CDN is short for content delivery network. Once your website subscribed to its system, the service will deliver your site files to all its network servers on multiple locations. Thus, when your website is browsed by people, it will download from the most nearby network nodes to reduce response time. With the fast technology development, there're more and more paid and free cdn providers, but what would be the difference? Why should you subscribe to a paid cdn service and when go to free option?
Technically speaking, there're lots of difference between paid and free CDN. Especially when you have high requirement to performance and security. Here we'll compare the main points side by side for better understanding
Paid CDN vs Free CDN service – Availability
Free CDN service is typically configured within a small network where just few hardware equipments included. Normally, the providers rent multiple servers in different data centers to configure its small cdn network. Because of the free, it comes with lots of limitations on file types and amounts, most free cdn services are optimized to specific areas only.
On the other hand, paid cdn services are mostly configured through global data centers for maximum availability. You can choose different plans for different purpose so your website will be always online. A decent paid cdn service is always created through leading data center providers with powerful hardware equipments. By delivering your files to all continents on lots of data centers, your website can be accessed anywhere for any time.
Paid CDN vs Free CDN service – Performance
Free CDN will limit the amount of files and file types you can upload. For example most free cdn service does not support flash and media files. It's absolutely not good for movie sites. A paid cdn is different, you have lots of choice from their plans. The most important is they will always compress your files for fast delivering. For example if you have a phogograghy site with lots of high quality photos, it will take long time to load for regular http downloading, but it's pretty fast with a high quality paid cdn service because the uploading/downloading is maximum compressed. People do not want to wait long for your website loading so a good cdn will help a lot to keep visitors.
Paid CDN vs Free CDN service – Security
CDN security is mainly referring to the network and hardware equipments. Basically, there's no protection at all with free cdn service. Those providers would like to serve as more sites as possible by less costs. Thus they can't really invest much to security protection. Even some common security solutions are not available such as ssl and server end firewall installation etc.
But you get guaranteed security protection with a paid cdn service. File uploading/downloading is always done through secure tunnel by firewall protection. Your content is encrypted and compressed on internet via multiple safe layers. You don't have to worry about some popular hackings because all your data is in safe place.
Paid CDN vs Free CDN service – Ease of use
Both free and paid cdn services are easy to use from current user experience. With a simple control panel we can add websites and everything will be auto configured. But we get more features via paid plan. For example solid statistics showing how and when your visitors access your content. It's extremely helpful if you would like to analyze your site traffic for optimization purpose. You also get uptime/downtime reports from website center. In this way you get full reports over the service and help determine if you need to keep or cancel the subscription.
Best Paid CDN Service
There're lots of quality CDN services like Cloudfront by amazon and akamai etc. From existing user experience and customer feedbacks, maxcdn(www.maxcdn.com) is rated the best for both performance and price. Maxcdn provides total of 4 plans that starts from $9/mo. Maxcdn is also one of the very few cdn providers who have specially optimized networks for Asia. If you are going to promote your business in that district, maxcdn service is highly recommended.
Till present, their service is trusted and used by 13,000+ Businesses. Unlike most other cdn service, maxcdn provides guaranteed performance and extra resource purchase opportunity. Their network is setup and optimized through US/EU and Asia continents with real time reporting. All your web contents are protected and secured by SSL/Norton solutions.
Best FREE CDN Service
The most famous free cdn is cloudflare(www.cloudflare.com). Cloudflare actually provides both paid and free plans but free plan is most well known and used. It's added to control panel by most hosting providers for easy integration. The free plan works the same as paid service but comes with multiple limitations. For example it doesn't support video and compressed files. Cloudflare has total of 23 global points across Europe, Asia, US and AU. Those networks have covered the major internet traffic centers.
When should you subscribe to paid cdn service?
As described above, a paid cdn service has lots of advantages comparing to free ones. Paid cdn service is highly suggested and should be your primary consideration if you operate a heavy traffic site. Especially when it's an ecommerce shopping cart and forum site, you will need to manage lots of sensitive data on it so a decent cdn service is a must for guaranteed performance and security protection.
But if you just manage a simple blog or enterprise site and just want to get better response from other locations, a free cdn like cloudflare is good enough because you don't have to worry about a lot like from a cart site.