Product Reviews

CDN77

Founded only five years ago, CDN77 is now a big-name CDN player with customers including CentOS, Scania, pypMyAdmin and the European Space Agency.

The company can accelerate your website by serving content direct to your visitors from 27 data centres (plus 5 ‘custom’ centres) around the world. Europe and North America get the most attention, but there are also multiple locations in Asia and South America.

HTTP/2 support may be able to further improve speeds by 50%, while Brotli compression shrinks common file types like JavaScript or CSS by 25% more than GZip.

SSL options include free Let’s Encrypt certificates for the CDN URL or CNAME (cdn.mydomain.com). You can install an existing SSL certificate for free, or purchase an ‘A’ graded SSL certificate from a SAN provider for $69 (£53) per year.

CDN77 can be used to store large files, reducing the load on your origin server. Others do something similar with origin push support, but unusually CDN77 gives you the first 50GB for free. After that, storage prices start at $20 (£16) a month for up to 150GB storage, ranging up to $95 (£76) for 1TB and $295 (£236) for 5TB.

There’s solid support for integrating CDN77 with WordPress, Drupal, PrestaShop, Joomla and more. You’re not restricted to a single WordPress plugin – there’s support for WP Fastest Cache, ZenCache/Comet Cache, W3 Total Cache and more – and multiple tutorials to help you get set up.

If you have issues with CMS or anything else, all CDN77 plans include support by email, chat, phone and Skype at no extra cost.

Pricing

CDN77 pricing starts at $0.049 per GB of data transferred from US and European locations, rising to $0.125 from Asia and Pacific regions, and $0.185 from Latin America. You can turn off POPs in more expensive countries to cut costs.

Prices drop if you’re using more bandwidth, and for example ramping up to 61-500GB of traffic cuts the baseline cost to $0.029 per gigabyte.

Raw logs are available for an extra $49 (£39) per month per CDN resource. These include the date, timezone, datacentre location, client IP, request type, domain, URL, HTTP response code, response size and hit/miss verdict for up to a million hits per day, over the last three days.

There’s one notable catch: you must credit your account with a minimum payment of $149 (£119), and this expires after a year unless you top up.

Overall, CDN77’s per-gigabyte pricing is still good value at less than half the price of Fastly for US and European transfers, and significantly lower than Cloudfront and Azure. If you’re on a budget, there are better deals to be found: KeyCDN offers even lower transfer prices at $0.04 per GB for all regions.

Setup

CDN77 offers a 14-day risk free trial which is unusually easy to set up. There’s minimal personal data required – name, email address, password – and you’re not asked for any payment details.

Click the Signup button and the site immediately prompts you to create your first CDN. There’s no need to hunt around a complicated web console, and options are kept to a minimum. Enter the CDN name, your domain, decide whether the data is taken from your server or CDN storage, hit ‘Create CDN Resource’ and you’re on your way.

The next page continues the guided approach with links to two tutorials. The first, ‘Setup without CNAME’, gives an example of how you change your asset paths from something like ‘http://mydomain.com/path/to/image.jpg’ to ‘http(s)://1698210349.rsc.cdn77.org/path/to/image.jpg’. It explains that ‘image.jpg’ will be grabbed by the CDN on the first request, and served from its cache after that.

The second explains how to use CNAME records to create a less cryptic domain name, like cdn.mydomain.com. There are specific instructions for popular hosting providers, including GoDaddy, HostGator and Bluehost. It’s much more straightforward than most other providers, who usually leave you to find the relevant settings and support documents yourself.

Once you’re done, the full CDN77 console opens at its reports page. There probably won’t be anything to review just yet, but when the service is active you’ll be able to view charts of bandwidth use, traffic, cache hits and misses, costs, HTTP responses (2xx, 3xx, 4xx, 5xx) and more. You can filter these by time, CDN resources and data centres, and there are buttons to download graphs in JPEG form or a CSV file of the graph data.

The rest of the console interface does its very best to avoid intimidating users. There are few options, jargon is kept to a minimum, and you’re not confronted with any CDN technicalities unless you go looking for them.

CDN77 does offer some useful tweaks and settings, but the focus remains on simplicity rather than power. Other services usually allow you to set a cache expiry time to a number of minutes, for instance. Here you select fixed options from a list (10 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, 4 hours, 12 hours and so on).

Cache purging supports the most basic options only: removing individual files or clearing everything.

Cookie handling is limited to a single choice: cache requests with cookies, or not.

The ‘Access Protection’ panel is more interesting, with options to whitelist or blacklist visitors by IP address or country. There’s hotlink protection, including the ability to block requests with empty referrers, and a Secure Token feature allows restricting downloads to authorized users only.

Unusually, you also have complete control over the CDN locations you’d like to use. Normally you’d use this to turn off support in the more expensive locations, which in this case is South America ($0.185 per GB vs $0.049 for North America and Europe). But if you can think of a reason to turn off caching in individual countries, you can do that, too.

There are a scattering of other options to add an SSL certificate, redirect HTTP requests to HTTPS, preload large files to the CDN, and so on.

Experts might be frustrated by the lack of low-level CDN tweaks available here, but everyone else will appreciate CDN77’s ease of use. The console assumes far less knowledge than most of the competition, and also provides useful help within the interface.

Performance

Comparing CDN performance is a complex business, as there are so many factors involved: the web applications used, the size and type of files, CDN configuration, locations and numbers of visitors, the volume of requests and more.

CDNPerf gives you a starting point by comparing CDN response times as experienced by users around the world. It’s just one metric and can’t tell you the whole story, but it does at least give you an idea how speedy a CDN network can be.

As we write, CDN77 ranks 14th out of a field of 24 for worldwide response times. That’s not bad – it’s one step above budget competitor KeyCDN – but it’s lagging behind Fastly, Cloudfront, Azure, Cloudflare and more.

Sometimes the worldwide averages conceal better performance in a few regions, but that doesn’t seem to be true here. CDN77 is 15th in Europe and Asia, 17th in America, 12th in Oceania, falling to 21st in Africa – it’s typically lower mid-range just about everywhere.

While this doesn’t look impressive, the difference in performance is marginal, and at less than half the price of some competitors, CDN77 still seems like good value to us.

Final verdict

A straightforward CDN which is easy to set up and great value for North America and European transfers. It’s short on advanced options, but could be a good choice for new users who need the CDN basics only.


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