If you’re running a small business, you need to purchase the right solution first time around so you can avoid the disruption of picking the wrong provider and having to switch. The table below shows you some of the best providers.
| 35 points of presence (POPs) in 6 continents,|
including 3 in Australia & 2 in the Middle-East
Created the worlds first TCP Anycast based
content delivery network
Origin-pull, push, purge & SSL support
14-day 2TB free trial & 100% SLA
More features at cachefly.com
|60% score|| Visit website
| Over 28 points of presence (POPs) spread across|
North and South America, Europe, Australia & Asia
Seamlessly easy 3rd-party CMS integration e.g.
WordPress, Magento, Drupal etc.
Origin-pull, push, purge & SSL support
14-day "access all features" free trial
More features at cdn77.com
|75% score|| Visit website
| Operates out of 76 data centers around the world|
Propriety technology Anycast route visitors to the
nearest data center
No charge for bandwidth usage
Free version of CloudFlare is available
More features at cloudflare.com
|77% score|| Visit website
| 52 ultra-fast edge locations worldwide|
Integration with other Amazon Web Services
Simple pay-as-you-go pricing, only for usage
Origin-pull, push & SSL support
More features at cloudfront.com
|50% score|| Visit website
| 17 points of presence (POPs) & over 500 peering|
partners & direct reach into over 90 countries
3rd party plugins for popular CMS like
WordPress, Joomla & Magento
Origin-pull, push, purge & SSL support
30-day money-back guarantee
More features at maxcdn.com
|67% score|| Visit website
| 25 global data center locations|
Free Let's Encrypt SSL & custom SSL
100% SSD optimized edge servers
Free 30-day trial
More features at keycdn.com
|71% score|| Visit website
What is a Content Delivery Network?
A content delivery network, or CDN, consists of a network of servers. Each server holds a cached copy of the media and files that are required to display your website.
For example, the network will hold copies of all of the images, videos, documents, and scripts that are loaded by a visitor’s web browser. That might include your product images and walkthrough videos; an essential part of the customer experience.
The servers in the network are spread around across different countries. Some CDNs have more than 100 datacenters working in tandem. When a user loads a page on your website, the CDN supplies the media from the server closest to them geographically.
A CDN offers many advantages, but here are three to start with. It will:
- Reduce loading times for your small business website
- Reduce demand on your web hosting account, which may save you money
- Reduce the impact of traffic spikes.
Any small business can sign up with a CDN and benefit from the speed and resource advantages. The price you pay for the service is usually much lower than the overage charge for bandwidth from your host. And in some cases, you can sign up free.
Using CDNs and Web Hosting Together
Many small businesses start off using shared hosting with ‘unlimited’ bandwidth. This sounds like a great deal. But check the fine print. Unlimited bandwidth may not be all that it seems.
Hosting providers have fair use clauses that allow for ‘normal’ usage. If one of your products or blog posts goes viral, your blog is going to exceed those limits. The more people that are loading content from your server, the more your host will struggle with the load. Your site may be taken offline for exceeding the host’s fair usage clause.
This is just one example of a scenario where a CDN could help. If you implemented a CDN before the viral post or product went live, the scripts and media associated with it would be distributed globally to many servers, instead of just one. So as users hit your website, the CDN serves the content, lightening the load on your web hosting provider.
Sure: you may still incur overage charges for the increased bandwidth during the spike. But the CDN will help to keep your website online for longer, and maximise the bandwidth your host has provided.
Another factor is the speed of your web hosting server. A customer located close to your host’s datacenter will likely see fast load times. But a visitor located in another continent will see it load more slowly.
Again, the CDN steps in to help, because it can intelligently serve content from the closest location, making load times faster.
For small business owners, this is important, because a few seconds can make the difference between a completed purchase and an abandoned cart.
More CDN Benefits
We briefly looked at the benefits of a CDN at the beginning of this article. In truth, there are some more hidden benefits that we haven’t yet discussed.
Search Engine Rankings
All business owners need to rank well for the keywords they want to focus on. Faster load times are just one of the factors that Google takes into account.
So the faster you can load your site, the more likely it is that your rankings will be good.
Customers want sites to load fast. This applies on regular small business sites just as much as it does on an ecommerce site.
If pages load fast, there’s less chance the customer will be frustrated. You really want to avoid having a site that crawls, because when a shopper becomes frustrated, they’re going to try a competitor’s website to see if it offers a better experience.
If you serve audio or video on your website, a CDN will help that content to load more quickly.
For example, if you’ve invested in recording product walk-throughs, your customers will be able to load them without delay.
Better load times also tend to reduce buffering and ensure video quality is the best it can be. That gives the user a better experience, and it shows off products in a much more positive light.
CDNs distribute the same files over multiple servers in different locations.
This is a built-in defense against downtime, because one server outage shouldn’t bring down your entire website.
In fact, some CDNs mirror your entire site so that they can serve a cached copy during hosting downtime.
Many CDNs can protect your site against security risks from hackers and criminals.
For example, they can automatically block suspicious traffic, or limit access to IP addresses that you type in manually.
Are There Any CDN Risks?
Yes. The main downside of a CDN is that it creates a new point of failure. Your site needs both your host and your CDN to be online and functional (unless you have advanced caching in place.
Remember that CDNs are built for availability. So this isn’t likely to be an issue with a good provider. But it’s worth bearing in mind when you’re comparing one provider’s track record with another.
The other disadvantage is a reduced loading time when the CDN doesn’t have enough servers in the most important places. For example, a CDN with lots of servers in Europe can’t improve load times for someone in Australia.
To negate this risk, you can compare CDNs and find one with servers in the locations where your customers are most likely to be located.
Features and Costs
By now, you’ll be getting a feel for the features that you’ll need from a CDN. But there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution that will be right for every small business.
Review this list, and pick out the CDN features that are most important to you:
- Support for high definition video streaming
- Mobile delivery optimization, including AMP support
- Analytics and reporting
- Firewalls, security, and DDoS protection
- Integration with rights management services
- Free plans or trial periods
How Much Should I Pay?
For a small business, a free CDN can be more than adequate for basic usage. As your site grows, you could always upgrade to a paid package. But many sites get by just fine with the basics.
If you want to skip right to the free CDN providers, take a look at CloudFlare.
Or, if you feel you need more capacity and advanced features, look at these paid providers to get a feel for what they offer:
Of course, you may find a better option in our comparison table. So don’t hesitate to explore other CDN providers if you see a better fit for your business.
Should I Use a CDN?
Yes. Every small business website will benefit from a CDN.
CDNs really do offer small businesses massive benefits. They improve customers’ experience. They give your search engine rankings a boost. They help to protect your website, and they can reduce overage fees at your web host.
And let’s not forget that fast loading speeds are essential when working on conversion optimization.
With so many free options, signing up is a no-brainer. And if you need more support, you can choose a paid plan. Our genuine user ratings should help you to avoid the hassle of making the wrong choice.