4 Best Free CDN Services for WordPress (That Are Actually Free)
Searching for the best free CDN to speed up your site? A CDN, short for content delivery network, lets you speed up your site for global visitors by storing your site’s static files on a global network and delivering them based on the nearest location to a visitor.
If you have a global audience, which most sites do in 2020, it’s a great way to ensure that your site loads quickly for visitors no matter if they’re browsing from Paris, France or Paris, Texas.
In this post, we’ve collected the best free WordPress CDN services (many will also work for non-WordPress sites, too).
Let’s jump in so that you can start speeding up your site.
Note – this post was originally published in January 2017, but we fully updated it in May 2020 to account for changes in the free WordPress CDN space.
The Best Free CDN Services for WordPress (Or Anyone Else)
Cloudflare is probably the most well-known free CDN service in existence.
It also has the biggest global network of any tool on this list. At the time that we’re writing this, Cloudflare has network points in over 200 cities on every single continent (excluding Antarctica). They even have a network point in Hawaii, which I’ve never seen from any other CDN service.
Beyond the CDN service, Cloudflare can also help your site in other ways including:
- Fast DNS, which can improve your site’s time to first byte (TTFB)
- Security rules and DDoS attack protection
- Free SSL certificate to get your site the green padlock in browsers
However, because Cloudflare is technically a reverse proxy, the setup process is a little more involved – you’ll need to point your domain name’s nameservers to Cloudflare so that Cloudflare can direct your site’s traffic (and serve up content from the CDN).
Don’t worry – we have a complete guide to set up Cloudflare for WordPress.
It comes packed with different features to enhance your site (it’s modular, so you can enable/disable individual features to avoid bloat). However, the one that we’re interested in for this post is the Jetpack Site Accelerator.
With Jetpack Site Accelerator (formerly known as Photon), you can deliver all of your site’s static files via Automattic’s network of global servers.
In the past, Jetpack’s CDN only worked for image files, but the latest version extends that to other static files (like HTML/CSS), which is a huge upgrade.
The one limitation to consider is that Jetpack Site Accelerator doesn’t let you “purge” your cached content. Basically, that means that you won’t be able to change an image while keeping the same filename. It’s usually not a big deal, though – you can just upload a new image using a different filename.
It includes a plugin at WordPress.org that makes it super easy to get up and running with the Shift8 CDN (as well as a Drupal module and Laravel package, if you’re using those platforms). You pretty much just need to install the plugin and you’re ready to go, which is great if you’re not a technical person.
One thing to note is that Shift8’s global network is not nearly as large as something like Cloudflare. Currently, there are only 16 global edge points spread around North America, South America, Europe, and Asia/Pacific.
However, that still gives you pretty good global coverage, even if it’s not as comprehensive as some other services.
Shift8’s free CDN plan only has a few limits:
- You can only use two sites.
- You don’t get access to the full global endpoint network.
- There’s a 500GB bandwidth limit (per month).
Still, that’s quite generous. And if you do need to exceed those limits, the premium version costs just $10 per month.
4. WordPress Image Optimization Plugins With CDNs
In this last section, I’m going to lump together a few free WordPress image optimization plugins that can help you deliver your images from a global network.
However, these plugins will only work for images – they can’t speed up your other static files.
Still, images comprise about 50% of the file size of the average web page, so finding a way to speed up image delivery can still make a big improvement in your site’s page load times.
Here are some of the best options:
- Optimole – helps you compress/resize images, serve dynamic images based on each user’s resolution, and deliver everything using the Amazon CloudFront CDN.
- ShortPixel Adaptive Images – similar to Optimole. It lets you compress/resize images, optimize images for each visitor, and deliver everything via a CDN. This is different from the regular ShortPixel plugin.
- Cloudinary – a standalone image optimization service that can deliver your images via a CDN, among many other useful options. You can easily integrate it with WordPress thanks to a dedicated plugin.
Bonus: Cheap CDN Services That Won’t Break the Bank
Unfortunately, there aren’t that many truly free CDN services for WordPress – the list above contains the best options that I could find.
However, if you’re willing to open your wallet, you can find some great CDNs with cheap pay-as-you-go billing that won’t break the bank.
Unless your site uses a ton of bandwidth, you can probably get away with spending less than $5 per month.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the best affordable options.
KeyCDN is an affordable CDN service with 34 data centers spread around the world.
Pricing starts at just $0.04/GB for your first 10 TB in North America/Europe and goes down with volume.
Overall, the minimum usage is just $4 per month, which makes it quite affordable even for small sites.
BunnyCDN is another simple, pay-as-you-go CDN service that’s easy to use with WordPress (or other sites).
BunnyCDN offers two delivery options:
- The full network of over 40 points of presence around the world.
- A limited network of 8 points of presence in Europe and the USA
The limited network starts at just $0.005/GB, while the full network varies in price depending on the location. The cheapest option is Europe & North America at $0.01 / GB.
What’s more, the monthly minimum is just $1, which is about as cheap as it gets. You can also test it out with a 14-day free trial.
Start Using a Free CDN Today
If you have a global audience, a CDN is an excellent way to speed up your site so that all of your visitors have a great experience.
With the free CDNs on this list, you can do that without breaking the bank.
Overall, Cloudflare is the best free CDN service when it comes to global presence, while Jetpack or Shift8 are the easiest to use on WordPress.
Or, if you’re mainly worried about your images, there are some great free image optimization plugins that include a CDN as part of their optimization packages.
Finally, remember that there’s a lot more to WordPress performance than just a CDN. For some other ways to speed up your site, check out our full guide to how to speed up WordPress.
Any questions about choosing the best free CDN for your site? Ask us in the comments!