Why You Should Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for Your Website

Why You Should Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for Your Website
3 minute read

In this day and age where web hosting is incredibly inexpensive, many people are satisfied by simply purchasing a hosting plan and forgetting about that part of the puzzle. However, when your website grows and starts receiving more and more traffic, you should start thinking about getting a content delivery network (CDN) service.

The two main CDN providers I’ve used are CloudFlare and MaxCDN. They differ in the way their system works and while both do a fine job serving static files such as images, stylesheets, and javascript, CloudFlare offers the extra step to protect your website against threats.

The reason CloudFlare differs from MaxCDN is because CloudFlare requires users to change the domain’s nameservers to point to CloudFlare’s routing servers, which adds another layer between your traffic and your website.

Here are several advantages of using a CDN for your website:

Faster Website

The most obvious advantage of a CDN is that it makes your website load really fast. This is partially because CDN companies have built up huge networks of servers, but that’s not the only reason. It also helps that they have servers all over the world.

This allows your users to access your website from the closest server to them. So if you’re getting traffic to your U.S.-based website from Australia, chances are your CDN provider has a server in Australia as well, which they can use to serve your website.

Resource Caching

Caching is a big part of bandwidth and server resource conservation, but many website owners don’t really know how to implement it correctly. And you can’t really blame them! Caching has so many different aspects that you really need to be an expect at it.

The good news is that CDN providers know caching well as it’s one of their primary roles. Caching is another reason why CDN services can speed up your website.

Protection Against Traffic Spikes

Your website or business may get famous overnight, or you might run a press release that rushes huge amounts of traffic to your website, or you might simply have a lot of luck, but no matter the case, CDN services can help your website if you experience an influx of traffic.

Due to the fact that they run large networks of servers, their resources are always scalable and available. That means even if you don’t use it, it is available for you when you do need it. The worst-case scenario for a business website is to get a huge amounts of traffic and not be able to handle it.

In Many Cases, It’s Free

In the case of CloudFlare, their basic CDN service is completely free. That means you can take advantage of a faster website and basic security layer for no cost. If you’re still not sold on it, my guess is your website has not been updated in years and you’re not really thinking about it too much.

DDoS Protection

If you’ve ever owned a popular website that got attacked through DDoS (distributed denial of service) method, you can understand the pain. There’s not many options you have and it will make your website unusable for hours. Think of all the lost leads, sales, and business transactions!

That’s where the benefit of a security layer comes in. Because all the traffic is funneled through the CDN’s routing servers, DDoS will hit the other company’s network and, in most cases, will not ever get to yours. A company like CloudFlare has sophisticated technology to handle DDoS attacks and every once in a while will require users to pass a CAPTCHA verification before letting them into your website.

This leads us to the next section.

Website Is Accessible Even If Your Server Is Down

Traditionally, if your web host is experiencing problems, your options are very limited. You can’t really change hosts quickly enough, and you are stuck with waiting for your host to fix their problems.

This won’t happen if you use a CDN that caches all of your popular web pages so that, should your web host stop responding, it will serve the cached pages instead. This means your website can truly have zero downtime even if the web host’s servers totally crash.

Conclusion

If you have a website that you care about that gets reasonable amount of traffic, I highly recommend signing up for a CDN service. Even if you don’t have any money to spend, you can still find a free plan and enjoy the performance and security features right away. You have nothing to lose except future headaches and web host disappointments.

Are you currently using a CDN service? Which one and what do you think about it? Let us know in the comments!