Using W3 Total Cache plugin with a CDN

Published on January 11th, 2011

Last Updated on June 14th, 2019

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The other day I showed you how to install the W3 Total Cache plugin to speed up your WordPress sites, I covered all the main settings apart from CDN. To recap :

CDN is a Content Delivery Network of highly-optimized servers all around the world working together to distribute your content (CSS and Javascript files, downloadable objects, applications, real-time media streams, and much more) through hundreds of servers instead of a single host. This “smart route” technology makes sure each visitor to your site gets their data from the city closest to them.

In this guide I will show you how to setup your blog to use a CDN. W3 Total Cache plugin is compatible with Max CDN which is the company that now provides the CDN for WPlift. I chose to use Max CDN as they have a good reputation and power some big sites like Mashable and BuySellAds, so if you’re looking for a WordPress CDN check them out:

Create a Pull Zone

After you have signed up with Max CDN, login and you will be presented with the dashboard. From here click “Manage Zones” and then “Create Pull Zone”

Next up enter the following details :

  • Pull Zone Name – Name this anything you want related to your site
  • Origin Server URL – Your website’s URL
  • Custom CDN Domain – I chose a subdomain of my site URL (
  • Label – Describe this Zone

After you’ve entered the details, hit “Create” and your zone will be created within the Max CDN network – be patient as this can take a good few minutes to complete.

Create a CNAME record

Once your zone is created, you need to create a CNAME record for your domain, if you cPanel hosting this is easyily done via your control panel. Click “Simple DNS Zone Editor”. If your web hosting does not use cPanel, contact your host and ask them how to create a CNAME record.

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Enter CDN for the first box (which is the subdomain you chose in the step before) and the url given to you when you created the pull zone in the second box.

Configure the W3 Total Cache Plugin

On the W3 Total Cache plugin menu, select “General Settings” and make sure the Content Delivery Network section is ticked and choose “Mirror: Net DNA / Max CDN” from the dropdown box.

Now choose “CDN” from the plugin menu. You will need to enter an API ID and API key, to get these, login to Max CDN > “Manage Account” >”API” > “+ Add API Key” and create a key.

Where it says “Replace site’s hostname with:” enter the subdomain from before ( and save changes. Click “Test NetDNA” to check everything works ok.

Thats it, your site is now setup to use Max CDN, to doublecheck its working ok – right click and view an image or background image. You will see the image path has changed to

How do you find the loading speed of WPLift now ? Please let me know in the comments …

Oliver Dale is the founder of Kooc Media, An Internet Company based in Manchester, UK. I founded WPLift in 2010.