Here’s How Pakistan’s PageCDN Compares to Global Competition

Website performance optimization is a hot topic in web development world since the search engine giant Google announced website loading speed to be an important factor used in calculation of ranking of websites in its search results.

Since then, web developers are adopting all possible optimization techniques to speed up their websites and get maximum competitive advantage. For web based businesses, it is especially important in order to be on top among the competition, hence there is a rising need for more CDN’s in the Pakistani Market with better features and performance.

What is a CDN?

To understand its importance, one must first understand what a CDN is. A content delivery network (CDN) is a geographically distributed network of data centers. The goal is to provide high availability and high performance by distributing the service spatially relative to end-users.

A CDN maintains copy of website’s static files near end users so that whenever a visitor opens the website, all static files including images, fonts, styles, scripts, etc are delivered to their browser from the nearest location. This saves most of the downloading time and makes websites snappier.

CDNs in Pakistan

As of right now, the CDN services operating in Pakistan are Cloudflare and QUANTIL. The said CDNs operate in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. The said areas are the central hubs of most internet users in the country.

Another more commonly used CDN service in Pakistan is the Amazon Cloudfront. Amazon CloudFront is a CDN from Amazon Web Services and it provides a globally-disbursed network of proxy servers which accumulate the web-based content for further disbursement, hence enhancing data and download speed. CloudFront has a decent footprint in Europe, Asia, Australia, South America, as well as in numerous big cities of the USA.

However, a new player in the CDN services industry of Pakistan has just emerged on to the scene. PageCDN is first Pakistan based Content Delivery Network. Co-founded by Hamid Sarfraz, Sami Ur Rehman, Muhammad Naeem and Mudassar Sarfraz; the service was launched in July 2019 with the intent to offer new ways to help developers with their website performance optimization at 10x better speed and in 10x less time.

There’s a vast variety of services to be explored on the said CDN platform. Furthermore, the company claims to be among the market leaders in terms of speed and pricing. With so much confidence and promise behind their services, let us dive deeper into the platform and see what value it has to offer.

What does PageCDN Offer?

Easy to Use

Most of the techniques discussed next require advanced technical knowledge. With PageCDN Easy Speedup WordPress plugin, you just need to tune things with a few mouse clicks and leave the rest to the PageCDN cloud. On dynamic or static websites not using WordPress, setup is still fairly simple and PageCDN dashboard offers easy to use configuration form for all advanced optimizations.

Easy Fonts

Easy Fonts is a fonts library that hosts all fonts from Google Fonts Github repo. Easy Fonts offers several improvements over Google Fonts to make it easier to use fonts in development and production environment. Easy Fonts also makes it possible to load all fonts at once and use the necessary ones on demand.

If you are concerned about the page load time, browser will download only the required fonts. This makes prototyping new products and designs faster. Easy Fonts also fixes leverage browser caching issue of Google Fonts, and saves 2 DNS lookups (and connections) per page load if fonts are used with other PageCDN hosted files.

Host Consolidation

PageCDN introduces host consolidation technique as an exact opposite of domain sharing that was very popular a decade ago in HTTP/1.1 era when browser couldn’t parallelize requests for effective utilization of available bandwidth. With HTTP/2 and upcoming HTTP/3, resource transfers can be parallelized and multiplexed over single connection. This is so important for the performance of a modern website that browser developers even recommend to split large files to many small files for certain low level optimizations to work.

Websites that load resources from multiple hosts like Public CDNs, Private CDN, Google Fonts, hosted widget, etc, are victim of incidental domain sharding that causes the websites to face two problems:

  1. It cannot use parallelization capabilities HTTP/2 protocol. This is waste of resources.
  2. It needs to perform extra DNS lookups and open separate connections per host. This is an expensive job for the browser. The extra overhead may not be very visible for desktop browsers, but this extra work the browser has to do is reflected in decreased website performance on mobile devices.

PageCDN relies on this feature of HTTP/2 protocol and helps you consolidate all the different types of content over single host so that it can be requested in parallel. PageCDN solves this problem by facilitating fonts, open source libraries and themes; commercial libraries, widgets and themes; and your private files over a single CDN, and where possible, avails the caches already created for the Public/Shared resources when they were delivered to your users while they were visiting other websites.

It also facilitates connecting to multiple different origins (Github, websites, file storage and other CDNs) and delivering everything over the same connection and caching the content near end-user for best performance.

Aggressive Optimizations

Many websites use moderate gzip compression to compress static resources before delivery to the browser. This can significantly reduce the size of files that have to be delivered – resulting in bandwidth and time saving and making websites faster.

PageCDN, on the other hand, uses brotli compression with support compression quality 11, which is the highest compression quality available for the web. Many web servers and CDNs do not support this as this compression scheme eats up processing resources. PageCDN pre-compresses resources using brotli compression and can reduce the content size as much as 27% compared to others.

content delivery network

dedicated full-featured content delivery network

In addition, PageCDN helps setting aggressive cache control headers for long expiry of files in a browser, and still allows room for cache invalidation through in-URL tags in case the files change. These optimizations can significantly speed up slow websites for new and repeat visitors.

Content Classification

PageCDN classifies website content for efficient optimization of ‘content’, ‘delivery’ and ‘caching’ phases or components of the HTTP request. These content classifications include:

  1. Public Content

This consists of open source libraries. This content is publicly available and is used on many websites. PageCDN hosts 200+ libraries, 2,000+ WordPress themes and 10,000+ WordPress plugins for free that are available for use through its Easy Speedup plugin and on Public CDN section on the website.

