A review of KeyCDN, the popular provider of the most affordable CDN for WordPress.
Hello again WordPress folks, today I am going to review KeyCDN, as you all know, these days KeyCDN is creating a lot of buzz around. People on numerous occasions asked me about my word on KeyCDN. Recently, I switched one of my site with KeyCDN and today in this KeyCDN review, I am going to talk a whole lot about all things KeyCDN.
Although, I came to know about KeyCDN since in its very early days but I was reluctant to use some new CDN provider in its evolution stage and I believe, I was pretty much right at that time. Fast forward to today, KeyCDN is now far more matured, powered with variety of features, and it was one of the first CDN providers to implement and offer Let’s Encrypt free SSL certificate integration, they are also one of the first CDN provider to offer a dedicated plugin for WordPress integration.
My experience with WordPress CDNs so far
Ever since I had started creating my first WordPress sites, I’ve been always poised towards speed, the faster your site loads, the happier your visitor will be. One of the key ingredient of the faster WordPress site, is the implementation of CDN – Content Delivery Network, CDNs relatively could boost your site’s load time many folds.
In the early days, I had signed up with MaxCDN, but the experience was not good at that time, and Immediately after I switched to the Amazon CloudFront.
The Amazon Cloudfront is remarkable in terms of performance, I used it for over a year or so but, still there were some issues which cannot be ignored combined, that includes higher pricing, paid support, inconvenient to enable CORS (Cross Origin Resource Sharing), cumbersome interface, no option to Purge all cache, etc, overall it always felt that Amazon Cloudfront is designed with only considering developers in mind, instead of bloggers alike me.
However the biggest advantage with Cloudfront was the presence of POPs in India, since a large portion of my site traffic originates from India. Overall being with Amazon Cloudfront, I was always in search of some better option, the affordable, easy to manage, comes with “Free support” and delivers optimum performance.
The KeyCDN Review
On of the great part about KeyCDN is the free trial that requires no credit card. I signed up for a trial, and after using it for nearly 3-4 days on my live site, I decided to make a final switch to the KeyCDN. Once you finish signing up with KeyCDN, you’ll be offered a $10 free credit which gives you 250GB of free bandwidth for up to 30 days.
KeyCDN offers a wide network of CDN locations, they now have over 11 Active POPs in America, 10 Active POPs in Europe, 1 Active POP in Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore and Japan, each. This all SSD-Optimized network of POP is claimed to deliver high-throughput and lower latency. Additionally, they have planned to add few more POPs in Asia, and Africa.
I really want to appreciate the competitive pricing structure of KeyCDN, as upon comparing it with other most popular CDN providers out there, the KeyCDN emerged as the most affordable CDN provider. Take a look below, KeyCDN is almost 50% cheaper than, the second most affordable CDN provider.
KeyCDN Pricing comparison
Price comparison for 250 GB of monthly bandwidth usage
*Some table data is sourced from CDNcalculator, I believe it’s not 100% accurate.
Further, I went ahead and created a table, to compare KeyCDN side by side with other popular CDN providers, the table clearly outlines the difference between each of them. Nevertheless, the KeyCDN leads in terms of features and security, followed by MaxCDN, and CloudFront.
KeyCDN vs MaxCDN vs CDN77 vs CloudFront vs Cachefly
|Pay As You Go||Yes||partial||Yes||Yes||partial|
|No charges for Requests||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Raw Logs||Yes||Yes||extra cost||Yes||extra cost|
|Origin Shield||Yes||extra cost||No||No||Yes|
|Custom Rules||Minimum 10TB/month||extra cost||No||partial||extra cost|
|SPDY||HTTP/2 support||Yes||HTTP/2 support||No||No|
|Video on Demand (VOD) over RTMP||No||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|RTMP Live Streaming||No||No||No||No||No|
|Custom SSL||Yes||extra cost||Yes||extra cost||extra cost|
|Wildcard SSL||Yes||extra cost||No||extra cost||extra cost|
|Let’s Encrypt Integration||Yes||No||Yes||No||No|
|Secure Token||Yes||extra cost||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|RTMP Access Token||No||No||No||Yes||unknown|
|Phone||Requires ticket||Yes||Yes||extra cost||Requires ticket|
*table data is sourced from CDN comparison, feel free to point out anything incorrect.
The dashboard at KeyCDN is extremely easy, something which I had always missed at Amazon Cloudfront. It shows all the aspects of your account in a quick glance, such as your credit chart, estimated remaining traffic left, used storage (in case of push zones), your credit and the total no of zones.
This section is all about managing your account, you can edit your account details, update address information, shows meta information, and log forwarding. KeyCDN also offers enhanced protection with 2 factor authentication and you can also enable access rules for even better security of your account.
