Which is the best CDN for your website? – 3 great options

Which is the best CDN for your website?

If you are a website owner, you would undoubtedly want to improve your search engine rankings. There are many ways like choosing an efficient hosting service, installing caching plugins, adding backlinks etc.

  1. What is a CDN?
  2. How does CDN aid in speeding up your website?
  3. Why do you need CDN?
  4. The best CDNs
    1. Cloudflare
    2. KeyCDN
    3. Stackpath
  5. Conclusion
  6. FAQ

One of the quickest and most effective ways to speed up your website, is to use a Content Delivery Network also known as a CDN. The website which loads fast, has a higher opportunity to rank better and do good in terms of search results.

A well-integrated CDN works like a charm in increasing your website’s speed, overall user experience and ultimately your website’s ranking.

What is a CDN?

A CDN refers to a group of servers (Points of Presence-PoP) that are geographically located around the globe, who work together to provide fast content delivery on a website, delivered by the server closest to you.

Websites are targeting a global audience these days, and that’s why they are becoming more and more interactive, and this can slow the downloading speed. A well-integrated CDN assists in the transfer of assets like images, videos, and HTML pages across the globe much faster than the static server would.

comparing with without cdn

Image source: Hostinger.com

How does CDN aid in speeding up your website?

A CDN saves cached versions or temporary copies of the static content (images, HTML, JavaScript, CSS, videos) of your website in multiple geographically located servers (PoPs). These PoPs have a lot of servers that store your cache in SSD to be able to provide the version of your website in the fastest possible way.

So, regardless of how large media files you have on your website, a CDN allows your visitors to interact with your website just as fast as the locally based ones.

Simply put, a CDN helps in closing the distance between your website and a visitor.

Why do you need CDN?

Did you know that even one-second delay in loading time of the website page can result in a 7% loss in customer conversions? So, if you are concerned with your website’s global connectivity, you must consider using CDN. Moreover, Google announced that they will be focusing on Core web vitals in 2021, and one of the bigger points is using a CDN.

Let’s have a closer look at why CDN is essential for your website’s success in the search results.

Global availability

If you have a global website, the one crucial step if you want to run a website successfully, is having a CDN. A CDN makes the content on your website globally available without any interruption or delay using servers (PoPs) that are widely located around the globe.

page load times diagram

Source: https://www.apicasystems.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/page-load-times-diagram.jpg

Dispersed Points of Presence (PoPs)

Suppose a visitor of your website is in a different time zone. When the visitor makes a query, the content delivery can be slow, and this can affect the overall user experience. This is where CDNs come in handy. With servers located near the geographic location of the visitor, content delivery will be swift and easy.

Fewer delays

Using the globally scattered servers, CDNs replicate the website’s content. The visitors are often closer to the PoPs than the main content delivery site (main server). The closer the visitor is to the PoPs the less the delay will be in delivering the content.

Low network congestion

Network congestion means the reduced network quality when a network or link carries more data than it can handle. It occurs mostly when a large number of visitors want website access at the same time. CDN redirects visitors to the replicated content, which then aids in reducing network congestion.

DDoS attack prevention

A DDoS or Distributed Denial-of-Service attack is an attempt to disrupt the regular traffic of a specific service or network by flooding it or the surrounding infrastructure. Assume an unexpected traffic jam, clogging the road up for the regular traffic.

This attack not only affects the availability of the website but also the reputation of the website comes into question. A CDN helps to clear this network by transferring the traffic to other servers and prevent your site from being completely unavailable for genuine visitors.

Improve search engine rankings

As discussed above, CDN helps in removing the unnecessary jamming of the visitors so this will ultimately affect your website speed and your website will load within seconds.

It’s because page loading speed is one of the main factors determining a visitor’s experience, and for Google, nothing is more important than a satisfied visitor.

Therefore, if you want to increase your website’s ranking your website should load with a blazing speed and a well-integrated CDN can be your life-saver in this regard.

Reduces bandwidth cost

To reduce the cost of hosting, CDN uses caching and other optimisations to reduce the data amount an origin server normally provides. This aids in the reduction of bandwidth consumption cost for website hosting.

How to choose a perfect CDN for your website?

There are tons of CDN options in the market, claiming to provide the best service. Choosing the one which is just perfect for you can be an arduous task because all may seem similar initially. However, with further analysis of the features, you can visibly see the striking differences between them.

Analyse your requirements

Before analysing and comparing CDNs available, you must figure out your own needs and requirements. Take a few things into account like your budget, geographic location of your visitors, and type of media (images, videos etc.) you upload on your website.

Initially decide what you want from a CDN network and then choose accordingly.

Your visitor’s geographic location

Take into account the geographical location of your target audience. Considering whether they are local, regional or global, choose your CDN plan accordingly. It is essential to select a CDN whose PoPs are in the geographical location of your target audience.

Before choosing a CDN service for your websites, your initial priority should be the speed and reliability. Three critical factors can help you measure speed and reliability:

Response time: How long a server takes to give a response to the browser’s request.

