The Complete Guide to CDNs and How They Can Boost Your Website’s Performance

What is CDN - A Complete Guide | Banner Image

An online presence is essential for businesses to expand online and acquire more customers. Having a WordPress website for your business is one of the most convenient ways to have a digital presence.

A website is not only a medium to get your business online, but it acts as a “first impression” for your shop to the customer. If you have a sluggish or not well-designed website, that’ll surely deteriorate your business’s image.

Maintaining the good performance of a website is itself a challenging task. Especially in cases when the site gets bulkier with time, with more and more content being added, and of course more traffic.

What is a CDN?

CDN is an abbreviation for Content Delivery Network. It plays a vital role in improving the load speed of your website. CDN helps you to get web content like scripts, stylesheets, images, icons, etc. from different servers around the globe.

CDN immensely reduces the load on the server of your website to transfer such data through remote servers. CDN also offers some more complex functionalities that we’ll look upon later in this article.

A few very commonly used CDNs by web developers are stylesheet CDNs such as TailWind, and scripts such as Three.js, Flaticons, etc.

How does it work?

The core working principles of CDN are quite similar to that of the Internet. Your website makes requests to the CDN servers, using the CDN link, then the response is to be processed accordingly by your website. 

A CDN provider is a company that developed the CDN network. Several servers are positioned around the globe for the smooth processing of CDN requests.

Usually, CDNs are installed at places that have a good and stable connection as well as directly connected with the Internet Service Providers. The CDNs drastically improve the speed and performance of your website.

Why do you need a CDN?

Apart from improving the load speeds and performance, CDNs have another great use case that we haven’t talked about yet. The positive impact on search rankings and SEO of your website is commendable. The decongestion of your central server leads to more stability and up-time of your website, thanks to CDN.

Summarising the major benefits that you get with CDN.

  • Better website load speeds.
  • Low risk of the website getting crashed.
  • Decongestion of your central server.
  • Better SEO performance.
  • Positively impacts the conversion rate.
  • Ensures a better overall user experience.
  • Reduced bandwidth cost.

These are pretty strong and valid points to use CDNs on your business website.

How CDN Can Boost Your Website’s Performance?

CDNs are usually operated as SaaS products or ‘Software as a Service.’ Servers around the world are deployed to handle the requests made to the CDN. Let’s dive into more depth into how CDN fulfills so many purposes behind the scenes. 

Achieving more up-time.

CDN diverts the requests for many purposes to their remote servers. Hence a load of multiple requests is taken away from your central server. This enables your server to handle even more user requests. That’s how CDNs make your system more robust and provide more uptime.

Improved Site Speed

Reduced load on the server also leads to quick responses. The CDN servers are highly optimized as well for minimum response times and error rates. Several complex tasks are also performed under the hood to optimise the website. Such as caching, load balancing, and request routing. 

CDN stores data of your website over its servers and data centers via caching, which is mainly responsible for improving the speed. It also reduces your bandwidth cost.

Enhanced security

A prevalent form of security threat to websites is DDoS. A ‘distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is a malicious attempt to disrupt normal traffic to a web property. DDoS attacks are intended to prevent the access of your website to the end-user. 

The CDNs protect your data and website against DDoS attacks. Security is more enhanced due to the decentralized server architecture of CDN.

Things to Consider When Choosing a CDN

When choosing a CDN, you need to maintain a perfect balance between your budget and the functionalities of the CDN. The two most important factors to consider in a CDN are its speed and reliability. You shouldn’t compromise on them. They are directly linked with the end-user experience.

As most CDNs are operated by some SaaS company, you need to make sure that the company is here to stay for maintaining the CDN servers and providing required security updates. A bit uncommon, yet important factor is the locations where data centers and servers of the CDN company are deployed.

For example, consider that your CDN provider doesn’t have any server near your geographical location, that will make it irrelevant to continue with that CDN provider. You may face speed and connection issues in such cases.

Another point to check upon is the testimonials and customer reviews of people around your geographical location. That will help you gather the practical user experience of past or current users of that particular CDN service. Gather information about the customer service from that provider as well.

CDN also compresses the data and files to be sent for saving bandwidth. Minification is the process using which the indentations and extra spaces are removed from the code. Simply, all the elements in the code that was there to make it more human-readable are removed to reduce the code size. You need to understand a few technical terms such as ‘latency’ and ‘throughput’ for making a better decision.

Latency

Latency is the amount of delay occurring while sending information and data from one location to another. Lower the latency, and better the performance of the CDN service, affecting your website positively. It is measured in milliseconds (ms).

Throughput

This refers to the performance of the computers deployed at the servers and data centers. Data centers where Hard Disks are used as storage media are comparatively slower than those which use SSD or Solid State Drives. Although the CDNs which use SSDs are relatively quite expensive as well. 

A few questions that will help you decide on the best CDN for your website.

  • Is it Reliable?
  • Does it offer all Functionalities I need?
  • What is the feedback from existing users?
  • Check the company details.
  • Are regular Maintenance and updates provided by the CDN service provider?
  • Are you getting the best value for money composition?
  • What are the load speeds?
  • Isn’t it very complex to implement? 
  • Is it 24/7 available?
  • How is their Customer service?
  • Is Data compression and minification offered?

When choosing the right CDN service for your website, you can choose between paid CDN services and public CDN services. Public services are those which are free. Both types of services have their advantages and disadvantages, but it’s important to choose the one that will best fit your needs.

Some popular CDN providers

Cloudflare CDN

The Cloudflare CDN, also called ‘cdnjs’ is one of the most popular options among developers. It serves many popular JavaScript and CSS libraries. Tailwind CSS, bootstrap, and jQuery to name a few. It is a free CDN service.

StackPath

It is another popular option currently in the market. StackPath claims to have more server points in densely populated areas. Also suitable for streaming large content like games and videos over the cloud.

Sucuri

Sucuri emphasizes more on the security of your website and data. This can be evident from the first line of text they placed on their website. “Restore your peace of mind by securing your websites with our cloud-based platform & experienced security analysts.” It is although a paid CDN provider.

KeyCDN

This is also a paid CDN service but offers low-cost plans as well. It also comes with real-time statistics. KeyCDN is also quite popular and widely used.

Amazon CloudFront

This service comes from a brand like Amazon, which helped it to gain trust in the market. This is also a paid CDN service from Amazon. It is quite optimized to work with Amazon Cloud Services or AWS.

Google Cloud CDN

Google Cloud CDN is also a global CDN, which is extremely popular as well. It integrates very well with Google’s cloud infrastructure such as Google Cloud and Firebase. The best part is that the Google CDN is public and free to use.

Conclusion

CDN plays a key role in your website’s performance and customer experience. Better the first impression and experience of the end-user, more will be your website’s conversion ratio.

You must use a CDN service for your website. Even if you don’t have much budget, you can opt for free ones. Having a not-so-good CDN is still better than having none. Here’s an article from Cloudflare

If you want to dive deeper and understand CDNs in-depth, you can check this out.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.