What is a Content Delivery Network (CDN) and Why Should You Use One?



CDNs are an important part of the infrastructure of the Internet and can play a vital role in distributing information online extremely quickly. Here is a brief look at what CDNs are and why your business may want to consider investing in one.

What is a CDN?

A CDN is a network of servers that are strategically positioned around the world. Each server, or node, is linked to each other as well as to the main server.

How does it work?

Any time you look something up online, the speed at which information gets to you is determined by your proximity to the server; CDNs help to ensure that a server is never far away. The servers in a CDN – also known as edge servers – keep a copy of the static information relating to your website, such as the structural components, files and images. When someone attempts to access your site your CDN directs their request to the server best able to deal with it, which will usually be the one closest to them.

Advantages of CDNs

High quality user experience – Rather than having to span huge distances to access the main server, a CDN enables requests to be handled by nearby edge servers instead. A well-positioned CDN can cut website load times considerably, vastly improving the user experience. Having your site load quickly regardless of where it is accessed from will ensure that your business can provide a quality online experience to all of its clients.
 
Optimal performance – CDNs use a combination of load balancing and request routing to ensure that your online network is always running smoothly. Heavy traffic can cause a server to become overloaded and crash, but CDNs help to prevent this by spreading the workload throughout the network. Load balancing also provides increased protection against DoS attacks and you can even have requests routed according to what will be most cost-efficient for your business.

What does it cost?

The cost of implementing a CDN will depend on a number of factors, such as bandwidth, security and the expanse of the network. Regardless of whether you are a small business targeting a few specific locations or a fast growing company with global aspirations, you can have a CDN designed to suit your needs and budget. 

How to implement a CDN

Implementing a CDN is often quick and easy. If you currently use popular Content Management Systems, such as WordPress or Magento, all you need to do is choose the appropriate plugin. There are also a wide variety of companies offering CDN integration services, many of which even offer free trials.
 
While a CDN will undoubtedly improve your website performance, it isn’t absolutely essential for every business. However, if your website deals with heavy traffic, your business targets a global audience or you simply want to provide the best possible service to your clients, a CDN should be part of your overall optimization strategy.

Sources

Rackspace.com

Gtmetrix.com

Wikipedia.org

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