Content Delivery Network services, or CDN for short, focuses on delivering your content faster to your website’s visitors. It works by creating a copy of the files in a network of CDN provider’s servers (also known as the “edge”). The data centers are closer to the visitors enabling faster response and shorter load times between the website and the browser.
The main benefits of a CDN are:
- Faster website speed
- Lower load on your servers
- High reliability and uptime
- Lower cost for bandwidth
- Easily scalable
During our research, we found that the average speeds and uptimes are quite similar between the providers, according to CDNPerf. Therefore, the main differences are the features, regional coverage, and the cost of the plans.
Let’s take a look at some of the best CDN providers out there.
6 Best CDN Providers in 2021
1. StackPath CDN
StackPath is a CDN for both beginners and professional developers. Their transparent pricing structure, simple setup, and loads of features make them a strong candidate for your CDN service.
StackPath offers a full cloud platform with built-in security, including DDoS mitigation, across its products and services. You can choose from a CDN-only package or several Edge Delivery Bundles with Web Application Firewall (WAF), Domain Name System (DNS), and monitoring included.
They have 45 data centers all over the world except in Russia and the African continent. All of their Point of Presence (PoP) locations are included with every package with no additional charge, and can also be narrowed to a specific region.
The setup is quite intuitive and straightforward, and there’s also an option for more advanced controls. You can get the CDN up and running quickly and tinker with the settings later.
The main features of StackPath’s CDN-only plan are 1TB/month of bandwidth, unlimited sites and requests, free Private SSL Certificate per site, HTTP/2 support, iPv6, and DDoS protection.
Also, you’ll have access to instant purge options, customized rules for caching and 301 redirects, real-time analytics, on the fly GZip compression, and WebSocket support.
Their support is there for you 24/7 via chat, phone, and ticket support free of charge.
Their cheapest subscription plan starts from $10/month. It includes all the features of the CDN-only plan, but you’re still restricted with the 1TB/month of bandwidth.
However, starting from $20/month, you can get the StackPath’s Edge package with the CDN and the added security (WAF, DNS, and monitoring). Considering the added benefit, it’s certainly worth the investment.
They will charge you a monthly fee upfront on your credit card or PayPal account, but you’ll get a free first month to try them out.
2. Google Cloud CDN
Google Cloud CDN has excellent performance and many useful features. Their CDN can be easily integrated with their other cloud products, which allows you to get a full range of services you might need. However, be mindful of the cost.
Google Cloud CDN is part of the Google Cloud product family. Their platform offers a wide variety of cloud products, including web hosting, storage, and even AI and machine learning capabilities. Google Cloud is popular with industry leaders, such as PayPal, Twitter, Spotify, and FedEx, to name a few.
Their infrastructure covers most of the world with 140 PoPs, 67 zones, and 200+ countries and territories. Their huge server parks also allow a good load balancing experience.
The main features of Google Cloud CDN include an Anycast IP, IPv6 support, HTTP/2 and QUIC, DDoS protection, Google-managed SSL, signed cookies and URLs, and integrated monitoring and logging.
Besides, Google Cloud CDN lets you source content from multiple locations, including custom origins, which gives you the right amount of flexibility.
Google Cloud’s support is its significant downside as free support is only dealing with billing issues. For further technical support, the Customer Care packages start from $100/month per user. Another option is to get a Google Workspace (formerly Google G Suite) subscription, which includes free 24/7 phone and email support.
Google is charging for cache egress bandwidth ($0.02 – $0.20 per GB based on destination and monthly usage), cache fill bandwidth ($0.04 – $0.15 per GB based on source and destination), and HTTP/HTTPS requests ($0.0075 per 10,000 requests). Any cache invalidations you initiate will also cost you an extra $0.005 per invalidation. Therefore, the monthly cost will increase or decrease based on your usage and caching rules.
As of writing this review, they are offering $300 of free credit, which you can use for building on Google Cloud for up to 12 months. After that, you can set up your payment method by credit card, debit card, or bank account.
You can also estimate the possible monthly costs with their price calculator.
Imperva is a company focused mainly on the application and data security. Their CDN service is added to their security packages as an extra feature. Besides the CDN, their packages include attack analytics, Web Application Firewall (WAF), runtime application self-protection, API security, and bot management.
Their global presence reaches 44 DDoS-resilient data centers, which cover every major continent.
The main features of Imperva’s CDN are HTTP/2 and IPv6 support, real-time traffic monitoring, DDoS protection, instant purge capability, cloud-based layer 7 load balancing, and custom caching rules. You’ll also get access to Imperva’s Cloud Security Console for an overview of the attacks and security events of your website, including managing your account and WAF settings.
A significant downside is that you won’t get an SSL with their plans. Also, you’re unable to add additional features or switch a package quickly. You need to unsubscribe from your current package and resubscribe to a new plan within 30 days.
Their support staff is available 24/7 via email, phone, or through the self-service portal.
Imperva doesn’t offer CDN as a stand-alone service. The CDN is included in their FlexProtect security packages. There isn’t an official billing list for their plans, and you can get a specific quote through their sales team. However, when doing our research, we learned that they use a 5-tier usage-based pricing system, and their plans cost at least a few thousand dollars per year.
There aren’t any guarantees as is standard in the Internet business these days, but you’re able to request a free demo of their services.
4. Rackspace CDN
Rackspace offers a versatile CDN experience. Their partnership with Akamai gives them access to a vast network of servers across the globe. They are also very flexible and can deliver any kind of content you require, be it images, videos, or interactive applications.
Rackspace’s CDN can deliver both static and dynamic content to your visitors. Their portfolio consists of e-commerce companies, websites, and web applications. Besides, they can even offer you a web hosting service if you’re looking for one.
