CDN Notes


Good evening readers! In an effort to remain transparent, I am going to share my findings on CDN’s. We have talked about this a few times before. But, not to the detail of the statistics as I’m going into now. We used to use MaxCDN, and their first byte time and speed was amazing for North America and crucial to our growth. Recently I switched to KeyCDN. When trying to cancel MaxCDN I ran into some hurdles and have to answer to a retention department. I tried to use the Schedule 1-on-1 to directly talk to MaxCDN/StackPath about my leaving their service so I can cancel my CDN account. But, their cancellation options are broken. That’s not good.

1) MaxCDN and even StackPath are not competitive pricing for small start-ups / non-profits / hobbyists. 
– point a) For the 826.5 GB of traffic I used in the month of July, I paid $33.06. I’m expecting the month to end close to 850 GB, which is $34 total I expect to spend in my coffers. I jumped to KeyCDN.
– point b) For the 826.5 GB of traffic this would cost me $66.34 on average a month, effectively double while using MaxCDN. $70.44 once I hit the 850GB.
– point c) Because I finally broke the 800GB traffic mark for the very first time; StackPath will cost me at least $60 a month because I will have to select the 800gb level. $61.33 for now, and $62.5 once I hit the 850 mark.

    – fact a) I have grown a website from 10 GB of traffic to 500 GB+ on MaxCDN’s network, and swapped and in less than a month, am simply 15% of the way from being a 1TB data broker.
    – fact b) StackPath does not have any hobbyist offerings or deals like MaxCDN once did.
    – fact c) It will remain more expensive for me to remain in the MaxCDN and StackPath’s network.
    – fact d) StackPath is among one of the most expensive sources of data transfer that exists on the market as of now.

    2) MaxCDN and StackPath have some amount of stability issues.
    – point a) StackPath’s combined efforts do make a powerful alliance, but, there have been stability issues.

    – fact a) KeyCDN, my current CDN, has had a perfect uptime rate in the last month.
    – fact b) MaxCDN’s servers had a perfect uptime rate in the last month
    – fact c) StackPath’s Highwinds servers have had 2 hr 47 min 48 seconds of downtime
    – fact d) The servers with downtime have been in areas with the highest needs for CDNs: Asia & Oceania.

    All data provided by CloudHarmony

    3) Loading tests
    We did a variety of tests in loading an 8 MB image directly via random loads, with erased cached, on stable connections. Here is what we found.

    West Coast (locations: Bakersfield, California | Los Angeles, California | San Diego, California | San Francisco, California) – 41.9% of traffic is from this region.
    – KeyCDN won out in load times 19 out of 21 times. 90% rate.
    – MaxCDN won out in load times 2 out of 21 times. 10% rate
    –> KeyCDN wins.

      East Coast (locations: Albany, New York | Woonsocket Rhode Island | New York, New York | Washington, District of Columbia | Atlanta, Georgia) – 15.1% of traffic is from this region
      – MaxCDN won out in load times 11 out of 18 times. 61% rate.
      – KeyCDN won out in load times 7 out of 18 times. 39% rate
      –> MaxCDN wins.

        Western Europe (locations: Paris, France | Stockholm, Sweden | Manchester, United Kingdom | Belfast, Northern Ireland) – 26.3% of traffic is from this region
        – KeyCDN won out 24 out of 25 times. 96% rate
        – MaxCDN won out 1 out of 25 times. 4% rate.
        –> KeyCDN wins.

          Australia (locations: Perth, Australia | Sydney Australia) – 4% of traffic is from this region
          – KeyCDN  won out in load times 5 out of 10 times. 50% rate,
          – MaxCDN won out in load times 5 out of 10 times. 50% rate.
          –> Tie.

            Asia (locations Hong Kong | Tokyo, Japan | Shanghai, China | Seoul, South Korea | Singapore, Singapore) – 4% of traffic is from this region
            – KeyCDN won out in load times 13 out of 14 times. 93% rate.
            – MaxCDN won out in load times 1 out of 14 times. 7% rate.
            –> KeyCDN wins.

              Eastern Europe (Moscow, Russia | Kiev, Ukraine | Minsk, Belarus) – 3% of traffic is from this region.
              – KeyCDN won out in load times 4 out of 7 times. 72% rate.
              – MaxCDN won out in load times 3 out of 7 times. 38% rate,
              –> KeyCDN wins.

                Latin America – 2% of traffic is from this region
                – MaxCDN won out in load times 4 out of 4 times. 100% rate
                – KeyCDN won out in load times 0 out of 4 times. 0% rate.
                –> MaxCDN won.

                  3.7% of traffic comes from more remote regions. It’s not worth breaking down.

                  In the end, KeyCDN gives MaxCDN a run for it’s money. Often times MaxCDN will start loading first, but, not finish first.

                  Traffic Locations Polar Graph:

                    4) Cache rates
                    – point a) MaxCDN has a terrible cache rate.

                    – fact a) MaxCDN Cache rate: 32.25% cache | 67.75% missed non-cache
                    – fact b) KeyCDN Cache rate: 49.73% cache | 50.27% missed non-cache
                    – fact c) KeyCDN wins, by 17.48%.

