MaxCDN Review – Does NOT Improve Site Speed

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.

maxcdn review maxcdn review

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.

maxcdn dashboard

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.

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I am an auto journalist, blogger, writer, artist, and most of all dog lover. I like playing music with both my dogs, Cody and Sierra. I also love sharing quality content with the world.

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Adam Yamada-Hanff

I am an auto journalist, blogger, writer, artist, and most of all dog lover. I like playing music with both my dogs, Cody and Sierra. I also love sharing quality content with the world.

23 thoughts on “MaxCDN Review – Does NOT Improve Site Speed”

  1. Hi Adam, very nice post on your experience.
    In case you would like to make a comparison feel free to signup for our 14 days free trial on CDN77 – no credit card required, just place your email and start the full experience.
    In case you d like to discuss any special requirements for your sites feel free to reach me at *Email removed

  2. Adam, I would question whether or not you had your site properly configured for the CDN. CDN services do make a tremendous difference in performance. I can’t tell from your screen shot how you had things. Do you still have the original WPT URL? Were you you using W3C Total Cache PlugIn?

    Also, looking at your site today, you have a number of objects coming from Edgecast and then some you deliver yourself. Is this by design or accident? You’re better off putting all images, css, and JS on the CDN when possible.

    WPT is an OK tool, for a free tool. I prefer to use Gomez or Keynote personally. I ran a quick Gomez on SingingDogs.net Here are the results:

    LA – 6.7sec
    San Jose – 7.8sec
    Atlanta – 9.1sec
    Chicago – 8.3 sec
    Reston – 4.8sec

    All things considered, that’s not terrible, but you should be aiming for 2 seconds or less!

    Let me know if you want to talk.

    1. If you notice from the pictures Mike the two URLs are AdamYamada.com, which I obviously still have. 🙂 In addition to the website for my Singing DogsSinginDogs.net. The MaxCDN plan I bought allowed for two domains so these are the two I used in this MaxCDN review.

      I spent quite a long time configuring MaxCDN to work with both sites using the “MaxCDN White Glove” service. The support rep told me on their end everything was working and it should have been delivering static javaScript, CSS, and images via the MaxCDN network. If they say it’s working, than I assume it is. If the speed tests do not show an improvement than the MaxCDN doesn’t do a good job of improving site speed.

      If this MaxCDN review displeases you there isn’t much I can do about that. I’d imagine Exceda would appreciate a negative review of a competitor though.

      MaxCDN did try to reach out to me alleviate the problem but I had already spent too much time working on this. One of the MaxCDN support support reps left a snarky comment on here insulting my intelligence. (I deleted it.) So I’m really not inclined to every work with or be a customer of MaxCDN again.

      I am still open to looking into other CDN options in the future, when I need it.

      WebPageTest.org is recommended by a lot of people and organizations and is generally pretty well respected in the web hosting and CDN world to my understanding. In addition I use the Google Developer Tool. I’m sure all free tools have advantages and disadvantages.

      I’m always happy to look into different paid tools and services for my websites if the cost isn’t that expensive and makes sense. Up until recently I was paying for a StatusCake, which is a website monitoring service, account but their support is pretty bad. How much are Gomez and Keynote and what do they provide which free speed tests tools do not? I imagine paying for Gomez or Keynote are probably not something most people are looking to do though.

      Thanks for the recommendations and speed test info. I would definitely like to speed up my websites to under 2 seconds. Honestly… preferably 1 second loading times or less would be ideal.

      1. If you want MAXCDN to work better you need to turn off photon. I had this problem on webpagetest too. Despite emptying my server w3 cache several times after disabling photon, when I ran webpagetest it was still grabbing my photos from photon for quite some time after and thus telling me I was not effectively using a CDN. If you still have MAXCDN I suggest you try that again. Amazon also has a free for a year CDN service.

