The online marketplace grows more competitive by the day—especially for content-rich websites and applications. As America has the third-largest amount of internet users by population (next to China and India), a sizeable portion of global online activity is generated from the United States. America also happens to be the world’s current largest national economy.
A study by Alibaba recently found that 93% of US companies do business online for at least a portion of their day-to-day activities. Furthermore, at least 93% of Americans use the internet on a regular basis (Pew Research Center). By 2040, Nasdaq predicts that 95% of all sales will be e-commerce.
As demand for online content and services grows, so do consumer expectations. For example, according to WebsiteBuilderExpert, 46% of visitors will not revisit a poor-performing website and 1 in 4 users leave a website that takes more than four seconds to load. In fact, just a 0.4-second reduction in load times can increase traffic by 9%.
CDNs play a significant role in how a domain performs. In this blog, we’ll analyze the top 10 CDNs in the United States.
What is a Content Delivery Network (CDN)?
CDN is a term you hear constantly in the online world. Okay, but what is it and why is it important? In simple terms, a CDN is a geographically distributed network of servers designed to reduce latency and improve the speed at which web content is delivered. This is achieved because queries are routed to a resource closest to the requesting user’s location. A CDN closes the physical distance between your content and your users, thus shortening or eliminating the time it takes for content to appear on your screen after making a web page request. Any website or application that delivers large amounts of dynamic content to a global audience is using at least one CDN—or at least it should be.
What is Multi-CDN?
Another hot term in the industry is Multi-CDN. As the name implies, multi-CDN just means a company is using more than one CDN. While using one CDN provider offers a solid performance boost, having multiple CDNs provide significantly more improvements in speeds and efficiency. One downside to CDNs is that they can be vulnerable to service degradation and outages. Using multiple CDNs solves this issue due to the added redundancy.
Americans make approximately 20% of the world’s total income despite its small population compared to other countries. According to Statista, revenue from online sales in America has grown from 424.9 in 2017 to 767.7 billion in 2021, and is predicted to hit 1,329.7 trillion by 2025. Needless to say, it’s crucial that domains in the US market are fast, secure, and reliable.
Knowing how your CDN(s) performs is a necessity.
In this blog, we’ll be comparing the top 10 performing CDNs in the United States based on a median average within the last seven and 30 days of this writing.
How Does PerfOps Work?
Before we get into the speed comparisons, let’s take a look at how we get our data and measurements. Performance metrics are based on real user metrics (RUM) from users across the globe. PerfOps, as well as our free performance monitoring service CDNPerf, gathers and analyzes over 300 million tests per day, with data being updated every hour. Measurement is based on a 2,500-millisecond timeout limit. If a query takes longer than this, CDNPerf considers it a timeout. CDN performance is measured according to how long it takes for a user to download a 500-byte image from a prospective CDN.
CDN Speed Comparison
Now let’s see how the data looks. The graph below shows the CDN performances of the top 10 performing CDNs (averaged over the last 30 days).
Provider Speeds (milliseconds) within last 30 days
Google Cloud 25.87
This data not only shows you the average speeds of a CDN, but it also shows fluctuations over your designated timeframe. This can help providers troubleshoot their network or companies pinpoint web traffic issues or discrepancies.
Of course, a lot can happen in 30 days. Let’s look at the same providers within the last seven days.
As you can see, the results have changed, not by much, but there are some differences.
Provider Speeds (milliseconds) within last 7 days
Google Cloud 25.63
CacheFly still leads the pack for best performance in the United States. In fact, the only order change we see here is that CDN77 outperformed Akamai by 1.25% and edges up to the ninth spot. Almost all the CDNs saw a marginal increase in speeds over the 7-day time period, except for Limelight and Fastly, who actually saw a slight increase.
If you conduct a significant amount of business in the United States, this data can help you determine which CDNs are best suited for your content. As a provider, this data can help to improve latency and performance in areas that are important to your customers.
CDN Performance on a State Level
To further refine your results, you can also compare CDNs by state. We’ll use the state of California for our example and stick with the seven-day timeframe that we had in our last example.
Once again, we see CacheFly as the top performer (21.5), but Google Cloud moves up to a close second (22.5), while Edgecast drops to third (24.38). We also see Cloudflare drop to 9th place (25.5), while Akamai remains the slowest of the top 10 (26.5). We monitor over 20 CDNs, and you can compare whichever CDNs you want, all of them at once, or just look at the analytics for a single provider, depending on the data you need.
You also have the option of analyzing performance by city (major global cities only), by ASN, by continent, or by multiple countries or states at once.
Monitoring CDNs by Uptime
While speed and latency are critical, uptime is perhaps the most vital because if a CDN is down, visitors won’t be served your content. Let’s take a look at the same 10 providers from the above examples, but this time, we’ll analyze them by RUM uptime (United States, last seven days).
Provider Uptime (within last 7 days)
Google Cloud 97.76%
When comparing CDNs based on uptime, we see some notable differences. Edgecast moves to the top spot when it comes to uptime, whereas CacheFly drops to fourth place and Google Cloud drops to the ninth spot. Each CDN has a high uptime percentage, but as the graph shows, uptime fluctuates for all of them, with Google Cloud being the most inconsistent during this timeframe; highest uptime at 98.79%, lowest at 96.90%. Edgecast and Azure had the highest and most consistent.
Tip: Keep in mind, these analytics are based on RUM data, and don’t reflect the actual uptime of a provider. Some false positives can occur, but overall, this gives you the best picture of CDN stability and reliability during a specified time range.
Multi-CDN Solution For Best Performance and Uptime
Since CDNs play such a crucial role in today’s online marketplace, its best practice to have more than one CDN. This not only helps ensure users have the best experience, but also lets your domain avoid the pitfalls of CDN vulnerabilities and outages. That’s where a Multi-CDN solution comes in. Rather than managing each CDN separately, which can be tedious and error-prone, there are services that allow you to manage all your CDNs in one place.
Two notable services are:
The Best CDN: Performance Monitoring is Key to Success
As CDNs play such a major role in how users connect with online content, it’s imperative that you monitor CDN performance and uptime frequently. A poor-performing CDN can be detrimental to your business. With PerfOps, you can see provider data for yourself and choose which CDNs best suit your needs. Providers can use PerfOps to improve their network and to pinpoint underperforming nameservers that may be affecting the overall performance of their service. PerfOps is the only source in the industry that provides highly accurate, unbiased DNS, CDN, and Cloud metrics for companies and providers alike.
Don’t just take our word for it. Try it for yourself!