The reporting section at KeyCDN is pretty neat, you’ll see a graphical chart of the daily bandwidth consumption and other vital information about your website content delivered via CDN.
Not just initial analytics, KeyCDN also provides geo location data for the transferred data, and the total number of requests from each country.
You can also figure out which are the top files served from your CDN, real-time logs and my favorite feature, real-time stats, that shows live usage of your CDN bandwidth plus the total number of requests they are serving per second.
From this section you can buy the KeyCDN credit, they accept both, PayPal and credit card, while the minimum amount for credit charge remains 29 USD. It shows all your transactions, invoices, and allows you to change or update the payment method or credit card.
This section lists all of your CDN zones, you can create new, manage them, and delete them. By default, KeyCDN allows 10 zones per new account, however you can get additional zones upon request. I will talk in detail, about Zones later in this review.
These aliases allow you to create your own custom CDN URL for eg. cdn.yourdomain.com, instead of the KeyCDN URL i.e myzonename-xxxx.kxcdn.com. I prefer to stick with KeyCDN URL, as it cut downs one additional DNS request and saves time.
It prevents hotlinking, and you can restrict HTTP referrers to stop others from embedding your static content on their websites.
KeyCDN also allows subusers, which is actually a dedicated FTP user configuration for each Push zone, and the subuser will only be able to access the specified zone.
If you’re a developer and would like to leverage the benefits of KeyCDN API, then you can request your API key from the account settings. The KeyCDN API allows you to manage zones, zonealiases, zonereferers and generate reports. You can find, in-depth KeyCDN API usage over here.
Alright! so that was all about KeyCDN interface and features, now I will talk about implementing KeyCDN on your WordPress site.
Implementing KeyCDN with WordPress
If you’re running a WordPress site, then installing KeyCDN is a simple five-minute process:
As, I’ve mentioned earlier, KeyCDN is one of the first CDN provider who had released their dedicated plugin for WordPress. If you’re using CDNs from early days, then you must know, how bad it was to install a full-fledged WordPress cashing plugin, just for integrating CDN with your WordPress site.
Look for the “CDN Enabler” plugin in the WordPress plugin repository, and install it.
Activate the CDN Enabler plugin, and navigate to the WordPress Settings > CDN Enabler, you’ll notice it comes with very simple set of options to configure any CDN, yes that’s right CDN enabler can be used for any CDN with Pull type zone, be it MaxCDN, Amazon Cloudfront, or any other.
Go back to your KeyCDN account, and navigate to Zones and click on the New Zone, initially you can create a zone with minimum configuration, like zone name, zone status, zone type, and origin URL.
However, upon clicking “Show Advanced Features” check box you can enable wide-set of options for your zone.
KeyCDN Zone Settings
Let me discuss in brief about all crucial options.
- Zone name : The name of your zone, it’ll be the part of your CDN URL
- Zone status: It should be kept active, to make your CDN accessible
- Zone type: Keep it Pull type with WordPress
- Force download: It forces the browser to download the file, I kept it disabled.
- CORS (Cross-Origin-Resource-Sharing) – Keep it checked if your site uses a theme with external kit, such as Font Awesome etc.
- HTTP/2: Keep this checked in order to enable support for HTTP/2 along with SSL.
- SSL: SSL is widely in use now a days, even Google is promoting SSL ready sites and use SSL as a ranking signal.
- Keep disabled, if you’re not using SSL on your site
- Select shared, if you’re not using any zonealiases.
- Select custom, If you had purchased a custom SSL certificate.
- Letsencrypt, KeyCDN is providing a free SSL certificate from Letsencrypt for one zonealias.
- Force SSL: If using SSL, then keep this option enabled
- Origin Shield: It’s a great feature at KeyCDN, what it does that it accelerates the distribution of your site’s content from your server to the KeyCDN’s servers. Additionally, it protects your site from bad guys and sudden traffic spikes. I had kept it enabled.
- Ignore Query String: It’s a quick way to evade the “Remove Query Strings” recommendation from Google Page speed. What it does that it ignores query strings and tell the cache to reply with a cached reply, even if the query string differs. In simple terms, it treats the request as if it has no query string. I also kept it enabled.
- Canonical Header: This feature, adds a canonical header which helps in improving SEO. Since, a CDN copies your static content, you need to tell Google that the content from your CDN is actually a copy. I kept it enabled.
So these all are the major features you need to configure, while creating a new Zone at KeyCDN. However, if you want to configure all of the options, then head over this page, for a detailed explanation of each feature.
Once you finish configuring all your zone feature, then hit the save button, don’t worry you can change any of your setting anytime after the zone is created.
