For most technology experts, a CDN is one of the most useful tools for hosting. While many experts comment that “any CDN is better than no CDN,” it might be difficult for someone to choose the right option for his or her own needs.
Choosing anything can be difficult, but making purchases that affect the speed and reliability of a major project can be even more nerve-wracking. These tips for choosing the best CDN will help you to make the most informed decision based on your specific needs.
Shopping for a CDN
There are a few things that any good CDN needs:
- Consistent and fast response time – a successful CDN is predicated upon a consistent and high speed response. The main reason a CDN is so useful is because it shortens the distance between content and an end-user. If the response time of the CDN is not fast or not consistent, then you are going to have poor results over the long-term. Note, that doesn’t mean the CDN needs to be the fastest, but only that it is fast and consistent.
- Financial strength of the company – if you want to have a long term relationship with the CDN, you need to make sure that the company is financially strong.
On the technical side, there are also a few different items to look for in a CDN. Every one of these may not be included in a single CDN company, but they are important technical features that can help your project speed and reliability.
- 100% uptime SLA – because the CDN is a cluster of cache servers, there should be 100% uptime with other servers picking up slack if one goes down.
- GZip compression on text-based content – another technical feature of a good CDN is compression, which makes the content smaller and faster to send to the end user.
- CDN support – “origin pull”; if your CDN doesn’t offer this you might have additional technical difficulties.
- CDN must propagate cache-related HTTP headers from the origin to the end-user
Although some CDN will not have all of these features, they are important considerations to make. Make sure the top two fulfillments are guaranteed and then take a look at the other technical aspects to see whether it is a good idea for your needs. Not everyone will need GZip compression, for example, but it is good to know these things beforehand.
Choosing the Best CDN – Non-Technical Features
Other major non-technical features for your consideration are the price and overage fees for exceeding the bandwidth per month. If the costs for either of these fit within your budget, make sure you also check the user interface to ensure it is easy for you to work with the CDN.
Choosing the best CDN is not always easy, but understanding the technical and non-technical aspects can help you to make a better decision. The final choice depends on the goals of your project and whether these factors help you to achieve them.