What is the Best CDN for WordPress?

Last Updated March 22, 2021 · WordPress

What is the Best CDN for WordPress?

At Link Software, WordPress is the primary content management system we recommend for our client’s projects. It’s easy to use, well-supported, and is one of the most dominant website publishing solutions used online today. Of course, like any piece of complicated software, WordPress has its own set of flaws and issues.

One of the main problems people run into when using WordPress is its speed. WordPress, as an open-source project, aims to support and run on as many hosting configurations as possible. If you want to optimize your WordPress-powered website for speed you’ll have to do some things on your own. And that’s where a CDN, or content delivery network, comes into play. Let’s go over just what a content delivery network is and what the best CDN for WordPress is at the moment.


The Benefits of Using a CDN with WordPress

All websites require standard hosting, and those powered by WordPress are no exception. A hosting service will provide you access to a server for hosting your website’s files but you can do more. A CDN is a smart investment to make your site load faster.

A CDN is a supplemental hosting service that involves the use of a network of servers to quickly deliver cached website content to visitors. Some of them have hundreds of servers, whereas other CDNs have thousands of servers. Regardless, each server within a CDN will store copies of your website’s content. When a visitor requests a piece of content, the CDN will deliver it to him or her from the nearest server.

While not required, subscribing to a CDN service can benefit your WordPress website in several ways. Let’s go through the benefits of content delivery networks and help you choose the best CDN for WordPress websites.

Faster Page Loading

A CDN will result in faster page loading. Slow page loading is a concern for WordPress websites. Since WordPress uses a database, websites running it may suffer from slower load times. Fortunately, a CDN will allow you to overcome this technical restraint. It will make your WordPress website noticeably faster by reducing the physical distance between visitors and the content they request.

Visitors will encounter shorter load times if you use a CDN. The CDN will serve visitors content from the server that’s closest to their respective location. With a shorter physical distance between your website’s content and its visitors, pages will load more quickly.

Install More WordPress Plugins

You’ll be able to install more plugins on your website by using a CDN. Plugins offer a quick and easy way to enhance your website with additional features. Maybe you want to add a carousel photo gallery to your website, or maybe you want to filter spam comments from it. There are plugins for these and countless other features.

The problem with plugins, however, is that they can contribute to slow page loading. The more plugins you activate on your website, the slower it will become. A CDN will offset the long load times attributed to plugins. It will promote faster page loading so that you can activate and use more plugins on your WordPress website.

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Better WordPress Security

A CDN will shield your WordPress website from cyber attacks. It’s arguably one of the best tools, in fact, to defend against Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) cyber attacks. According to research conducted by NetScout, nearly 9 million websites per year are targeted by a DDoS cyber attack. Many of these targeted websites are powered by WordPress.

DDoS cyber attacks are a form of spam. They involve a bad actor spamming your website with many requests. Unlike comment spam, though, DDoS cyber attacks are more than a mere nuisance; if not prevented, they can take your website offline. Servers can only process and respond to so many Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) header requests until they buckle under pressure.

A CDN can protect your website from DDoS cyber attacks in two ways. First, it will leverage the resources of a network of servers. Even if one of the servers becomes overloaded with requests, other servers will likely remain operational to ensure your website remains up and running.  Second, CDNs support the use of a firewall. Many of them offer a web application firewall (WAF) that’s capable of blocking malicious traffic, including DDoS requests.

Cheaper WordPress Web Hosting

While CDN services aren’t free, they can save you money on web hosting. There’s no such thing as unlimited web hosting. Whether you use shared hosting, virtual private server (VPS) hosting or dedicated hosting, your website will have access to a limited amount of resources.

Web hosting plans are often priced based on the amount of resources they offer. Expensive plans, of course, offer more resources than cheap plans. By subscribing to a CDN service, you may be able to downgrade to a lower-cost web hosting plan. The CDN itself will offer server resources, so your website won’t be dependent on the resources of its main server.

Improved SEO

A CDN can even improve your WordPress website’s search engine optimization (SEO). By using a CDN, search engines may move your website higher up the organic search results.

Search engines don’t use CDNs as a ranking signal. In other words, their algorithms won’t increase your website’s rankings just because your website uses a CDN. But a CDN will still make your website more favorable to search engines. It will result in faster page loading, for instance. Search engines analyze page loading speed as a ranking signal, so a CDN may indirectly push your website higher up the organic search results.