                    – given a) Both MaxCDN’s and KeyCDN’s actual cache rate is well below the advertised rates.


                        5) Features
                        KeyCDN is missing out on some features I love, but they’re all quality of life. Not the baseline. MaxCDN falls severely short of the baseline.

                        MaxCDN is not worth paying double the cost for the same amount of traffic, on a network that does not benefit my users as much.

                        – fact a) 73% of the tests were victory for KeyCDN. 27% for MaxCDN.
                        – fact b) MaxCDN has had an infinity amount more downtime than KeyCDN in the last month. KeyCDN had none.

                        6) Personal
                        I honestly miss the quality of life features of MaxCDN/StackPath. But, it is not worth paying an additional $35+ a month for it.

                        I opened an image host for story tellers, RPGs, and amateur designers, the market isn’t a high income Silicon Valley market trying to deliver photos of kitties and microtransaction games around the world. We’re simply people who like to post on forums, talk to each other, read stories, and share our stories and life! We are not a business but we are a community.

                        The data and fight is hard won. It looks like KeyCDN wins out now.

                        About the author


                        • I cannot believe how much work that goes into jumping around on CDN. I remember when you were first switching and KeyCDN didn’t even hit it on the nail with the transition. You had tried your best to make it a ghost transition that nobody would notice, but, I guess KeyCDN didn’t work out that well at first? I’m glad it does now!

                          • Thanks Ruby. KeyCDN did not work as I expected. It was very messy to start with. Their support was significantly slower than MaxCDN’s. I’ll be honest here. But, once the hiccups got moved aside and persons transferred over, it was a much, much, smoother experience.

                        • I am very happy to peer your article which came in at a good time for me!
                          I have a question though, What is the easiest way to set up key CDN whereas I am also using Siteground shared hosting and Cache Enabler. Should I have them do it all and move to SSL or is it manageable myself?

                          Appreciate your inputs!

                        • This article is very helpful. There are references for the data discussed here, so it is reliable. Between MaxCDN and KeyCDN, there are criteria where MaxCDN won but in most of the criteria KeyCDN won. I live in Asia and KeyCDN is best suitable here. I would like to see the result of keyCDN and CloudFront similar types of comparison.

                        • Reading from Latin America, I would say MaxCDN would be better, but given the fact that it’s just in my area, i can easily see why KeyCDN is superior. I noticed the site loading a tiny bit slower since the update, but i can see it’s just because of the region.
                          If it’s working for you, then I think you made the right choice.
                          Definitely cost-effective too.
                          Will take a look at both services in the future to decide on my own which one suits me best for my needs, but this helps… A LOT
                          I appreciate the in depth analysis you made for this topic.

                        • Love this in-depth research you’ve done. KeyCDN is better where I live (Asia). I will use the other one the next time and compare it. Thanks for this.

                        • Very well made presentation and data gathering. It’s a shame but this is how the world works, sadly. The big leagues always try and outgun the little guys trying to make something of themselves. It has always irked me that all the perks for services are most often than not towards the big companies – most of which don’t even need such discounts or promos. But if you are a startup, a hobbyist, someone interested in the field, etc. and you want to break into the business? They always have to charge you extra. They have to take a large percentage of your profit. They have to take advantage of what little startup capital you have available to you. Freelancing sites, subscription based products, and even internet providers and web servers. They all try and take everything they can from the little guy until either that tiny blip in the data quits or makes a name for himself. It’s only at the latter that they would treat him better.

                          And you would think that with the prices they are charging, they would actually deliver what they promise. But no, lots of unexpected problems would arise which would impede your progress, all the while trying to take every penny you have on a monthly basis. Some companies even remove perks or basic services that they advertised when you subscribed, and most often than not it’s uninformed until the client notices the changes to their experience. The thing is that in my experience, you can’t really do anything other than switching to a new service provider, and hope that they do a better job at it than the previous one.

                          I applaud the poster for testing out the different markets and comparing the results of the data collected. Nothing like a purely objective look at what a single spec in the data has been experiencing.

                        • This article is quite informational and reliable, as it provides thorough data. So, kudos to that. One major thing I’ve noticed is that it, the site, responded to me faster and quicker ever since the last update! I’ve seen someone talk about how it’s a bit slower for them, but I, as well, think that the region affects it as well. I’m really pleased with this experience. Not only that, but I’m also glad that KeyCDN is now working for you!

                        • Nick, I applaud the work you’ve done with the research in this blog post. The infographics are attention grabbing, and your stats look flawless. When I used the site earlier this week, I was impressed with how quickly everything responded – other sites can slow and sluggish. Since the last new update, everything has changed – it’s much more responsive, and I know you’ve been working hard to keep things running smoothly for us all. I appreciate all the hard work you’ve done for us – especially laying out this comparison.

                        • Great comparison Nick! I think another alternative could also be CDN77, I’m just trying their trial version and I find their features and support great. Their prices are competitive with KeyCDN so it’s worth considering.

                          • We actually used CDN77 back near the beginning. Unfortunately, the support was incredibly unhelpful when we tried. 🙁 We also had a lot of loading issues.

                        By Nick

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