        1. Thanks for the insight Ron and sharing your experience. That would make sense about Photon I guess.

          I am doubtful that was the issue though as I wasn’t using Jetpack back when I bought the MaxCDN plan. I already got my money refunded. If that was the issue Maxcdn support should have seen that images were not being served and provided a solution.

    2. Regarding Edgecast that is a CDN that is provided and run by Verizon that WordPress.com utilizes. It’s part of their cloud hosting network. I use the Jetpack plugin which brings a lot of the features of WordPress.com to a self-hosted WP blog. This includes using Photon which helps load images via their CDN and SSO (single sign on) for WordPress.com users. There are a ton of other great JetPack features too. It all integrates seamlessly and is built by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.

      http://jetpack.me/about/

      Kind of surprising to me you are not aware of Jetpack Mike. Especially since you say you have been in the web hosting industry for awhile.

  3. Adam,

    I’m all for negative reviews on my competitors. However, I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve seen first hand time and time again how CDN can improve performance. So when I hear that it makes no difference what so ever, it raises a flag in my mind.

    I like WPT, I use it a lot, but when I work with my customers, I always recommend we look at 2 or 3 testing methods. No one service is perfect, even the paid ones.

    FYI, Exceda and the XCDN product are on Akamai. You can get access to the same network that Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Netflix, BofA, Walmart, Homedepot, Target, Wellsfargo, etc use for $.14/gb with no commitment.

    I would recommend you give it a shot, we can help you if you need it.

    Thanks,

    Mike

    1. Exceda is owned by Akamai? What is the difference between Akamai and using XCDN with Exceda? Do you provide different CDN services?

  4. Adam,

    Exceda is a 12 year Akamai partner/reseller. We are not owned my Akamai but partner very close with them. We’re one of their top resellers globally.

    We offer our pay as you go, usage based XCDN service. This uses our portal and has some limitations in service and functionality (not in performance).

    We also offer full Akamai service with access to the Akamai portal and better support and integration services. As well as the availability to offer all Akamai products and services. DSA, Security, Load Balancing, Video Streaming, Storage, Mobile Site Delivery, etc… This type of service requires a minimum monthly commitment for 12-24 months.

    1. Hi Mike, in a recent comment, I talked about my new experience, with XCDN, would be great to know your opinion on my case!

  5. Hello,

    I will add my 2$ to this. I signed up to maxcdn hoping that it would improve my already fast host. After testing my host still out performed maxcdn. My traffic is only around 2000 a day and i would expect maxcdn to be more beneficial for much higher levels of traffic. Then I think it will really show its true colors. For me at the moment, cloudfare is enough.

    Page responses with maxcnd were around 1.2s – This was with cloudflare and w3tc aswell.

    Without Maxcdn but still using cloudflare and w3tc I got around 700ms Page response times.

    If your host is really poor ie godaddy or hostgator or some other overloaded poorly run network then Maxcdn will help. I would suggest the better option is to find a better host.

    I conclude by saying if you have large amounts of traffic logically maxcdn is going to make a big difference but I think for anyone on a decent host with daily traffic under 5,000 a day its not going to help you.

    Cheers from england.

    1. Thanks for commenting and providing your input Bill. I had everything configured correctly with MaxCDN and it just did not provide any speed improvement from what I could tell.

      Seems from what you are saying here MaxCDN along with Cloudfare was actually slowing down your website by about half a second? Is that right? I found that it slowed down my websites too actually.

  6. Interesting findigs. I have a static website with more than 50000 uv/day and internationally distributed traffic, hosted on a regular shared host in USA.

    I recently tried xcdn because the akamai network is the only with servers in the latin countries where I have the biggest traffic.

    So far, the speed is great, no more routing to USA pays big for latin countries.

    The only problem is that 33% of traffic is not being cached by cdn servers and instead of routing to another server better than mine in USA, it gets to my origin server there, so it’s a good service for 66% of traffic and no-servide for 33%. I’m trying to get a better ratio but so far it seems not much is possible.

