A Low Cost CDN Alternative

Businesses often need to host large for clients to download, or sometimes, they may even need their users to upload files to them. There are two challenges:

  • (1) How to enable clients to download (or upload) files at a very fast speed? If the speed is slow, clients may quickly become frustrated.
  • (2) If tens of thousands of users download (or upload) files, will the system be able to handle the load?

With enough investment in server hardware and network bandwidth, the above problems can be solved. However, for most SMBs, such demands happen only when a new product version is released, or a new marketing campaign is launched. In this case, using CDN (Content Delivery Network) service is much more economical.

The traditional CDN service is still expensive and difficult to setup. Moreover, the focus on file downloading makes CDN service somewhat limiting on features. There are also security concerns as CDN service will cache contents in other locations, thus making your confidential data more vulnerable.

DriveHQ offers a low-cost alternative to CDN services with its FTP, file, and web hosting services.

CDN service is widely used to deliver large amounts of data around the globe. Many large companies use CDN service. The usage scenarios include:

  • Delivering a number of image, video or music files to a large audience.
  • Having many users download a new version software, product manual, device driver, game or other digital contents.
  • Host product image files or other multimedia files for your e-commerce website, including those hosted by eBay and Amazon.
  • Having many users upload files (esp. large files) to you.

You can leverage on DriveHQ's "CDN" service to lower the cost and increase the performance.

Traditionally, content delivery network service is offered by companies like Akamai and other network or telco service providers. Such companies have an advantage in that they have built many datacenters across the world. However, their costs tend to be higher, and the integration is often hard for small and medium sized businesses (esp. for those businesses that don’t have good software engineers in their team).

The main goal of CDN service is to offer increased download / upload speed to end users. Most SMBs don’t have enough download and upload bandwidth to support thousands of concurrent users. In this case, they can more easily host their contents on DriveHQ than with any CDN service. DriveHQ has better tools for uploading/downloading large files and many files; it has virtually unlimited network bandwidth with high-speed servers to deliver huge amounts of content to millions of users. Compared with other CDN service providers, DriveHQ’s hosting service has the following advantages:

  • Easy to setup and low cost
    Just sign up for an account with DriveHQ and you are ready to go. DriveHQ’s bandwidth cost is dramatically lower than other CDN services. It does not require complicated setup or system integration; there is no minimum requirement, nor is there any multi-year contract.
  • Far better and easier tools to download, upload and manage files online.
    You can use DriveHQ FileManager, any FTP client software, WebDAV Drive Mapping or any web browser to upload, download, drag and drop manage files online.
  • Control who can access to which files and folders.
    Just select a folder and right click on it, then select share or publish. You can then specify who can access to the folder and files in it. If you publish a folder, anybody can access the folder and files using the published URLs; if you share a folder, you can set fine granular access permissions.
  • Your data is more secure with DriveHQ service.
    A CDN service will cache files in many locations, which is good for performance. However, for best security and privacy, files should not be cached and users can delete files permanently.
  • Seamless integration with other DriveHQ cloud IT services.
    Nowadays, every business is embracing cloud services. So why order CDN service, cloud storage, cloud backup, FTP hosting, folder synchronization services separately? DriveHQ Cloud IT service is a one-stop shop for all these services. Save time and money by choosing DriveHQ cloud solution.
  • Support uploads.
    Most CDN services don’t support uploads. After all, CDN services are designed to cache data in their edge servers. This works well for file downloads. For uploads, it will not increase the performance if data needs to be stored to the “origin server” (or the “destination” server since it's upload). With DriveHQ’s service, there are two ways users can upload files to you: one is to create sub-accounts for them to logon. They can drag and drop uploading using FileManager, FTP or web browser. You can also easily access a DriveHQ Drop Box URL, from which any user can upload files to you given the drop box URL.
  • Support private downloads that require authentication.
    Authentication can be done by DriveHQ server, or by the customer’s own server. DriveHQ has a very easy web-based API for remote authentication by customer’s own server.

How does DriveHQ compare with Akamai’s CDN service?