Such files do not change, and updates are usually pushed through separate version tag that is hosted separately. So, PageCDN optimizes this content aggressively using brotli-q11 compression and caches in the browser with Immutable cache-control directive. Further, this public content is used by several websites that collectively share its browser cache for better cache hit ratio.

  1. Shared Content

Many websites are built using a free or paid theme. PageCDN advocates hosting such content on CDN from a single repo so that websites can share its browser cache. Further, knowing that these files are used by multiple sites, applying resource-hungry optimizations like brotli-q11 compression, CSS and JS minification and image optimizations easily pay off at large scale.

  1. Private Content

Every piece of static content not classified under the above two is termed private content. Private content is usually very specific to a website and includes user uploads, custom CSS and JS files, business logo, profile photos, etc. and is fetched from the website for the purpose of delivery in real-time.

PageCDN also aims to apply more optimizations automatically in the future when it has more information on the pattern of usage of public and private files on websites.

Shared CDN

Shared CDN is a new content delivery technique introduced by PageCDN.

Traditionally websites that use CDN load public libraries from Public CDNs and everything else through their commercial CDN. PageCDN changes this by making room for shared CDN so that the non-public content shared by websites (like commercial templates) can be delivered from a single place to achieve better cache hit ratio or to amortize the cost of extreme optimizations at scale.

Small CMS creators and theme developers use shared CDN for delivery of theme files directly from their Github repo with very minimal setup requirements and with very fine performance benefits.

PageCDN also allows setting up CDN on websites, Github repos or storage bucket and sharing with colleagues, fellows and friends on social media in a convenient way.

HTTP/2 Server Push

The normal practice is that browsers request from content and server fulfill their request. With HTTP/2 it is possible to send the content from a server without before even the browser asks for it. This feature of HTTP/2 is called Server Push.

HTTP/2 Server Push can be a game-changer if used with care so that when the server knows that the current files requires something immediately, it can proactively push the required additional files and save on the 2 way round trip time for next request.

Mudassar Sarfraz

origin server

Performance improvements resulting from enabling HTTP/2 Server Push (Source: Nginx)

PageCDN implements HTTP/2 Server Push feature through easy to use web interface where you specify which file pushes which additional files and it takes care of the technical part for you. The entire process is easy and takes minimal developer time.

Optimizations Built into URLs

PageCDN claims to know how to best utilize URL and builds many optimizations within URL. They describe their method as follows; When a request is received for a file, PageCDN analyses contents of the required path and makes the best use of the available information to provide the most optimized content with best caching policy configurable by the webmaster.

With this feature, everything works through URIs and does not require any configuration. The users just specify a few hints in the URL of the file to indicate their intention. The optimizations available inside URLs are:

  1. In URL Cache Busters

PageCDN allows you to use cache busters right within URLs so that when file contents change, you just have to change the cache buster to force the browser and CDN edge servers to fetch fresh contents from origin server. This technique allows for use of very extreme caching policy that is not possible otherwise without query strings that itself are considered bad for cacheable files.

Similarly, content that can be versioned, like the files coming from github, are available through URLs that contain version tags to uniquely identify a resource.

  1. URL based Image Optimizations

PageCDN optimizes and resizes images on-the-fly based on flags specified within image file name. This saves you the hassle of optimizing or resizing images manually or through a 3rd party API. PageCDN also maintains multiple copies of resized and optimized images so that you do not need to maintain multiple copies on your server.

  1. URL based CSS and JS Minification

CSS and JS minification can significantly reduce the ‘Time to First Contentful Paint” of a web page on user browser screen. PageCDN makes it easy to minify selective raw CSS or JS files without going through any configuration or big code changes.

web interface

content delivery network

On-the-fly image, styles and script optimization by PageCDN (Original Image)

HSTS Preloading

PageCDN is on HSTS preload list of all top browsers, which means a user’s files on PageCDN always load over HTTPS whether or not they explicitly ask the browser to do so.

dedicated full-featured content delivery network

Mudassar Sarfraz

On one hand this helps with security and privacy, and on the other hand it helps with performance too. Browsers treat the same file delivered over HTTP and HTTPs as two separate files and does not reuse the HTTPS cache for HTTP requests and vice versa. Having the resources to load over only single consistent URL avoids cache misses if you incorrectly link to a file on a page to load over HTTP instead of HTTPS.

This also avoids mixed content issue that is commonly found on many websites that migrate to HTTPS from old HTTP. This feature enables full transport security and ensures no resource can slip through to the browser without going through the secure channel.

PageCDN vs AWS Cloudfront

Pakistan is gradually becoming one of the growing markets for web content generation with a great number of content based organizations surfacing in the market. With the growing demand and supply for the web based content, the need for a stronger and better content dispersion platform is at an all time high.

For a developer that needs to speed up its website without diving into too much configuration options, PageCDN seems to be a reasonable choice as it bundles various optimizations in a single service. Below is a comparison of performance features that PageCDN and Amazon Cloudfront offer.

origin server

web interface

PageCDN vs AWS Cloudfront optimizations compared.

Cloudfront offers limit performance optimizations compared with PageCDN. This is because Cloudfront is a dedicated full-featured content delivery network, while PageCDN is a CDN and a content optimization service built on top of its own CDN infrastructure.


Performance optimization is the future. The entire feature set of PageCDN makes it one of the better platforms for the performance optimization needs of a modern website. Many of the top speed ranking indexes like ‘Page Speed Insights’ and YSlow give websites good performance scores after all these optimizations.

PageCDN is also recognized by the popular performance measurement tools like GTMetrix, Pingdom and WebPageTest. Although most of the features are covered under paid plans, websites with low monetary budget can get benefit of fast speed through the free Public CDN available on PageCDN website.

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