What Is a Content Delivery Network (CDN) and Why It Is Important

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What is a Content Delivery Network CDN?

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a collection of global servers that caches and delivers content through the closest edge server rather than the origin server, thereby decreasing page load time.

A CDN is a distributed group of servers that can withstand high amounts of traffic, provide inexpensive & reliable data with reliability. Many websites and online services rely on CDNs as a cost-effective way to improve uptime and perform.

How does the CDN work?

The website administrator for the original server signs up with a Content Delivery Network CDN provider & obtains a CDN URL from then. Then the Administrator configures the site to load the images, videos, or JavaScript files from the CDN URL instead of the origin server.

When a user opens a website in their browser, the browser requests assets that are referenced inside the page using a CDN URL. The CDN automatically distributes incoming requests to the nearest CDN server. Files not already on the CDN are downloaded from the origin server and stored. The browser downloads the required resources from a nearby CDN server, improving performance and reducing traffic for the origin server.

To minimise the distance between the users and the web site’s server, a Content Delivery Network CDN stores a cached version of its content in multiple geographical locations known as points of presence, or PoPs. Each PoP contains a number of caching servers for content delivery to users within its proximity.

Technology used:

CDN nodes are deployed in multiple locations over different networks. The number of servers and nodes which constitute to a CDN varies depending on the server and CDN architecture.

Requests for content are typically based on algorithms. When optimising for performance, locations that are best for serving content to the user may be selected. This may be measured by choosing locations that have very few hops or with very high availability concerning server performance to optimise delivery across local networks.

Most Content Delivery Network CDN providers will provide their services over a defined set of PoPs. They depend on the geography and are known as edge nodes or edges.

Effective Techniques:

Web caches store popular content on servers that have the highest demand for the requested content. These shared servers reduce the bandwidth requirements, reduce server load, and help improving client response time.

Server load balancing uses one or more techniques including service based or hardware based. They use multilayer switch to share traffic among a number of servers or web caches. Each switch has a unique virtual IP address. Web traffic arriving at the switch is then directed to one of the real web servers attached to the switch.

Benefits of a Content Delivery Network CDN:

The benefits include reducing bandwidth costs, improving page load times, or increasing the global availability of content.

This has the advantage of balancing the load, increasing total capacity, improving scalability, and providing reliability by redistributing the load of a non-working web server and providing server health checks. The more global you want to reach; the Content Delivery Network CDNs are going to help for better user experience.

Recommended CDN Providers

CloudFlare CDN Provider

Content delivery network (CDN) | What is a content delivery network (CDN) | CDN Providers

A feature-packed CDN with one of the best free plans around

  • Great FREE plan
  • Lots of features
  • Great performance & security

CloudFlare is a hugely popular American content delivery service which combines novice-friendly ease of use with expert-level features and functionality. We offer their FREE plan with MediaWorkx.Host to some of our client who would benefit from the FREE plan and not the paid option.

The actual setup is simple, with no need to edit your code; update your DNS nameservers to use CloudFlare and the service kicks in automatically, caching content and serving it to visitors from their nearest location. CloudFlare has massive global coverage, and this is one of the main reasons we recommend them.

We also recommend the use of WP Rocket with CloudFlare CDN for even better performance on your website.

There is much much more to CloudFlare CDN platform with excellent security features such as web filtering can block bots, limit content spam, that will keep you safe from hackers or detect and mitigate DDoS attacks. Smart image optimisations that can reduce image file sizes by up to 35%, further improving speeds and much more.

If you choose to go on their Pro plan it will set you back a reasonable $20 (£16) a month, and adds the image optimisation rules, extra configurability and improved support.

You can sign up for Cloudflare here


StackPath CDN Provider

StackPath CDN Provider | Content delivery network (CDN) | What is a content delivery network (CDN) | CDN Providers

StackPath has become one of the giants in the CDN world with its recent acquisition of MaxCDN a leading CDN in its own right, Fireblade a Next-Gen WAF sold to cloud companies, Staminus which is a DDoS Mitigation platform & Cloak VPN Platform. A leading Secure, user-friendly CDN with the most advanced security features, speed and scalability.

  • Easy to set up
  • Powerful security features
  • Global coverage

StackPath is user-friendly, complete with a straightforward web console to manage your settings, and if you do get stuck, there’s exceptionally efficient technical support available via either live chat or phone.

Another strength here comes on the security front, with this CDN giving users free shared SSL (or the option to use your own SSL certificate, if you prefer). There’s also anti-DDoS technology and a capable Web Application Firewall.

All in all, this is a tempting offering with a baseline plan that charges $20 (£16) for up to 200GB data transfer.

StackPath CDN Provider | Content delivery network (CDN) | What is a content delivery network (CDN) | CDN Providers

You can pair this up with WP Rocket to further optimise your website for more speed.

You can sign up for StackPath here


KeyCDN Provider

KeyCDN Provider | Content delivery network (CDN) | CDN Providers

KeyCDN is another high-performance Content Distribution Network (CDN) that has a global delivery network to instantaneously accelerate your websites, online video games or software application.

A terrific value solution with low web traffic rates and cost-free SSL

  • Very low cost
  • Easy configuration
  • Efficiency isn’t the best

KeyCDN is an easy-to-use spending plan CDN that may be a good choice for new customers.

Getting going could not be much more comfortable. Join using your e-mail address, and you obtain a prompt 25GB to play with, no payment details needed. A properly designed web control panel makes it possible for producing your very first zone with a minimum of clicks, and also there are guides to aid you to incorporate the service with WordPress and other applications.

