CDN, namely content delivery network, is a distribution system composed of many server nodes across the internet. With CDN technology, you can make your content (usually static content) on multiple servers throughout the world and your users will access the content from the closest server. You can read our article What is CDN to know more about explanation towards CDN.
In below, we will primarily explain why you need CDN or why you not. If you need CDN, then how do you fully use it?
Is CDN Necessary for You?
Traditionally, your web hosting provider hosts your content only on a server in a certain data center. Supposing this data center is in North America. Then ignoring network speed, server quality, data center levels, and other factors, we just consider content access and uploading speed from the geographic aspect. So, if your visitors are in North America, they will access or download your content fast since data transmitted distance is comparatively short. However, if they are in Europe, they have to access or download the content across the Atlantic Ocean. It is a good distance away from the server in that North America data center. Naturally, they cannot get as fast speed as visitors in North America.
CDN is just a good solution to the above problem. If your website is integrated with CDN, then your pointed content will be mirrored on multiple proxy servers all across the world. So, even if your visitors are from different places, they will automatically access or download the same content from the closest server rather than the original server that your web host offers.
To optimize your website performance, gain high visitor satisfaction and boosting your business, you need CDN. And there still is a prerequisite. You have visitors from all over the world. If not, CDN is not for you. For example, your main visitors come from the same region as your server location. CDN works little for you, but you have to pay for it.
Yes. The most of CDN services are charged. Before purchasing CDN, you have to evaluate whether you can afford it and whether CDN will bring you more profits, especially if you are an online business.
Surly, there are some web hosting companies offer hosting packages including free CDN, such as Bluehost and A2Hosting. The 2 web hosts have best cheap web hosting solutions as well. To get web hosting services and free CDN at the same provider, Bluehost and A2Hosting are great recommendations. You will save time and money!
To conclude, if you have visitors from multiple places in the world, and you can afford CDN to optimize website performance, then you need it. You can go on reading the following steps about how to fully use it.
How to Fully Use CDN?
It is a little hard to integrate your site with CDN, especially if you are a man with a little technical knowledge. So, be patient. It will cost your time and energy. But CDN will prove you that you do a right choice.
- Choose a CDN service
There are paid and free CDN service providers with different features. Some web hosting providers also design hosting solutions with CDN. You can select one according to what you need and how much you can afford. Some recommended providers are in Best Free CDN and Best CDN.
- Make sure which files you need to serve with CDN
- Mirror your files to the proxy servers
Actually, different CDN providers give different methods to mirror your files to their proxy servers all across the world. Some CDN service companies even enable your files to be mirrored automatically. But they are same to require you to load selected files once. Then they will copy the files to servers across their network.
If your site is based on popular CMSs, such as WordPress and Drupal, you can take advantage of some plugins to simplify this step.
- Name URLs
When your selected files have already on proxy servers, you will see different URLs from original ones. For example, your original URL is mywebsite.com. After on the CDN servers, it changes into hdfh778y8gdf.com, which seems a little frustrating. But you can make it friendly and easy to remember, like cdn.mywebsite.com. During this process, CNAME could be helpful to you.
For one, you should test whether your web pages are in right files. To test that, you can utilize caching systems if your site is built with CMSs, such as WordPress. As a matter of fact, caching systems are beneficial to speed up page loading as well.
For another, the most of CDN services companies provide dashboard for you to check usage of your files.