One of the most important things about your site today is how fast it loads, or its loading speed. And one of the main things you should consider to make your site load faster is using a CDN (Content delivery network). Luckily, there are plenty of free CDN services – like Cloudflare and Coral CDN.
Why do I need to use a CDN?
How fast your site loads affects not only your customers experience when visiting, but can also dramatically affect how well Google and other search engines decide to rank you. There are lots of things you can do to increase your page load speed like optimizing images, using Gzip compression and optimizing code. But even if you’ve done all of that, you can still get a tremendous boost by using the services of free CDN providers.
This is a list of some of the CDN services available for free so you can see just how easy it is and decide which one is right for you.
Cloudflare is probably the most well-known CDN, with (as of this writing) 102 data centers all over the world. They offer both a free version and three tiers of premium paid plans.
Setup with Cloudflare is made pretty simple and can be done in only a few minutes. And not only do they offer fast loading times, lower bandwidth use and a decrease in server requests, but with their services you also get many other features and benefits like:
- Limited DDOS protection
- SSL certificate (through Cloudflare on lower tier plans, custom available on higher ones)
- Protection from a variety of security threats
Coral CDN is a bit different, as it’s a free open P2P network for distributing content. Running since 2004, their site claims there are 300-400 servers in the network all over the world. When a user access content on a page using Coral, that content is mirrored throughout proxies on the network for quick retrieval. Every time that page’s content is accessed from there on out, it’ll be served by Coral.
If you’re want a CDN for your entire site, there’s a bit more to setting it up than, say, Cloudflare. In order to take advantage of Coral, the hostname of your URLs need to have .nyud.net appended to them. For more information about using Coral, visit this link.
Cloudinary is a free CDN that’s especially geared toward people who use a lot of images. Their free plan includes up to 75,000 images/videos, 2GB managed storage and 5GB of bandwidth per month. What makes this service particularly an interesting choice for images is the many other things you can do with it. Not only are your images served through their CDN, but Cloudinary also lets you:
- Upload single or multiple images
- Edit photos with text, overlays, effects, shape, resize, change image format or transform into PDF
- Revert to previous versions, as images are backed up automatically with revisions
- Use RESTful API
Note: You do need to sign up on their website and start a free account.
If you use AWS then Datapath may be the way to go. Normally, your internet connection will determine the shortest route to use. With Datapath.io, bandwidth, latency and cost are all evaluated to create the most optimized route to use vs. the shortest path. They claim that latency can be decreased by up to 60% and that it’s 90% faster than AWS.
Datapath.io also provides an Anycast solution. This makes use of different transit provider connection and AWS regions to load balance internet traffic on a global scale. It gives you quick failover and maximized availability, all while ensuring sessions stay alive and IP addresses are maintained.
You also get access to performance/latency figures to all 600,000 internet prefixes and a performance map of the internet.
You won’t find their free plan on their website. However, I spoke to Hasham Haider at Datapath and he verified they do in fact have a free plan. You just have to sign up on the AWS Marketplace.
With Datapath.io you pay the same as you’re already paying to AWS… and get better performance.
The free version offers:
- 500GB monthly traffic
- Traffic monitoring
- Latency optimization
Take a look at the latency improvements in the image below (Provided by Datapth.io):
If you’ve used WordPress before, you’re probably well aware of the Jetpack plugin. Its Photon module isn’t technically a CDN, but an image caching service. If you use a lot of images and don’t have it in your budget to use something better, then it might be worth considering. It does an alright job, but it’s definitely not the best.
It basically saves your images and serves them up quicker through Automattic’s network servers (WordPress is owned by Automattic). There are some things you should be aware of before using it, though…
- Once an image is cached, it’s cached forever (If you want to refresh the cache, you have to literally, completely rename the image)
- Gif, jpg and png files are only cached, resized and served from servers that listen on port 80 (HTTP) and 443 (HTTPS)
- Images can’t be upscaled
- Images that don’t upload within 10 seconds will timeout and you’ll have to rename the image in order to try again (should also probably shrink it some)
jsDelivr also has custom servers around the world in locations where other CDNs aren’t typically found. As of this writing, they have 98 global POP locations.
There’s no limit on the amount of traffic and you’re able to load multiple files with just one HTTP request. And it’s completely free.
So there you have it. Six CDN services you can use completely free, whether you need a full fledged CDN, just something to help with images or want blazing fast access to your code files.
Is there one that we missed? Do you use any of these? If so, what’s been your experience with them?