CDN Comparison - Most Popular CDNs of 2021
Mobile visitors to a website that takes longer than three seconds to load are more likely to abandon the page and never look back. This makes the performance of digital content key in determining how wide a swath of the public it reaches. Speed and reliability are more than just important user experience parameters, they're also decisive in search engine rankings.
The best way to speed up your website is to make use of content delivery networks (CDNs). These server networks deliver content from regional servers to end-users, making it possible to deliver even large amounts of data.
Statistics - the Most Popular CDNs in 2021
In order to determine the most popular CDNs, we evaluated 5 million of the most-visited websites. Below, we've presented our findings.
Cloudflare, with more than 6 million linked domains, is far and away the leading CDN provider on the market. One major reason for the service's popularity is its free plan which offers all of the most important features that a CDN should, meeting the needs of most private users or amateur programmers in the process.
The provider is easy to set up, handle, and offers users with a well-arranged interface, all of which have certainly contributed to making Cloudflare a very popular allrounder among CDNs.
Cloudflare has a reputation for being all-rounder among CDNs.
In addition to emphasizing performance, Cloudflare also focuses on security, offering DDoS protection and, for paying subscribers, an effective firewall. Also included are free SSL encryption and a highly versatile analytical tool.
Despite its impressive performance, Cloudflare scores lower in regard to speed, having to settle for a place in the middle of the CDNPerf ranking. As another drawback, additional features and functions are only available to paying subscribers, plans for which start at $20 per month. Services that have high requirements, like live streaming, aren't supported either.
Extensive free plan - no bandwidth limits
Good performance owing to large server network
Easy to set up and use
Pronounced security features (DDoS protection and firewall)
Extensive analytical tool
Limited support for non-paying subscribers
jsDelivr is a free public CDN for open-source content that has grown to become a favorite among developers owing to its integration of open-source developer platforms, making it the second most popular CDN from our sample. In contrast to other CDN providers, jsDelivr doesn't operate its own server network, relying instead on other CDNs like Cloudflare, Fastly, and Bunny.
Based on location and the provider's current performance, the service's algorithm presents users with the best available channel. This helps to not only guarantee fast loading times but also protects against potential service disruptions.
jsDelivr offers quick loading times and unique features.
jsDelivr is closely linked to GitHub and npm, two open-source platforms, making it possible to transfer data in a flash and without any prior setup. Some features, like the ability to load multiple files with a single HTTP request, or version aliasing (the automatic upload of the latest version of a project) are unique amongst CDN providers.
Fast and reliable thanks to the usage of multiple CDNs
Free and open-source
Easy to integrate open-source content owing to integrations with GitHub, npm, and WordPress
Extensive features; specifically designed to meet the needs of developers
As a publicly-available network, support is provided primarily provided by the user community
Potentially too complex for simple projects
Amazon CloudFront is the ecommerce giant's CDN system. As part of Amazon Web Services (AWS), it relies on Amazon's global infrastructure, through which it reliably delivers content of all sizes. CloudFront can easily be combined with other AWS apps like Amazon S3 or Amazon EC2, providing both developers and businesses with highly versatile design options.
The CDN also offers a great deal of customization, such as extremely detailed server settings. Security is highly emphasized too, thanks to the incorporation of services like AWS Shield Standard, which protects against DDoS attacks.
CloudFront is part of Amazon's digital empire.
Anyone who has already worked with AWS will quickly find their way around CloudFront, since the interface is the same. For newcomers, the user interface can be somewhat overwhelming owing to the variety of options.
Once everything has been configured, CloudFront impresses thanks to its comprehensive analytical tools. These make it possible, for example, to set custom alarms when data limits are exceeded. As such, Amazon CloudFront is well-suited for both static, as well as more complex dynamic content, such as streaming.
CloudFront's price is calculated based on how much data is needed and per GB. The pricing structure is rather complicated and varies from target region to target region. Users can test the service for free for a year, so long as they don't exceed the (monthly) data volume of 50 GB and/or 2 million HTTP and HTTPS requests.
Fast and reliable
Comprehensive package - ability to flexibly adjust server settings
Includes the integration of other Amazon services
Free to try for a year
Relatively complex pricing model, especially for newcomers
Complicated (overloaded) user interface
CDN Trends in 2021
The market for CDNs is constantly undergoing and adapting to change. Since CDNs have become recognized as a regular tool, customer requirements for enhanced customizability and flexibility have grown. New providers, in catering to the needs of specific target groups, have staked our segments of the market, winning large numbers of clients in the process. We took a look at which CDNs have made the greatest strides from 2020 to 2021 in terms of development, as well as some of the current trends.