More skilled individuals will undoubtedly value alternatives like Origin Shield – this permits you to define a KeyCDN server to be the resource for updates rather than the origin, lowering your server load. You’re able to manipulate headers, cache or strip cookies, or established a personalised robots.txt. As soon as the solution is running, a qualified collection of coverage devices enable seeing CDN efficiency in close to real-time.

KeyCDN’s standout attribute has to be its affordable price. Transmission capacity costs start at $0.04 (₤ 0.032) per GB, less than half the price you’ll pay with a few of the high-end competition. The minimal cost is a small $49 (₤ 39) a year. (Yes, indeed – a year.) The company does not also try to capitalise the bonus, for example offering shared SSL, as well as custom-made, allow’s encrypt SSL certificates totally free.

Possibly unsurprisingly, these low prices do not obtain you groundbreaking efficiency. However, there’s still lots of power here, and also you do get a great deal for your money.

KeyCDN Provider with WP Rocket Caching Plugin

You can pair this up with WP Rocket to further optimise your website for more speed.

You can sign up for KeyCDN here


BunnyCDN Provider

BunnyCDN Provider | Content delivery network (CDN) | CDN Providers

My personal choice and the one that I recommend to all our clients to use is this newcomer with a bang BunnyCDN.

BunnyCDN is the  CDN we’re currently using on all our websites. BunnyCDN is truly a masterpiece among CDN providers; it’s simple to set up, with the excellent admin interface, global coverage and best of all powerful and lightning fast CDN at a fraction of the cost. I cut my server costs with better and cheaper CDN solution for my global sites.

  • Very low prices
  • Easy setup
  • Best speed performance

Built for performance, optimised for perfection BunnyCDN network is carefully optimised and tuned down to the TCP level. Boosting 26 data centres strategically placed across the world, the global network that ensures lightning fast speeds and incredibly low latencies.

BunnyCDN is also changing the way CDNs are priced with a starting at just $0.003/GB they’re the cheapest CDN around the globe with a simple Pay As You Go plan. Some of the great features include a free Let’s Encrypt SSL, Brotli & GZip, HTTP/2 offering the performance and security of the future.

One of the many features I love about BunnyCDN is its Real-time monitoring that gets you a full insight into your traffic using our next generation real-time monitoring dashboard. Not to forget to mention the SSD Powered Edge Servers technology that gives your website the superpowers of 40ms global latency to your files, this is where you realise the power of BunnyCDN.

The BunnyCDN dashboard is also one of the best with simplicity at its core you’re provided with plenty of options to tweak your set-ups such as blocking IPs or whole countries. Yes, you read right you can protect your content and save money by blocking or redirecting IPs or countries to cheaper regions with a single click.

We also recommend the use of WP Rocket caching plugin with BunnyCDN for minimal configuration immediate results and even better performance on your website.

BunnyCDN with WP Rocket Caching Plugin

You can sign up for BunnyCDN trial here


Amazon CloudFront CDN Provider

Amazon CloudFront CDN Provider | Content delivery network (CDN) | CDN Providers

Amazon CloudFront CDN is a highly programmable & secure content delivery network CDN offered by Amazon Web Services. You may very well know that Amazon is one of largest e-commerce store and it’s flagship AWS have a massive suite of services within this suite of services is their content delivery network called, Amazon CloudFront. If your curious as to what other services Amazon offers to check them out here

Amazon Cloudfront network coverage is global and continues to grow and expand its network coverage, currently has 119 Points of Presence (108 Edge Locations and 11 Regional Edge Caches) in 58 cities across 26 countries.

Amazon Cloudfront comes with an array of features that will help any business of any size to deliver excellent website experience. One of the main reason we recommend CloudFront is the suite of products or tools that are available to help web developers, network administrators all within one dashboard. This makes it much easier for a seasoned web developer to manage your project and tweak the set up to match your specific needs.

So what you get as standard with Amazon’s CDN will include  DDoS Protection, Gzip, Secure token, Byte-range Requests, HTTP/2 and a shared SSL. Fortunately, Amazon doesn’t offer Let’s Encrypt, and no free support. They do however have partially provided real-time stats, instant purge and origin push.

Onto the pricing structure which can also be confusing and expensive if one doesn’t know what is getting into with the CloudFront. Although their pricing model is Pay As You Go with no monthly commitments nor is there a minimum fee, Amazon CloudFront’s pricing is broken down into three different categories namely:

  1. Data transfer out to the Internet
  2. Data transfer out to the origin
  3. HTTP requests (per 10,000)

This is why I say it can be confusing for anyone with little understanding of how AWS services are priced.

That being said they do provide a reasonable entry level Free tier for wait for it one full year. This free plan includes 50GB of data transfer out and 2 million HTTP and HTTPS requests each month. Once you have finished the one year ride, you will be required to start paying for the amount of traffic you use.

Also not to mention they provide their AWS services to Netflix, Samsung, Hulu, Cannon, Intuit, Spotify, and Discovery among many others. It’s a stable platform that won’t go wrong.

You can sign up for Amazon CloudFront free tier here

Conclusion

Whatever CDN you choose from the above list it will deliver exceptional performance to your website and end user. Content delivery networks provide a globally-distributed network of proxy servers which cache content, such as web videos or other bulky media, more locally to consumers, thus improving access speed for downloading this content. So next time you talk to your web design/development agency make sure to ask for a CDN. Also, it’s worth to mention that some of the high-end custom, bespoke web hosting platforms such as wp engine do offer CDN, Caching and much more as part of their plans. So if you’re unsure whether your hosting provides a CDN, check with them before you take one of the plans.

Takeaway Point

When you’re choosing a CDN provider, it’s important to consider the global distribution of your current website visitors now and for the next 12 months as well as your CDN budget.

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