If you host a website for your business, you’ve probably come across the term CDN before, especially in a context that relates to scaling your website or handling large amounts of traffic. But what exactly does a CDN do? In this post, we’ll briefly explain what a CDN is, how it works, and why it’s important that you use one.
What Does CDN Stand For?
CDN stands for “Content Delivery Network.” Essentially, a CDN is a network of servers placed in different locations around the world. These locations are chosen for strategic reasons in order to more easily deliver content to end users.
How Does a CDN Work?
CDNs work by storing cached copies of website content, like images, videos, CSS files, and scripts, on multiple servers distributed across different geographical locations. When a user requests to access a website or download content, the CDN identifies the user’s location and directs the request to the nearest server in its network. This minimizes the distance the content needs to travel, reducing latency and improving the overall user experience.
For example, let’s imagine you have a basic CDN set up with server locations (called node points) in London, Los Angeles and Tokyo. If a user visits your site from Germany, he will be loaded content from the London server, as it is the closest to his location.
If you didn’t have a CDN set up and only had servers in Los Angeles and Tokyo, it’s likely that the website would load more slowly for the user – especially if significant amounts of traffic were also occurring.
What Are the Benefits of a CDN?
There are many benefits to using a CDN, but above all, they improve performance, scalability, and security:
- Improved Website Performance: By delivering content from servers geographically closer to the user, CDNs significantly reduce the time it takes for the content to reach the user’s device, whether that be a phone, a tablet, or a stationary computer. This results in faster page load times, quicker file downloads, and smoother streaming experiences. Most CDNs also employ optimization techniques, such as image compression and file minification, to further enhance performance and reduce bandwidth consumption. This means your website will load more quickly for the end user.
- Enhanced Scalability and Reliability: as mentioned above, CDNs are designed to handle large volumes of traffic and distribute it across their network of servers. This isn’t only useful when you have visitors from a wide geographical area – it’s also useful when you simply have a lot of visitors in general. When a website experiences high traffic or sudden spikes in demand, CDNs can effectively distribute the load across multiple servers, preventing overloading and minimizing the risk of crashes or downtime. This scalability ensures that websites and applications remain available and responsive even during peak usage periods.
- Global Reach and Reduced Network Congestion: This is the best-known benefit of using a CDN. With servers located in different regions worldwide, CDNs allow websites to reach users across the globe more efficiently. By leveraging the CDN’s network, content providers can overcome the limitations of long-distance connections, reducing network congestion and mitigating the effects of latency. This is particularly beneficial for international websites or businesses targeting a global audience that have visitors coming from a variety of different locations.
- Security and DDoS Protection: CDNs often include security features that help protect websites and applications from various online threats. By acting as a proxy between the user and the origin server, CDNs can help mitigate Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks by absorbing and filtering malicious traffic. Furthermore, CDNs can implement SSL/TLS encryption to ensure secure transmission of sensitive data, protecting user privacy and enhancing website security.
Should I Use a CDN for My Website?
Absolutely. As mentioned above, CDNs provide a ton of benefits for website performance and scalability. But even if you don’t have a global audience or don’t get a ton of traffic, a CDN is still a must. Here’s why:
Firstly, a CDN improves the performance and speed of content delivery. By leveraging a network of servers distributed across different locations, CDNs reduce latency and minimize the time it takes for your content to reach users. This translates into faster page load times, improved user experience, and increased customer satisfaction. Considering that page load times are a major factor in SEO rankings, this means your website page speed is super important.
Secondly, bursts of traffic can often be unexpected and come at unpredictable times. If a piece of content goes viral, your site might go offline – and that will have extremely negative effects on your business. By using a CDN and other technologies like auto scaling, you can avoid this problem and scale up site resources if they’re need.
Finally, CDNs provide a bevy of security and DDoS protection benefits, as they act as a proxy in between your site and the user.
Host Your Site with Convesio – CDN Included
Convesio provides our clients with Cloudflare CDN (for Starter 150 Business customers) and Cloudflare Enterprise (for all plans Growing Business 300 and above.) Cloudflare is a content delivery network service provider with a giant network consisting of 165 data centers across 67 countries. Performing the duty of a reverse proxy for websites, Cloudflare lies between website visitors and the hosting provider, providing DDoS mitigation, internet security, and distributed domain-name-server services.