hey guys, Alicia here and today I’m going to tell you about what is a CDN… what are the benefits and whether or not you should use it for your site.
So the first thing is.
What is a CDN
CDN is a Content Delivery Network.
So what the service is they use their network of servers to mirror your web server and to deliver content from their servers all over the world instead of using your server.
How this helps you is that if you have visitors around the world, they don’t have to connect all the way to your origin server which might be far away.
They connect to the nearest CDN server, which has a mere copy of your content and they would download it faster and your page would appear to load faster for them.
That would be the basics of a CDN and how it helps you.
But in the real world right in real-world use we have to think about whether or not it actually helps.
So for example, we’re going to use WPX Hosting as an example as they have their own purpose-built CDN cloud, and plus I use them as my number web hosting for all WordPress websites.
Okay, and let’s say your website is hosted on the servers in the Chicago’s Lakeside data center in the United States. By the way, it’s the largest of its kind in the world.
So your local webserver is there and you have users, customers/clients all over the world right.
They’re in Europe, Africa, Australia, South America. They’re everywhere.
So without a CDN and your web server is in Chicago, all your users from all over the world and we will use Australia as an example.
When they land on your website say from Australia.
They have to connect all the way from Australia to your servers in Chicago and when they get the information then your server sends the information and it downloads all the way back to Australia.
Then it finally ends up on the user’s computer.
As a result, causes slow load times, and doesn’t give your end-user a real good experience.
Now by using a CDN like WPX Hosting, what it does is it copies all the images and content mainly from the Chicago servers and places it on a CDN endpoint.
These endpoints are located globally. They’re like mini servers at the back door of your user’s location.
So when your customer goes to your website and they are located in Australia, they’ll get the information from the Australian CDN endpoint, not from the server in Chicago.
If a user is in say East Asia they will get the information from the CDN endpoint closest to them which for WPX Hosting will be Hong Kong.
Hope this all making sense
So basically it will download from the closest CDN endpoint to where the user is, given your user faster download speeds and better user-friendly service.
Ok, so that is an example of where CDN it benefits you.
Let’s take a look at where it might not be such a good idea.
What if you had a pizza shop in Milwaukee, all you did was local visitors to your shop. No one else from around the world visits your site only these people that live locally.
And your server is in Chicago, in this case, it would not make any sense to get a CDN it would be better for you not to have a CDN.
So when your customer types in your pizzashop.com store it will download from the Chicago server because they’re nearby right.
If you were to set up on your website a CDN this poor user entering your pizzashop.com website instead of downloading directly from your server.
He’s going to connect to the nearest CDN endpoint which could be in Miami or LA.
So he’s going to get connected by one of them instead of the Chicago server.
So you have to think about whether or not it actually benefits you whether or not they’re the faster delivery because the faster delivery depends on the distance.
So if your users are closer to you and you don’t have users all over the world. Then it doesn’t make sense to have a CDN.
Now there is one other thing we have to factor in when using CDN’s.
The thing is that CDN’s will cache your content.
This means it’s like they save a copy of your content and then when your users request it, they will give the user the content.
So some CDNs will copy your content onto their servers and they’ll hold it there for an x amount of time.
This could be two, four, six, eight hours, or whatever.
Say its 8 hours, after eight hours the content expires and then it becomes a dead cache right?
Each company is different right. Some will pull it out and re-cache it others will leave it on your server.
Then they will wait for another visitor to hit.
Once you get the next visitor, that one has to hit the CDN server, which then requests the content from your origin server, and then it is given to the user.
So that X adds an extra proxy and extra delay.
So if your CDN expiry times are shorter than the frequency of your traffic then it could also hurt your site your page load time ok.
So, you need to have enough traffic to make it useful, in my opinion, to keep the cache warm.
Otherwise, it’s probably faster to connect directly to an origin server.
There’s also the issue of their many different CDN Services out there.
So typically they cache only static content.
That’s things like CSS, JSS, your images, jpeg. PNG. Some will do like SVG some can even do video.
Some can even do web fonts too.
So it really depends on what kind of content you have, and what do you need?
Some of them will have a size limit. They won’t cache anything above one megabyte or above 50 megabytes.
So there’s some that won’t do videos or some that can do videos, right?
If you’re loading videos off your site. You don’t want them to come and streaming off your origin server.
That can slow down your web server causing everything to slow down.
So that’s another thing that CDN’s will take the load off your web server.
So that means your origin web server can maybe run a little faster or maybe if your origin web server is a slow server using slow crappy shared hosting then the CDN can maybe help to speed it up a little bit, which can speed up the user experience a little bit.
So they’re many CDN’s out there and you want one that has locations where you are.
There is also pricing. Some are really cheap or you know, or maybe they’re cheap and areas that you need or maybe they’re cheap and areas that you don’t need.
Some of them have a much cheaper volume pricing or they have different features that you would need or don’t need.
The easiest way for me to tell you is just to trial different CDN’s yourself and then you’ll know if it’s truly faster or not.
It’s very common that it’s some people go. Oh my God, I heard CDN’s are amazing.
So they just go and sign up for whatever plan and they take it off because it was actually slower.
So it happens all the time.
If you don’t know what you’re doing and you’re not really sure if you need it.
You don’t set things up correctly. It can actually be slower than loading it off your origin server.
WPX Hosting has its very own purpose-built CDN and is the world’s fastest WP CDN… it will 3x your website and the best part… it’s free with any of their hosting plans.
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