Visitors will also be more active and engaged on your website with a CDN. With fast page loading, they’ll stay longer during their sessions, visit more pages, post more comments and perform other interactions. Strong engagement such as this will encourage search engines to award your website with better rankings.

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The Best CDN for WordPress

There are a lot of CDN providers to choose from now. Unfortunately, it’s reached the point where there are so many choices that picking the right one can be difficult. We’ll walk you through some of the most common content delivery networks on the market and explain to you their cost and how they integrate with WordPress. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will have a good idea of what is the best CDN for WordPress considering your own site’s needs and your budget.

Jetpack Logo

Jetpack

Jetpack, a mega-plugin and suite of services from WordPress.com, comes with the ability to add a CDN service to your website. The Jetpack CDN is a free service available to all users of the plugin. It not only services your site’s images on their network but it handles static CSS and Javascript files a well. In terms of set up, all you need to do is install Jetpack on your site and you can enable the CDN feature with a single click on the plugin’s dashboard.

There are problems with Jetpack though. For starters, your control is very limited. Many CDNs allow their users to selectively purge, or delete, files from the cache in order to replace them with something new. Jetpack doesn’t offer that level of control. When you need to update an image you will have to upload the new version with a brand new filename. That can be inconvenient if you are changing an image that appears in many posts and pages on your site. In addition, Jetpack is probably one of the most bloated WordPress plugins out there. It will definitely fill your WordPress admin up with a lot of features, and annoying upsell notifications, that your site will not need. Finally, the network Jetpack uses isn’t as robust or fast as some others on our list.

Even with all of those issues, we think Jetpack offers the best free CDN for WordPress. If your project is on a tight budget, and your website is very slow, this is probably the first option you should try. You can always switch to a different content delivery network later on when your needs, and financial situation, change.

StackPath Logo

StackPath

Formally MaxCDN, StackPath is a very popular content delivery network that you can easily use with WordPress. Of the choices in this post, we think StackPath is probably the most technical option. It’s certainly the least friendly to non-technical WordPress users. StackPath offers no free CDN plans but it does come with a complete feature set across all tiered plans. Essentially, the different edge service plans offered by StackPath dictate how much bandwidth and how many firewall requests your website can serve through their network.

Regardless of the cost, all StackPath CDN plans come with unlimited CDN requests, unlimited rules, free SSL certificates, and strong amounts of DDoS protection. StackPath offers additional bandwidth, at fairly reasonable rates, if your site runs over the limit in a given month. You can also pay for extra firewall rules if that’s something you find that you need.

Overall, StackPath is a good choice for a WordPress CDN. It’s not the cheapest option or the simplest to use, but their network has a strong reputation for performance. They also offer a lot of secondary services that, while not related directly to WordPress, you might find useful for other business applications.

Cloudflare Logo

Cloudflare

Cloudflare is the CDN choice we recommend the most to our clients at Link Software. They offer a variety of plans to choose from and the more you are willing to pay the more features and protection you receive. Having said that, their free plan is a great starting place for most WordPress websites. In addition to the basic CDN service, the free plan offers SSL certificates, DDoS protection, and a limited set of page rules to customize your caching. The higher-tier plans (Pro, Business, and Enterprise) offer the same basic feature set as the free plan. The extras you get include extra caching rules, enhanced security options, and improved caching and performance.

Our clients with larger than normal websites all use Cloudflare. We typically recommend them for WordPress sites that feature heavy uses of photos and images, a lot of Javascript, or are running a larger than normal amount of plugins. Cloudflare’s interface is incredibly easy to use and setting up the CDN service itself can be done in a matter of minutes. Their page rules and purging options make customizing the cache a breeze. The Pro plan, in particular, is a very good deal and includes privacy-first analytics on top of everything else.

Cloudflare is more than just a CDN now. Its feature set, high level of support, and multiple options make it the leader in the field. It’s perfectly suited for small sites looking to get an edge and huge content-centered sites pushing the limits of WordPress.


Starting Using a CDN Today

You can launch a WordPress website using nothing more than a standard web hosting service, but subscribing to a CDN service is well worth the investment. A CDN will make your site faster, allow you to install more plugins, protect against DDoS cyber-attacks, reduce the cost of web hosting and improve your site’s SEO.

Let us know if you have any questions about starting with a content delivery network. Link Software has provided custom WordPress development services for many years. We can help you choose the best CDN for WordPress and assist you in implementing it on your website.

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