What are the best free CDN services for WordPress site?
Are they really reliable?
What are the paid alternatives?
It’s no surprise that CDN services thrive in today’s world when the average Internet speed in technologically advanced nations surpasses 10 Mbps. And, to make things even faster, owing to services like Google Fiber, Cox Gigablast, and Centurylink Gigabit, some lucky readers can get speeds of up to 1 Gbps – that’s one gigabit per second. As a result of this competition for quicker bits, our attention span is dwindling, and patience is becoming erratic.
The time it takes for your page to load has a significant impact on the user experience of your website visitors. It might also be one of the key contributors to your visitors abandoning your page. That’s why so many people use a free CDN to speed up the loading of their pages.
According to one study, 40% of users abandon a page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Worse, 79 percent of online buyers said they won’t return to a website if the site’s performance is inadequate.
Without a doubt, increasing the speed of your website is vital to your online business’s success. This is where a free WordPress content delivery network can make a big impact.
In this article, I will firstly explain what is CDN and why do you need it? Then I will describe what the are best free CDN services that you can use in several sections and many more. So, let’s dive into this!
About CDN System
What is a CDN?
A ‘content delivery network’ or ‘content distribution network’ is a globally distributed network of mega proxy servers that host static material and send a cached copy of the static files to users based on their geographic location. You can use a CDN as an integrated service for your website.
So, in short, a CDN system is a combination of the following three points: –
Why do you need a CDN for your Website?
The purpose of this network is to make your site load as quickly as possible. It sends all the static files to users with the lowest possible latency from a considerably closer place (geographically and physically) than your web server, resulting in a substantially shorter delivery time.
o learn more about how a CDN works in practice, watch this 1-minute video:
Waiting for a website is something that most people dislike. According to CachePoint’s excellent essay – The Very Real Performance Impact on Revenue, the effect is significant in online shopping websites, where a one-second delay in loading time resulted in a revenue loss of $6,000,000 USD (that’s $6 million). The Incapsula CDN guide is a great place to start if you want to learn more about CDNs.
You may also look at this handy infographic from GTmetrix to learn more about how a CDN (or a free CDN) works:
In essence, a Content Distribution Network (CDN) is a network of several servers located in various global places. The CDN caches all of your site’s static content and files and distributes them to visitors based on their geographic location via the server nearest to them.
The picture below demonstrates how a global CDN works and how it can improve your domain’s page load time.
Unlike your hosting provider, which provides your resources from a single place (the origin server in the diagram), the service replicates all of your WordPress site’s static resources to its network of high-speed servers. A global CDN will have several servers scattered throughout several data centers in or near densely inhabited areas.
When a user tries to access your website, the service automatically routes the request from the origin server to the cache of the server closest to the user’s physical location, where the cached files are sent to the user.
This procedure reduces the overall transit time of your website’s data, resulting in faster page load times, higher search engine rankings, and a better user experience.
What are the Types of CDN?
There are three types of CDNs: –
- Content Service Protocols (CSPs): These are fully managed hosted networks that allow users to access website files. This category includes the CDN services we’ll talk about in this blog post.
- Peer-to-peer CDNs: Peer-to-peer (P2P) arrangements function between personal computers and are not ideal for hosting your website’s contents because they have a low setup and operating cost. A peer-to-peer network such as BitTorrent is a common example.
- Private CDNs: You can even develop your private service if you’re dissatisfied with the offered options. It implies that you must build and run your global network of servers to offer your statistics.
Utilizing a CDN service (or a free CDN) improves the speed of your website while simultaneously saving your hosting provider bandwidth fees. Furthermore, because a fast website loading speed is a favorable ranking factor, having a speedier site can help your search engine ranks.
Now, many of these services are expensive, so if you can locate a cheap or free CDN for WordPress, that’s all the better because you’ll be able to speed up your site until you can afford to pay for superior content distribution WordPress service.
CDN stores your data on servers located all over the world. No matter where the visitors accessing your site, they will receive data from the server that is nearest to them. To make your site faster, you have no alternative of CDN. You can use both free and paid CDN services. Cloudflare CDN is popular that provides both free and Pro plan.