They are using Akamai’s network to deliver data and content to more than 200 edge locations around the world. Since Akamai is more geared towards serving large corporations, Rackspace is more flexible and also caters to mid-sized companies’ needs.
The installation of the CDN is very fast through the Rackspace Cloud Control Panel. The control panel itself is quite easy to get around and intuitive. You’ll also get an option to set it up via the REST API and language bindings.
The main features of the Rackspace CDN are multiple origins flexibility, IPv6, DDoS mitigation, shared SSL, custom caching rules and reports, and purging options.
You’ll also get a single global endpoint to access the API. Also, Rackspace supports content time to live, or TTL, which allows you to set a specific time for how long the content is cached.
However, there are a few limits to their service. They allow a maximum of 10 domains per service plan and an 8 KB maximum size for the request body in the API. These restraints shouldn’t be an issue for the average user looking to boost their website’s speed.
Rackspace’s support is available 24/7 via phone and email, and their archives are full of useful how-to articles.
Rackspace charges for CDN bandwidth monthly ($0.02-$0.27 per GB based on usage) and request fees daily ($0.0075-$0.022 per 10,000 requests based on location). Similar to Google Cloud CDN, the monthly cost will increase or decrease based on usage and custom caching rules.
Akamai offers a very high-end performance CDN service. They are more geared towards high-quality video experience and providing large corporations a global presence.
Akamai was one of the first companies to develop a CDN service. Today, they are one of the most distributed CDNs out there, serving approximately 30% of all Internet traffic. Besides CDN service, they also offer cybersecurity and cloud services to their clients.
They have a presence in over 130 countries that host a whopping ~1700 networks. They can offer a faster content delivery system at scale to any region of the world.
All of that potential comes with certain complexities. Since they’re more geared towards larger enterprises, don’t expect to set things up easily. You’ll undoubtedly need an IT expert on your side or a whole team of them.
Akamai also has a long list of different features with their premium service. Some of the more notable features are support for video-on-demand and live video, instant purge, on the fly GZip compression, support for HTTP/2 and IPv6, free shared SSL, DDoS protection, and custom rules. You’ll also have a chance to pay extra for a custom SSL certificate.
However, they don’t provide real-time stats with their plans and expect you to build your monitoring system in-house. On the bright side, they do have a 24/7 phone and live chat support to help you out.
There isn’t an official price list with this provider, either. Akamai offers a tailored solution with prices to the individual needs of each client. During our research, we found that their base CDN service plans start from 1-1.5k per month. To receive a more accurate quote, get in contact with their sales team directly.
You can also request a free trial run to test their service out at scale.
Sucuri offers a flexible CDN option for companies hosting a single website. All of their plans include security monitoring and malware removal to keep your website safe. You can also choose from several plan tiers based on the size of your business.
Primarily, Sucuri is a website security and CDN company. Besides CDN and security packages, they offer to fix an attacked website and consultation on security matters.
Their servers cover the USA, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Brazil, with 12 PoPs altogether. This is the lowest number of PoPs on our review list, but still a strong presence in the most active Internet hubs.
The setup of Sucuri’s CDN is quite simple and doesn’t require a professional to get started. However, you can still ask for help if you are unable to set things up yourself, and they’re happy to help.
One of the most substantial upside with their service is the active security monitoring and malware removal, which comes included with every plan. Some of the other notable features are unlimited bandwidth, an Anycast network, DDoS protection, Let’s Encrypt SSL, HTTP/2 and IPv6 support, and GZip compression.
A significant downside is a limit for one website per plan, but you’re not restricted to the number of web pages under that site. Another negative side compared to some of their competitors is the lack of chat and email support, which only comes with a custom plan. They do have a 24/7 ticketing system for support available on all packages.
Sucuri CDN subscription plans start at $199.99/year, which isn’t cheap. But, considering that this cost will include security monitoring and dealing with malware, we’d say it’s still a good value for your money.
Apart from the other CDN providers we’ve reviewed on this list, Sucuri is the only one offering a 30-day money-back guarantee.
|1||Stackpath CDN||45 PoPs||IPv6 & HTTP/2||DDoS & private SSL||24/7 chat, phone, and ticket||1st month free||Starts from $10.00/mo|
|2||Google Cloud CDN||140 PoPs||IPv6 & HTTP/2 & QUIC||DDoS & Google-managed SSL||For extra cost||$300 free credit||Usage-based|
|3||Imperva||44 PoPs||IPv6 & HTTP/2||DDoS||24/7 email and phone||Free demo||Quote only|
|4||Rackspace CDN||200+ PoPs||IPv6||DDoS & shared SSL||24/7 phone and email||None||Usage-based|
|5||Akamai||1700 PoPs||IPv6 & HTTP/2||DDoS & shared SSL||24/7 live chat and phone||Free trial||Quote only|
|6||Sucuri||12 PoPs||IPv6 & HTTP/2||DDoS & Let’s Encrypt SSL||Ticket only||30-day money back||Starts from $199.99/year|
Based on our research, all of the CDN providers have high performance and reliability. Yet, there are different solutions out there from CDN-only to full website security packages. As for the pricing, pay-as-you-go options seem to be the most flexible, but the fixed plans offer more predictability in terms of costs.
Hopefully, our review got you thinking in the right direction when choosing a CDN service that works best for you.
Implementing CDN on Your Website
Here are some additional resources on how to add CDN to your website:
- StackPath CDN Setup Guide
- Google Cloud CDN Setup Guide
- Imperva Cloud Application Security Setup Guide
- Rackspace CDN Setup Guide
- Sucuri Website Firewall Setup Guide
*Akamai doesn’t have an official tutorial for setup.