A good CDN will help improve the page load speed and user experience for users all over the globe. If your target market is not only focused on a single area but across several continents, it is critical that you make sure they have the same level of user experience. But even if your target audience is all in one city, using a good CDN will still improve your website’s performance.
What is CDN?
CDN or Content Delivery Network uses a network of datacenters in all major cities to deliver your website’s content from the nearest datacenter to the user. It is basically trying to lessen the geographical distance between the servers and the users.
For example, a Los Angeles website visitor would like to read blog content that originates from a Sydney, Australia based server. Normally, there would be a delay of a couple of seconds as this request needs to travel across the Pacific Ocean.
If the site is using a CDN then a copy of the page will be stored in a datacenter in Los Angeles and can load almost instantaneously.
Also, the source server doesn’t need to do anything to load these resources, so it doesn’t get overloaded and slow down if the page has a lot of elements to process. This also helps protect the website and server from DDoS attacks aimed at overloading the server to take the website down.
Which are the best CDNs to use?
There are a lot of CDNs available and we haven’t tested them all, but these are the 2 we recommend from our testing of one website’s performance across a range of different CDNs, testing from several locations around the globe.
Cloudflare is great: Free, APO or Pro
Cloudflare is a popular DNS service and we recommend this for all of our clients as it adds a layer of security and makes it easier for us and other IT providers to manage the hosting and email services for your domain without giving up access to your domain account. It makes server migrations seamless and it speeds up your website!
The Free account will speed up your website instantly even though it has only a very limited CDN service and most website files still come from the origin. But it is free so it is well worth it. This service is included in most good managed hosting setups.
Cloudflare APO feature provides a deeper integration with your WordPress website files, this can be bought for $5/month and requires a plugin to be added to your website. This will provide a significant boost to your website’s speed as most of the site loads via the CDN.
Cloudflare Pro costs $20 per month and includes the APO feature as well as other speed improvement features and the WAF which is a very strong security feature (but turning that on reduces the speed improvement a little)
But Stackpath is the winner!
Stackpath produced significantly faster results than Cloudflare Pro in all of our tests (around a 10 point higher mobile speed score in PSI) and it costs the same $20/month
Stackpath can be used WITH Cloudflare free DNS hosting, so you can have the benefits of Cloudflare for easy management of the DNS with the improved speed results of the Stackpath CDN.
For this reason we now use and recommend this for all clients that are not using a cloud-based caching system.
Stackpath also has a WAF security feature, but we found it affected the speed more than Cloudflare, so if you are going to use the WAF, go with Cloudflare Pro.
Whichever option you want to go with, we can always take a look at what will be best for your site and help you implement it. To get our performance experts to take a look at your website get a Performance Audit at tunedwp.com.