Latency: The amount of time a server requires processing a request for a media like image or CSS file.

Throughput: The steadiness of delivery of content.

The more the servers a CDN service has, the faster it will be delivering the content. Therefore, it is essential for a CDN provider to have a vast network.

Pricing

Always prioritise your budget. Find a CDN which is easy on your pocket and delivers similar performance compared to the expensive ones.

Security

When choosing a CDN, the security the CDN is providing should be one of your primary concerns. DDoS mitigation and encryption are some security features to consider.

The best CDNs

With so many options available, it is easy to get confused as to what CDN you should invest in. Read the detailed review about some of the best CDNs available to help you make a decision.

Cloudflare

Cloudflare can be easily termed as one of the best CDN providers of the world. Since its launch in 2008 at TechCrunch Disrupt conference, Cloudflare has come a long way. It now offers its services to almost 12 million domains using 164 data centres globally. All these data centres are placed in Europe, America and the rest of the world.

Some noticeable features of Cloudflare give it edge amongst its competitors.

cloudflare website

Swift and global CDN

With more than 150 data centres distributed across 50 countries, Cloudflare provides blazing fast content delivery. Due to the vastly distributed CDN network, it also minimises web latency.

Efficient load balancing

Distributing the traffic load and across numerous servers is termed as load balancing, and Cloudflare is proficient in it. This feature ensures that your website visitors are routed to the closest server when the server of the particular area is down. This means that your visitors can still access the content he was searching for.

Optimisation of web content

Cloudflare ensures that the websites which are optimised to provide seamless content delivery regardless of the device visitor is using. Moreover, it also removes unnecessary characters from HTML, JavaScript and CSS to reduce the file size of source code.

Top-notch security

Did you know that Cloudflare has survived a massive DDoS attack in late June in the year 2020? The efficient handling of this malicious attack speaks volume about the security Cloudflare offers. This means that this CDN can overcome even the most sophisticated attacks that not only attacks the website’s performance but also the customer information will be at stake.

Easy setup

One of the impressive features of Cloudflare is its easy setup. It automatically caches your website’s resources, and then if you want, you can always clear them from the control panel.

Pros

  • Easy setup
  • Efficiently monitors control panel’s performance
  • More than 150 data centres that assist in providing fast content delivery
  • Best security provider
  • Has a great WordPress plugin they maintain

Cons

  • The free plan offers only limited features.
  • If you use the free plan, your website won’t be protected against the spam, malware and DDoS attack. You will have to upgrade your plan to get the security features.

Pricing

The basic plan is free of cost; however, you will have to upgrade to the paid versions to get the advanced features.

Pro: $20 per month per domain
Business: $299 per month per domain
Enterprise: This is a customisable plan, and you’ll have to contact the vendor to subscribe for it.

Verdict

Cloudflare undoubtedly offers one of the most efficient CDN services. The web security it provides is like no other. From web page optimisation to free WordPress plugin, Cloudflare has all the right ingredients for a perfect CDN provider.

KeyCDN

KeyCDN is a relatively newly launched CDN on the market. However, it has built a reliable name in this short span of time. KeyCDN is considered one of the best CDNs giving fairly good competition to the top-guns in the market. Let’s have a look at some of its features that have made it a favourite of many. KeyCDN has servers in europe, south america, and the rest of the world.

If you want to know more about KeyCDN, then I’ve written a more in-depth article about KeyCDN being the most value for money CDN.

keycdn website

Most cost-effective CDN provider

If you are looking for a CDN provider which is budget-friendly and provides the same performance as the expensive competitors, then look no more, KeyCDN is here for your rescue. Also, if you do not want to go for a monthly subscription KeyCDN offers you pay-as-you-go pricing.

Pull and Push functionality

KeyCDN offers Push and Pull functionality like any other quality CDN provider. Using the ‘Pull’ option, KeyCDN draws out the static content from the server and then distributes it online using its servers to achieve more speed.

The ‘Push’ option uploads your website’s content into the KeyCDN servers, which will then be distributed globally.

Ad-enabled video player

If you want you to monetise your videos and have no idea how, then KeyCDN has got you covered. KeyCDN offers ad-enabled video players so that you can make some bucks out of your content.

Improve website ranking

One of the striking features of KeyCDN is that it can significantly improve your search engine rankings using two SEO features.

Robots.txt: Notifies search engine algorithm which files and folders it should avoid indexing and go through.

Canonical URLs: Let the search know that the content from the CDN is just a copy by adding an HTTP header to your zone.

Easy to get started

With only a three-step setup KeyCDN is one of the most straightforward CDN providers. The three steps include:

1. Choose your zone

2. Create a zone

3. Integrate your website with the CDN

Security

With KeyCDN, you do not have to worry about your website’s security. If you own an SSL certificate, KeyCDN integrates it into your CDN without costing a penny. KeyCDN even provides a free shared SSL for the ones who don’t own one. With Let’s encrypt integration, KeyCDN also offers a free custom SSL certificate.

