As things started to get a little busier, I decided that a Content Delivery Network (CDN) would help. I started out by using Amazon S3, which isn’t technically a CDN, but helped me move the static files from my server anyway. Then after a while, I moved on to Amazon’s true CDN offering – Amazon Cloudfront. They’ve served me very well and I don’t have a bad thing to say about the service.
Recently however, I was approached by MaxCDN and asked whether I would try out their service. MaxCDN are a pretty big name in the CDN arena and I already knew that they hosted several big sites like Mashable and my friends over at WPBeginner, and they clearly knew what they were doing, so I decided that nothing bad could come of it.
One of the bonuses is that W3 Total Cache, the caching plugin I have been using for years, which also helped me implement my CDN with Amazon Cloudfront, was also compatible with MaxCDN, so setup was extremely easy. All I needed to do was change my API information from Amazon Cloudfront to Max CDN. It took all of 5 minutes.
After doing the setup, I first checked to make sure that the site was loading correctly, but I then sat back for a few days and just let the site do its thing.
After those few days, I decided I’d take a look to see how my site was doing. I used the trusty Pingdom Tools to run a speed test on my site. The image below shows the detailed results.
The long and the short of it is this:
- My site is very fast (loading in about half a second), even though I have third-party ads, and I’m running on a VPS with little environment configuration.
As you can see from the waterfall, images, CSS and all of my static content loads extremely quickly. There’s no real bottlenecks anywhere: it’s just several files loading quickly one after another.
That basically means that the CDN is immensely successful and that my site is very fast as a result. And I’ve not really done much beyond ensuring that the CDN is in place, and I’m not on an overloaded server.
The MaxCDN service
Clearly, the biggest thing to be worried about with a CDN is the performance; if it doesn’t do its job, then it’s frankly useless.
Fortunately with MaxCDN, that’s far from the case – it’s a technically excellent service.
But I wanted to take it a little further and describe the other parts of the service. Their website for example is very well thought out and easily navigable.
It’s very easy to see your usage in both graphical and tabular format. You can get a really good feel for how your CDN is being used; you can see which files are using the most of your bandwidth and also see how your bandwidth draw is spread across all of their global data centers.
As for cost, they have a very simple pricing structure, unlike Amazon Cloudfront. It’s based solely on your bandwidth usage. As I write this, it’s $39.99 for the first 1TB of bandwidth which works out at about 4 cents per gigabyte for comparison’s sake. To give you an idea of how far that will stretch, my average daily bandwidth through MaxCDN for this site has been 140MB, which means that a gigabyte (4 cents) will last me about a week.
That’s not bad at all and the service really is worth it. But here’s the caveat; the bandwidth expires after 12 months, so if you don’t use it, you lose it. Additionally, the first 1TB is discounted, so after you use that, the cost per gigabyte initially increases (to 7 cents per GB), before decreasing on a sliding scale.
So, in order for MaxCDN to be worthwhile, you need to have a moderately busy site to avoid losing unused bandwidth, and you need to do some calculations to get a feel for how much it will cost you; check out their pricing plan to get a feel for what the cost to you will be.
If your site isn’t that busy yet, an alternative like Amazon Cloudfront would definitely be more affordable, but the service provided by MaxCDN really is second to none and if it’s a good fit for your site, then rest assured that you’ll be very happy with them. I know I have been.