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Using a CDN

One problem popular all popular websites face is speed – it takes a lot of bandwidth to serve visitors. While it's fairly easy to offload videos to YouTube, it's not as easy to offload screenshots (and I use a lot of screenshots).

Fortunately there is a solution: a Content Delivery Network (CDN). All the big sites use them and affordable solutions are available for smaller sites – affordable for all webmasters.

What is a CDN? Basically, it’s a network of highly optimized servers all around the world, insuring that you’ll always hit the server that’s closest to you. Rather than receive images served from my California or Arizona server, visitors get images from a server closer to their location, knocking seconds off the delivery speed.

I've been a happy customer MaXCDN for close to 2 years now. I used Amazon's service first and while it was "OK", I thought I'd try MaxCDN for a year, just to see how it was. MaxCDN was so much easier to set up and turned out to be less expensive.

With my three larger sites and a couple of smaller ones, I burn through close to a terabyte and a half of data each year but the (all important!) ROI is excellent. Amazon bills monthly by the amount of bandwidth used and while the fees were affordable, it was more expensive than MaxCDN. I also like paying for blocks of bandwidth, rather than by the month.

When I started using their service, the improvement in page speed was amazing. Before, my front pages would load in 3-4 seconds, measured by Pingdom and webpagetest. My heavy inside pages (some over 1 MB) took 10 seconds, often longer. Now, the front page is snappy and the inside pages load in seconds.

Google hates slow loading pages and traffic increased quite a bit when I switched to the CDN.

MaxCDN was easy to set up. Just configure pull zones in the CDN control panel, then setup the websites to get images and files from the CDN. My WordPress sites use W3 Total Cache to control the files that are hosted in the CDN, while I configured my VBulletin forum manually.

MaxCDN has a 25% off discount. Try it.

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