The definitive guide: Choosing the best CDN provider (2019)

choosing the best cdn

If you have a website whether it’s a web application or an online store, chances are you’ve heard about content delivery networks or CDNs. There are countless CDN options on the market, but which exactly is the most suitable option for your website?

The truth is, there’s no answer to this question since every CDN provider has its strengths and weaknesses in different use cases. That’s one of the main reasons why we invented Multi CDN, to enable access to multiple top tier CDN options and use them as one while just paying for the price of one.

Whether you’re comparing CDN providers for your Multi CDN lineup or shopping for a single CDN solution, this article can help you find what you need.


Some of the Best CDN Providers in 2019

Here’s a list of the best providers in 2019 to get you started.

Cloudflare

cloudflare
  • Great user experience
  • Good performance
  • A handful of useful features

Cloudflare is a popular CDN provider with a user-friendly interface, a handful of very useful features, and high functionality. They’re one of the fastest CDN service providers on the market right now with 180 data centers around the world.

They also provide customers with a web security package, which allows users to block bots, limit content spam, mitigate DDoS attacks, and protect web applications attacks from hackers.

Cloudflare also supports standards like IPv6, HTTP/2, and SPDY, and smart page rules to help manipulate traffic, and a REST API allows developers to custom control all operations.


CloudFront

Cloudflare also supports standards like IPv6, HTTP/2, and SPDY, and smart page rules to help manipulate traffic, and a REST API allows developers to custom control all operations.

cloudfront
  • More advanced features available if you need them
  • Highly configurable
  • Support can be pricey

CloudFront is Amazon’s foray into the CDN business, under its Amazon Web Services (AWS) product line. It offers the usual advanced features you would expect from a CDN service. They also provide impressive analytics data, giving customers a fairly granular level of detail on their users.

Even with all that, CloudFront’s interface can be a problem, as users might find it difficult to navigate. Also, pricing calculation can be an issue for some users as there are so many variables and details which may be a huge deal breaker for less experienced CDN users.

The ability to configure your CDN is CloudFront’s strength and its main selling point. If you know how to use it, CloudFront’s features can give users more power and control than some other options.


CDNetworks

cdnetworks
  • Great performance in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Russia, and China
  • Responsive technical support
  • Limited configurability

CDNetworks focuses its efforts in areas of the world with limited or restricted internet access such as the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Russia, and China. While CDNetworks does provide security features such as bot blocking, DDoS mitigation, and WAF, their most reputable service remains in the website performance enhancement department.

In 2017, one of the biggest CDN providers in China: Wangsu acquired CDNetworks, which gives CDNetworks a huge performance and connectivity boost in China. Global companies that have an online presence in China usually prefer CDNetworks as their CDN provider due to this reason.



Fastly

fastly
  • Provides an innovative CDN solution
  • Great SaaS user experience
  • Weak Asia coverage
  • Steep learning curve for users

Fastly’s presence is strongest in North America, Brazil, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, but falls short in Asia. They offer diverse support for caching different types of video, and various low-level users control like HTTP header control.

Their service is very configurable, which allows for a large number of use cases. For instance, the support for various types of content (video) caching, and loads of granular controls like manipulating HTTP headers are also available.

While configurability being its selling point, it’s also its disadvantage. The configurations are so complicated that it bums out many inexperienced users. That being said, Fastly does have quality documentation which might make the steep learning curve a bit more gentle.


Incapsula

incapsula
  • Best-in-class WAF security
  • Lower than average performance

Incapsula has a variety services to offer, including CDN, security measures, load balancing, failover solutions, and DDoS attack protection. They’re a branch-off of data security company Imperva, separating from them back in 2009, and as such have a wealth of data security knowledge.

Incapsula is behind its competitors in terms of global PoPs establishment, and its CDN product is slower than average comparatively. Despite being an average performer among its competitors in terms of speed, their reputable core value (security) is still a big plus for many web app and gaming companies. To date, many companies still use Incapsula thanks to the best-in-class security in the sector.


Akamai

akamai
  • Superior global performance
  • Corporate level pricing

Akamai has the advantage of one of the world’s largest distributed computing platforms; somewhere between 15% and 30% of all web traffic comes from them. They have 2,200+ PoPs globally and is considered the fastest CDN on the market.

Other than CDN, they also offer DNS, security, and other performance solutions (e.g. RUM). But their focus has always been CDN and most corporations love them for their consistent global performance.

Akamai is not a common option among small/medium businesses due to its heavy price tag to carry. And due to its company size and the number of customers that it’s servicing, there can be almost zero flexibility, which is also imperative for small/medium businesses.


Or… why not all of them?

Choosing the right CDN for your website is something you should take your time with, and be sure that you’re making the right choice. After all, you’ll likely be using their service for years to come. And while one CDN can drastically boost your site’s performance, a Multi CDN service can take it into the stratosphere.

cdn vs multi cdn

Multi CDN is becoming more popular as websites and businesses expand into multiple global regions, and need to be sure their customers will be able to access their sites and services fast, without lags in load speed.

Multi CDN distribute website requests across multiple CDNs, utilizing them through various methods and strategies depending on factors like their proximity to the user, the amount of processing power they have available, and how much traffic the customer’s site is getting.

mlytics has created a platform integrating some of the top-tier CDN providers into a Multi CDN network, enabling users to leverage the power of multiple CDNs while paying a price similar to a single CDN service. The platform can distribute website requests autonomously in the ways mentioned in the previous paragraph (geolocation, traffic volume, processing power), controlled entirely by AI.