through the CoralCDN is incredibly easy – all you have to do is append “.nyud.net” to the file’s URL you’re trying to download – and voila – you’ll get your data! The service aims at avoiding creating hot spots in its foundational infrastructure with a novel indexing abstraction called Distributed Sloppy Hash Table (DSHT). The service runs on 300 to 400 servers spread out globally and receives 25 to 50 million requests on a daily basis.
I haven’t been able to figure out how this works even today. So if you’re reading this and happened to be a P2P expert, please shed some light on this topic!
- Free peer-to-peer CDN service.
- Easy to configure and setup.
- Users have reported that the service’s loading times are slow at times.
Which CDN Is Right for You?
By now we’ve covered some of the best CDN services out there and highlighted the standout features in each. But how do you go about selecting one that fits your site’s needs? Let’s take a look!
If you’re serious about integrating a premium CDN all by yourself, MaxCDN is your best choice.
If you’re looking for A/B testing, get hold of a trial CDN – like CDN.net. You get more than enough bandwidth.
Although there are features common to all great CDN servers, sometimes it’s best to go for a tailored solution that will not only give you optimal results but reduce the costs you incur.
Content delivery networks are designed to store your site’s files on servers and ensure that those files are delivered to your site’s visitors efficiently and at blazing fast speeds. As a result, CDN servers work towards improving your site’s ranking in search results and improving their overall page load times.
So, are you using a CDN? If so, then which one is it and what’s your monthly bandwidth consumption? And as always, we look forward to your valuable feedback!