4 Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) Compared
Sometimes the guidance offered by providers can be quite alien to the hosting customers they’re trying to attract.
In this article, we will look at three of the most popular CDNs. We’ll compare features and pricing between them, and choose the best provider for a small website or blog.
Note: these features and prices were correct at the time of writing: April 2009.
Amazon S3 with CloudFront is considered the ‘gold standard’ among bloggers and other people who run smaller websites. Amazon was one of the first to make the CDN affordable to smaller clients, which may be why it’s got a good foothold in that market.
Amazon has the smallest network in our comparison with 14 hosting locations – known as ‘edge locations’. Of those, eight are within the United States, four within the EU and two are within Asia.
A downside is the lack of a control panel: Amazon does not offer a web-based panel for the service, though it is working on one. But the charge per request is perhaps the biggest drawback; every 10,000 requests is charged at just over a penny.
On the flip side, Amazon has a very robust API that is widely supported. It offers the cheapest storage, although the very best prices are available to users that need a lot of space. The Amazon brand is also well-established and considered a safe bet by many.
Mosso is the most comprehensive CDN service on our list. Mosso has the largest network (60 edge locations), a good-quality API and a web-based control panel.
Mosso’s pricing is the highest in our comparison. Unlike Amazon, the price does not decrease with heavy use.
But there are no request fees, all uploads and downloads from within the control panel are free.
Mosso is a good choice for beginners, assuming you can accommodate the slightly increased cost over Amazon. In practice, the gap in rates may actually be negligible anyway.
SimpleCDN has two different pricing structures: StormFront and Hurricane.
Stormfront offers a rate of $0.037 per download, and there’s no activation fee. However, every gigabyte of storage costs $149 for life.
For most users, the Hurricane option is more sensible. With this plan, you ‘pay as you go’.
Across SimpleCDN’s plans, downloads cost $0.079 per GB, and there’s a comparable rate on upload transfer. However, $0.75 per GB per month for storage is pricey: five times the cost of either Amazon or Mosso.
There’s also a $125 setup fee, which makes SimpleCDN unaffordable and impractical for smaller websites.
Amazon, Mosso or SimpleCDN?
For most small websites, SimpleCDN is going to be too expensive. We’ll rule it out on that basis.
Between Amazon and Mosso, the price difference is probably going to be minimal. Amazon offers cheaper download rates, but they are offset by per-request charges, so it’s not worth making a decision on price alone.
Looking at features, Mosso is the clear winner. It has far more edge locations and, according to the company itself, a faster network. The Mosso API is not as broadly supported, but you can use the WordPress plugin, a Firefox extension and a Mac uploader.
Table of Features and Prices
|Amazon CloudFront||Mosso||SimpleCDN (Hurricane)|
|Number of Edge Locations:||14||60||23|
|Download (Per GB):||$0.17 – $0.221||$0.22||$0.079|
|Download (Per GB after 100 TB):||$0.090 – $0.137||$0.22||$0.079|
|Requests (Per 10,000):||$0.013||Free***||Free|
|Storage (Per GB/Month):||$0.15||$0.15||$0.75|
|Storage (Per GB/Month After 100 TB):||$0.13||$0.15||$0.75|
|Upload (Per GB):||$0.100**||$0.08||$0.08|
All information accurate as of 04/22/09
** Currently Amazon is having a special where all transfer in is priced at $0.03. This special ends in June 2009.
***Certain unusual types of transfer, such as PUT, POST and LIST will be charged $0.01 per 500 transfers for files under 250 KB.