One of the biggest improvements you can make to speed up your blog page load time is to offload images to a CDN or content delivery network. CDN services have traditionally been something only the biggest sites can afford, but recently a number of offerings have appeared that make it feasible for serious bloggers to dramatically increase page load speed. While I haven’t created an exhaustive list here, MaxCDN, Rackspace CloudFiles, and Amazon CloudFront are the most accessible of the CDN services currently available.
While I have provided a price comparison below, there are a few things to keep in mind in choosing the right CDN service for your blog. The most important datapoint to focus on is bandwidth out. This number is always going to be the largest component of your CDN expense. Having said that, the cheapest per gigabyte solution may not be your best solution. MaxCDN charges a flat $99 for the first 1000 GB of bandwidth (or $39.95 for as long as their current sale lasts). Most bloggers won’t use 1000 GB of bandwidth in a month, which means paying a flat rate for more bandwidth than you need. Either CloudFiles or CloudFront are a better choice for paying for the actual CDN bandwidth you are using.
Another component of CDN performance is latency in serving content. I don’t have a good method for scientifically testing latency, but as far as I can tell, CloudFiles serves content slightly faster than CloudFront and MaxCDN, so paying extra for CloudFiles may give you slightly better performance. Is the CloudFiles performance worth $0.07/GB more than Amazon CloudFront? That’s harder to say.
Available tools is an additional consideration in choosing a CDN. If you aren’t comfortable with the available tools for getting content in to your CDN of choice, you won’t use it. MaxCDN provides a method for using a standard FTP client to upload content. Both CloudFiles and CloudFront work with FTP-like tools like CloudBerry Explorer and Cyberduck.
I currently use Amazon CloudFront for my own CDN needs. I like that CloudFront only charges me for bandwidth used. I also started down the path of using Amazon S3 to store my files some time ago, which made it easy to quickly turn on CDN services for my existing images.
MaxCDN storage prices are based on minimum charges of $9.95.month for 10GB of storage or $24.95 for 25GB of storage. CloudFiles and CloudFront charge per gigabyte. Normal price for the first 1,000GB of bandwidth from MaxCDN is $99, but they are currently running a special for $39.95 for the first terabyte with approximately $0.10 per gigabyte after.