Do you use a lot of images and video content on your website? Does a good portion of your visitors come from regions far away from your origin server?
What you need is a content delivery network, a type of service that allows you to serve static content from their network and deliver it to servers located closest to where your visitors live. The end result is faster page load speeds and a better user experience overall.
In this post, we are comparing ten of the best CDN providers you can use to improve your site’s performance.
The best CDN providers compared
- StackPath – Best overall CDN provider.
- Sucuri – Best combination of CDN, WAF and malware scanning & removal.
- NitroPack – Best CDN for page load times given it’s built-in performance optimizations.
- RocketCDN – Best for bloggers, freelancers, and small businesses (easiest CDN to set up and use).
- Cloudflare – Best free CDN provider.
- KeyCDN – Great pay-as-you-go CDN provider.
- Imperva – Best CDN for enterprise businesses.
- Fastly – Solid CDN with security functionality built-in.
- Bunny.net – Good CDN with large number of POPs.
- CacheFly – Best CDN for reducing video and gaming latency | Best CDN for emerging markets.
StackPath is a computing infrastructure with multiple layers to its platform. CDN services are included under this umbrella. The company distributes this service via edge servers designed to be much faster and less load-bearing than the cloud server infrastructure many CDN services use.
A cloud-based CDN utilizes a central location to distribute your content to users accessing it from a specific region. For instance, if this type of CDN has a network location in Chicago and nowhere else in the midwest, every user who visits your site from the midwest will access your content from that single origin point.
What edge computing allows StackPath to do is create multiple points of presence (PoPs) that deliver your content much closer to where your users access them from.
StackPath also includes advanced caching in its CDN service. Instant purging is available when you want to ensure a file you delete from your website doesn’t appear for users long after. This feature also prevents deleted files from eating up resources.
Alongside instant purging, StackPath allows you to customize caching through “edge rules.” These are “if this, then do that” policies you can apply to edge servers to control the way they handle the traffic your site receives. These rules allow you to customize how long content is stored on your site, among other things.
With edge rules, you can also create 301 redirects to control which web pages users visit, add or remove headers to dictate whether or not requests are sent to your origin point and on through to the user, and sign URLs to limit who has access to your content and how long they can access it for.
You can also use StackPath to protect your website with a web access firewall (WAF) and a private SSL certificate. Analytics and service monitoring also allow you to view how much traffic you receive, where you receive traffic from and how much traffic you receive from specific locations.
- 45 full-stack edge locations in five continents.
- Edge servers with edge rules.
- Advanced DDoS protection.
- Advanced caching with customization and instant purging.
- Serverless scripting for incorporating custom logic and sending personalized content to specific users.
- Gzip compression.
- Web access firewall available.
- Origin shield to protect your origin server from request overload.
- Managed DNS service available.
- Real-time analytics.
- Service monitoring.
StackPath offers its CDN services as a standalone product or as part of a suite of products. Plans for individual services, such as CDN, WAF and service monitoring, cost $10/month each. Bundles start at $20/month.
Additional fees apply if you go over your plan’s limits.
Sucuri is a cloud-based website security platform that provides cutting-edge applications that protect your website from threats. It offers CDN services through its network of 12 data centers located in five continents. Two of these locations are edge servers: one in Brazil and one in Australia.
Because Sucuri’s platform is built on a cloud infrastructure rather than edge, its caching system doesn’t have nearly the same level of sophistication as CDNs like StackPath.
There are four caching setups to choose from with no way of setting up your own rules outside of excluding specific URLs from being cached with ease. You can enable simple caching, only cache your site for a few minutes at a time, utilize site caching through headers or disable caching altogether.
Fortunately, cache clearing comes with more advanced features. You can clear the cache sitewide or on a per-file basis. You can also set up Sucuri’s cache API, which allows you to clear your site’s cache on the fly from a bookmarked page.
Sucuri’s CDN and caching features may seem light at first glance, especially when compared to the rest of the options on this list, but they’re all the more impressive when you consider the company’s main claim to fame is site security.
