Optimize and Host WordPress Images With The Free Cloudinary CDN

Announcing a free CDN on the web is very similar to shouting “Free Beer!” and that’s exactly what the folks at Cloudinary are up to. The Cloudinary image management service has just released a WordPress plugin that lets you tap into their free cloud storage for your images and take advantage of caching, optimization, image effects and much more.

Cloudinary Image Management in WordPress

WordPress runs approximately 15% of the web, so it’s only natural that Cloudinary would put their efforts into making it easy for WordPress sites to host images. Cloudinary works just like your media library within your dashboard, so you never need to leave WordPress to add images to your cloud library.

Cloudinary Media Library in the WordPress dashboard
Besides hosting your images and delivering them through a super fast CDN, Cloudinary also packs in a host of optimization features:

  • Images are smartly cached for performance optimization
  • Images are automatically optimized and compressed so they are delivered faster to your visitors
  • Meta data is stripped out

Basic and advanced Cloudinary image controls
The really unique thing about this CDN is that it offers all kinds of image manipulations and transformations on-the-fly. Basic sizing and rotation can be done with sliding controls. More advanced image manipulations can be done directly in the dashboard with a live preview, including:

  • Image formats – easily convert image formats and modify image quality.
  • Apply effects & filters – sharpen, sepia, saturation, grayscale, black & white, hue, brightness, oil paint, pixelate, vignette, add borders.
  • Overlays & Text – add watermarks, add image overlay and underlay, add text to the image.
  • Face detection – face detection based cropping, thumbnail, multiple faces detection, pixelate faces.
  • Rotates & flips – Image rotation (90 degrees), arbitrary rotation, exif-based automatic rotation, vertical & horizontal flips
  • Shape alteration – add rounded corners, crop to ellipses and circles.
  • Resize & crop – scale, fill, fit, pad, crop, limit, custom coordinates.
  • PDF Processing – extract pages, convert to images.

In order to use the CDN, you’ll need to register for a free account. Cloudinary offers a generous, fully-featured free plan which includes:

  • 500 MB Storage
  • 50,000 Images
  • 1 GB Monthly Bandwidth

This is more than enough to accommodate your average blogger and add a little performance boost. All your photos are automatically backed-up through the Cloudinary service and include revision tracking. Sites that require more can expand to a PRO account for higher usage limits with practically limitless scale.

If your WordPress website slows down while trying to load images, then you have a serious problem on your hands. The Cloudinary CDN will take a load off your server and give you more creative control over your images in the dashboard. Get signed up for your free account and install the new Cloudinary image management plugin.

Comments (24)

  1. Hmmm… no mention of multisite compatibility in the plugin repository. How awesome this would be to auto-activate for all those new bloggers who keep uploading 5MB images!

    I’ll need to investigate this further, thanks.

    • @jcnjr We ran into this as well and added the plugin “Resize images before upload”
      wordpress.org/extend/plugins/resize-images-before-upload/

      To one of our multisite installs to test. Been working great! We set max dimension – large size to 1024px and no more huge files. Pretty much transparent ot the user and decent quality. There are some limitations on browser support but overall very happy.

  2. Do you have any source reference for “WordPress runs approximately 15% of the web”. Would like to know where to get that kind of facts in the future :-)

    • We wanted to update that version 1.0.6 of the plugin that was just released supports featured images.

      WordPress media items are now created also for attachments of images generated by Cloudinary. The media items link to the remote cloud-based images and can be used for featured images and galleries. Note that you will need to save a draft of your post in order to see newly attached images available in the featured image selection dialog.

  3. Thanks alot Sarah. I find this service overpriced at all (dont tell me about the “free” service of 500MB lol).

    I’m using MaxCDN for 35 euro’s for 1 TB!!! Its fair even the network in Europe is low…

    • Cloudinary is much more than a CDN. When upgrading from our free account, you’re paying for a full service that takes care of your images end-to-end. Our price includes all image management, processing, transformation and manipulation features, all cloud-storage and IO costs and all bandwidth usage & requests costs while delivering images through a CDN (Akamai or CloudFront). IT, support, etc.

      Having said that, we realize that our current prices are optimized for web applications and mobile applications. We’re working on adding plans that better address casual bloggers.

  4. How does Cloudinary compare to similar services in terms of performance? I think it would be very interesting with an article comparing for example Jetpack, Cloudflare, Cloudinary and others side by side.

    In this article, the most interesting part is only mentioned as “their super fast CDN” which I find unreflective and a bit disrespectful to the readers.

    How do you know their CDN is super fast?

    Thanks, Bo

  5. Or you can just use Amazon S3 and a caching plugin for WordPress– photoshop your images professionally like a real designer, and not have to sacrifice your bandwidth to someone trying to skim revenues off of a cloud provider. Much cheaper, much less hassle. Plus your entire site gets faster as a result, not just the images.

  6. Sarah– how is stripping out metadata an optimization feature? That’s something that helps improve SEO for Google Images… and you want that kind information so your link structure is elevated in rankings, not squandered because your image is hosted on another subdomain under someone else’s URL.

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