Looking for free CDN services? Well, you can get hold of a few. But before we go through a list of free CDN services, let’s answer a couple of questions very quickly.
First – What is a CDN?
Second – Why do you need a CDN?
These two questions are vital, because you are most likely using WordPress. Even if you are not using WordPress, you will still need a CDN service.
What is a CDN?
A CDN is the short name for Content Delivery Network.
It is a network of servers that stores static components of your website in various servers across the world. When a visitor requests your site, the CDN will serve the cached pages of your site to that visitor from a server that is located closest to the visitor.
This will ensure that the visitor experiences fast loading speed for your website.
The network of CDN servers sit between your website server and the visitor’s device. So, when a visitor’s web browser requests your site (at the behest of the visitor), the browser request will reach the CDN servers instead of your website’s server which may be located at a greater distance from the visitor’s location.
The CDN server closest to the visitor will then pick up the cached files and serve it to the visitor. This method speeds up the website delivery, and hence, improves user experience (UX).
Why do you need a CDN?
I have already answered this partly. A CDN network will serve cached static files of your website to the visitors, and hence, improve website speed.
Google has, for quite some time now, clarified that websites need to be fast. Websites that load slow will not rank well in Google search. That should be enough for any webmaster to implement a CDN.
However, that’s not the only reason.
There are other reasons as well.
First thing first, a CDN helps you to save bandwidth. Your hosting provider will not give you unlimited bandwidth. If you use a CDN, the CDN servers will capture the traffic and serve your website most of the times. This will dramatically help in saving your server’s allocated bandwidth.
The second obvious reason is that a CDN will block unwanted and bad traffic. Bad traffic refers to bots and non-human traffic that try to scrape websites for many reasons. Some bots are good. For instance, you need to allow Google bot, Bing bot, etc. that will index your website and show your webpages in search results.
Unfortunately, not all bots and scrappers are good. Some will come to get your content. Some will come to scrape all the contact information on your site.
These bots can hit your website thousands of times per minute, eating up your limited bandwidth. That’s the reason why, you should stop them. A CDN can help you achieve that by blocking bad bots from reaching your web server.
The third obvious reason is protection from hackers, malware injection, and other types of online threat just as DDoS attacks. Most of the CDN services will offer a Web Application Firewall that stops all such threats.
Unfortunately, you need to pay for using the web application firewall for your website.
Now that you are aware of why you need a CDN, let’s take a look in the top 6 free CDN services you can use to speed up your site.
Let the countdown begin…
Top 6 Free CDN Services to Speed Up WordPress
When it comes to selecting a CDN, the default choice is CloudFlare for many people. CloudFlare CDN is always free. Anyone and everyone can use it, and there is no limit on the bandwidth you consume.
However, if you want to use additional features like WAF, Railgun, etc., you must upgrade to a paid account. You can add as many websites as you want to the free CloudFlare account. There is no restriction at all.
Millions of websites across the world use CloudFlare.
Here are the core features of CloudFlare:
- 115 data centers spread across the world (CloudFlare is the largest CDN provider).
- CloudFlare is extremely reliable, and it can thwart of large-scale DDoS attacks.
- Its paid versions come with features like web application firewall, Railgun (that can cache static parts of any dynamic page), etc.
It also comes with features like Always Online, Rocket Loader, etc. If you are using WordPress, CloudFlare offers a dedicated plugin that performs automatic platform optimization, and significantly boosts up your website speed.
When properly implemented, CloudFlare can help you to achieve extremely high scores in Google PageSpeed Insights.
ArvanCloud is yet another powerful CDN service. Yes, it has both free-tier and paid plans. Unlike many other CDN providers, ArvanCloud’s free CDN offers you all the features that they offer for the paid plans.
The only restrictions that you will find include:
- Maximum 200 GB bandwidth for download.
- Maximum 200 GB bandwidth for upload.
- 1,000,000 requests per month.
If you want more, you must upgrade.
They offer proprietary cutting-edge technologies, and offer the highest possible security that modern computer technology can offer.
They have data centers spread globally, and they can significantly speed up your website. If you want to go for their paid plans, their pay-as-you-go pricing model is one of the most economical you can find on the market.
#3. Jetpack’s Site Accelerator
JetPack’s Site Accelerator was previously known as Photon. Photon is not the usual CDN you will usually think about. There are two things you need to know. First, you need to use WordPress to use Site Accelerator.
Second, Site Accelerator will only host your images. It will not host any other static file of your website. So, if your website is image-heavy, you may consider using Site Accelerator.
However, there are several such other services that you can rely on. For instance, you can use Optimole that will not only optimize your images, but also serve the images through a CDN.
The problem with Optimole is that though they have a free-tier plan available, the total bandwidth allowed is too limited, making their free-tier pretty useless for websites that grab even a thousand visitors a day!
You can also look into options like Cloudinary and Uploadcare if you want to manage your website images offsite.
I will suggest that you try to use as many SVG images as possible. They are super lightweight and offer amazing scalability without compromising on quality.
You can actually offload your entire JS library, JQuery, CSS, fonts, etc.
jsDelivr is powered by Fastly, CloudFlare, Bunny.net, NS1, and AppFleet.
Interestingly, jsDelivr will allow you to load multiple files with just one HTTP request. jsDelivr is completely free and there is no traffic limit.
#5. Google Cloud CDN
No, Google Cloud CDN is not exactly free. However, you will get a $300 credit that you can spend over a period of 1 year. This means that you can enjoy Google’s services for 1 year or up to $300 – whichever expires first.
However, there is a small detail that you need to know. To be able to use Google Cloud CDN, you have to host your app with Google Cloud Platform, which will count towards the credit you get. This means that if you are hosting your WordPress site with Google Cloud Platform, the monthly hosting charge for your site will be collected from the credit you receive.
So, if you are using Google Cloud CDN, the charges of that will also be deducted from the credit.
#6. Amazon CloudFront
You must have heard the name Amazon Web Services (AWS). They are the pioneers of high-performance cloud computing. They also have what is known as Amazon CloudFront – a high-performance content delivery network. It is used by big brands like Shopify and Slack.
Just like Google Cloud CDN, you can use Amazon CloudFront for free for an entire year. This their free-tier. After the first year, you will need to pay. On the bright side, you don’t need to host your app with Amazon Web Services. Your WordPress site or any other app can be hosted with any hosting company.
On the downside, you will get only 50 GB of outbound data transfer over the free trial period of 1 year. That’s ridiculously low for established website. However, if you have a brand new website, the free Amazon CloudFront CDN can be a good option.
The only true free CDN, to the best of my knowledge, is CloudFlare. I use it extensively for my websites, and yes, I use premium CloudFlare for some of my sites. ArvanCloud is also a great choice for starters who want state-of-the-art CDN and security, but are happy with limited traffic under the free-tier.
Which one of these do you find appealing? Let me know through the comments segment.