Its WAF blocks incoming threats while the included CDN and brute force protection safeguards your site against DDoS attacks. Still, even the most intricate security system can’t block every threat. This is why Sucuri also offers a malware scanner that monitors your site for malicious activity and file changes.
They’ll even clean your site for you when threats do slip through.
- 13 data centers in five continents.
- Caching with exceptions and clearing.
- Web access firewall with DDoS protection that blocks layers 3, 4 and 7.
- Malware detection and removal.
- Keeps track of your site’s blacklist status.
- Uptime monitoring.
- DNS monitoring that detects changes in your site’s DNS settings.
- Alerts for changes made to your site’s SSL certificate.
- Automatic and manual incremental backups available as a $5/month add-on.
You can gain access to Sucuri’s site security platform for $199.99/year. All plans offer more or less the same features but differ in the response times.
NitroPack is a website optimization application that connects your site to Amazon Web Services’ Amazon CloudFront CDN. This allows you to use the benefits CloudFront has to offer without needing to pay for an AWS account or configure the CDN yourself.
Don’t let the name “CloudFront” fool you. Amazon’s CDN is powered by a global network as well as several edge locations. In fact, there are 217 PoPs in 84 cities across six continents, making it the first CDN on this list to offer fast content delivery to African countries.
NitroPack as an application focuses primarily on optimizing your website for speed to improve your Google PageSpeed Insights score. It does this by offering a number of different features, most notably caching and minification.
Caching options come in the form of on-demand cache purging and the ability to invalidate caching automatically during traffic spikes. The invalidation process refreshes the cache in the background rather than outright purging it so your users don’t have to deal with slow page speeds, a side effect of the purging process.
You can also exclude specific pages from being cached.
Solutions for common PageSpeed Insights errors are thrown in as well. They include deferment of CSS and JS files as well as optimization for fonts.
- Amazon CloudFront CDN offers 217 PoPs.
- Simple yet effective caching with caching options included.
- Minify HTML, CSS and JS files.
- Gzip and Brotli compression.
- Defer CSS and JS files.
- Optimizes fonts.
- Image optimization with lazy loading included.
- Cache “warmup” that ensures your most important pages are always optimized.
Many of the features listed above are available in NitroPack’s free version, but you’re only allowed up to 200 page optimizations per month. Premium plans start at $228/year for up to 20,000 page optimizations per month and up to 20GB of CDN bandwidth.
RocketCDN is another great CDN solution that stands out for its simplicity and ease of use.
It’s powered by StackPath (our number one favorite content delivery network provider), so it benefits from the same high-performance infrastructure, with a reliable network of 45 full-stack edge locations spread across five continents
What makes RocketCDN special, though, is how easy it is to use. Unlike Stackpath and other CDN solutions, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to get it set up correctly. They’ve opted for a one-click setup system that’s much faster and more convenient.
All you have to do is activate your subscription and enter your custom URL, then let RocketCDN do the rest. They’ll automatically apply the best configuration settings, and you should see an immediate improvement in your site speed and performance. No more configuration headaches!
This is ideal for small businesses, bloggers, freelancers, and other solopreneurs that don’t have the resources or time to manually configure everything themselves (a necessary task if you go through Stackpath directly).
RocketCDN is also more affordable than Stackpath if you only have one site. If you plan on using your content delivery network for multiple sites, though, Stackpath works out a little cheaper.
If you ever need any extra help, you can reach out to the customer support team of expert Rocketeers. Their customer support is known for being one of the best on the market, with a 92% happiness score based on over 2,000 customer ratings.
- Powered by StackPath
- 45 full-stack edge locations
- One-click setup
- Automatic configuration
- Easy integration
- Outstanding support
- Unlimited bandwidth
- SSL Traffic
You can sign up for RocketCDN for just $8.99 per site per month (or $89.99 billed yearly). This is the only plan available and it includes unlimited bandwidth.
There’s no free trial but you can request a refund within 24 hours of signing up if you change your mind.
Cloudflare is a website performance platform most comparable to StackPath. Its network is massive and exists in over 200 cities in six continents. Plus, similar to CloudFront, the company’s CDN infrastructure is powered by edge computing despite the “cloud” in its name.
