As images get larger, videos become more popular, and networks become more congested, delivering a fast website to your users is only getting more difficult.
A lot of people are facing this struggle, with sites which hang and load slowly being very easy to find when you search around the web. When a user is faced with an experience like this, though, they will often simply turn away, leaving you without the hits you need.
A content delivery network (CDN) is the strongest tool in your arsenal when you’re approaching website speed. But what exactly do they do?
Let’s find out.
What Is A CDN?
CDN stands for content delivery network, and is a network of servers which is designed to deliver content to people’s computers when they visit your website.
Instead of using your slow web server to load images, videos, and other content, it will be compressed and moved to servers across the globe. When someone visits your site, the images they see will come from the server closest to their location, making them load at lightning fast speeds.
Alongside this, many CDNs can also provide features like advanced security, DNS control, and even website activity reporting. All of these features are vital to website owners.
Do You Need A CDN?
While no one would argue that these features are useless, a lot of people will question whether or not they really need a CDN to make their site run faster.
Sites like GTMetrix can be very helpful when you’re trying to figure this out. By performing a scan of your site, you will be given a range of different scores which show how it compares to other sites around the web. If you’re sitting at below-average speeds, it will make a lot of sense to use a CDN, but this isn’t the only side of this.
In reality, every site on the web should be using a content delivery network. By taking out the biggest bandwidth draw your website has, you will make your own hosting cheaper, while also avoiding major slow-downs when a lot of people are visiting your website.
Choosing And Using Your CDN
Choosing the right CDN is a challenge. For a lot of people, options like CloudFlare will be the very best choice, as these companies provide free CDN services which give you a chance to try out their service.
If you run a website which gets huge amounts of visitors from around the world, though, it will make sense to look at other options. There are a number of features which need to be considered when you’re choosing this tool.
The amount of servers a CDN deploys will change its effectiveness, and you will want one with servers in as many places as possible.
Some will give you strict quotas and won’t serve your images once you’ve ran out, making it crucial that you check how much you get with each CDN.
The CDN’s own network speed will also impact your decision at this stage, with faster options having a noticeable impact on your website.
This information isn’t always easy to find, but will be vital when it comes to choosing the CDN you’re going to be using. It will all be a lot easier if you get this right the first time.