I had been using W3 Total Cache as the only main performance plugin for WordPress for a while on my blogs until my site started hitting 50k+ visits per month in June, July and then August 2011 when my site starting inching closer to 100k visits per month.
I started seeing more and more issues with performance on my site including pageload times, # of errors related to moving around my WordPress admin and I knew I had to do something to help improve my site performance.
I spread these tests out over several weeks and tried multiple tests against each configuration to make sure any anomalies were ruled out.
CDN Testing Results
You can see by the above Pingdom tests that my blog shaved about 3 seconds off my pageload times by switching to Amazon S3 from just using W3 Total Cache. But my blog really nearly cut my pageload times in half to over 1/2 by using MaxCDN combined with W3TC.
I also used WhichLoadsFaster to compare my pageload time against some other blogs as well while using MaxCDN and W3 Total Cache and was surprised to see just how good of a performance gain my site showed.
By all my testing my blog pageload times are much better using MaxCDN than Amazon S3 even with Cloudfront. I haven’t yet tested Google’s CDN service though I applied for a beta invite.
Cloudflare Special Note
I did use Cloudflare on my site before I did Amazon S3 and with Amazon S3, Cloudflare did improve my load times in Pingdom to about 9-10 seconds and my WhichLoadsFaster was about 4-5 seconds. Cloudflare however created constant issues where Cloudflare would accuse my site of being down and when I tested without using Cloudflare it would show as up. My site just was less stable when hosted behind Cloudflare and it also didn’t play well with MaxCDN when I first tried to configure the two to work together.
If you don’t want to pay for a CDN service like MaxCDN or Amazon S3, then Cloudflare is a good option to get content caching and improved performance when combined with W3 Total Cache without having to pay anything. I still recommend Cloudflare + W3 Total Cache as a viable option if you are looking for a free caching and CDN solution.
There is no doubt that MaxCDN combined with W3 Total Cache improved pageload times on my blog tremendously while also reducing the amount of load on my hosting provider. This allows my blog to remain on my current shared hosting provider without having to think about moving to something more powerful in the short term.
I like MaxCDN so much I even applied for their affiliate program because I truly believe this is one of the best services for improving the performance of your WordPress blog pageload times. Sign up for MaxCDN and use the coupon code wpbeginner though and get $10 off, this is just a generic code and saved me some money.
TechWalls also did a good review comparing CDN services and they listed Google as providing great benefit and MaxCDN being just behind the Google CDN service.