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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:

https://USERNAME.firstcloudit.com/FILENAME

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.

  • Cloud IT

    Businesses can host their IT servers and systems on DriveHQ Cloud IT Service. It not only offers more and better features, but also is much easier to manage and costs far less.

  • Cloud Storage

    Cloud Storage is the same as Online Storage or Internet Storage. Users can easily upload / download files on DriveHQ cloud storage system using DriveHQ FileManager, DriveHQ.com website, DriveHQ FTP Service or DriveHQ WebDAV remote drive. Users can remotely access files from anywhere at any time.

  • Cloud File Server

    DriveHQ Cloud File Server works just like a network file server. You can drag and drop files / folders using FileManager, FTP or WebDAV drive mapping; you can directly edit a remote file and save back; you can manage sub-users and sub-groups; you can share different folders to different users with different permissions.

  • Cloud Backup

    You can get rid of USB backup, DVD backup or tape backup. DriveHQ Cloud Backup is much better and more affordable than traditional backup solutions. You can backup / restore files from anywhere at any time without carrying a backup device. Also because it is offsite backup, it can survive any major disasters.

  • Cloud Computing

    DriveHQ Cloud computing is different. You can use our cloud service from anywhere, you don't need to relegate your PCs into dumb terminals. DriveHQ cloud computing extends your desktop software into the cloud. You can use your familiar sofware (e.g. MS Office, PDF, PhotoEditor, etc.) with our cloud service.

  • CDN Service

    DriveHQ Content Delivery Network Service

  • Online Storage

    DriveHQ Online Storage has much more features than other online storage services. It is far more than just storage, it is about top quality features and client software. It supports all modern web browsers and FTP client software; it also has a native client program: DriveHQ FileManager. It is seamlessly integrated with DriveHQ Cloud IT system.

  • WebDAV Drive Mapping

    You can map DriveHQ online storage as a network drive, such as Z: drive. No software needs to be installed. It is extremely simple. If you have a lot of files or very large files, you can also use DriveHQ FileManager or FTP.

  • Remote Data Access

    Using DriveHQ Online Storage service, you can access your data from anywhere using DriveHQ.com website, DriveHQ FileManager client, FTP or WebDAV drive mapping. Business users can easily access their data from multiple offices, hotel or home.

  • Secure File Storage

    DriveHQ online storage service is designed to be extremely secure and reliable. It is managed by professionals, colocated in a high-end data center with full redundancy and 24x7 onsite security. Your files are secure and private.

  • Drop Box Folder

    DriveHQ Drop Box folder enables anybody to upload files to you securely without having to sign up and without hassle. Just provide your drop box URL, and anybody can drop files into it. Files in a drop box can only be accessed by yourself.

  • FTP Service

    FTP stands for "File Transfer Protocol". It is the most popular method for transferring files to different locations. Almost all platforms support FTP. FTP is efficient, reliable and easy-to-use. It can be used to transfer very large files / folders. DriveHQ offers standard FTP features plus more advanced features at a very low cost.

  • Setup FTP Server

    To setup, configure and secure an FTP server is never easy. FTP server may pose serious security threat as you must open a lot of network ports; managing FTP accounts and set permission is also a headache. DriveHQ FTP server saves you time and money, you can set it up in just a few minutes.

  • FTP Server Hosting

    DriveHQ FTP Server Hosting service includes FTP server software, hardware and hosting. It is extremely easy to setup. Compared with other FTP hosting service, DriveHQ FTP service not only is a standard FTP hosting service, but also is seamlessly integrated with other DriveHQ cloud services.

  • FTP Backup

    You can backup files / folders to DriveHQ FTP server from any platforms. Files backed up to DriveHQ FTP server are secure and private. You can access these files using DriveHQ FTP, DriveHQ.com website or DriveHQ FileManager client software.

  • FTP Security Camera

    A security camera that can upload images / video clips to an FTP server. Most IP cameras now support FTP. DriveHQ has launched a new FTP service optimized for security cameras / surveillance cameras. It is more efficient than traditional FTP service. It can automatically delete old images after certain days. It also includes a Camera Viewer feature which lets you play back old images or monitor the scene in real-time.

