Why Use A Content Delivery Network (CDN)? A Complete Guide By SpaceCDN.com

why use content delivery network

The majority of websites and applications that we interact with every day are run out of one physical location, but the content on the site still needs to travel over wires to the entire world.

If a website’s servers are based in Montreal for example, people in Toronto will get the content faster than people in Miami or Tokyo. The farther away customers are from a company’s data center, the slower the website or application loads — creating an inconsistent and frustrating user experience. Content delivery networks can help solve this problem.

What Is A Content Delivery Network (CDN)?

A CDN is essentially a network of geographically dispersed servers. Each CDN node (also called Edge Servers) caches the static content of a site like the images, CSS/JS files and other structural components. The majority of an end-user’s page load time is spent on retrieving this content, and so it makes sense to provide these “building blocks” of a site in as many server nodes as possible, distributed throughout the world. Some of the cheapest CDN providers can be found here.

When a user requests your site, the node closest in proximity to user will deliver the static content, ensuring the shortest distance for the data to travel (reduced latency), therefore providing the fastest site experience.

Anybody who has a website or mobile application that’s likely to be requested by more than one user at a time can benefit from a CDN, but CDNs are especially useful to large, complex sites with a lot of dynamic content and users spread across the globe.

Why Should You Use A CDN?

Based on Site Point, there are several reasons why a CDN could benefit your website and company:

  • Different Domains
    Browsers limit the number of concurrent connections (file downloads) to a single domain. Most permit four active connections so the fifth download is blocked until one of the previous files has been fully retrieved. You can often see this limit in action when downloading many large files from the same site. CDN files are hosted on a different domain. In effect, a single CDN permits the browser to download a further four files at the same time.
  • Files May Be Pre-Cached
    jQuery is ubiquitous on the web. There’s a high probability that someone visiting your pages has already visited a site using the Google CDN. Therefore, the file has already been cached by your browser and won’t need to be downloaded again.
  • High-Capacity Infrastructures
    You may have great hosting but I bet it doesn’t have the capacity or scalability offered by Google, Microsoft or Yahoo. The better CDNs offer higher availability, lower network latency and lower packet loss.
  • Distributed Data Centers
    If your main web server is based in Dallas, users from Europe or Asia must make a number of trans-continental electronic hops when they access your files. Many CDNs provide localized data centers which are closer to the user and result in faster downloads.
  • Built-In Version Control
    It’s usually possible to link to a specific version of a CSS file or JavaScript library. You can often request the “latest” version if required.
  • Usage Analytics
    Many commercial CDNs provide file usage reports since they generally charge per byte. Those reports can supplement your own website analytics and, in some cases, may offer a better impression of video views and downloads.
  • Boosts Performance And Saves Money
    A CDN can distribute the load, save bandwidth, boost performance and reduce your existing hosting costs — often for free.

How Do I Get Started?

Setting up a CDN might sound complex and complicated, but it really isn’t. For most websites and applications, all you need to tell the CDN which files it needs to mirror. Then, you need to configure your site to send requests to those files to the CDN for handling.

Pricing depends on the provider offering the service. The cost of a CDN also depends on bandwidth, region reach, and/or security/SSL needs.

If you’re looking to get started, I encourage you to have a look at SpaceCDN. They are a CDN reseller that specializes on content delivery networks of leading providers (Verizon, Highwinds, CDNnow, AhCDN, UCDN). They have unbeatable prices, and you’re bound to find a CDN that meets your specific demands and budget.

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