Why Should You Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)?

by | Last Updated on December 23rd, 2018

Over the past few years the Content Delivery Network, known as a CDN, has revolutionized web hosting.

While a Content Delivery Network may be the solution for many web sites that are looking to improve their site speed, not every site necessarily needs one.

What is a Content Deliver Network (CDN)?

A CDN is a network of servers geographically spread throughout the world.

Why Should You Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Each CDN node, also called Edge Servers, store (cache) content such as images, CSS stylesheets and JavaScript files… these files are responsible for creating the look and feel of your website.

The Performance Golden Rule, as mentioned in the article ‘Apply these 7 Rules for Explosively FAST Web Sites!’, states that the vast majority of your visitor’s HTTP response time (roughly 80 to 90%), is spent retrieving the above mentioned files, so it make sense to store this information across as many server nodes as possible.

How a CDN Works

It is important for a site owner to understand how a Content Delivery Network works, and if the benefits outweigh the cost of adding your site to a world wide CDN.

In short, a Content Delivery Network stores and delivers, when called upon, the static files for your website based on your visitor’s geographical location, making for faster response and downloading times of the content due to reduced latency.

Under normal circumstances, when a visitor comes to your site, the visitor’s HTTP requests are directed only to the server that hosts your website.

But, thanks to the CDN, your site can be different from the rest, if you choose.

Example: Let’s say that your visitor lives in Italy… this is where a CDN will shine… the person visiting your site will be redirected to the closest server that houses your static files.

This will limit the number of Internet hops that would be required to deliver the static content to your visitor, meaning increased site speed.

To Clarify, a CDN is a network of servers, that you use with your site, along with web hosting.

A Content Deliver Network will not replace a web hosting account, you will still need to have a stable and reliable web hosting provider.

Why Should You Have a CDN for Your Site?

The biggest reason for using a Content Delivery Network is to improve your site’s speed globally… this will create an improved end-user experience.

If your website is hosted in Texas, but many of your visitor’s live in Europe, their speed will not be quite as fast as it would be for a person living in America.

Having a global Content Delivery Network would allow your European visitors to download your static website content from a source closer to their home.

– Instead of your visitor’s HTTP requests crossing the Atlantic Ocean to retrieve your site’s data, the person living in Europe requesting your information would connect to a server, let’s say somewhere in the UK, to get the identical data.

Having a Content Delivery Network for your site will not only ensure a faster end-user experience, but it will also help prevent site crashes due to high-traffic surges.

To clear things up… a CDN is the next level of site optimization, it is not a quick fix to a poorly optimized or plugin heavy site.

For a quality Content Deliver Network, you will need to pay for the service, so deciding to implement one will depend on your end goals and budget.

– Will a CDN help improve the performance of your website? Yes.
– Is it absolutely required for all websites? No.

You can still have a blazing fast website if it is optimized properly… but, for those visitors from afar, a CDN would probably do your site some good.

Placing Your Site on a CDN

Setting Up Your CDN

It might appear as if setting up a CDN for your site might be complicated, but the level of difficulty will depend on your site’s size and file complexity.

You will need to tell the CDN which files you would like it to handle, then configure your site to send the requests to those files installed on the CDN.

There are many plugins available today that can help set up your site for a CDN without too much difficulty.

NOTE: There may be a time that you will need to change your DNS zone files and possibly the Nameservers of your domain.

The Cost for Your CDN

Many CDN’s are third-party services that can range from fairly cheap to very expensive, depending on your overall size of site, and the setup you want.

Your cost will depend on your bandwidth usage, the regions you choose, and whether you need an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) for a secure site setup.

Closing Comments About the Mighty Content Delivery Network

CDN’s don’t have to break the bank… you can choose whether to have a CDN fit for a King, or one on a tight budget.

For those with heavy traffic, mission critical websites and that are serious about providing the best possible experience for all their users, a CDN should be a crucial part of their optimizing strategy.

In Future Articles – We will be discussing additional WordPress Performance issues, so be sure to put your email address in the box below for notification.

YOUR Turn… Is Your Site Installed on a CDN? Did it Make a Noticeable Speed Difference? Was it an Easy Install? Was it Worth It? Share YOUR Comment Below!


Comments (5)

  1. Karan says:

    Need to improve my website speed. What should i do?

    I have tried but I am using lotsof plugin which is as important as performance. What should i do? How can you can help me.

    • John E says:

      Hi Karan,

      If you have a WordPress based web site, unfortunately there are many factors that could be slowing down your site. It could be as simple as too many plugins, your web hosting may be terrible, your website could have issues causing lagging… the list goes on and on.

      Without getting too technical, a good place to start would be to deactivate and remove each and every plugin and widget that is not absolutely crucial to your business… following this 1 simple rule will improve your site’s speed.

      Take a look at this article… I believe it will help: 3 SIMPLE Methods to Optimize WordPress for Speed | Quick Fix!

      You can also run your site through the online performance testing tools, Pingdom and GTMetrix… these 2 tools will give you some ideas what are severely lagging your site down. Here are the links:


      Another thing that could be causing extended loading times would be your Web Hosting… if you are on a shared server with 1000’s of other web sites this could be a big problem. It’s like rush hour traffic… when everybody is trying to get onto the freeway all at the same time, traffic comes to a screeching halt… it’s not much different with servers.

      High traffic times would slow a server down because of all the people trying to access the information on the server all at the same time. Too many websites on a server would be similar to rush hour traffic… if there are thousands of websites on the server, what are the chances of 10’s of thousands of people attempting to access the server for the website information all at the same time, no matter what time of day?

      Anyway… I hope I have helped!

      Let me know how your Pingdom and GTMetrix tests work out.

      John E

  2. Rich says:

    Thank you for your info. On my opinion, to use a CDN is very useful to make a website faster, secured and even seo-optimized. Personally i’d definitely recommend Edgecast CDN services for serious websites. This network is one of the leaders of the industry and even such a big names like WordPress and Twitter have chosen them. Though for a regular website they are also ready to offer their services and the website undoubtedly will work as fast as possible. And also will be secured and well-optimized. There are a number of their resellers that offer no annual contracts and very affordable prices for those services.

  3. Jakub says:

    Hey, nice one. I am using CDN77.com and the install was supereasy. I had one little bump with the DNS settings on my side, but the support was helpful. It was installed in 15 minutes or so.

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