Picking a CDN

When it comes down to picking a CDN (Content Delivery Network) provider there aren’t many options. There are a few things you will need to consider when deciding. After reading this post you will be able to make an educated decision on which is best for your project.

It’s an interesting time for the web. When I first started building sites everything was static. I had no dynamic content, and essentially, my websites had no vulnerabilities. Then I started using ASP with an Access Database, which lead me to using a LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP) stack, then to a FAMP (FreeBSD Apache MySQL PHP) stack. Then I started using nginx, which lead to another stack.

Giving others the ability to maintain the content on their website is something I love doing. But the need for the website to read the database on every request is usually a waste of resources. Informational websites can mostly be static these days, which requires fewer resources.

CDN Options

Here is a list of some popular CDNs.

Of course Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft Azure all have their own CDN, but I’m not going to cover those in this post. I hope to present you with CDNs that offer different features. Then I’ll help you decide which is best for you.

CDN

PoPs

PoPs (Points of Presence) usually play a large role in selecting a CDN. Do you have customers all over the globe? If they are, then you need to make sure you pick a CDN with PoPs in the countries you serve.

If you’re only serving customers on one continent, then you may be able to get away without using a CDN until your project experiences some growth. I would still advise you to do your homework sooner rather than later.

Reverse Proxy

Will it serve your entire site or just the assets? Not every CDN will server your site’s content; some will only host your assets. You could also utilize multiple CDNs, one for the website, and another for your website’s assets. When I say assets, I mean images, JavaScript, CSS, or other static files.

WAF

If you’re building static websites you may not need a WAF (Web Application Firewall). However, if you’re website allows users to interact with it in someway, then you should have some security in place.

The benefit of a CDN having a WAF is that it sees millions of requests every second of every day. So if a new vulnerability is discovered on another site, your site may be protected from

Picking a CDN Conclusion

I often jump between learning about different companies, technologies, and hobbies pretty frequently. While this site mainly utilizes Cloudflare, I’ve been trying out KeyCDN, and I like it a lot. This site uses the free version of Cloudflare, but I’ve always wanted to try the Business class, or Enterprise to see what is different.

My budget always plays a large part in my decision since I usually build projects while I’m learning something new. Using a CDN can be expensive, but it is worth it.