CDN – What is a Content Delivery Network
A Content Delivery Network is a Network of servers.
You subscribe to their CDN network
Each server in that network holds copies of your website files.
The servers are strategically spaced around the world.
Any time someone visits your Domain(website) the CDN serves files from the closest of those servers.
The Problem CDN addresses
Normally your website lives on one server somewhere in the world.
For someone living in the same city as your server, your site may load quite quickly. (but not a guarantee)
The path to your server in the same city is likely quite direct.
If your site content is well optimized and your server reasonably efficient things should be good.
The further people get from that server, then it’s likely your site will load slower.
The path from other locations around the world may go through multiple servers.
Then through regional hubs .
And finally… they can get to your sites hosting server.
Of course the type of hosting service you use may have an impact during busy times of day.
Add to that any congestion that may be experienced anywhere along that path.
The files from your site will take longer to reach the visitors browser.
Here is where a CDN can help offer a solution.
A CDN stores copies of your website information on multiple servers around the world.
This means we could store a large percentage of that data and files on a server closer to the physical locations of our visitors.
The visitors browser will receive the required information quicker to render your website for viewing.
This reduces time, consequently your site loads faster in more locations.
Your primary server experiences less load and strain on its bandwidth.
You are able to operate shared hosting or budget priced hosting which in turn saves you money.
CDN servers are much faster than shared hosting alone.
These are usually paid services.
Sometimes require major changes to other systems, software and plugins.
Not everything integrates seamlessly as you would like.
You may not need all of your files on the CDN, just the ones that slow the load process.
If you think a CDN is within your budget there are many out there to choose from.
If you currently use a Caching plugin on your site, many have integration to allow connection to a CDN.
One very popular Plugin is W3 Total Cache. The screenshot below shows a comprehensive settings page where you can view possible CDN providers names that integrate with W3 Total Cache. You can see there are quite a few listed.
Make a list and do a bit of surfing on Google to get a better comparison the various providers before committing to any particular service.
Don’t forget your Hosting provider. They may have CDN ability, or affiliations with Content Delivery Network providers.
There may even be a service you can enable from your accounts control panel on your hosting account.
Finally there are other ways to get some of these benefits to speed up your site.
Maybe your site is already showing reasonable pace already but you would just like a little boost just coz you can.
One way is outlined in the upcoming post Use Google Drive as a CDN
(where I outline how to use Drive and Googles powerful Network to speed up your site at no cost.)