Why not stick to a traditional web hosting server? Why use a CDN, as well?
After all, you can run your website, upload your videos and images and deliver content to your website visitors without relying on a CDN, right? Why bother, then?
Do the benefits outweigh the costs?
And is faster content delivery the only major advantage for implementing it?
Now, let's look for some straight answers:
1. What Is CDN?
It's a network of nodes...
Nodes that are, in turn, mini-networks of systems and servers.
What all these clusters of servers do is store content as cache (graphics, media files, text, documents, live video streaming data, scripts etc.) and serve it to their nearest users.
The main benefit of using a CDN is the reduced distance that the data request would need to travel from the browser to the central data location. And also the reduced distance of the retrieved content from the server back to the end user's web browser.
In this case, there would always be a server closer to the website visitor to process his request in a shorter time.
Just imagine this benefit in the context of a peak load, like a flash sale on your website, with users from all over the globe flooding in.
2. Why Use a CDN: 8 Powerful Benefits
2.1. It Reduces Your Web Page Load Times
The significant push that a CDN gives to content delivery is the top reason why website owners opt for a CDN.
The process behind it, the main “culprit” for the reduced page load times, can get summed up to this:
A CDN would always retrieve data from its nearest node.
The shorter the distance for the content request to go through, the quicker the page receiving that data will load.
As simple as that...
2.2. It Secures Your Website Against DDoS Attacks
But first: “What are DDoS attacks?”
They're those types of attacks when a hacker holds the resources on your server by “overwhelming” it with a heavy load. One causing your website to crash down...
Now, how would a CDN help you prevent these malicious attempts? What does a CDN do, more precisely?
It enables you to implement WAFs (web application firewalls) and “origin shields”, that will mitigate any attempt of a DDoS attack.
And, since we've tackled the “boosted security” aspect, here are some other ways that a CDN can tighten the shield around your website:
the CDN edge servers: they withhold the heaviest load on your website, keeping it up and running even at traffic peaks; any attack on your server will first have to go through these edge servers, which, due to the decentralization of the data, won't bail on you
you get to opt for a proxy and thus hide the origin of your IP address
you can implement an SSL; even if the attackers manage to take over your server's resources, their access will then automatically... self-expire.
2.3. Your CDN-Based Website Gets Robust Enough to Withstand Peak Traffic
Why use a CDN?
Because it doesn't fail on you/your website when heavy loads of traffic strike.
Thanks to its evenly distributed network of nodes, it's equipped to withstand any traffic “tsunami”. If one node fails, there's always a neighboring server ready to back it up and take on the load.
2.4. You'd Cut Down On Your Bandwidth Costs
How? Well, it's quite obvious:
with multiple edge servers installed in a CDN, you reduce the strain put on your hosting server (your origin server); the load will then get distributed among the CDN nodes
therefore, you'd offload CPU and use less server resources
which will automatically translate into a lighter bill from your web hosting provider
Just imagine the bandwidth you'd save at traffic spikes...
And there's more!
Another benefit of using a CDN is that it provides hotlink protection.
This way, you can prevent others from embedding your assets on their own websites (which would otherwise turn into a “surprise” cost on your bill)
2.5. It's More Cost-Effective in the Long Run
When you hear of giants like Netflix implementing a CDN solution you inevitably tell yourself:
“Yes, but they can afford it."
Time to bust this myth that a CDN integration is highly expensive once and for all.
Just think about it:
A CDN would handle +60% of the total load on your website. So, your origin server would be using less bandwith for bearing its share of the load. That can only lead to a “friendlier” bill from your hosting provider.
In short: a CDN is less costly in the long run.
2.6. Higher Ranks in the SERPs & Enhanced User Experience
And high loading speed is user experience...
Your website visitors will benefit from the speed that a CDN “injects” into your website, whereas Google will reward it with a push in the SERPs.
Use a CDN for images, since it's geared at increasing the crawl rate of media content (e.g. images).
In a traditional web hosting scenario, you'd have to restrain yourself from uploading too many images, since they're the main “culprit” for low page loading speed.
That's not the case when you have a CDN solution hosting them...
2.7. It Helps Your Website Overcome the Scalability Hurdle
Why use a CDN?
Because it's built with scalability in mind.
Scalability which goes hand in hand with... availability.
If, at some point, you need to expand to new geographic locations, your CDN will have got your covered:
The cached content on your website will be available across a whole network of POPs, located in different regions. Therefore, any high load of traffic will be dynamically routed from one server to another, if one happens to... succumb.
No matter the scalability challenge that your website might be faced with, you can be sure it will manage to deliver its content at high speed.
2.8. Faster Streaming Video
And this is no negligible benefit of using a CDN since video content's been ruling supreme for a while now.
By cutting down the time-frame, a CDN geared at delivering dynamic content will automatically reduce the video latency.
The time elapsed from the instant that a request is submitted to the moment it gets a response from the server is drastically shorter.
Have you got your answer now to the “why use a CDN?” question?
Photo by Ken Treloar on Unsplash.