CDN for WordPress: using MaxCDN

At Yoast.com we use (and love) MaxCDN and they seem to love us back. When we started using their service, the speed improvement was mind boggling. Before, you could only get the front page of this site to load in about 3-4 seconds, measured by Pingdom, (check your site here). Now, the front page loads in less than a second:

pingdom speed test yoast.com

You’ll want to know how I did this right? Keep on reading (and find the Yoast coupon code below)!

What is a CDN?

You might want to check out this MaxCDN video first, but be sure to keep on reading afterwards for a 25% off coupon code:

CDN stands for Content Delivery Network or Content Distribution Network. Basically, it’s a bunch of highly optimized servers all across the world, with a bit of unique logic worked into them: you’ll always hit the server that’s closest to you. This leads to huge performance improvements for sites that have visitors from all across the world, like this one.

My images were coming from the US, which was better for like 50% of my readers but pretty slow for a lot of my European readers (about 35% of my readers are European). Now, for them, these images can come from the CDNs servers closest to them, in a lot of cases, this CDN server would be in the same country as them. MaxCDN servers are literally all over the world.

The CDN works with so called Pull URL’s. This means you specify a directory on your server that it pulls all files from, which it then starts serving from the CDN. This allows for a few quite neat tricks, for starters, to serve all your uploaded files from the CDN quite easily, once you’ve done some WordPress stuff that I’ll of course take care of for you.

A CDN for WordPress

I’ve moved several things onto this WordPress CDN solution, automatically, using W3 Total Cache:

  1. my themes image files
  2. my themes js files
  3. my themes css files
  4. the js files that come with WordPress that are not hosted by Google (eg. thickbox)
  5. all my uploaded files

You know how much work that is? Literally 10 seconds. You go into your W3 Total Cache settings, enable the CDN function, selecting MaxCDN / NetDNA. Then you go to the CDN tab, enter your CNAMEs and your API credentials and hit test:

MaxCDN Settings for WordPress CDN

Who should be using a WordPress CDN solution?

Because it distributes your data across the globe, a CDN is beneficial for pretty much everyone. Larger WordPress blogs and sites with a lot of traffic, sites serving videos or other downloadable files benefit most, as it speeds up these downloads. Other sites that benefit are sites that are often on Digg or other huge sites – as it spreads the load across a network of servers, rather than just one.

MaxCDN must be expensive! (it’s not, but get a coupon anyway)

You were thinking that, right? Well, that’s what I thought too. Turns out I’m wrong, the pricing is very competitive, it’s only $39.95 for the first terabyte, which is enough for a year for most blogs. With the coupon code yoastcdn though, you’ll get another 25% off!

So you want it now right? Well, go get it!