    I would prefer to server all from CDN servers because in any case an akamai server in USA would be better than mine. would be a better business for them too as they would charge for more traffic.

    1. Does MaxCDN use the Akamai CDN server network for distributing content? Is that what you used before?

      I’m trying to understand the issue Fer. So you want the the CDN to pull from the closet location to your visitors but most of them are in South America, right? However what’s happening is that that CDN content is being served from USA servers on the CDN network which is slowing down page loading times and making it so that 33% of site visitors are not expericing faster loading times?

      Wouldn’t it help to find a shared hosting provider that hosts servers out of a datacenter down in South America? I know there are a lot of providers I just would use shared hosting in the USA as that traffic is the most valuable and I don’t built sites in Spanish or for the Latin American market.

      Yes, they certainly want you to use as much of the network as possible so they can charge you the most amount of money. 🙂

      Appreciate you commenting and sharing your experiences Fer. Have you overall been happy with the XCDN service or are you going to look for another CDN provider? How much of a page speed improvement have you seen using XCDN or other CDN hosting companies?

      1. Hi Adam!

        Maxcdn does not use Akamai.
        The problem with XCDN (Akamai partner) is that 33% of time when they don’t have a cached copy on a close server they do not serve a copy at all and pass the request to my own slow server. So I can’t off load my server.
        When they have a copy then is fast, because they have servers in almost al the countries I use. Instead if I have my own hosting in South America it would be fast only for hat country and the others not because South America is not well interconnected.

        The only problem I found with them is that having so many servers but not a Default location then 33% of a pure static site not served at all but passed back to my server is not a complete advantage bc still many users get bounced to my server, slower and less reliable than any US Akamai server.

        1. I think I understand better what the problem is. When there isn’t a copy of the static files close to the server it just won’t load any content from the CDN. Hence, the visitor will have a slower experience when connecting to your site since it loads from the shared hosting server you use.

          Have you contacted XCDN support and tried to work this out? Maybe this is something they can fix or just a common problem with the XCDN service. Hard for me to say really.

          Have you considered finding a better web hosting provider as well Fer? That is usually the best step for providing a visitor with a fast loading site in my experience. When I moved my site away from an EIG host, there was a noticeably speed improvement.

    1. Thanks for the compliments on the speed of my websites Tolu. 🙂

      No, my websites are not running on a CDN currently. I’m just using a good web hosting company that does not overpack and jam servers.

  7. My company tried using this service twice and found it gave us zero results. We found it difficult to install and integrate into WP. Our reports were flatlined at zero and website speed actually decreased a bit. Pure hype for us.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience with MaxCDN on my MaxCDN review Rick. What type of sites did you use MaxCDN with? Are they static or updated often? Also by “tried using this service twice” what does that mean? You opened two different accounts or just tried using two separate websites on MaxCDN?

      I remember being a bit frustrated as to the complexity of getting MaxCDN launched and I’m a pretty technically savy person. What did you find frustrating and difficult about deploying and implementing the service with WordPress? How long did you give a try MaxCDN before you realized it wasn’t improving loading times?

  8. Just want to share my experience with MaxCDN. If your server is using Nginx with Google Pagespeed module, don’t use MaxCDN because its system doesn’t work with Google Pagespeed. I have wasted time with their technical support to ask for their assistance to make Google Pagespeed work with MaxCDN, I receive a scripted answers and turned out that they don’t know solving the issue. In the end, I switched to other CDN provider.

  9. Hello, congratulations on your good review. I am not an expert on CDN or site speed. So I was wondering if installing or not Maxcdn.

    Presently I have two identical website (just different languages). One with Maxcdn and another without CDN at all. On pindgom.com tests the one with CDN loads in 2 seconds, while the one without cdn takes 7 seconds to load. And the price of the CDN is similar to what I pay for brandwith otherwise.

    Sorry anycase that your received even personal bad comments from the CDN brand after the test. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Best regards.

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