What is a Content Delivery Network?
A CDN is a network of servers on the internet that are designed to provide web content rapidly. They achieve this by duplicating the content on each of the servers on the network and directing users to the nearest one. There are a vast number of benefits in using a content delivery network for your website. Principally, speed and reliability.
Speed and reliability are important when it comes to a commercial website. An unreliable website gives a poor brand image, loss of visitors and ultimately business. Fast websites outperform slower sites in terms of engagement and sales. It has been proven over and over that fast websites get better engagement from visitors. Amazon reports that they increase revenue by 1% for every 100 milliseconds a page loads faster. One of Google’s main motivators when it comes to ranking websites is user experience, which is why they factor site speed into their ranking algorithms. Fast sites win, twice!
Speed up your website
Using a content delivery network usually has a big impact in website performance, as a result of a number of factors.
- Content can be sent from the server closest to your visitor, reducing latency.
- There are multiple copies of the content distributed across the network so you don’t have everyone fighting to download the same file.
- Content is served from the CDN’s domain rather than your own. Browsers tend to limit the number of concurrent connections (downloads) so using different domains boosts the volume of files your can download concurrently.
- Smaller file requests are sent. When requesting a file on your own domain, additional headers may be included in the request (for example, cookies). Serving content from a different domain means this data isn’t send, reducing the weight of data transfer required.
Improve Website Reliability
The content delivery network copies your files to multiple servers distributed around the world. If one of the servers fails, then the other servers in the network will automatically step in and take over.
The network of servers also increases security in the event of some types of attack (DDoS for example) using a content delivery network means requests can be load balanced across the whole network, greatly improving the capacity your can handle before problems are reached.
Server failures do happen and a content delivery network aids with this. It should be noted that the host server can still provide a single point of failure even when using a content delivery network. With a regular low-cost hosting environment, if your server fails, your site is down and you are losing visitors. At Intared we handle this risk using a few techniques which we will cover in another article, suffice to say protecting against single points of failures is a must for any commercial/professional website.
Using a content delivery network will increase the speed of your site. That’s good because it improves visitor engagement and can boost search engine rankings. You will also improve the reliability of your network and introduce an additional tier of security protection.
We haven’t covered the downside of using a CDN, which typically come in the form of cost, support and maintenance. At Intared we seamlessly integrate a CDN with our sites and manage everything on behalf of our clients.