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Secured Website Part 2 – Content Delivery Networks (CDN)


 

As part of the Secured Website series, in part two, we'll get you introduced to Content Delivery Networks and why they are a great asset for your websites. The information in this article is valuable for both new and seasoned webmasters. If you are an experienced webmaster and know a thing or two about CDN’s, we advise you to keep reading as this article also contains updated information related to preventing a new type of SEO attacks.

For part 1, see Secured Website - Content Security Policy Setup (CSP).

What is a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

CDN or Content Delivery Network is a service that gives webmasters the option to host files outside of their main web server. Think of it as another server that helps your website load faster. In reality, the CDN is comprised of a network of servers, located all around the world.

Say your site is hosted in the USA, when you get visitors from Europe or Asia, your site will obviously not load as fast for them as it would a visitor from the US. By using a CDN, your sites’ files will be served to them from a location a lot closer to theirs, thus making your site load faster and provide a greater user experience.

How does the CDN work

When you upload a file to the CDN, the file is then automatically propagated and stored on CDN servers around the world. A top CDN provider will have servers available in all the worlds continents. Even though your files are now stored in multiple places, they will still be available at the same URL address, provided by the service.

Benefits of using a Content Delivery Network service

There are many benefits in using a CDN service, some very clear and others not as known but equally important. Bellow we will be describing a list of situations when using a CDN has become a must and will help your site stay responsive and provide a great user experience.

Handling traffic surges

Typically you would use a CDN service if your website gets lots of traffic (concurrent) and starts responding slower and slower. Also, even if your site has a small audience, there are situations where you might get featured in the bigger media and start receiving large amounts of visitors at the same time. In these situations most sites (hosted on shared environments) will usually collapse.

Handling distribution of large files (assets)

There are many situations when a webmaster wants to provide its users with access to large files. When multiple visitors access your site and start downloading files, the availability of your website suffers and can even become unavailable.

Improving response time & ranking in search engines

Another use case arrises when your website has a largely international audience. Usually websites are hosted in only one location but get visitors from different locations around the world. Match these conditions with a heavy asset site and cases will arise when the website does not load in the same parameters for all users.

Say your site is hosted in Europe and you get visitors from the US and Asia. The visitors from Europe will benefit from a great user experience, as your site will load very fast. In contrast, users from Asia or the US will be presented with a slower loading site, downgrading the user experience.

All major search engines rank websites based on a myriad of factors. One of these factors is speed or how fast a site loads. A fast loading website provides users with a better user experience than a slow loading site. By offloading your websites assets onto a CDN, it will make it load faster and receive a higher grade from the search engines.

Free CDN providers list

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