Netlify is a cloud-computing company that offers hosting and serverless back-end services for web apps and static websites. Its users can create, host, and manage websites or web apps. Like jsDelivr, the company also makes it easy to integrate GitHub and GitLab content.
Netlify has quickly grown in popularity over the past few years.
Founded in 2014, Netlify has experienced rapid growth, counting more than 1 million users as of the time of writing. The service is well-suited for a variety of applications, such as ecommerce sites, web apps, conference pages, global web campaigns, or even sharing documents online.
Netlify's user interface is well-arranged, making it ideal for beginners. The service's Free plan lacks some important features, so, if considering using it the Pro plan, which starts at $19 per month, is advisable.
Easy to integrate Git content
Free SSL and DNS options
No support for dynamic content
Fastly has been on the market for around a decade, doing enough to impress numerous Internet giants, like Shopify, Slack, or Spotify. As an edge cloud-based CDN, Fastly has the advantage of being able to update content to its newest version in real-time.
The service advertises its ability to let users program their server settings, granting complete control over how content is made available to site visitors. Other highlights include the automatic optimization of image content, protection against DDoS attacks, a firewall, and real-time logs which make it possible to quickly identity website problems.
True to its names, Fastly impresses when it comes to speed.
On average, Fastly only needs 150 ms (instant purge) for cache invalidation, compared to the five seconds traditional CDNs require. Fastly also supports all content, including live streaming.
Owing to the number of options it offers, Fastly can be technically overwhelming for beginners, to say nothing of its relatively high price. Fastly offers a trial version that includes $50 worth of traffic. Paid plans are calculated based on the amount of bandwidth used, similarly to Amazon CloudFront.
Real-time content updates
Extensive server settings
High security thanks to DDoS protection and a firewall
Steep learning curve owing to the wealth of features
Google Cloud CDN
Google Cloud CDN makes use of Google's global infrastructure in order to temporarily store cloud content near to its end-user. Integrating Google services like Cloud Monitoring and Cloud Logging is child's play, making it easy to view analytical data.
Owing to the structure of Google's global network (servers in 180 countries) content can be kept particularly close to the end-user, minimizing loading times. According to CDNperf, Google Cloud CDN takes second place in terms of speed, only slightly behind the otherwise unimpressive 5centsCDN.
Google Cloud CDN scores owing to its high speeds.
Support is less impressive. We're fairly certain that the sheer enormity of Google is almost certainly to blame for the rather sluggish response times, but still, that's no excuse.
As with CloudFront, usage costs are calculated based first on how much bandwidth is needed, divided into outgoing cache traffic, cache filling, and HTTP/HTTPS requests, and then by region.
Second-fastest CDN on the market
Integrated with other Google services
Powerful security features
Comparably long support response times
Complicated pricing model; relatively expensive
We've summarized our findings for you in the table below:
Owing to the speed and reliability with which they make content available, CDNs are definitely here to stay. As the only provider which offers a free plan without bandwidth limits, Cloudflare will certainly continue to appeal to a wide body of users. With that said, alternatives that provide extras and additional features, or targeting specific user groups and those who want to create detailed projects, should not be ignored.
Differences between CDNs relate largely to what types of content they support, as well as the options available for customizing performance. The actual difference in speed is difficult to determine since page loading times depend on a variety of factors including location and Internet bandwidth. For most users, these differences (milliseconds) would barely be noticeable, and as such, should not figure all that much in your final decision.
In looking to the future, edge-computing appears to be the trend that CDNs need to pay close attention to. In bringing content closer to where it is needed, a great deal of freedom is gained in terms of individual adjustments. Only time will tell if the providers now contesting the market will be adapt to this development and be able to get in on the ground floor.
What is the most popular CDN?
With more than 6 million linked domains, Cloudflare is hands-down the most-used CDN. This can be traced, in large part, to the service's free plan, which meets the needs of most individual or amateur users.
Which CDN is right for me?
Selecting the right CDN depends on a range of factors, such as the type and size of your project, your needs in terms of customizability and flexibility, as well as your experience using CDNs. Additional factors to consider include what sort of coverage a CDN provides in your area, or for the area in which you want your content to be accessible. For most individual users, the free or basic plans offered by large providers are usually more than adequate. However, if you'd like to have greater control or offer live steaming content, you might want to take a look at some alternatives.
How can I found out which CDN a website is using?
If you like the way a particular website looks and want to know what CDN is in use, check out EXPERTE.com's Technology Check.