ELI5: What is a CDN, and How Can it Help Me?

Image courtesy of premaccess.com

You’ve heard this term thrown around a lot. CDN, or Content Delivery Network. But what is it, and how can it help your website? Well, here at Hosting Wonderland our job is to explain, so let us explain.

CDN is basically a set of servers that will cache your content, and serve it from multiple point of presence (POP) around the world. It will automatically detect visitors based on their geographical location, and serve the content from the closest servers. In short, it’s a pretty ingenious solution to a problem that we simply cannot solve, which is the physical location of a server, and how latency came into play when you’re serving content around the world.

Do i Need a CDN?

It depends. Do you serve many visitors and your site is exhausted of I/O and bandwidth resources? Do you serve content to visitors that are far away from the physical location of your server? If the answer to each of these question is yes, and then sure, you definitely need a CDN.

So How Can I Get a CDN?

Well, it’s pretty easy. Cloudflare for example, offers free CDN. Just signed up for Cloudflare and set the caching expiry however long you want Cloudflare to cache your content and serve it to your visitors. However, note that cloudflare, the free one, is not exactly a full-featured CDN, but more of a reverse proxy that will inteligently pull static content from your site, cache it in their server and serve it from the closest point of presence to your visitor’s geographical location. In order to reduce the content of your website from the closest server, a CDN might use two methods: Pull and Push. By Pull, you are completely leaving the decision of what content the CDN should pull from your site and cache it

To further explain, in order to reduce the content of your website from the closest server, a CDN might use two methods: Pull and Push. By Pull, you are completely leaving the decision of what content the CDN should pull from your site and cache it on their server for future visit. While push means from the start, you are pushing the content that you want the CDN to serve from the very start. A full featured CDN will have both features, and you can completely track and adjust how you would like the content to served, but Cloudflare only support pull, and there’s no micro-adjustment of how your content will be served.

There are other CDN providers out there. For example, MaxCDN, KeyCDN, BunnyCDN, Fastly and Amazon Cloudfront. You can visit their website and see their specific features, but even the free version of Cloudflare can still act as a very capable CDN to support your site.

 

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AuthorGagah Putra Arifianto

I've been working in the web hosting industry since 2009. Been helping people get their website online since i was 14.