Choosing the right CDN (Content Delivery Network) is an essential part of owning a website in 2016. There are several CDN providers out there, with CloudFlare and MaxCDN being two of the biggest names in the business. Both of these providers offer a range of excellent services and features, but are unique in their own ways, so it can be hard to decide which one is truly best for your site.
Today, we’ll take a look at both CloudFlare and MaxCDN, identifying the advantages of each CDN service in order to help you choose between them. A CDN, made up of many different servers all around the world, can really give your site an impressive speed boost. This will really encourage your visitors to stick around and become loyal customers, so it’s truly vital to select the best network.
Let’s begin by taking a look at the unique aspects of the CloudFlare service. This CDN can boast of 31 separate data centers spread all across the globe. The majority of these centers are located in highly-populated areas around Europe and the United States, but some can also be found in countries like Chile, South Africa and Japan. As an added bonus, CloudFlare also runs its own site providing information about every single center.
Not only that, but CloudFlare also places a big focus on security. Every site owner and user wants their data to remain as secure as possible, so this is a very important factor to consider when choosing a CDN. CloudFlare offers tools to deal with bots, spamming, DDoS attacks and more. To even gain access to CloudFlare, you have to modify your DNS settings to match theirs.
This means that every time a visitor wants to access your site, they have to pass through the secure CloudFlare systems. This helps to prevent any malicious hacking attacks from taking place on your site and keeps your content secure.
Aside from that, other advantages of CloudFlare include the fact that it is quite easy to use and navigate. It doesn’t take too long to get set up with this CDN and the settings pages are nicely broken up into simple and advanced menus. Novice owners won’t need to change anything, while technical experts can easily find additional settings to configure for extra security or performance advantages.
CloudFlare CDN also comes with a great analytics section that shows you lots of data about your site’s traffic. You can learn all about your visitors and identify the location of any hackers or bots as well. CloudFare also comes with a few dozen apps to provide you with extra features, should you need them.
Now let’s look at MaxCDN. This network is made up of 57 data centers, nearly twice the amount of CloudFlare. Again, most of these centers are spread across the continents of Europe and North America. MaxCDN currently has no centers in Africa or South America, but that could change in the near future. Every center makes use of the latest technologies like SSD storage to provide the fastest speeds possible.
To make use of this CDN on a WordPress site, you have to install a caching plugin. There are many to choose from and a lot of them work very reliably. It’s important to choose the right plugin though, as each one opens up different settings for use with MaxCDN. WP Rocket, for example, gives you four different options for CDNs, while W3 Total Cache offers twenty.
A big advantage of MaxCDN is control. CloudFlare does give you a nice array of options but MaxCDN goes much deeper than that. This service actually allows you to store your cached files on their own separate domain. There, they will be split into groups like Pull Zones, Push Zones or Vod Zones and can be viewed, modified or deleted. You can also view reams of data about your files to help you analyze the ways in which people use your site.
This sort of information can be invaluable for advanced users and could help you to make vital changes to the way in which your business works. On the downside, this CDN service does not offer the same sort of security features as CloudFlare. It has a few basic options to use with your apps, but it won’t take any special measures to guard your site against hacking, spamming or DDoS attacks.
We’ve looked at the features, now let’s compare the prices. CloudFlare comes with four separate plans, one of which is entirely free. This is a big bonus for the provider and appeals to a lot of users. The Free plan comes with great features like analytics, SSL support and as much bandwidth as you need. However, to access the best features you’ll need to pay.
The monthly fee for the Pro plan starts at $20, the Business plan costs $200 and the Enterprise plan is $5,000. MaxCDN runs a different system wherein you pay for the bandwidth you use. You can therefore choose a plan with a set amount of bandwidth, depending on the amount of traffic you expect to receive. You can also pay extra to make use of international centers.
Overall, both of these CDN services have plenty of offer and they are each very different to one another. If speed and security are among your top concerns then CloudFlare is clearly the best choice. However, if you are an advanced user who appreciates a high level of control and advanced caching capabilities then MaxCDN is the right network for you. It’s also worth pointing out that MaxCDN generally seems to have better ratings for its customer support, so this could be an important factor to consider. You might even want to enjoy the advantages of both providers by using them together.