What is CDN? A CDN is a Content Delivery Network. A growing number of webmasters are using CDNs to speed up their websites, improve the stability of their servers, and help to reduce the bandwidth consumption and resource requirements of their websites. Until recently, CDNs were something that only large, well known websites made use of, but today there are many affordable (and even free) companies offering CDN services to smaller websites.
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Why You Need a CDN
There are many reasons for using CDNs. The short explanation for why you need a CDN is that it makes your site faster, more secure and more stable. Let’s take a look at each of those improvements in detail.
CDNs Make Your Site Faster
Most websites attract visitors from all over the world. If you have hosting on the west coast of America, visitors who live near there will find that your site loads quickly. However, visitors on the east coast will have poorer loading times, and your site will be noticeably sluggish for visitors on other continents. Using a CDN fixes this. The CDN caches frequently accessed pages, and copies them to all of their servers. Most CDNs have a huge network of servers located all over the world. When a visitor requests one of your pages, the request will be passed to a server close to them, so they will have the fastest possible load times.
CDNs Make Your Site More Secure
Another reason you need to know what is CDN is that CDNs protect your site in several ways. Firstly, because your pages are cached by the CDN, your website won’t have to repeatedly re-generate frequently accessed pages. This means that you won’t be as vulnerable to DDOS attacks, malicious or otherwise. A DDOS attack is a Distributed Denial of Service – this is an attack which involves a large number of computers requesting a page (or a response, such as a ping) from a server. Some DDOS attacks are malicious, but other are accidental, such as the Digg effect, where a site ends up on the front page of Digg, and the server can’t cope with all of the extra traffic.
DDOS protection is not the only security benefit of a CDN. Some CDNs block requests from known spammers and IP addresses associated with hackers or malware distributors. This service is opt-in, so if you prefer not to risk blocking visitors, you do not have to do so.
Another benefit of CDNs is that they offer you some protection from server outages. If your website goes down, and a user requests a page that is already cached, they can still view that cached page. Some CDNs warn users that the site they want to access is offline, and that the page they are viewing is a cached copy, but that is not a bad thing. The visitor gets to read the content they are interested in, and if they like the content they will probably bookmark the website and come back later.
If you aren’t using a CDN, you are missing out on a lot of benefits as we have explained in this article “What is CDN”. Setting up a CDN is simple, all you need to do is choose a provider and make some simple changes to your domain’s DNS settings. Some CDN offerings, such as CloudFlare, are free, while there are other companies that offer premium services with more protection and customization options. You have nothing to lose by trying out a CDN provider for your website. If you decide you don’t like the new set up for any reason, it’s easy to go back to your old single-server delivery method and your site will not need to go offline during the changeover.
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