Pros

  • Most cost-effective CDN provider
  • Offers custom, shared and free SSL
  • Purge using key or URL
  • Has a WordPress plugin ready to integrate with your WordPress website

Cons

  • Small network as compared to others
  • You can experience slow response times

Pricing

Unlike other CDN providers, the pricing of KeyCDN is straightforward. You can subscribe for a free 25 GB 30-day trial plan before signing up for a paid plan. With prices as low as $0.04 per GB, KeyCDN is the most budget-friendly CDN provider.
keycdn pricing

Verdict

The easiest to use CDN provider with most flexible pricing plans, KeyCDN is fit for small businesses and beginners. The only drawback of it offers limited five zones for free.

Stackpath

StackPath is the more advanced version of the famous MaxCDN, which means it has got even better features than the old version of MaxCDN. Unarguably one of the most innovative CDN providers, StackPath is easy to manage and set up. They have a ton of features which I’ve described down below.

stackpath website

Fast purge and content caching

With intuitive caching techniques and high-capacity SSDs, you can efficiently control content caching. StackPath also offers an instant purge option for removing your content from the cache.

Control content delivery using EdgeRules

If you want control over how your content should be delivered, then this feature of StackPath is designed just for you. StackPath lets you customise your content delivery, SEO and security measures.

Delivers content globally

Keep your content near to your visitor using high-performance CDN having PoPs distributed around the globe.

Easy to manage

You want a CDN that works on your terms; StackPath is the one for you. Driven by open APIs, StackPath is fully automated. With a simple-to-use customer portal, you can have direct access and complete control over your account.

Powerful analytics

With powerful analytics and reporting capacity, you can get detailed data about content delivery and network.

Security

StackPath offers impeccable security features, including blocking features for DDoS protection and load balancing.

Pros

  • With its basic plan, StackPath offers one TB of data per month.
  • Private Edge SSL service for free
  • Multiple servers distributed across the globe
  • Efficient security services

Cons

  • StackPath does not offer a free plan; however, you can use their free trial offer to test its performance.
  • The basic plan does not include EdgeRules.
  • Doesn’t have a WordPress plugin, they refer to KeyCDN’s WordPress plugin.

Pricing

StackPath offers different plans at different rates; however, you can opt for the CDN service only at $10 per month.

stackpath pricing

Verdict

With reasonable prices and excellent services, StackPath has earned a good word of mouth amongst web developers and website owners. It speeds up your website and reduces the server load effectively.

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Conclusion

If you run a website, you must have an idea of how important it is to keep the loading time of your content as fast as possible. Content Delivery Networks (CDN) increases your website’s loading speed by minimising the physical distance between the server and a visitor.

The three big names in the CDN world have to be Cloudflare, KeyCDN and StackPath. KeyCDN is a favourite of most of the website owners because of its super affordable prices and decent features. However, for security concerned website owners Cloudflare is their first choice. When it comes to innovative features like free Edge SSL certificate, StackPath takes the lead. If we compare the performance of these three in November, we can see StackPath is winning with KeyCDN a little behind it.

So the big question, should you use a CDN? Well, it depends. Is your target group only around you, are you a local webshop or a service company who only operates within your own country? Then no, a CDN would be a waste, however Google are focusing on Core Web Vitals in 2021, where they really do recommend you using a CDN.

If you are a worldwide business, whether it’s a webshop, SaaS or similar, you need a CDN, no doubt. Your visitors will be all around the world and your website needs to be fast for all your visitors.

I like Cloudflare because it is the most secure CDN on the market, and it offers you the free WordPress plugins. The setup is easy, and they also offer a free plan for anyone who would like to try them out. However, the features are limited with this free version. But, if you run a small business and are looking for more features at a lower price point, then KeyCDN should be your choice.

cdn comparisons

Source: https://www.cdnperf.com/cdn-compare?type=performance&location=world&cdn=cloudflare-cdn,keycdn,stackpath-cdn

FAQ

Do I need a CDN for my website?

Yes, if you own a website and are concerned about the loading speed of your content, then it’s a wise decision to invest in a well-integrated CDN. If you have an audience around the globe, then buying a CDN is inevitable to reduce the physical distance between the server and the end-user.

Is there a free CDN?

Yes, there are many CDNs like Cloudflare and KeyCDN that offer their basic plans for free. However, to get access to more advanced features, you will be required to upgrade to a paid plan. Many providers often offer a free trial for you to test out their performance.

What is the best CDN for WordPress?

Even a powered website requires an efficient CDN for outstanding performance. Some of the CDNs which are most compatible with WordPress sites are:
– StackPath
– Sucuri
– KeyCDN
– Cloudflare

Posted by
Phillip Stemann

I have worked in the web industry for 10+ years, and I’ve made all the mistakes so you don’t have to. I’m here to help you not only optimise your website, but also automate all of your manual processed. This will make you able to focus on what you’re good at. Running your business!

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