As soon as, you hit the save button, they’ll start deploying your new zone, it may take more than 5 minute to finish the deploying process. Once, your zone is deployed and ready to use, it’ll be mark as an active.
Now it’s time to copy the Zone URL, highlighted in the above image, select it and copy the same.
And paste the zone URL into, the CDN URL field of the plugin settings, and keep the rest of the plugin settings default, and push the save changes button.
That’s it, now the KeyCDN is configured on your site.
Testing KeyCDN Performance
As a part of this KeyCDN review, I had created a temporary website for testing the performance of this CDN, the domain is likedesk.com and I had powered up this website with MediaTemple WordPress Hosting, which itself is incredibly fast with zero optimization, and when I teamed the setup with KeyCDN it delivered blazing fast load time.
Here are the stats of my test setup:
Hosting: MediaTemple WordPress Hosting
Total number of posts & pages: 65 Posts, 57 Pages
Theme: WordPress Twenty Fifteen
Optimization status : No optimization at all, default WordPress with default Twenty Fifteen theme, and CDN Enabler plugin installed.
In the first test at Pingdom, you could see that the default site without CDN configured loads noticeably fast, it score a C with 72 Score upon testing with Google PageSpeed, and the load time is 1.13 seconds. Furthermore, the total number of requests were 22, and the site is claimed to be 88% faster than, the other sites on the web.
Now here’s the second test, this time the test site is teamed up with KeyCDN, and could you see the results the same default site without any optimization manages to load under 400ms, and did you notice the Google page speed score also upped to 79, with still a C in the grade. This time the Pingdom website speed claims that the site is faster than 98% of other websites on the web, now that’s a bold claim!
My opinion : “Exceptional” is the word for me, can you see what performance magic happened, after adding a CDN service, such as KeyCDN did to your website?
When my test setup is paired with KeyCDN, the load time went incredible fast just 399 milliseconds, roughly around 65% decrease in the load times!
- Super affordable
- Blazing fast edge servers
- Efficient interface
- Real-time stats
- HTTP/2 ready
- Easy Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS)
- Origin Shield
- Hotlink protection
- DDoS protection
- Free SSL Certificate with Let’s Encrypt
- Enable canonical headers
- Instant purge
- Dedicated WordPress Plugin
- Lack of active POP in India, though it’s planned
- In testing the performance, occasionally I had witnessed slow response from the edge servers
To be very honest, don’t believe my words in this KeyCDN review, just see the test results on your own, the team at KeyCDN has done a remarkable job at fine-tuning their product, by creating an easy to use interface, crafting unique features, dedicated plugin and needless to say, their edge servers delivers super fast performance. Well that was the product itself, however the key benefit at KeyCDN is the affordable pricing, it’s undoubtedly one of the most affordable CDN provider out there.
However, KeyCDN has a long way to go, they have a healthy network of POPs across the map, but still they’re missing a network presence in key Asian location, that’s India. Although, they had planned a POP in India, and few other parts of the World, such as Cape Town, Dubai and Seoul, since quite some time but, sadly they’re yet to be deployed.
One thing I really enjoyed at KeyCDN is their blog, it’s not just a yet another dead blog, in fact they actually publish some really informative guides, they had published enough of posts on how to optimize your site for speed, explaining web jargon, securing your site and more, so that you can easily optimize your site performance, without looking elsewhere.
Let me know wrap this long review of KeyCDN, If you’re already using KeyCDN, let me know your feedback in the comments, and those who are planning to use KeyCDN, please feel free to post your queries.
In this KeyCDN review, you talked only about WordPress, are they not compatible with other CMS ?
Since, the article is all about WordPress that’s why I didn’t mention about compatability with other CMS. However, for your information, not just WordPress, KeyCDN is easily integrated with over 25+ CMS, that includes Drupal, Joomla, PrestaShop, Magento, OpenCart, Craft, vBulletin, Django, Ghost, concrete5, and more. Here is the full list
What are the zone limits at KeyCDN?
Initially, they provide 10 zones for all new accounts, however if you need more zones, then simply ask them to enable more zones.
Do KeyCDN protects my site from DDoS and bad bots?
Yes, they protects your site from DDoS attacks, and blocks bad bots from crawling your CDN assets.
So what are the total number of KeyCDN POPs or network locations?
As of now, they have 25 Active Point of Presence on the Globe, and they have plans to deploy 6 more POPs.
What are the standard KeyCDN pricing?
KeyCDN offers flat $0.04/GB pricing for the first 10TB of usage, for next 40TB you’ll be charged $0.036/GB for North America and Europe regions. For full KeyCDN pricing chart, check this page
Are there any discounts for new KeyCDN users?
As of now, KeyCDN is offering 10$ for all referred customers. That’s good option for the new customers who want to give KeyCDN a try!