Why should you use CDN? [Key Benefits]
While there are numerous advantages to using a CDN, here are a few of them:
- Security: Many providers use cutting-edge technology such as WAF (Web Application Firewalls) and Origin Shield to add an extra layer of security to keep data secure, process customer transactions, and fight against DDoS, DNS Amplification, and Layer 7 assaults. Only a global network of servers working together to dampen a DDoS attack can effectively protect against it.
- Speed: One of the most important reasons why consumers choose to use this service is the drastic improvement in the website’s performance. A CDN minimizes network latency by shortening the physical distance between the user and the server, allowing your site to load at light speed.
- SEO Benefits: Everyone enjoys a lightning-fast experience, especially Google, which introduced speed as a ranking criterion in 2010. These services not only help you rank higher in search engine results, but they also improve the crawl rate of both your photos in Google Image Search and your entire site, ensuring that your site ranks higher.
- Global Availability: When your server goes down for a sudden traffic spike, CDN service keeps your site up and live. Because many servers manage the load, your website will always be up and running when enabled. Take a look at CloudFlare’s Always Online technology, which ensures that a website is always available. Your web server will be less stressed.
- Lower bandwidth costs: A CDN or free CDN can reduce bandwidth requests by up to 70% by offloading CPU, traffic, and other resources from your original hosting server. The fewer bandwidth queries you make, the less bandwidth your web provider charges you. It is especially crucial if your website’s hosting provider imposes severe bandwidth quotas.
Should we use CDN for Speed only?
To answer the above question, we have to consider the fact why we need fast loading speed globally?
We frequently examine the loading speed of our sites and compare it to renowned performance testing tools because we visit our websites now and then. Even if you think your website is loading quickly on your end, chances are a large portion of your visitors, particularly those from other countries or geographic locations, are witnessing a lot slower load time than you are.
So, why does the speed vary based on geographical locations?
The quality of your web host and the actual location of your webserver have a significant impact on the speed of your WordPress website. It means that unless your web server is deployed internationally, it will never be fast for ALL users worldwide.
Is web hosting required with CDN?
Most people ask while implementing CDN, “Do I need hosting while using CDN?” The answer is “YES“.
All of your non-static files are stored on your web server, which is the foundation of your website. The free CDN, also known as a content delivery network, is an additional layer that copies all large static files across its global network of powerful computers.
Consider your web host to be a virtual location that you rent for your online business, such as WordPress. This is where you put your pages, images, videos, PHP files, database, and everything else you need to keep your domain running smoothly.
A CDN, on the other hand, is something you utilize in addition to your web hosting service to speed things up.
A CDN will never be able to take the place of your web hosting account. A WordPress hosting server is still required to store all of your files and the WordPress installation itself. Many premium or managed-to-host services have recently begun to include a free CDN as part of their website hosting plans.
Key Factors While Choosing a CDN
Whether you choose a free or premium CDN, there are a few crucial considerations to ponder when selecting the best CDN for your WordPress site. Here are some of the most important ones to think about:
- Analytics Reporting and a User-Friendly Dashboard
- Simple WordPress integration, either via a plugin or a popular caching tool
- Server (POPs) Real-time Content Purging is available in the places where you get a lot of website traffic.
- Support for HTTP/2
- SSL Integration is completely free.
- Good Customer Service
- Reasonable Pricing
How do you know if your site needs CDN support?
There are some instances where having one is critical for a website. You are recommended to use CDN if your website has one of the following conditions: –
- You have a complicated, multimedia-rich domain with a lot of images, movies, or sounds.
- Your website receives a substantial quantity of international traffic from a variety of nations.
- Your website’s traffic is rapidly increasing.
- Your site is prone to traffic spikes, for example, if you have a WooCommerce-powered online store that is often overburdened on the webserver, especially during holidays and special deals.
- If you have a website that uses resources from a third-party website, software, or service, such as videos, advertisements, forms, or chat services.
- If your budget allows, you can use a CDN for your WordPress site if you have an online community website that attracts large groups of people at various periods (traffic peaks).
If any of the above apply to your WordPress site, you should start using a CDN as soon as feasible.
