Website Hosting

What is a CDN and why should you use one?

“What is a CDN?” – a question many web hosting providers will get frequently. “Why should I use one?” – even more frequently.

A content delivery network (CDN) is an important tool for websites nowadays that want to maintain the speed of their site and not frustrate users i.e every website in the world.

If a website’s servers are based in London, people in Dublin will get the content faster than people in San Francisco or Tokyo. The farther away customers are from a company’s data center, the slower the website or application loads — creating an inconsistent and frustrating user experience.

That’s where a CDN comes in to save the day.

What is a CDN?

A content delivery network refers to a geographically distributed group of servers which work together to provide fast delivery of internet content. The popularity of CDN services continues to grow, and today the majority of web traffic is served through CDNs, including traffic from major sites like Facebook, Netflix, and Amazon.

You can cache your content to the nearest server on the CDN network – known as the ‘edge’ server so your site pages will load quicker and improve the user experience.

A common confusion about CDNs are that they actually are able to host websites themselves, but this is not the case. While a CDN does not host content and can’t replace the need for proper web hosting, it does help cache content at the network edge, which improves website performance. Many websites struggle to have their performance needs met by traditional hosting services, which is why they opt for CDNs.

Why should I use a CDN?

Anyone with a website or app that’s likely to be requested in more than one area or country at a time can benefit from a CDN, but CDNs are of particular interest to large, complex websites with users spread across the globe.

At their most basic level, operating a CDN will allow your website to load faster, in turn reducing bounce rates and increasing the amount of time that people spend on the site.

Using a CDN can also help your company to reduce bandwidth costs. Through caching and other optimizations, CDNs are able to reduce the amount of data an origin server must provide, thus reducing hosting costs for website owners.

Adding a CDN in front of your site is also a great way to improve security. The provider will have all kinds of tools to help optimise security for your site.. It can serve as a firewall to protect your site from going down during a so-called DDoS attack, for instance.

What CDN should I use?

CloudFlare is a popular CDN used by many websites. What it does is that it mirrors your website across the globe, making it possible for you to deliver the site from a location that’s closer to the visitor than the actual location of your site files.

Other popular CDNs include Akamai and KeyCDN.

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