Why Would I Want a CDN?
The real question is why wouldn’t you want one? The list of benefits is substantial, so let’s break them down one by one:
Improving load times
This is the main reason most people implement content delivery networks. In the age of lightning-fast internet, optic cables, and Wi-Fi adapters, it’s no longer acceptable for pages to take more than a few seconds to load. As people get impatient and start leaving your site(s), the lost web traffic means you don’t only lose potential sales and other revenue, but your site will also take a dip in Google’s web rankings.
The best CDN hosting sites dramatically decrease the time it takes for websites to load, speeding up the process of content delivery by distributing it across high-speed regional servers around the world.
Reducing bounce rates
It’s not just about bringing people to your website – you want them to stay there. A speedy website won’t get a high bounce rate from all the visitors who rage-quit for being forced to endure long loading times. This in turn has a positive effect on its ratings on Google, and it’s far less likely to be viewed as a spam site with no worthwhile content.
Reducing bandwidth costs
Bandwidth costs are typically the highest expense paid by website owners, but even low-cost CDN providers can help alleviate that to some degree. By placing their servers at key internet exchange points around the world, caching website data, and performing various other optimizations, CDN companies can do much more than just help increase your website’s access speeds.
The key here is that lowering the amount of data that the origin server has to provide also reduces hosting costs for website owners.
An often overlooked benefit of CDN services is their ability to increase the security of your website. Hackers love denial-of-service (DoS) and distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, and without the best CDN security protocols or alternative encryption solutions, websites are wide open to being flooded by data specifically designed to cripple them.
At best, such attacks can cause severe slowdowns, while at worst they can completely paralyze the site and stop people from being able to interact with it. This can really affect your site’s reputation; even after you’ve spent significant resources on restoring everything to normal, people will be far less willing to visit a potentially insecure site.
The way CDN networks deal with such attacks is simple: they make improvements to security certificate and DDoS mitigation protocols. By their very nature, in order to properly distribute and cache data, the best CDN systems have to be able to analyze traffic patterns and react to potential surges identified as originating from a malicious source.
Staying online and boosting SEO metrics
Malicious attacks aren’t the only issues webmasters face. While they can certainly put your site out of commission for a good while, so can hardware failure, power outages, and other technical difficulties. Due to their globally distributed nature, CDN servers can not only handle more traffic, but are also better able to withstand potential software- or hardware-related difficulties.
This in turn positively affects your website’s online ranking, as speedy and reliable sites tend to be valued by Google’s algorithms just as much as those with high-quality content.
In order to find the best CDN provider in 2021, we’ve come up with various criteria to grade our candidates. Price and value, performance and reliability, the number of available servers, integrations and security features, and customer support all play a role in being considered a great CDN network.
As is the case with any product on the market, the first consideration for many potential customers is how much dough they’ll have to fork out. Some companies clearly offer more bang for your buck, but you’ll also have to gauge your own needs accurately.
Many companies charge according to your monthly bandwidth. And, of course, a small-scale personal or startup website won’t need the same extensive toolset that a large site like Amazon might.
Finding the cheapest CDN is one thing, but don’t expect miracles unless you’re willing to pay for them. Server infrastructure is costly, after all. This category considers perhaps the most important aspect of choosing good CDN hosting: the speed of its servers.
Many providers give some sort of a trial option, which gives you an ideal way of testing the speed and stability of the service compared to your origin site. Increasing loading speeds and reducing latency are some of the most basic and instantly noticeable improvements that a good CDN server should be able to provide.
Many people get a CDN service so they don’t have to worry about power outages, DDoS attacks, and other issues that could kill their website’s online presence. It is reasonable to want content delivery network providers that have systems in place to deal with such situations and enough backup servers to cover any potential issues on their end.
Speaking of servers, another big feature of high-quality content delivery networks is having proper worldwide server distribution. Global server coverage is one of the primary ways in which such systems can drastically improve your website’s performance and reliability. Even if you have a very specific local audience, you’ll appreciate having more servers to cache data at your disposal.
Another key aspect you should be mindful of when picking the best CDN provider for your needs is the range of security options offered. eCommerce websites are particularly vulnerable to hacker attacks and proper data encryption can mean the difference between a seamless shopping experience and a potentially costly lawsuit.
Even if you’re not afraid about personal or credit card data leakage, DoS and DDoS attacks can cripple the speed of your sites or even render them completely unusable. Many good CDN networks provide numerous security features, ranging from 2FA systems to SSL encryption, RSA keys, and more.
Getting started with CDNs can be a daunting experience for people without a developer background. This category is all about CDN best practices when it comes to customer care. It covers everything from how easy installing and operating the software is to how simple the customer support team is to reach if something should go wrong.
Being able to quickly troubleshoot potential problems with your content delivery network is essential to having peace of mind when it comes to running your website smoothly and without major headaches.
Typically free and lower-tier plans feature email support or live chat, while more expensive options add dedicated phone agents.
The Best CDN in 2021
3. Google Cloud CDN
What are CDN services?
CDN(short for content delivery network services) are geographically distributed networks of proxy servers and their data centers that aim to improve the speed and security of websites.
Who needs a CDN?
Anyone whose website has a worldwide audience, really. A CDN service will help websites get better geographical exposure by caching data on local servers, which will significantly boost the page loading and transaction speeds. This is especially useful for content-heavy or eCommerce/transaction-based sites and news sites that issue the latest press releases.
They will also boost the website’s security, thwarting malware attacks and preventing dangerous data leaks.
What is the fastest CDN?
Currently, that honor goes to Google Cloud CDN and Akamai, and considering the massive server infrastructure these providers offer, it’s hard to imagine other providers overtaking them anytime soon. That being said, the differences between the top contenders tend to be fairly small and shouldn’t greatly affect your decision.
Is CloudFlare a good CDN?
As one of the oldest and most popular content delivery networks around, it’s still many people’s first association when thinking about CDN services. It’s also the only provider on our list to offer a free content delivery network option. It easily deserves a place on our list of the best CDN options in 2021.