Only websites that cater to particular geographic areas, and whose hosting is already in place near their target audience will be considered. In this situation, you should save time by implementing other speed optimization techniques such as image optimization, CSS minification, and a suitable caching plugin such as WP-Rocket.
How to Setup a CDN?
It is easier to install on most websites. You can do it in two ways: –
Plugin: Install a CDN plugin that transforms the URL of static files to the CDN service’s address.
Under the hood, the plugin instructs the webserver to change the URL of pictures to that of the free CDN provider in the first manner. The browser used to visit your website can then send requests to the content delivery network (CDN) service to obtain the static files. It’s possible that you’ll need to change DNS records to point to cdn.yourdomain.com.
DNS Reverse Proxy – Change your domain’s DNS entries to point to the CDN service’s address. A reverse proxy service is what it’s called.
The CDN service’s nameservers are used instead of the hosting server’s nameservers in this technique. This indicates that the CDN is in charge of all traffic to your website. It provides all static material first, then sends requests for dynamic content to your web server, which is also served to the browser.
However, choosing a web hosting service provider that has free CDN integration is the ideal option, such as Kinsta or WPEngine.
Getting Started with the CDN List
We will describe the CDN into three categories.
- CDN with absolutely forever-free plan.
- CDN with generous trial periods (like 12-months)
- Open-sourced CDN with free plan for hosting common scripts such as jQuery, Bootstrap, etc.
- Paid CDN options
Free CDNs for WordPress with a Free-forever Plan
Cloudflare is regarded as the best free content delivery network (CDN) for WordPress users. It is one of the few industry-leading companies that provide a free plan forever. Cloudflare provides speed, dependability, and protection from basic DDoS attacks thanks to its 115 datacenters. It also has a WordPress plugin that is active on over 100,000 websites. According to Cloudflare’s claiming, More than 26,000,000 internet properties use them.
For personal websites with a maximum upload size of 100 MB, Cloudflare provides a free plan. You can upgrade your account at any moment to gain more features such as mobile optimization and firewall security.
Cloudflare is also known for its exceptional DDoS defense, which is made possible by its worldwide network. For DDoS assault, you can activate the “Under Attack” button for extra safety.
WordPress users can enable the best free CDN services by installing the Cloudflare WordPress plugin after signing up. Their free plan contains restrictions, and the paid plan starts at $20 per month.
2. Imperva (Incapsula)
Imperva (previously Incapsula) offers cloud-based application delivery services such as global content delivery networks, website security, DDoS protection, load balancing, and failover. It only takes 5 minutes to sign up for the service, and they offer a terrific free plan as well as a WordPress plugin for getting accurate IP address information for comments left on your site.
Imperva’s global CDN employs innovative caching and optimization techniques to enhance connection and response times while cutting bandwidth costs.
Speeds can be increased by up to 50% when bandwidth consumption is reduced by up to 60% when using Imperva.
Imperva provides similar features like Cloudflare: –
- routed website traffic through the internationally spread network of high-performance servers using a small DNS change.
- Real-time threat detection and blocking of the latest web attacks, including multi-gigabit DDoS attacks
- Outgoing traffic is sped up thanks to their internationally distributed content delivery network.
3. Jetpack Photon
Jetpack is familiar to all WordPress users. They’ve added a free CDN service (named Photon) that feeds your site’s pictures across their globally powered WordPress.com grid as part of their latest upgrade of awesomeness. To enable this service, download and install Jetpack, then turn on the Photon module.
It boosts your loading time by loading pictures from the WordPress.com data centers with their Photon module. While not a true free CDN, Jetpack Photon is an excellent way to speed up your WordPress by using a plugin to outsource the delivery of pictures hosted on Jetpack-connected sites.
Jetpack Photon is dedicated to images and will be handy for websites that utilize a lot of photos on their pages.
Because this supplier is primarily concerned with performance, they are lacking in terms of security. While they offer some protection, such as blocking brute-force attacks, they lack more complex features like DDoS prevention.
How to use the Photon by JetPack module on your WordPress site? Follow the tutorial if you plan to use it.
To begin, download and install the plugin.
To enable Photon, go to the plugin page in your WordPress dashboard and click the Switch. It turns on your website’s free CDN for images.
