Founded in 2009 and based in Los Angeles, MaxCDN is one of the more popular and affordable CDN solutions. With real-time analytics, open-source software and pricing you can see online, they are one of the most transparent CDN companies out there. With clients like 9gag, StumbleUpon and WP Engine, they seem to be doing something right. But are they right for you?
Signing up is an easy process. After choosing which plan you want, you’ll have to provide your email address, password and billing information—and you’re ready to test their services.
The dashboard is quite clean and attractive. There are only five sections: Dashboard, Zones, Reports, Account and Add-ons, each with its own Summary tab.
where you’ll get activity stream
Push, Pull and VOD zones
a thorough selection of reports provides good insight into your resource use
manage settings, invoices, API and SSL
where you can buy additional services
MaxCDN offers a free, 30-day trial, but only if you ask for it. We checked with their chat support and received a coupon for the trial package. They also offer a 30-day, money-back guarantee and they accept credit cards and PayPal.
Setting up MaxCDN is easy. After you activate your account with the link provided in your email, you’ll have the option of doing the setup yourself or scheduling a call with their support to get assistance. We decided to test the process by doing it ourselves. There are step-by-step instructions for the setup process, with helpful pictures and links to other articles about handling small files and large files in FTP folders, and how to manage video on demand. We tested it with WordPress, but other CMSs are supported, including Invision Power Board, vBulletin, Opencart, Prestashop, x-Cart, Drupal, Joomla and Magento.
While you may need to do a bit of reading if you’re working with CDN for the first time, you’ll be up and running in no time if you carefully follow the step-by-step instructions.
MaxCDN will provide you with shared SSL and they support the long list of CMSs previously noted. You’ll also get a lot of things like:
- HTTP referrer protection
- real-time analytics reporting
- push, pull and VOD zones
- instant purge and provisioning
- options for additional bandwidth, SSL certificates and two-step authentication for your profile that you can invite more users to
All these features combined will cover your basics. They might seem lacking if you have higher expectations, but nothing crucial is missing. Some people may cringe at the 250MB storage space, but the bandwidth used to “pull” the files is not charged.
MaxCDN has 19 data centers spread across Europe, Asia, Australia, and North and South America. The company also has 53 global peering partners in North America, Europe and Asia. You can think of the latter as accelerator POPs. The list of partners includes Verizon, AT&T, China Telecom, Time Warner Cable and Deutsche Telekom. The service offers 24/7 support and an option to pause your account if funds are tight. (Your only recourse with most CDN providers is to cancel the account.)
Testing it out
Without the CDN support, the longest it took for our website to load all content and files (5.53KB) in the browser was 8.32 seconds, which is not good, even on bad days. It took 103ms to establish a connection to the web server and 0.21 seconds to download all the data. The best time with MaxCDN was 2.91 seconds to load all content and files, it took 35ms to establish a connection to the server and 0.21 seconds to download all the data.
Without MaxCDN, first byte and loading times were not that bad on this trial, but they were not consistent across the globe. Without MaxCDN, it took about 2.30 seconds to load the first byte, with the worst request from San Francisco, USA, when it took 5.57 seconds. On average, load time was 4.42 seconds during this test and we didn’t have any wildly bad loading times from any location.
With the MaxCDN, it took, on average, 0.26 seconds for the first-byte response, while average loading time was 0.52 seconds. The worst loading time was from Brisbane, Australia when it took 4.5 seconds, which is slightly above the average time response without MaxCDN. All in all, although we’ve seen faster, per average MaxCDN had one of the most stable responses. We tested this with approximately 60 simultaneous requests.
Help and support
Help is on the way and there’s plenty of it! When you are logged in and at your dashboard, you’ll get an impromptu visit from one of the staff asking you if everything is going ok. You’ll also receive a welcoming email. In addition, you have the starting guide, tutorials and FAQ sections. As for live support—phone, fax, chat and email are available 24/7, along with connecting via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Github. The availability and great attitude of the staff made this part of the experience exceptionally enjoyable.
MaxCDN offers a free, 30-day trial account, but you’ll have to ask for it. You’ll be given a coupon for the free trial, which is for the 100GB plan. In addition to the free trial account, there are several pricing options.
Entrepreneur (low-level traffic)
100GB/mo – 2 websites(zones)$9
500GB/mo – 3 websites(zones)$39
1TB/mo – 5 websites(zones)$79
Professional (high-level traffic)
5TB/mo – 7 websites(zones)$299
10TB/mo – 10 websites(zones)$499
25TB/mo – 25 websites(zones)$1199
There are also custom per-gigabyte plans that range from less than 25TB up to 5PB
US/EU – $0.05 (under 25TB) to $0.2-$0.008 (3PB – 5PB)
APEC – 0.095 (under 25TB) to $0.5 (3PB – 5PB)
You’ll need to inquire about a custom plan if you want an option greater than 5PB.
Currently, MaxCDN is working on upgrading their storage services and pricing. The current options are:
Below 250mb – free
10 Gigabytes – $9.95/mo
25 Gigabytes – $24.95/mo
100 Gigabytes – $99.95/mo
- easy, streamlined setup
- proactive help and support
- great network of global peering partners
- upselling in the dashboard
- not for advanced users
- no proactive security measures
MaxCDN will have very few dissatisfied customers. Anyone who might complain is probably nitpicking. Signup and setup are easy and with the 30-day free testing account, you have plenty of time to explore. Even if you change your mind, you have a 30-day, money-back guarantee.
With custom, high- and low-volume plans that are transparently showcased on their website, the only thing that you don’t see before signing up is their dashboard and real-time reports and analytics, which are really easy to use. It might not the fastest CDN, but it is one of the fastest and one with consistent response times. All in all, it’s worth your time to try out MaxCDN.