The benefits of using a CDN

Oct 22, 2020 | 6 min

What is CDN and how does it work?

Even if you don’t know it, you interact with CDNs, when reading articles on websites, watching videos on YouTube, or scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed. In order to understand what they are and how they work, keep reading.


What is a CDN?


A Content Delivery Network (CDN) consists of a number of proxy servers at various points of presence (PoP) around the world. These servers work together to provide fast delivery of Internet content. CDN works by creating and storing cached copies of web content at these points of presence and serves them to users upon command. CDN allows for the fast transfer of things needed for loading Internet content, such as HTML pages, JavaScript files, stylesheets, etc.


Basically, there are three types of content delivered out there:


  1. 1. Static content is content that usually doesn’t change very often and does not require generation. For example, images, JavaScript, CSS and others.
  3. 2. Dynamic content is content which is generated on the fly by a web server, using any of various common web programming languages such as php, ruby, java
  5. 3. Streaming content are videos or audio files which are played via a web browser control.


In other words, CDN brings any of the above mentioned content closer to the users regardless of the geographical location of the main server, or the individual users. This is much more efficient than storing content on just one central server. In this way, the user gets access to a copy of the data, which is nearest to the client, in comparison to all users accessing the same central server.


How are CDN and latency related?


CDNs are widely used because they solve one disturbing issue, called latency. That’s the delay which occurs from the moment the user requests a web page to the moment its content appears on the screen for real. In any case, this annoying delay is caused by the geographical distance between the user and the website’s hosting server.


For example, if a user in London requests to access a website, whose server is hosted in Beijing, each request of the user will have to travel through a series of routers to reach the user. And that “travel” will repeat for each request for interaction with this web page. The latency will happen namely because of the geographical distance of about 5000 miles. Therefore, comes CDN, which can virtually shorten that distance and thus improve site rendering speed and performance.


Why is CDN important/needed?


  • If a web page is slow, that results in bad user experience
  • If a web page is slow, that affects search ranking
  • The spikes in traffic can crash the web server


How does CDN improve web page load time?


There are four main ways in which CDN can help optimise a web page’s loading time:


  • The servers at the various points of presence around the world allows for the reduction of the distance between the users and the web pages. In this way, the user connects to the closest data center or point of presence, and not the original server, which may be miles away.
  • Hardware and software optimisations, which help the web page load faster by solid-state hard drives
  • CDN can also reduce the amount of data transferred by reducing the size of the files by minification or file compression
  • CDN can also reduce loading time of web pages which use TLS/SSL certificates by optimizing the connection reuse and enabling TLS false start


Benefits of using CDN


The benefits of using CDN will depend on the size of the web page, its location in relation to the main traffic source, and the amount of traffic generated. In other words, a small local business with a physical location which serves a small geographic area, might not benefit as much from CDN.


Let’s take another example: a business which needs a wider reach, or whose website generates traffic from various locations. Then, an efficient CDN will allow for a much better user experience.


There are four main benefits of using CDN:


  • Reduce Bandwidth

Bandwidth can be one of the biggest expenses with some hostings. Multiplying the PoPs conserves the amount of bandwidth needed to handle the traffic of the web page. This happens by caching, which puts data into temporary storage on different computers or mobile devices for easier access.


  • Increase Speed

As mentioned earlier, CDN can improve a web page’s loading time. It can solve many issues, such as: delays in reading files, etc.


  • Improve Security

When data is transferred from a single server, chances are that it will be more vulnerable to malicious events such as denial-of-service attacks. CDN can prevent that by keeping hackers away. It refreshes TLS/SSL certificates and thus provides higher authentication standards.


  • Improve Content Distribution

Heavy traffic on a web page along with hardware malfunctions leads to a lot of downtime on a website. But CDN allows to spread the load over multiple content delivery systems and lessen the burden on the infrastructure and servers.


What businesses will benefit the most from a CDN?


E-Commerce web pages will benefit a lot because they have heavy traffic which comes from all around the world.

Advertising businesses use multimedia based advertisements because they are more attractive and engaging, but at the same time, they require more resources to load properly.

Online games need even more resources in order to deliver the best gaming performance.

Entertainment industry attracts lots of people from all around the world with its downloading and streaming options.


The benefits of using NitroPack’s built-in CDN


NitroPack’s CDN is pre-configured, which means that you don’t have to do it manually, which saves you time and effort. NitroPack automatically enables CDN for the web page’s fonts, CSS, JS, and image files, all served via HTTP2 from the nearest edge location of Amazon.


What is more, NitroPack’s CDN serves resources between 5 and 20 ms, which is a huge advantage and benefit, given the fact that very few resources take longer than 10 ms.


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