On top of this, Cloudflare is able to provide fast delivery of static and dynamic content through a built-in tool called Argo Smart Routing. This technology detects network congestion in real time and directs traffic to the fastest path in response.
Cloudflare also offers caching for CDN content along with caching options. For example, the Page Rule tool available to premium users allows you to control the way individual URLs are cached. You can choose what gets cached, how long content is cached for and more. Instant purging is available as well.
Developers can take caching further with the Cloudflare Workers tool, which allows you to build your own caching rules with code, and the Cloudflare Cache API.
Along with these site performance tools, Cloudflare also offers security solutions in the form of a WAF, DDoS protection and bot management. DDoS protection blocks layers 3, 4 and 7 at the edge while bot management stops content scrapers, credential stuffers that expose private customer data and general spam.
- 200+ PoPs powered by edge servers and Argo Smart Routing.
- Cache control, instant cache purging and advanced tools available to developers.
- Web access firewall.
- Advanced DDoS protection with DNS management available.
- Bot management.
- Rate limiting that blocks suspicious visitors, DDoS attacks and brute force attempts.
Cloudflare’s CDN and DDoS protection are available for free. If you want access to the firewall, you’ll need to pay $20/month. Unfortunately, the other services listed are only available as individual add-ons.
For example, five cache page rules are available for $5, Argo Smart Routing for $5/month, load balancing for another $5/month, and so on and so forth.
KeyCDN is a dedicated CDN service that offers a large network powered by edge servers. This is more or less all KeyCDN has to offer, but it’s still one of the fastest content delivery services out there.
Caching is available, but you’ll need to play around with a bit of code in order to control what gets cached and how long to wait until it’s cached again. Fortunately, instant purging sitewide and on a per-URL basis is available at the click of a button.
The service even includes DDoS protection in its infrastructure but recommends you to integrate your account with Sucuri to enable a WAF.
- 34 data centers scattered across six continents and powered by edge servers.
- Simple caching with instant purging available.
- Built-in DDoS protection.
- Cloud storage for images and large files available at $0.01/GB.
- Brotli compression and other advanced features for developers.
- Blocks bad bots preemptively by detecting specific user-agent strings found through a comprehensive list of known suspects.
KeyCDN charges a flat $4/month fee regardless of how much bandwidth you utilize. The rest of its pricing scheme is dependent on a max bandwidth cap and the region(s) you’d like to serve.
Nevertheless, these prices range from $0.01/GB to $0.11/GB.
7. Imperva (formerly Incapsula)
Imperva is an application and data security platform that includes CDN services. Its network is powered by edge servers and spans over 40 PoPs in six continents.
Its network also utilizes intelligent caching that delivers static and dynamic content alike at fast speeds. You can also choose how your content is cached. Options include no caching, static-only caching, static and dynamic caching, and aggressive caching that caches everything.
You can also set up custom caching rules for specific URLs as well as URL prefixes and suffixes. Purging is available and can be set up manually or automatically.
Imperva also minifies the content you serve with its CDN and enables file compression automatically.
Developers and advanced users can use the CDN’s delivery rules to control where legitimate users and bad bots are sent. Redirect visitors automatically based on specific parameters, such as URL patterns, cookies, HTTPS headers and visitor type.
Rules can be made based on behavior as well, and you can send malicious bots to other websites and servers.
Similar to the pretty permalink options in WordPress, Imperva’s CDN service also allows you to “beautify” URLs on the frontend, meaning the URLs your visitors see in the address bar.
Imperva’s primary features include a WAF, DDoS protection on multiple levels, bot protection, data protection and more. You can even use the platform to protect applications you’ve built on AWS and Google Cloud Platform.
- Global network with over 40 data centers built on an edge-based infrastructure.
- Intelligent caching with different caching modes, custom rules and purging.
- File minification and compression.
- Delivery rules that allow you to control where specific types of traffic are sent.
- Frontend URL beautification (doesn’t change permalinks).
- Web access firewall.
- Multilayered DDoS protection.
- Bot protection.
- Analytics for attacks.
- Cloud data security with data masking, data protection and file security.