Akamai is the current market leader in CDN service, though DriveHQ is not competing in the same market. Akamai’s customers are mostly large enterprises. They don’t publish their prices online, but from available sources and by searching online, you will see their prices are usually more expensive than other CDN service providers.

Akamai’s strength is that they have many PoP (Point of Presence) servers in many different locations (referred as Edge Servers). With their edge servers caching contents in many regions, the performance tends to be much faster – especially if the request is served by an edge server in the region.

The performance gain was more significant 10 years ago than it is today. The Internet infrastructure has improved dramatically in the past decade. Today, for most regular business use, web requests can be handled directly without significant performance issues. DriveHQ’s CDN service is targeting SMBs with the need to access more bandwidth and faster servers, but without the budget to upgrade their infrastructure to handle the increased load.

How does DriveHQ’s CDN compare with Amazon’s CDN service (CloudFront)

Amazon is a huge cloud player, esp. with its AWS service. However, Amazon entered the CDN service many years after Akamai. Amazon has far fewer PoP locations than Akamai. Instead, Amazon is using a model that is called “Super PoP". In terms of content cache, there is a better chance of finding an element in the cache if you have fewer cache servers. Additionally, the cost is smaller to build and maintain smaller numbers of Super PoPs.

Amazon publishes its pricing online. So let’s compare DriveHQ’s price with Amazon’s price.

Data transfer (bandwidth) pricing:
U.S. & Europe Hongkong, S Korea, Singapore, Taiwan Japan South America Australia India Reserved Capacity Pricing
1TB/month data transfer to the Internet $120 $190 $201 $250 $250 $170 Contact
1TB/month data transfer in the region $20 $60 $65 $125 $100 $160 Contact

Request pricing for all HTTP methods (per 10,000)
U.S. Europe, Hongkong, S Korea, Taiwan Singapore Japan South America Australia India Reserved Capacity Pricing
HTTP requests $0.0075 $0.0090 $0.0095 $0.016 $0.009 $0.009 Contact
HTTPS requests $0.01 $0.012 $0.013 $0.022 $0.0125 $0.012 Contact

It is hard to understand and estimate the request pricing. Anyway, let’s try our best to estimate it:

Assume each HTTP download request sends 50KB, then 1TB = 1024GB = 1024*1024MB = 1024*1024*20 requests;

Assume the user has the same number of upload requests as the download requests; and there are other requests such as requests for content information, list file, folders, check for file changes, update file / folder info, and update file or folder, etc. So the total number of requests associated with 1TB is about 60Million. If you have mostly small files, the number of requests will be higher. (e.g. if you have many image thumbnails that are usually only 2-3KB/file). If you have mostly large media files, the number of requests will be smaller – it will also be dependent on whether the client sends a request for the entire file, or for a small chunk of the file.

So the estimated request prices are as follows:
U.S. Europe, Hongkong, S Korea, Taiwan Singapore Japan South America Australia India Reserved Capacity Pricing
HTTP requests $45 $54 $57 $96 $54 $54 Contact
HTTPS requests $60 $72 $78 $132 $75 $75 Contact

Now Amazon still charges:

Invalidation Requests

If you want to invalidate files in the CDN system, you need to send invalidation requests. There is no charge for the first 1,000 files that you request for invalidation each month. If you have more files to invalidate, it is $0.005 per file listed in your invalidation requests.

Custom SSL Certificates

You pay $600 per month for each custom SSL certificate associated with one or more CloudFront distributions. This price is incredibly expensive!

Origin Server

With Amazon CloudFront, you can use AWS or your own server as the origin to store the original, definitive versions of the files. If you use AWS as your origin server, data transferred from the server to edge locations (Amazon CloudFront “origin fetches”) will be billed at a lower price than Internet data transfer out of Amazon S3 or Amazon EC2. Data Transfer out of Amazon CloudFront to your origin server will be billed at the “Regional Data Transfer Out to Origin” rates. Whether you use AWS or your own origin server, you will be charged for additional cost associated with transferring data between your original server and the edge server.

Combining all of the above costs, you are likely to pay over $160 - $320/month per TB of download bytes depending on your region and traffic pattern.