  • Online Backup

    DriveHQ Online Backup can replace your local backup solution. You can setup real-time backup tasks and scheduled backup tasks. It has a lot of features, such as incremental backup, backup locked files, file versioning, backup multiple PCs, backup servers, etc.

  • Offsite Data Backup

    You might have a very good backup solution in-house. However, in-house backup is inherently less secure / reliable than offsite backup. In case of major disasters, such as fire, flood, theft, virus, etc. both the source files and the backup files can be destroyed as they are in the same location. Offsite backup keeps your backup data in a different location, thus it is far more reliable.

  • Online Email Backup

    You can backup emails using either DriveHQ Online Backup or DriveHQ EmailManager. Using DriveHQ online backup, you can backup the entire Outlook PST files or other email data folder. Using DriveHQ EmailManager, it is far more efficient as it can incrementally backup emails and contacts one by one and it only backs up new emails.

  • Remote Backup

    In-house backup such as tape backup is not flexible. You can only backup your data when you are in the same location. DriveHQ Online Backup is different. You can backup / restore your files & folders from any remote locations. No backup device or media is required.

  • Business Backup

    You can automatically backup servers and databases in your company; employees can also backup their PCs, laptops and MACs. Using DriveHQ group account service, you can allocate storage space and download bytes to your sub-users. All sub-users are treated as premium users. They can access backed-up files online from anywhere.

  • Business Email Hosting

    Email service is very important to any business. There are a lot of free email hosting services; however, for business, you need something better. You don't have to pay a lot to setup Exchange server or limit yourself to webmail only. DriveHQ email service is designed for SMBs. It supports SMTP/POP3/IMAP4/webmail and custom domain. You can also create group accounts.

  • SMTP, POP & IMAP

    SMTP is the standard protocol for sending emails; POP and IMAP are the standard protocols for retrieving emails. Most email client software (incl. Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express) supports SMTP, POP and IMAP. POP3 is usually used for downloading emails to local; IMAP can keep all emails on server and automatically sync local and remote email boxes. DriveHQ email server supports all 3 protocols.

  • Advanced Email Features

    DriveHQ email server supports SMTP,POP3 & IMAP4; it also supports SSL. It has advanced features such as: Auto Reply, Auto Forward, Mailing List, etc. It supports custom email domains and group account service. You can easily manage your email accounts online.

  • Outlook & Mobile Email

    DriveHQ email service can be accessed using almost any email client software / device, such as Outlook, Outlook Express, iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows Mobile, etc. Emails can be kept on server so that you can download emails from multiple computers / devices. Using IMAP, you can also sync your local and remote emails.

  • Email Backup

    You can use DriveHQ Online Backup to backup emails. However, if you use Outlook / Outlook Express, then using DriveHQ EmailManager client software is much more efficient. You can drag-n-drop upload / download emails and contacts; you can setup automatic backup tasks to backup your emails and contacts to DriveHQ webmail.

  • Advanced Features

    DriveHQ offers a lot of high-end business features, such as Group Account service, custom domain web / email / FTP hosting, automatic folder synchronization, remote file sharing and collaboration.

  • Group Folder Sharing

    You can create folders in your own account, then share different folders to different users with different permissions. You can also share folders to sub-groups and contact groups and set different permissions. The same folder can also be shared again with different permissions. Thus, multiple users can collaborate online.

  • Folder Synchronization

    Using DriveHQ FileManager, you can select a folder and click on Synchronize to create a sync-ed folder. You can sync folders on different computers to the same remote folder, thus you can synchronize multiple computers. You can also sync folders of multiple users to the same group shared folder, thus you can sync folders of multiple users.

  • Mobile Applications

    DriveHQ service is available on all popular mobile platforms, incl. iOS (iPhone/iPad), Android and Windows Phone. Not only that, DriveHQ mobile application beats competitors' hands down!

  • White Label Service

    DriveHQ reseller platform makes it extremely easy to launch white label (i.e. private label) or co-branded service. A co-branded service can be launched in just a few hours. The cost is extremely low at only $50-500/year, which is about 10 times lower than our competitors'. Resellers can customize or localize the website, service prices and client software. DriveHQ also has other partnership / affiliate programs suitable for any size businesses.