Best CDN Providers for 2021

By Sonja Balaban January 26, 2021

With traffic and reach growing every day, running any website is not as simple as it used to be. An unforeseen influx of seasonal shoppers can spell a slow loading disaster or even crash your website. Luckily, the solution for making your site faster and more stable is called a content delivery network.

In our guide, you’ll find useful information about CDNs and whether you need one, so if you’re looking for the best CDN for your online service, you’ve come to the right place.

Best CDN Service Providers

  • Affordable plans
  • Fair money-back guarantee
  • Unlimited requests
  • Limited servers in Asia
Best price $10/mo
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  • Free basic plan
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Vast server network
  • Limited free plan
Best price $0/mo
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  • Free trial
  • High-speed CDN
  • Many customization options
  • Expensive
Best price $50/mo
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  • Affordable
  • Free 30-day trial
  • Easy to use
  • 24/7 support
  • Minimum $49 payment
Best price $49/mo
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  • Multiple compression tools
  • Flexible pricing
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Raw logs available
  • Minimum $199 monthly plan
Best price $199/mo
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Why do I need a CDN service?

Before you can answer that question, you need to know what a content delivery network (CDN) is and what the various content delivery network providers are supposed to offer you.

As the name suggests, a CDN serves as additional horsepower for delivering the content on a given webpage to your visitors. The way a CDN works is by storing a copy of the files your website uses across several geographical locations, serving the visitor through the server closest to them. This method drastically reduces load times, thus increasing engagement.

However, a CDN isn’t a web hosting alternative – you still need someone to host your site for you. Once you have that covers, the top CDN providers will provide your site with file caching and additional space for storing scripts and images in case a service cutout happens. In short, a service like this can improve the experience for your customers in many ways.

Improving Site Speed

If your website loads slowly, you’re likely to lose customers. Most internet users have high-speed internet connections. With a DSL or a faster option, they’re used to practically instantaneous webpage loading. It’s a matter of keeping up with times, especially if you expect a high traffic volume for your website. The main advantage of working with CDN service providers is decreasing the ping and allowing visitors quicker access to your platform.

It’s also a matter of staying well-ranked on search engines. Google and other search engines highly value fast websites that keep their visitors engaged and their bounce rate low. A slow website is a surefire way not only to lose your user base but to fall to the dreaded second page of Google search results. After all, no one ever goes there, so neither should your website. And if you get the best CDN host for your money, you won’t have to.

Better Stability

This year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers managed to overload a bunch of websites during peak hours. There was also that infamous PlayStation 5 pre-order disaster where the onslaught of customers and automated bots brought down many gaming stores. What CDN would have done in this instance would be to offload traffic from the central server across the whole network, thus keeping the site stable and fast. For owners of high-traffic websites, using a top CDN to supply server power has become a must, unless they’re prepared to lose customers.

Decreases Overall Costs

While this is not immediately obvious in the short-term, a CDN can save you plenty of money. Instead of getting an expensive cloud server, lots of backups, and whatnot, you can purchase a smaller plan and invest the remainder of your money into a content delivery network. Overall, you’ll end up spending less money while getting better results on your big websites with a top CDN provider if you’re in it for the long haul. What’s more, you’ll have fewer tech support calls to bring crashed websites back, as previously mentioned.

1. StackPath

" Best Overall "

  • Number of websites
    unlimited
  • Locations
    45
  • Bandwidth
    1 TB
  • Real-time analytics
  • Origin Shield

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Affordable plans
  • Fair money-back guarantee
  • Unlimited requests
  • Limited servers in Asia

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Affordable plans
  • Fair money-back guarantee
  • Unlimited requests
  • Limited servers in Asia
  • Number of websites
    unlimited
  • Locations
    45
  • Bandwidth
    1 TB
  • Real-time analytics
  • Origin Shield

This Dallas-based company has become one of the most prominent CDN service providers since its founding in 2015. StackPath has already built a network of servers in 45 locations across Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Americas, establishing itself as a contender for the best CDN provider title.

CDN hosting at StackPath is reasonably priced and includes neat additions, the most important of which is Origin Shield. It serves as the initial caching point from which all edge locations pull data, sparing the bandwidth of your primary server. Purging the cache from the whole network takes literal milliseconds – visitors will never see a dated page. Even the basic plan comes with 1 TB of free traffic, with pricier plans offering more customization options.

If you’re looking for affordable CDN hosting, StackPath is an excellent choice. The starting price is just $10 a month for unlimited websites and requests, with 24/7 direct customer support and 1 TB of bandwidth. Additional traffic costs $0.04/GB up to 100 TB, and then it drops to $0.03/GB. For customers that need a more expansive plan, Edge Delivery plans add managed DNS, a firewall, and edge rules for $20+ a month. There are no hidden fees here: You’ll know exactly what you’re paying for.

Final Thoughts

StackPath simplifies the setup, management, and pricing of a CDN. And with its fantastic support team, it truly is one of the best, if not the best content delivery network provider on the market.

