How a Content Delivery Network improves site speed

why you need a CDN with a computer and feather photograph in the background
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When you begin to optimize your content for search engines, experts will tell you that you need to have a CDN. The reason for this is because a CDN or Content Delivery Network will improve your site speed.

What is a content delivery network?

computer displaying a graphic of a content delivery network sharing data

A content delivery network (CDN) is a large group of interconnected servers that are spread out geographically but work together to provide fast delivery of internet content.

In other words, it is a network that will

  • cache your content making your website load faster,
  • reduce the bandwidth used by your site,
  • prevent interruptions in service, and
  • improve security.

How do CDNs work?

laptop computer with text stating what a content delivery network does for site speed

According to an article from Amazon, “Content delivery networks (CDNs) work by establishing a point of presence (POP) or a group of CDN edge servers at multiple geographical locations. This geographically distributed network works on the principles of caching, dynamic acceleration, and edge logic computations.”

What is Caching?

Caching is the storing of copies of your data. In the case of a content delivery network, when a visitor first lands on your site, a request is sent to your hosting service which shows your page. At the same time, a copy of that page is sent to the CDN point of presence (POP) that is closest geographically to the visitor. That copy of your page is stored as a “cached file”.

The next time that visitor, or someone visiting from that same location makes the request to see your page, this cached version will be seen rather than the one sitting on your hosting service’s server.

This means less bandwidth is used because the request hasn’t been sent back to your hosting service. It only went as far as the content delivery network.

What is dynamic acceleration?

Dynamic acceleration reduces the server response time for dynamic web content request because of the CDN server that acts as the go between the web page and the visitor.

Dynamic web content is the content on your page that is personalized and adapts based on the data you have about the user and on the access time. The goal of dynamic content is to deliver an engaging and satisfying online experience for the visitor.

Think of things like an email that is personalized with the user’s name. That name has been retrieved from a database and inserted automatically making the receiver feel like it was crafted just for them.

What are edge logic computations?

Edge logic computations simplify the communications between the client and the server to help developers offload origin servers’ compute requirements and improve website performance.

How does a content delivery network benefit your website?

benefits of a content delivery network listed in text with laptop sitting on a desk

Content delivery networks, as I have said, improve your site load time. The faster your site loads, the more likely visitors are to stay on your website and engage with more content.

By using things like caching, dynamic acceleration, and edge logic computations, CDNs reduce the amount of data that your site hosting service must provide. This can translate to savings for you as most hosting packages are contingent in one way or another on how much bandwidth your site requires.

Because a content delivery network uses a large group of servers, your site is better able to withstand large amounts of traffic or hardware failures making it more reliably available to your users.

A CDN also improves the security of your website. Through things like security certificates, they act as a security wall that requests have to go through before accessing your website.

Finally, because content delivery networks are made up of many servers, they are better able to ward off large traffic spikes caused by distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. In these attacks, the culprits attempt to take down applications by sending large amounts of fake traffic to the website. Because CDNs distribute the load between several intermediary servers, they are able to reduce the impact on the origin server.

Who can benefit from a CDN?

A list of the people who need to use a CDN

Anyone with an online business will benefit from a content delivery system. A CDN increases normal web functions and improves user satisfaction. It is a win-win for the business and its clients.

Ecommerce platforms are better able to handle heavy traffic, manage seasonal and unexpected traffic spikes, and have increase the security around monetary transactions.

Digital publishers will experience many of the same benefits as ecommerce platforms. They will also notice that CDNs will help improve page download experiences.

Entertainment and gaming platforms also benefit from content delivery networks. The use of a CDN will make it much easier to deliver real-time, high-definition content to their clients.

How to choose a content delivery network

There are a number of content delivery networks that you can take advantage of like

You can choose the one that you are most confident with, or simply go with the network recommended by your web hosting service.

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