4. Shift8 CDN
A free CDN solution has been developed and offered by Shift8, a web design agency in Canada. It has a large number of endpoints around the world, making it a viable choice. We were surprised to see a private company offer such a service for free, but they appear to have succeeded.
It’s run by a WordPress plugin that you need to install and activate. The free plan provides a 2-URL limit and community forums support. Besides, you can upgrade to a paid subscription plan that includes Brotli compression, a 10-URL limit, and premium support.
5. Anyone CDN
It is a free CDN service maintained by a single person named Ferdian Alfianto. Anyone CDN is funded by contributions. The only enforceable restriction is fair usage. So, no single URL on their free CDN service can consume more than 20% of their bandwidth.
You should contact the developer if you come across any problems so that they can improve it. It is because the service is currently in a BETA condition. In the background, Cloudflare, StackPath, and BunnyCDN power the service.
There are a few feature restrictions. But for the total price of zero, one should expect certain limitations. You can use the CDN enabler plugin to make it work on WordPress, and then add the URL created via the Anyone CDN website to the plugin’s CDN URL.
Offloading your images to another server is an excellent idea if you have a website that is largely reliant on images (think photography/design portfolios). You’d wind up saving a significant amount of bandwidth.
Cloudinary is a powerful image management tool that can host your photos, resize them on the fly, and do a lot more. They can help you manage your video and digital assets too. At present, they offer 25K transformations or 25GB of storage and 25GB of bandwidth in their forever-free plan + 25 Monthly credits.
7. Cloud storage services
One of the best strategies to reduce server bandwidth is to use free cloud storage services to host the downloadable files on your website. Upload the downloaded files to your cloud storage account, make them public, and post the download link on your page.
Here are a few options for free cloud storage:
8. Imgur / Photobucket / Flckr Image Hosted Site
Imgur is a popular image hosting platform that is fast, dependable, and ideal for novices. If you’re just getting started and need a quick way to conserve server bandwidth, Imgur, as well as other popular picture storage services like PhotoBucket and Flickr, should suffice.
Free CDNs for WordPress with a Generous Trial Period
9. AWS Cloudfront (1 Year)
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a leader in making high-performance cloud computing accessible to the general public at a low cost. Amazon CloudFront, a leading content delivery network utilized by companies including Slack and Spotify, is one of their services.
It is not a completely free service, although it does offer a year of free service. Although Amazon Cloudfront has a 50GB restriction, this is usually sufficient for getting started or for the first few months as you establish your bearings.
When it comes to cloud services, AWS is one of the most powerful, with several firms relying on it to fuel their operations. Spotify, Slack, and Dropbox are all powered by the global CDN. AWS infrastructure supports tens of thousands of other well-known and popular services.
To begin, you may utilize the WP Offload S3 Lite plugin, which allows you to connect your Amazon S3 (storage) and Amazon CloudFront (content delivery network) services to your WordPress site.
10. Google Cloud CDN (1 Year + $300 Free)
Google Cloud, like AWS, gives $300 credits over a year in exchange for access to their Cloud CDN technology. It is a cloud platform that works like AWS’ Cloudfront service.
While this is a viable solution, it is recommended for individuals having a complicated WordPress infrastructure with regular significant traffic stress rather than the average user.
11. Microsoft Azure CDN (15 Days + $200 Credits)
Azure Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a CDN service provided by Azure Cloud Platform that allows online or cloud services to store and retrieve data across multiple content servers and locations. By locating content delivery or storage servers close to customers, Azure CDN helps provide greater bandwidth and faster data delivery ( in different geographical areas).
Microsoft Azure presently offers a 15-day trial of its services (as of Nov 11, 2021) with $200 in credits. The Azure CDN is available in several locations throughout the world.
Free Open-Source CDN For Developers to Host libraries
Taking advantage of this, as with other similar providers, can considerably increase the performance of Ajax applications, as the contents of such files are cached on numerous servers across the world, in addition to reusability of the same files through browser caching.
13. Google Hosted Libraries
In their super-fast infrastructure, Google offers free hosting for some of the most popular libraries. This is a fantastic feature for WordPress theme and plugin authors to have.