- Security solutions for AWS, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure.
CDN services, caching, WAF and DDoS protection are available as part of Imperva’s individual Application Security plan as well as its bundles. Unfortunately, you’ll need to contact them directly to request a demo and a quote.
Fastly is a cloud CDN built on a network of dozens of edge locations. The company has deliberately designed its network to provide faster speeds to a global user base while using fewer PoPs than its competitors.
By focusing on more powerful PoPs, Fastly is able to cache your content for longer periods of time as it requires fewer instances of calling upon your origin server.
Speaking of cache, Fastly does cache static content for you, but this feature is pretty lackluster when compared to other tools on this list. You can purge the cache on demand or use surrogate keys to tag specific objects that should be purged.
Soft purging is included as well. This allows you to specify pages as “stale,” which prevents them from being purged as removing these types of content from the cache can affect user experience.
Unfortunately, controlling what gets cached and how long it stays cached for requires the use of code.
Fastly also has an image optimization tool that allows you to compress and format images from its own servers rather than your origin.
Finally, while CDN and caching services are its primary features, Fastly does include several security tools as well. These come in the form of a WAF, advanced DDoS protection and bot mitigation.
- 55+ PoPs powered by edge servers.
- Load balancing that redirects traffic to the fastest routes.
- Static caching with instant and soft purging available.
- Web access firewall.
- DDoS protection.
- Bot protection.
- Image optimization.
Fastly’s pricing is based on bandwidth usage, the total number of requests you receive and the region(s) you serve. Every customer is billed a minimum of $50/month regardless of how many resources you use.
Pricing varies widely after that. It ranges from $0.08/GB to $0.28/GB for bandwidth usage and $0.0075/10,000 requests to $0.016/10,000 requests.
Bunny.net’s network is powered by edge servers and spans over 25 countries across six continents. It also utilizes intelligent routing to redirect traffic to the fastest path when surges occur.
It uses simple caching with only two options that allow you to control cache expiration time. If you want more control over this, you can set up an edge rule. These rules let you specify certain conditions that must be met, which is useful if you don’t want specific file extensions and other parameters to be cached.
Instant purging is available as well.
Bunny.net focuses more on site optimization outside of the aforementioned features. It has an image optimization tool as well as Brotli and Gzip compression.
- 102 PoPs in six continents.
- Smart routing to improve performance during traffic surges.
- Simple caching with instant purging and expiration times.
- Image optimization.
- Brotli and Gzip compression.
- Real-time analytics.
- Stats for bandwidth cache, traffic usage, request count and more.
- Blacklist for IP addresses with the ability to block users from specific countries.
All bunny.net users are charged at least $1/month. The company’s pricing system gets more complicated from there. Nevertheless, you’ll pay as little as $0.002/GB or as high as $0.01/GB.
CacheFly is a powerful, ultra-low latency CDN with the best throughput you’ll find anywhere. It’s ideal for gaming and video streaming and allows users to deliver buffer-free, media-rich content to their viewers with less than 1s of latency.
They have an extensive global footprint, particularly in emerging markets like India, the Middle East, South Africa, and South America. They’ve made a huge commitment to expanding their presence in Latin America and have PoPs spread across the region in places like Sao Paulo, Mexico City, and Buenos Aires.
Many other content delivery network providers have infrastructures that struggle in specific regions (usually in emerging markets). So if you’re serving content to users in these kinds of areas, CacheFly could be the perfect choice.
CacheFly is also one of the longest-running CDN providers. They’ve been a leader in CDN technology for two decades and pioneered innovative advancements such as the use of TCP Anycast.
They’re known for being one of the most reliable and high-performance CDN providers on the market, so if you want the best of the best, it’s definitely worth checking CacheFly out.
- Sub-1s Latency
- Globally distributed edge servers and 60+ global PoPs
- Storage optimization system
- Routing and traffic management with Anycast
- 100% uptime SLA
- Fully-managed packages
- Smart image optimization
- Multi-CDN for failover and redundancy
- 98% cache hit ratio
CacheFly offers three main plans: Essential, Growth, and Performance. Each plan comes with different features, levels of support, and bandwidth.
