7 Reasons why You Should Use a CDN

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In this era of performance driven web, CDN aka Content Distribution Networks has changed the way the content is delivered. With the increased usage of high-definition images and media, websites are serving more content than ever before. Content Distribution Networks have stepped up to meet the demands of the modern web.

What is a CDN

Content Distribution Networks are also known as Content Delivery Networks or simply CDN. Content Distribution Networks are a group of servers (Edge Servers), which are strategically placed over the globe.

The strategically placed servers are called edge servers. Edge servers are simply proxy caches woking in the same way as the browser cache. Edge servers are placed in multiple geographic locations known as points of presence or POP. In a website using CDN, when a request for an asset is received for the first time, a cached copy of the asset is created in all Edge Servers. All subsequent request for that same asset is routed to the closest PoP.

The image below shows how content is retrieved from a traditional website without CDN. An origin server is the source server hosting the original website.

without cdn

The image below shows how content is retrieved for the same site using CDN.

with cdn

What files can a CDN host?

Content Delivery Networks can host and server multiple files. If you are on WordPress, then you can put the entire wp-content directory on your CDN. You can use a CDN to host all your static resources. Some examples include images, CSS files, JavaScript files, web fonts, audio files, video files, pdf files, text documents and much more.

CDN Services

Both free and commercial CDN servers  are available. Most noticeable among free CDN servers is probably YouTube and Vimeo, two amazing video hosting services. If you are a web developer, then you can use use the CDN provided by Google to include a number of popular libraries. Another popular free CDN is CloudFlare. CloudFlare offers a single free plan and all other plans are commercial. Limited features are available in the free version of CloudFlare CDN.

The most popular among commercial CDN servers are Amazon S3, Microsoft Windows Azure and MaxCDN.

Benefits of using a CDN

All websites, from the small ones to enterprise level ones can benefit from a Content Distribution Network. Here’s a list of benefits

1) Improved Website Performance

Probably the most noticeable benefit of using a CDN is the performance gain that it offers. Distance plays a major role in determining how fast a page responds. Content Distribution networks bridge the gap between the visitor and the origin server no matter where they are located.

2) Files may be Precached

If a site is using official CDN hosted copies of popular libraries like jQuery, Bootstrap, then chances are they are already available in the browser cache. That means they won’t be downloaded again.

3) High-performance infrastructure

You may be using the premium plan of your hosting provider, but chances are slim that they will match aginst the ones employed by Google and Microsoft. Quality CDN servers are backed up by world-class hardware and premium data centers that offer high performance and reliability.

4) Multiple domains

Browsers restrict concurrent connections to a domain to prevent the web server from exhausting its resources. Resources hosted on a CDN are on a different domain. So the browser is free to open more parallel connections.

5) Usage analytics

Many commercial CDN servers charge on the usage basis. They have integrated analytics to help you track data usage. You can use it in addition to your own website analytics to get better understand your visitors.

6) DDoS protection

Many CDNs offer enterprise-level DDoS protection. They can easily withstand DDoS attacks clocking 100Gbps. They also offer SSL services for enhanced security.

7) Downtime protection

Static contents account for more than 80% of many websites. A Content Delivery Network will cache and serve all static content on behalf of your origin server. Your origin server will have to work less. This means your website automatically scales up during peak times as the CDN server is handling the enormous load. You won’t have to spend extra cash on purchasing additional hardware resources to meet the demands.

Conclusion

Faster page loads, better security, ability to handle peak traffic and everything else, they all ultimately merge to create a better user experience for your users. For website owners, this means lower bounce rate and more conversion rates.

We hope you found this article helpful. Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

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Tapas Pal

Tapas pal is the founder of layerpoint.com and he is an avid Internet geek enthusiast and writer has deep interest in technology, Digital Marketing and love tools that increase human productivity.