Everything you need to know about CDN (Content Delivery Network)

Sep, 04 2019
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CDN stands for content delivery network which is a system of distributed servers that deliver pages as well as other web content to a user that is based on the geographic locations of the user, the origin of the webpage, and the content delivery server. Let’s put it simple, A CDN is a geographically distributed group of servers working together to provide fast delivery of Internet content. A CDN make the quick transfer of assets possible that is needed for loading Internet content including HTML pages, Style Sheets, JavaScript files, images, and videos. The popularity of the CDN services are continuously growing, and today the majority of web traffic is served through CDNs which also include the traffic from major sites like Facebook, Netflix, and Amazon.

If a CDN is configured properly then it may also help protect your websites against some common malicious attacks like DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. This protection service is effective in speeding the content delivery of the websites which are equipped with high traffic as well as the websites which have global reach. As closer the CDN server will be to the users geographically as faster the content will be delivered to the user. CDNs also provide protection from large traffic surges. Let us understand the working of the CDNs:

How Does a CDN Work?

In Content Delivery Networks, servers which are the nearest to the website visitor respond to the request arrived. Then the CDN copies the pages of a website to a network of servers that are distributed at different geographical locations and cache the page’s contents. So, whenever a user requests a webpage that is part of a CDN, then the request will be redirected from the originating site's server to a server in the CDN (Content Delivery Network) that deliver the cached content. In case when any content that has not been previously cached, then the CDNs will also communicate with the originating server to deliver that content.

CDN is a network of servers which are linked together with the goal of delivering content as securely, reliably, quickly, cheaply as possible. For improving the speed and connectivity, a CDN places servers at the exchange points between the different networks. At these Internet exchange points different Internet providers connect for providing each others’ access to traffic from their different networks. CDN provider is able to reduce costs and provide high speed data delivery by having a connection to these highly interconnected and high speed locations.

Is the CDN the same as a web host?

No, a CDN doesn’t host content and it also can’t replace the need for the proper web hosting but yes it helps cache content at the network edge that ultimately improves the websites’ performance. Many websites which are struggling to meet their performance needs with their traditional hosting services and that’s why they opt for CDNs. CDNs are here to relieve some of the major pain points that come up with traditional web hosting, by utilizing caching to reduce hosting bandwidth and helping to prevent interruptions in service as well as for improving security.

CDNs can reduce latency, reduce bandwidth consumption, accelerate site load times, secure applications and even block data scrappers hitting your server when they deliver large scale websites to a global audience. Now-a-days organizations or Website Designing Companies use CDNs to accelerate static content, e-commerce transactions, video, voice, dynamic content, mobile content, games and so on as more aspects of daily life has moved online.

Benefits of using a CDN:

The benefits of a CDN vary but the primary benefits for most users can be as following:

Improves load times - Visitors experience faster page loading times by distributing the content closer to website visitors geographical location by using the most nearby CDN server. CDN can reduce bounce rates and increase the amount of time that people spend on your website because visitors click away from a slow-loading site. A faster website engages more visitors for longer times.

Increases content availability and redundancy - When there is large amount of traffic or some kind of hardware failures then it can interrupt the normal website function. But with the distributed nature, a CDN is able to handle more traffic and withstand the hardware failure better than many other origin servers.

Reduces bandwidth costs - The primary expense for websites is the bandwidth consumption costs for website hosting. CDNs are able to reduce the amount of data that an origin server must provide through caching and other optimizations which reduces the hosting costs for website owners.

Improves website security - A CDN also improves security by providing improvements to security certificates, DDoS mitigation, and other kinds of optimizations.

Features of CDN:

1. Latency -

Sometimes, people may ask how does a CDN improve website load times? When it comes to loading websites’ content, users drop off quickly as the site slows down. CDN services help the users to reduce load times in the following ways:               

● A CDN possesses the globally distributed nature which means to reduce distance between users and the resources of the website. CDN lets users connect to a geographically closer data center instead of having to connect to wherever a website’s origin server may live. So basically, less travel time means faster service.

● CDN performs some hardware and software optimizations like solid-state hard drives & efficient load balancing which can help data reach the user faster.

● CDNs also use some tactics such as minification and file compression for reducing the file sizes that can reduce the amount of data transferred. Smaller file sizes allows the quicker load times.

● CDNs also speed up the websites which use TLS/SSL certificates because it optimizes the connection reuse and enable a TLS false start.

2. Reliability and Redundancy -

CDN have a functionality to keep the websites always online. Let’s know about it in detail. A well-rounded CDN has several features mentioned below that will minimize downtime:

● CDN performs the load balancing that distributes network traffic evenly across several servers which make it easier to scale the boosts in the traffic.

● With CDNs you are catered with the intelligent failover which is designed to provide uninterrupted service even if some of the CDN servers go offline because of the hardware malfunction. The failover redistributes the traffic to the other operational servers.

● At the times when the entire data center is facing some technical issues then Anycast routing transfers the traffic to any other available data center which ensures that no users lose access to the website.

3. Data Security -

Last but not the least, CDN also protect the data. Information Security is an undeniable integral part of a CDN. CDN keeps a site secured with the fresh TLS/SSL certificates which ensures a high standard of authentication, integrity & encryption. There are several Content Delivery Network Companies which you can take the CDN services from in order to make your website loads even faster.


Author Bio

The author is a co-founder of Delhi’s best Website Designing Company- jeewangarg.com. He has been designing websites from last one decades and knows all micro to the macro level of strategies to deliver the best website. Usually, he writes blogs and articles related to the latest website designing tricks and strategies. Get in touch with him @ info@jeewangarg.com

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