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I just read this article http://codex.wordpress.org/WordPress_Optimization/Offloading on how you can upload your content to external sources to improve speed and save bandwidth.

Anyway, my site has lots of images, but all of them are either static content or thumbnails that are placed beside each post (less than 30kb each). As I have no traffic as of now I don't really need to do this, but optimizing wouldn't hurt.

Moving my content to another server/hostname is too complicated and not worth it for a small site like mine. Then we have free hosting service like Flickr and Imgur, but I don't think the cons are worth it either.

Now I'm left with these options:
Hotlinking with Dropbox/Google Drive
CDN (Cloudflare)
Do nothing (host locally, standard upload through Wordpress)

I don't know what to choose as I don't understand what these services really do, other than it's supposed to be "better" to host externally. I tried reading up but all the jargons were overwhelming. Besides, most sources came from the services themselves.

TL:DR
1. Are there really any noticeable difference between uploading my content/theme images the standard way and using services like Flickr, Picasa, Google Drive, Amazon Cloud, CDN?
2. I found out that CDN is a caching service, which means I still have to host it. And now I'm confused. Am I supposed to combine CDN with external hosting, or is it an alternative to it? Meaning I can reach the same benefits as external hosting when I host locally with CDN.
3. There are popular plugins like W3 Total/Super cache. If I use those, can I ignore the options above (cause it sounds like CDN).

I'm sorry for the long post and I'm probably overcomplicating things. It's just that there are so many options, and I can't tell if they are all different methods of achieving the same thing or I'm supposed to use them altogether.

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I'm probably overcomplicating things.

Right now, you are.

As I have no traffic as of now I don't really need to do this, but .... I don't know what to choose as I don't understand what these services really do, other than it's supposed to be "better" to host externally...

Then why bother with a CDN right now and all of the image hosting options you describe?

Get a good web host that can handle the little traffic you're getting now and with the small images and thumbnails you have, the site will be fast with little effort or complication.

Concentrate on the other and simpler WP performance issues, like an optimized database, the latest version of PHP, raising WP's memory allocation, browser caching, image optimization with http://wordpress.org/plugins/ewww-image-optimizer/ etc. Those aspects will go much farther right now than a CDN.

For a cache plugin, use WP Super Cache http://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-super-cache/ with PHP caching, which is easier to set up than mo_rewrite.

If and when you need a CDN for traffic, use Super Cache's CDN integration and read those docs on how to use it and what it will help with. In my experience, Amazon's CloudFront or the "easy" version of CloudFlare (free at many web hosts) are the easiest CDNs to use ad integrate.

It does get complex: a Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a cache in some respects, but a cache is not necessarily solely a CDN. And CDN is an external host by definition, external to your main host (which can execute code, for one). Dropbox/Google Drive can be caches and CDNs, but I doubt they are optimal in terms of network capacity. All free image hosting - like Flickr, Picasa, etc. - can be a CDN for images, but they have APIs you will have to work with.

But keeping it simple is the best idea for usage and reliability.

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I would add your images via your Media Library and child themes images folder.

Once your site starts slowing down on a shared host, you can then look at solutions to fix this like using a CDN, plugins like Smushit, caching plugins and other options different hosts and plugins offer.

  • Are CDN and caching plugins the same thing? Cause they both talk about caching yet I read that you can use both at the same time. – Tony Fire Jan 3 '14 at 16:52
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    No but good caching plugins integrate with CDN providers. WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache are 2 of the most popular however the best Managed hosting providers offer a far better solution and result in my opinion based on experience using different solutions. – Brad Dalton Jan 3 '14 at 16:55
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If you decide to stick with it the way you are doing it now, watch out. Last time I tried to use the standard WordPress upload, which automatically gave me the space-saving "crunching" feature, it really decreased the quality of my photos. You might not notice it with some photos, but when I put up a pic of fall leaves it was pretty disturbing. Again, I haven't tried since a couple of years ago, but you might want to experiment with that.

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