Cdnjs is a community-powered CDN that powers over 320,000 websites, similar to the philosophy behind Bootstrap. Cloudflare, UserApp, Algolia, and Digital Ocean are the current sponsors and supporters. The goal of cdnjs is to host popular libraries for the benefit of developers and internet users in general. It presently hosts approximately 3,400 libraries.
Because these files are usually cached in the browser, the availability of identical URLs for such libraries used by many websites makes the web faster for everyone.
Developers who have created libraries for public consumption can utilize the cdnjs free CDN to distribute their work because it’s available as a Github repository.
16. Bootstrap CDN
Bootstrap is a popular framework for creating responsive websites that are used by millions of websites worldwide. To execute the framework, it needs a lot of CSS and JS files (or libraries), which are usually provided on a CDN. StackPath proudly hosts the Bootstrap files on behalf of Bootstrap, however, you can’t use this service to host any other files.
FontAwesome and Bootswatch, which are both “tools” that require the inclusion of some files in your project to permit download and usage, are also hosted on the same site.
Popular Paid CDN Services For WordPress
Now that we’ve seen some free options, we’ll look at the paid WordPress CDN services, which we believe are the superior option. We feel that paying for a service is always the best option. We believe that opting for such services is a better choice.
1. StackPatch CDN
We can only praise StackPatch because they have edge servers across the globe and robust architecture to handle all types of attacks and traffic levels.
One feature of the business that you’ll love is the superb customer service. You’ll be surprised with the care they do dealing with your problem. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee and a free trial, so there’s no danger.
Price: $20/month with a free trial period of one month.
2. JetPack (Site Accelerator)
This is another service we’ve mentioned because they provide both a personal (free) and a premium service with several additional features. Given that Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, is behind this service, you can rest confident that it is one of the top WordPress CDN services available.
3. Sucuri CDN
Sucuri is well-known for its web security service, which effectively ensures that your website is safe from web-based threats.
However, because the service acts as a reverse proxy to defend your site from attacks, it also offers CDN-based website performance packages. Sucuri’s performance CDN is based on a worldwide Anycast network with 10 SuperPOPs in the United States, Europe, and Asia and two CDN POPs in Australia and Brazil.
You can use DNS modifications to enable the CDN once you’ve subscribed to the Sucuri Web Application Firewall. The Pro version costs $299 per year. However, keep in mind that you get all of the CDN’s features and the web application firewalls.
4. Imperva CDN
We have already mentioned this CDN service above. Undoubtedly, it is one of the best paid CDN service for WordPress.
Swarmify (formerly known as SwarmCDN) is a peer-to-peer content delivery network with a free plan that includes 10GB of bandwidth (only for photos).
Swarmify can be used as an add-on to distribute and cache your website’s image and video assets, but not other web page files like CSS or HTML. You can still use Swarmify as an add-on to offload your bandwidth-intensive media files if you’re currently using another service.
Swarmify was once a completely free CDN, but they recently switched to a subscription model with a free trial.
Download the WordPress plugin and give it a shot to see how it works. It’s worth noting that Swarmify operates in a slightly different way.
MetaCDN provides a free 7-day trial. It has the following features:
- MetaCDN, like Internap, provides thorough use and performance reporting.
- When a visitor wants to access your website, the fastest server location is chosen. If there are numerous providers in a given region, the resources will be served faster.
CDN77 is a premium CDN service that offers a secure, dependable, and cost-effective solution. HTTP/2, free Instant SSL certificates with TLS 1.3, Gzip and Brotli compression, DDoS prevention, Hotlink protection, and many other features are all supported by CDN77.
It has two main services: static file processing and distribution and video processing and delivery. CDN77 currently supports four WordPress plugins – WP Fastest Cache, ZenCache, W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache, and many other CMS integrations (Joomla, Drupal, Magento, Prestashop, and others). It has over 35 points of presence with data centers on five continents and a network capacity of 30 Tbps+.
CDN77 offers both monthly and pay-as-you-go plans with no commitments, as well as enterprise-level high-volume services. The free CDN trial does not require a credit card.
Everything good has to come to an end. There have been cases where free CDNs have stopped supplying their services or have shut down – which leads us to an essential conclusion. So, it’s good to pay a little bit for good CDN services.