What is CDN?

data network visualization

A Content Delivery Network is a group of distributed servers that work over a geographically diverse area. Its purpose is to ensure that the internet runs faster. Spreading web content over several servers in this manner spreads the load and reduces redundancies.

It also protects against some malware and DDoS attacks.

How does it work?

Nodes or exchange points allow competing networks to link up. This enables data to move from one network’s servers to another. Providers position these nodes at strategic locations globally.

The system works by using a simple caching system. Your CDN provider creates a cache or “backup” of your page on each of their nodes. This improves the reliability and performance of the network.

Is it a Web Host?

No. The network moves information. It doesn’t act as a repository. The caches are the only part of your site stored with the company. Any other requests must go through to your hosting company as usual.

You may use a web host without a CDN, but it doesn’t work the other way around. Usually the best web hosting companies around the globe like in Australia, Canada, UK provide in-build CDN network to enhance your website performance.

How do CDNs Improve Reliability and Performance

CDNs improve reliability and performance by:

  • Shortening the distance that data must travel, which enhances the performance of the network. Having cached data stored on each server allows the CDN to connect visitors to their nearest data center.
  • Updating hardware regularly to ensure that data loads are correctly balanced
  • Using technology like solid-state drives for faster load times
  • Making use of software to compress files and thus improve data load speeds
  • Enabling sites with the correct security certificates to load faster

How do CDNs Improve Security?

Websites only bring in money when they’re online. This year, we’ve seen an uptake in DDoS attacks. A profit motive or maliciousness typically drives such attacks.

Hackers make money from these attacks in a few different ways:

  • Competitors pay the hacker collective to crash a website
  • Hackers demand that companies pay them off to stop the attack

Many providers today use artificial intelligence to look for signs of an attack. Unusual traffic patterns might point to a DDoS attack. The CDN provider may then reroute traffic to a dummy address and contact the webmaster.

Related: How to Secure Your WordPress Site

How do CDN’s Reduce Downtime?

Problems with a web host also impact performance. By using smart caching, CDNs reduce the impact of these issues.

Other techniques that they use include:

  • Relieving congestion by spreading the load over more servers. Load balancing makes it possible to bursts in traffic
  • Using several backup servers. If one or more servers go down, the CDN may reroute the traffic to backup servers. This is useful if something goes wrong with a particular data center.
  • Making some form of the site available even if the host’s servers are offline. Visitors won’t have full functionality, but the site won’t be down either.

CDNs help reduce the Webmaster’s Bandwidth Usage

If someone navigates to your site, the host’s servers must deal with the request. Each request uses bandwidth. With a CDN in place, these requests go to the data centers instead of directly to the host.

The cached version of the website makes it possible for users to look at the site without requesting any information from the host. This feature prevents wasted bandwidth caused by people incorrectly clicking on a link.

What are the top 3 CDNs?

1. Cloudflare

Cloudflare is possibly the best-known CDN. The company provides free services that suffice for most users. The paid plans start at $20 a month and incorporate extra security fees and additional features. You merely need to update the DNS nameservers on your website.

The configuration is quick and easy. Cloudflare does everything else for you.

2. Akamai

Akamai is an alternative provider with a good track record. If we’re to believe the firm, it is responsible for managing about 30% of web traffic. It doesn’t have a free plan, but it allows users a free trial.

The service is good, and Akamai has an extensive server network. It’s not as simple to set up as Cloudflare, but the company will guide you through the process.

3. Fastly

If you prefer a fully configurable product, Fastly may be more suitable. You’ll need some technical know-how to set things up. The service is excellent, and the product is a well-rounded one.

The plans start at $50 a month. After that, you only pay for the amount of bandwidth that you use. It’s a cost-effective option for businesses and is easily scalable. The company’s sales team will assist you in narrowing down your package options.

The service is reliable and a good value for the money.

It’s a Wrap

CDNs keeps the information superhighway clear. They provide webmasters with improved performance, more security, and improved uptime. A CDN is a smart investment for any professional website.