What Exactly is a CDN (Content Delivery Network)?
You have probably already heard about CDNs (Content Delivery Network), you know, they help make your website faster. Yet, you might feel that after paying for web hosting, why should you pay the same amount (or more!) for a CDN? Shouldn’t your hosting already have all this for you?
The difference between the infrastructure required for hosting sites and the additional essentials for hosting a CDN are quite different. That’s why these are two completely separate services.
But why do you need a CDN? Is it speed and performance? What else does it do and do I need it?
Today, I will take a look at a few additional benefits of having a CDN, which you might not know about.
Speed – How a CDN Makes Your WordPress Site Faster
One of the major factors that can make your site slow is the distance your content has to travel between the server hosting your website and the location of the visitor of your site. Simply put, the further the location, the longer your site will take to load.
A CDN’s primary purpose is to reduce the physical distance that your (heavier) content has to travel.
This is how it happens:
A CDN typically has hundreds of locations around the globe, where the static content of your website is copied to. It takes a picture of your site and serves it to the nearest server to your visitor of your site. This is pretty darn awesome!
Think of it as a super cacher for your site. See an example from a well known CDN Cloudflare:
Performance and Traffic
What happens when your website grows to the point where are heavy loads of traffic. Not just a hand full of visitors. Here is where you need a traffic monitor that can handle this increase in traffic.
There is an answer. With some changes by your CDN, all traffic will point to your CDN servers and NOT your hosting server. Then at this point traffic gets distributed across all CDN servers, hence, less load time.
Security – Stop Malicious Traffic
CDNs have built-in mechanisms to add an additional layer of security to your site. A large portion of your traffic has BOTS. Bots are automated visitors to your site that perform a specific function.
Don’t worry. There are good bots on your site such as the Google crawler bot. But the problem is there are also bad bots. Most of these come in the back door and make believe they are good tools for your site. A good CDN can also neutralize your site if you already have bots.
CDNs typically have an option for Web-application Firewall in place to stop various kinds of attacks on your site. Besides protecting against the most critical web application security risks, such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting, illegal resource access, remote file inclusion and other top threats, a WAF can be used to define custom rules to apply to your site.
Special Security – DDOS Attack
A DDOS – Distributed Denial of Attack – sounds serious! This is when a group of machines work together to target and send a flood of traffic to one site, yes like yours. There is so much “fake” traffic that your server is overwhelmed with bad traffic. This could ultimately bring your site down. Not a good thing.
As you can see CDNs are a must in todays world. I recommend you use a CDN with a HTTPS certificate know as a SSL certificate. Google will rank your site higher if using an SSL. Together these 2 options will benefit your site.