The Essential plan is their entry-level plan with 10 TB of global delivery/month. Various add-ons are also available and priced separately
Prices aren’t publicly listed on their website so you’ll need to reach out to CacheFly for a custom quote based on your business’ specific requirements.
CDN providers FAQs
A CDN (content delivery network) is a globally-distributed network of servers that work together to deliver content as quickly and securely to internet users as possible.
CDN data centers are strategically placed at physical locations all across the globe. This global distribution helps to reduce the distance between website resources and the end-user.
The idea is that when users visit your website, instead of connecting to your website’s origin server, they connect to whichever CDN data center is geographically closest to them. Closer proximity means less travel time, resulting in faster data delivery and website load times.
The best CDN providers also usually place servers at Internet exchange points (IXPs)—interconnected physical locations through which different internet service providers (ISPs) and CDNs connect with each other—which further helps to reduce costs and facilitate faster data delivery.
There are many benefits to using a CDN, such as:
- Faster load times. Using a content delivery network means your website visitors will experience faster page loading times. This is due to both the geographically distributed nature of CDNs (data is distributed from servers physically closer to your visitors, resulting in faster transfers) and various speed optimizations such as efficient load balancing, minification, and file compression.
- Better user experience. One upshot of faster load times is that it improves the user experience. Visitors don’t want to wait around for website pages to load. In fact, 88.5% of web designers believe that having to deal with frustratingly slow loading speeds is the number one reason users leave websites. By using a CDN that improves loading times, you can reduce your bounce rates, increase website conversions, and even boost your SEO.
- Reduced bandwidth costs. Content delivery networks can reduce bandwidth consumption through caching and other optimizations. As bandwidth is usually factored into the price of web hosting services, this can reduce your hosting costs.
- Improved security. CDNs provide various security benefits including DDoS mitigation. With a CDN, your website is protected against DDoS attacks that could otherwise impact your data center and take you offline.
- Greater reliability. Using a content delivery network enables you to continue to provide uninterrupted service to your website visitors if/when things go wrong. They balance the load of network traffic so that no single server ever gets overwhelmed. If one server runs into issues and stops working, a backup server will take over. And because CDNs have many different servers spread across multiple data centers, there’s a huge amount of redundancy built-in.
All of the best CDN providers that we included in this list are great options, and each has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. You should choose the one that’s the best fit for your business. However, if you’re not sure which one that is, here’s what we’d recommend:
If you want the best value for money, go for Cloudflare. Cloudflare’s free plan is one of the most generous on the market — you get unlimited bandwidth and no annoying usage caps or restrictions.
All you have to do is update your DNS nameservers to use Cloudflare and it’ll kick in automatically. If you want to upgrade and get access to premium features, you can do so for a very reasonable $20/month.
If you just want the overall best (and most popular) CDN, we’d recommend StackPath. StackPath is our favorite CDN provider, all things considered.
The edge computing system it uses allows you to deliver content much closer to your users than traditional cloud-based systems. Depending on what package/plan you sign up for, you can also benefit from the additional speed and security optimizations like advanced customizable caching, instant purging, web access firewall, Gzip compression, and more.
Sucuri is another great option. It has arguably the best set of features, particularly when it comes to site security.
Aside from a WAF and brute force protection to safeguard your site against threats like DDoS attacks, Sucuri also comes with a built-in malware detection and removal solution that can keep your site clean of malicious software.
Which is the best CDN provider?
Finding the best content delivery network is no easy task. Each of the CDN providers on this list vary in the features they offer, but some are more alike than others. This makes it difficult to decide on a single one. However, because many CDNs rely on a pricing system based on usage, it’s best to choose a CDN that suits your budget.
If you’re on a strict budget, consider choosing a CDN that offers fixed rates so you don’t get blindsided by the bills you receive at the end of certain months.
Lastly, decide how much security you feel your CDN provider should be in charge of. Sucuri is a fantastic all-in-one solution, but if all you’re looking for is a CDN to serve your content with, you’ll wind up overpaying.
Related Reading: The Best WordPress Speed Optimization Plugins & Tools Compared.
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