I had the opportunity to try out MaxCDN which is a consumer CDN (content delivery network) service that is run by NetDNA. To help others I thought I would post this MaxCDN Review for those who are thinking about signing up.
First off I should disclose that I utilized a Black Friday MaxCDN deal where all plans were 50% off. (It extended for several days.) I choose the 1.2 Terabytes of bandwidth starter plan for 1 year which is normally $90 dollars. Since it was 50% off though I paid $45 dollars for the 1 year plan.
Since site speed is a ranking factor Google takes into account now, be it a small one, and improving your websites speed makes it more likely for users to stay on your site longer I wanted to try it out for Adam Yamada and Singing Dogs. If MaxCDN worked well I thought I'd also pay the extra money to use it for my auto blog and CarNewsCafe.
For those that don't know what a CDN does it basically takes static parts of a website, like images, and stores those on several servers. Let's say a visitor from Maryland wants to visit your website and you using a CDN. The CDN will show images from the nearest server location they have available resulting in a better experience for that user.
Ideally a CDN should improve site speed but using MaxCDN for a few weeks I found it didn't. Checkout screenshots I took of the many speed tests I ran using WebPageTest.org.
If you notice the first column “Load Time” is a measurement of how long it takes to load all the elements on a given page. My times are quite slow and I was expecting that MaxCDN would cut a lot of these times in half. These metrics are not much different to the performance and Load Times I was experiencing before implementing MaxCDN on my websites. Also if you notice on the right it says “Effective use of CDN” and there is an X. I should make it clear despite the “X” I spent about 2+ hours with tech support getting the MaxCDN configured. The tech support rep said it was configured properly and what I saw in the MaxCDN backend reflected my sites were using their servers. Sooo… not sure what I was paying for as it was setup and cofingured properly but didn't improve speed.
In addition to WebPageTest I used Google's Developer testing tool as well. I didn't see that much of a noticeably difference in page loading speeds either.
Along with the speed tests I also pay for a service called StatusCake, an uptime monitoring service. (FYI there is also Uptime Robot which is free but does send false postives. I haven't had that issue with the StatusCake paid account.) StatusCake pings my sites and will report how long it took to get a signal back from the server. Did I see a noticeably improvement in site speed when I was using MaxCDN? No, I did not.
At least the backend MaxCDN dashboard is fairly straightforward and the layout is nice.
Some of the support documentation could be alot easier and simpler to understand in my opinion. Surprisingly they don't have good WordPress documentation which I always view as vitally important for any service or plugin nowadays. A lot of is confusing and was clearly written by engineers with negative writing skills.
MaxCDN is a service that a lot of people that run WordPress and other websites use due to it's low cost and aggressive marketing. I just did not feel it was worth even the $45 dollars. If all the tests and data I ran were not improving the site speed noticeably, what was I paying for? What can I say, this isn't a good MaxCDN Review, I'm especially pissed since I spent a significant amount of time configuring MaxCDN with the tech representative and all that was for nothing. MaxCDN wasn't useful to me as it didn't improve site speed and the whole point of the service it to speed up your site, a lot.
If you got value out of my MaxCDN review or have an opinion about using CDN's feel free to leave a comment below.