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2. Cloudflare

" Best Free CDN "

  • Number of websites
    unlimited
  • Locations
    200+
  • Bandwidth
    unlimited
  • Image optimization
  • Fast cache purge

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Free basic plan
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Vast server network
  • Limited free plan

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Free basic plan
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Vast server network
  • Limited free plan
  • Number of websites
    unlimited
  • Locations
    200+
  • Bandwidth
    unlimited
  • Image optimization
  • Fast cache purge

Cloudflare is a name people immediately associate with content delivery: It is by far the most renowned company in the business, with a massive CDN network and an unbeatable value proposition. After all, you can’t really go cheaper than completely free.

Cloudflare isn’t popular just because it’s the best free CDN out there, though. First of all, the company has incredible coverage, with servers in more than 100 countries across six continents. The only setup requirement is a DNS update, with no need to alter code. The biggest surprise is the fact that Cloudflare isn’t trying to coax its users into purchasing premium plans: Regardless of the plan they’re on, every user gets unlimited bandwidth, as well as threat blocking with DDoS and content spam protection.

You might be wondering why anyone would go premium, but Cloudflare’s paid plans have the best CDN for images. Upgrading to the Business or Enterprise plans gets you Cloudflare’s image-optimization software that reduces files in real time – a must-have tool for websites targeting smartphone audiences. On top of that, upgrading nets you priority in customer support queues and an improved firewall, making the switch from the free plan ever more worthwhile.

Final Thoughts

Cloudflare remains at the very top of the CDN world, even with ever-fiercer competition. Whether you want unlimited bandwidth for the unbeatable price of zero dollars or the premium image-optimization tools, it is hands-down the best freemium and the best image CDN.

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3. Fastly

" Best for Big Companies "

  • Number of websites
    unlimited
  • Locations
    55
  • Bandwidth
    unlimited
  • High-speed CDN
  • Very customizable

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Free trial
  • High-speed CDN
  • Many customization options
  • Expensive

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Free trial
  • High-speed CDN
  • Many customization options
  • Expensive
  • Number of websites
    unlimited
  • Locations
    55
  • Bandwidth
    unlimited
  • High-speed CDN
  • Very customizable

What do Spotify and Reddit have in common, other than being the largest platforms in their niche? Just one thing – they both use Fastly. A CDN designed to provide lightning access to your content all around the world, it operates in dozens of countries. Each Fastly server is equipped with cutting-edge hardware to ensure near-instant connectivity. Many consider it the best CDN for video.

Fastly’s server achieves the fastest results in testing and purges its cache across all servers at an impressive pace, within 150 ms. It employs HTTP-based media streaming protocols optimized for audio and video delivery and maintains high-level security for each connection. Thanks to its event-based cache and so-called “surrogate keys,” you’ll also be able to clear specific cache content, like images, news posts, etc.

Fastly charges you as you go, meaning that your monthly costs will be directly affected by traffic. In other words, it’s not the ideal affordable CDN provider and has no pre-built plans. You can technically try it for free, but as soon as you reach $50 of traffic – roughly 400 GB – Fastly will start charging you according to your location. You’re expected to pay at least $50 a month, with the combined price starting at $0.12 per GB for the first 10 TB and $0.0075 per 10,000 requests.

Final Thoughts

Upgrading from Cloudflare to Fastly is a big step forward, but it doesn’t come cheap. As the name says, it may well be one of the best CDN providers in terms of speed and features, but you’ll need some deep pockets.

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4. KeyCDN

" Best Budget CDN "

  • Number of websites
    unlimited
  • Locations
    33
  • Bandwidth
    plan-dependent
  • Image processing
  • Origin Shield

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Affordable
  • Free 30-day trial
  • Easy to use
  • 24/7 support
  • Minimum $49 payment

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Affordable
  • Free 30-day trial
  • Easy to use
  • 24/7 support
  • Minimum $49 payment
  • Number of websites
    unlimited
  • Locations
    33
  • Bandwidth
    plan-dependent
  • Image processing
  • Origin Shield

KeyCDN founders understand that not everyone is running the world’s largest content platform, and, sometimes, they might not want to overspend on a CDN. That understanding is just one of the things that helped KeyCDN grow into one of the top content delivery network providers.

Setting up your CDN is a breeze: Choose between origin pull or push, whether you want to copy the files from your website automatically, or you plan on uploading everything via FTP, and you’re practically set. KeyCDN doesn’t have too many servers, but they’re housed in crucial locations to cover most of the world. Security is top-notch, too. You’ll get an Origin Shield and a choice between a free TLS- or a custom certificate. If you host a lot of images, KeyCDN can process them all for the low price of $1 per 2,000 operations.

And that’s not the only affordable aspect. Like some other best content delivery networks, it charges based on your network’s traffic, starting with $0.04/GB for North America and Europe. The minimum monthly cost is just $4 – significantly cheaper than Fastly – but the minimum payment is $49, although you can spread these funds over the year. You can try our KeyCDN for free for 14 days.