With DriveHQ’s service, the price scheme is much more simple, as we will charge only the bandwidth. Our cost is at least 40% lower; for certain regions, the cost can be over 60% lower.

Does DriveHQ have a scalable infrastructure to offer CDN-type of service?

DriveHQ’s “CDN” service is not conventional, but for most SMBs, it can serve as a type of CDN service. More detailed information can be found above.

DriveHQ’s “CDN” service is offered as part of our Cloud IT solution. For customers who need a lot of download bandwidth, they simply need to contact DriveHQ sales to get a special price quote based on their needs.

DriveHQ’s data center is colocated with Hurricane Electric, one of the largest colocation service providers founded in 1994. DriveHQ designed its own cloud based software and technologies in 2003, and has been innovating ever since. We have super fast servers with multiple levels of redundancies to deliver high performance and highly reliable service. We have been in business for over a decade, with over 2 million users all over the world. For most SMBs, our service can be as good as any other CDN service.

On the Internet infrastructure side, our partner Hurricane Electric operates its own global IPv4 and IPv6 network and is considered the largest IPv6 backbone in the world as measured by number of networks connected. Within its global network, Hurricane Electric is connected to 60 major exchange points and exchanges traffic directly with more than 2,800 different networks. Employing a resilient fiber-optic topology, Hurricane Electric has no less than four redundant paths crossing North America, two separate paths between the U.S. and Europe, and rings in Europe and Asia. In addition to its vast global network, Hurricane Electric owns and operates two data centers in Fremont, California - including Hurricane Electric Fremont 2, its newest 200,000 square-foot facility. Hurricane Electric offers IPv4 and IPv6 transit solutions over the same connection. Connection speeds available include 100GE (100 gigabits/second), 10GE, gigabit ethernet, etc. More detailed network information can be found online at: http://he.net/about_network.html

How to get started?

If you need less than 400GB of download bytes/month, you can simply sign up for a free account and then order our regular subscription online.

If you need more download bytes/month, please contact DriveHQ sales to get a special price quote. When calling or emailing, we need some information about your business, what kind of files you will be hosting, how much storage space, how much download bytes you will need and how many users will download the files (We don’t usually limit upload bytes). Based on the information, we will be able to offer you the best price.

Once you have an account on DriveHQ, you can use DriveHQ FileManager or any FTP client to batch upload files and folders.

To let other users to download your files, you can use the Share and publish feature.

For public download, it is recommended using our static web hosting feature.

Upload your files to the wwwhome folder, and your files can be accessed as:


If you need to hide the download URLs, you can create a very long random foldername, and then put the files in that folder. You can also do this to hide the particular file URL.

For public upload, you can use the Dropbox Folder feature.

From DriveHQ.com website, go to My Storage page, create a new folder and check the checkbox “This is a Dropbox folder”. You can then publish the Dropbox URL, and anybody can upload files to you using the Dropbox URL.

If you have your own customer base and if you only want your customers to download the files, you can use the “remote authentication feature”.

Your files will be kept in your DriveHQ account securely. If a user wants to download the files, it is presented with a logon dialog (or the user can logon from your website first). The user will logon from your website, and then download the file. For detailed information about file hosting with the remote authentication feature, please contact DriveHQ support.

Does DriveHQ have an API?

DriveHQ has a broad range of APIs. Our API documents include:

  • Sign up API;
  • Account management API;
  • Logon API;
  • File and folder management API;
  • Share and publish API;
  • DriveHQ Drop Box folder API;
  • Order API;
  • Single-Sign-On (SSO) API
  • Remote authentication API (for file downloads)

Moreover, DriveHQ supports standard protocols such as FTP and WebDAV.

The standard based APIs have a few advantages:

  • (1) you don’t need DriveHQ’s support;
  • (2) the solution you develop will be more portable so that you will not be locked up by DriveHQ.

However, the standard APIs only cover certain features. If you need tighter integration with DriveHQ’s CDN or cloud IT service, you need to use our proprietary APIs. To access our proprietary APIs, please contact DriveHQ sales. You will need to provide some information about your business, why you need to access our proprietary APIs and which service plan you will be interested in.