Faster page loading speed, blazing fast website … sound familiar? If you manage any website(s), they should. These are some of the ultimate dreams of every site owner. Everyone wants to offer their visitors a lightning fast website and they have all the reasons for that. A slowly loading website which takes forever to load is guaranteed to annoy the visitors.
While we want to improve our website loading time, most of the latest web design trends seem to go in the opposite direction. Large media files, high-resolution full screen images, heavy scripts, bulky CSS files etc. contribute largely to the slow page loading experience.
Isn’t there anything you can do to improve this situation? Yes, you can use a CDN service. CDN (Content Delivery Network) is a widely distributed set of servers which serve static contents from the nearest possible server. While using a CDN service can significantly improve your site’s loading time, they usually tend be expensive.
Novice bloggers or webmasters often have limited budget in regards to website maintenance. Therefore, spending extra money on a CDN service will sound like luxury to most of them. Luckily, there are some free CDN services available. In today’s post, I will discuss about some of the most popular CDN services which are absolutely free.
CloudFlare is a reputed CDN service with more than 15 years of experience in the field. With 28 data centers located all over the world, CloudFlare makes sure that your website gets the maximum performance boost possible. The company regularly updates its hardware, network routing and web server technologies in order to provide the best output for the users.
When you are using CloudFlare, it will save the static files of your website in its servers and will let the visitors load the dynamic content only. Anycast, a proprietary technology of the company ensures that the visitors get connected to the nearest possible data center to enjoy faster page loading experience. On average, websites using this service enjoy 65 percent less request from the visitors and save 60 percent of their allocated bandwidth.
CloudFlare has a dedicated WordPress plugin. Along with CDN service, the plugin offers two additional services. First of all, it will provide you with the IP address and relevant information about the comments on your website. Secondly, those who you identify as spammers will be reported to CloudFlare too. As CloudFlare will get this information from all the users, you will ultimately enjoy a superior protection against spammers.
Incapsula is another very popular CDN service provider. By using its worldwide network of severs, Incapsula makes sure that your website is always available. Its powerful tools are always working to provide optimal user experience to the visitors. The company’s PCI certified Web Firewall secures your website from spammers, scrappers, OWASP threats, XSS and DDoS attacks.
While the incoming connections to Incapsula’s servers are closely scrutinized, outgoing traffic is provided with extra acceleration by using the company’s optimization and caching technologies. Therefore, general visitors will enjoy an enhanced page loading experience, while dubious connections will be prevented with strong security measures.
The enterprise level performance and security services of Incapsula are supported by its distributed network of servers. According to Incapsula, websites using its service enjoy 60 percent less bandwidth consumption and 50 percent faster page loading speed. In order to manage visitor loads effectively, Incapsula uses Layer 7 Load Balancing and Failover, Global Server Load Balancing, Data Center Failover technologies.
The official WordPress plugin of Incapsula lets you see the original IP address of your visitors. By using this plugin, your visitors will be re-routed through Incapsula’s high-speed servers. When it comes to speedy page load, you can definitely rely on the Incapsula plugin.
Jetpack is a very familiar name to regular WordPress users. Photon is a new image acceleration service provided by the Jetpack team. By using this service, you can dramatically reduce the load on your original server and let Photon deal with the images. In order to use this service, you should have Jetpack installed and activated in your website.
After activating Jetpack, you will see a new menu titled ‘Jetpack’ in the admin dashboard. After connecting Jetpack with your WordPress.com account, navigate to Jetpack > Settings. On that page, you will be provided with a long list of modules. Find out ‘Photon’ from the list, and click the ‘Activate’ link next to it. That’s it, no more configurations needed.
Along with the images on pages and posts, Photon will also work with the features images. It does not make any changes to the database. Once activated, the service will automatically work for all of your existing images and the ones you will add in the future. The images are permanently cached on the Photon servers. If you want to refresh or update an image on the cache, you have to rename it. At this time, Photon works with jpg, gif and png formats only. It is also not possible to upscale your images with this service.
Swarmify is a new peer-to-peer CDN service which concentrates on various types of image and video files. This service will load your website assets faster and will significantly reduce your bandwidth usage. As it works with any hosting provider or third-party CDN provider, this service could be easily implemented in any website. It offers a free service with up to 250GB free transfer.
Swarmify works by creating a network of the current visitors of your website. This network then serves the videos and images to the visitors. In order to enjoy this facility, the visitors don’t have to install any browser add-on or any software. The company uses latest technologies including Points of Presence (PoPs) and hyper-local connectivity to provide you with the best possible performance.
In order to manage your cache more effectively, Swarmify uses a high-performing swarming cache titled ‘HiveCache.’ This supercharged solution lets you remove some cache instantly and continue using others as long as you want. And if you are thinking about security, rest assured that the communications in the network is encrypted and therefore, very secure. While the media files are compared against multiple sources, they should also be recognized by your browsers as valid media files. If you have a media-heavy website, you should give Swarmify a try.
Amazon offers a generous 12 month free usage including 5GB of Amazon S3 storage, 50GB of data transfer through Amazon CloudFront along with 16 other Amazon products and services. As long as your website is within the usage limit of these products, you won’t be charged anything for 12 months. This is a great tool for experiencing the superior service provided by Amazon without spending anything.
After you sign up with AWS, you will be provided with a management console from which you can control the web services. The intuitive user interface will allow you to launch, connect and update the services. Each service has a dedicated console which will display detailed information about it. By using these consoles, you will be able to find out how much resource you will need to run your website perfectly.
It does not matter whether you want to speed up your business website or a large website with lots of contents, AWS is flexible enough to meet your demands accordingly. As a result, you can plan and grow your website at the pace that is most suitable for you.
The open source platform combines the CDN infrastructures powered by MaxCDN and CloudFlare, while the traffic load is professionally balanced by Cedexis. This unique combination of powerful solutions in one place has enabled jsDelivr to ensure maximum performance for its users. All the files are saved in NetDNA-powered Push zones; they are only accessible through FTP, from a specified list of IP addresses. That means nobody can get access to these files without proper prior approval.
An awesome feature of jsDelivr is it does not impose any bandwidth on its users. Yes, that is right. When using jsDelivr, you will enjoy unlimited bandwidth. If you want a powerful but simple solution for speeding up your website, this could be an excellent choice for you.
While these were the most popular solutions for free CDN services, there are some others which could be used for this purpose too. Firstly, you can store your images on free image hosting services like imgur, PhotoBucket, Flickr etc. and then link to them from your website. You can also use free cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Copy, Box, SugarSync etc. to store and serve large media files. Doing this will save your server space and reduce bandwidth usage at the same time.
These free resources are excellent ways to get started with CDN. After using the service for a while, you will understand whether you need a premium solution or not. If yes, there are lots of reliable CDN services out there. And no, you don’t have to spend a fortune for them. If you need suggestion on choosing premium CDN services, let me know. Maybe I will write another post on them.
Don’t forget to share your experience after using one of these free CDN services. Did I miss an obvious one here? Let me know that too.