Final Thoughts

KeyCDN is an ideal choice for the small online store-owners who are just starting to expand their business with content delivery networks. With a set of neat features for a more-than-affordable price, this is the best CDN, to begin with.

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5. CDN77

" Best for File Hosting "

  • Number of websites
    unlimited
  • Locations
    44
  • Bandwidth
    unlimited
  • WordPress and Drupal integration
  • Multiple compression tools

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Multiple compression tools
  • Flexible pricing
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Raw logs available
  • Minimum $199 monthly plan

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Multiple compression tools
  • Flexible pricing
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Raw logs available
  • Minimum $199 monthly plan
  • Number of websites
    unlimited
  • Locations
    44
  • Bandwidth
    unlimited
  • WordPress and Drupal integration
  • Multiple compression tools

The name CDN77 probably won’t ring a bell to the average internet user. CDN77 serves companies like Scania, CentOS, and the European Space Agency with its large-file hosting and substantial compression capabilities. It certainly deserves a spot on our top CDN providers list. It is an ideal service for users that don’t need blazing speeds but do need quality storage.

Signing up with CDN77 gets you 50 GB of free storage. Along with that and servers in 44 worldwide locations, you’ll get integrated support for several popular CMS platforms and world-class compression tools. An SSL certificate is also included, with the option to upgrade to an A-graded certificate. Though it may not be the fastest in the business, feature-wise, CDN77 is still a top content delivery network.

Your monthly plan can start from $199 for 6 TB of bandwidth. After that, any overage will run you the industry average of $0.045/GB. If you buy a higher-tier plan, your overages get lower. You can upgrade your storage, too: for example, $20 a month will get you an extra 150 GB; you can also get more than that. However, the monthly plans are on the expensive side, even without additional storage options. As mentioned, the minimum monthly plan costs $199 for 6 TB of bandwidth, and the price more-or-less doubles for each of the four higher tiers.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re looking for the best WordPress CDN or a network for hosting large files, CDN77 is a number one choice. It may not be the speediest option, but it offers more storage than the competition and many ways to protect your website against potential hacking. However, if fast connections are the lifeblood of your website, CDN77 is not the service for you.

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Our Methodology for Reviewing the Best CDN Providers

Now that we know how a CDN system benefits website owners, we can move to the next step – finding the best of the bunch. We explored the different options currently available on the market using our tried and true methodology to determine which providers offer the best service to their customers and ranked each service accordingly.

Network Size

Any provider claiming to be the best CDN service needs to have a formidably-sized network of servers worldwide. The more servers there are, the better. On top of that, they need to be adequately distributed: Dozens of servers won’t do any good if they’re all in one place, so we’re putting these requirements in the same basket – you simply can’t have one without the other.

Bandwidth Allowance

The bigger a website is, and the more visitors it gets, the more bandwidth it will need. So while you’re choosing the best content delivery network for you, look for a service that provides plenty of bandwidth. Nobody wants to lose customers if their CDN runs out of juice for that month. Of course, you can get monitoring software to go alongside the CDN to know when you need to upgrade the monthly bandwidth.

Security

One of the reasons many website owners choose to use a content delivery network is to improve their platform’s overall security. Whether via SSL certificates, preventing DDoS or malware attacks, the best CDN should not only speed up your website but also protect it against hackers.

Pricing

While it’s primarily important for a content delivery network to be fast and secure, we can’t forget CDN pricing in our evaluation. These services are subscription-based, so we examined all the plans and add-ons, as well as any possible discounts for multi-year contracts or similar offers. Then, we compared prices across different services and evaluated the value proposition based on the features to finally determine which companies offer the best CDN services.

FAQ

Does a CDN really help?

Yes, especially on websites that see heavy or frequent traffic spikes. With traditional hosting, a sudden surge of visitors can easily lead to massive slowdowns or even bring the whole site crashing down. A CDN will offload that traffic, serving visitors with better loading speeds, and vastly improve your website’s stability.

Is Cloudflare a good CDN?

You can scroll up and read our review for full disclosure, but in short, Cloudflare is considered to be one of the best content delivery network providers in the world. It’s a top-rated service that you can use for free. Its paid plans won’t break your bank, either. We highly recommend this service.

How do I choose a CDN?

There are a few simple rules when choosing a CDN: You should be looking for servers close to your target audience that provide the best performance for the type of content you’re offering the most. You’ll need 24/7 customer support to resolve any issue quickly, and you’ll want an affordable CDN.

When should you not use a CDN?

Not everyone needs to upgrade to a content delivery network. How complicated is your website? If it’s not a sprawling web of pages with tons of code, you’re probably fine with a regular web host. Low traffic is another reason not to get a CDN, as is most of the traffic coming from the same location. Finally, if your website is already fast, you don’t need a content distribution network.

Is there a free CDN?

There are services that offer the best CDN features with free starter plans for customers that don’t require massive server systems. Of course, purchasing any advanced package will greatly improve website performance and provide many more useful features, should you opt for it.