Content delivery network – CDN for short – is an innovative technology designed with the intent of improving user experience over the internet. Load speed, among several other variables, impacts the experience users have on a website. Better speed equals better experience.
CDN technology was specifically designed to reduce the load time of a website, thus improving the user experience. If you own a website – WordPress or not – it’ important to have your site on a good CDN. In so doing, you would improve your site’s speed and SEO, hence increasing your traffic. Sounds good?
Perhaps you’ve heard about CDN but are not quite sure if it would be useful. Not to worry, in this WordPress tutorial, all your questions will be answered. We would also recommend the best CDN service and CDN plugins.
In this article
What is Content Delivery Network?
Still don’t get it? Here is an illustration that would better your understanding of CDN, hopefully.
Say your website is hosted on a server somewhere in Austin Texas. If a user within Austin attempts to access your website, such a user would experience superfast load time. He or she is happy, you are happy! What then happens to a user somewhere in faraway China who still tries to access the same site? The experience of a user in Austin and that from China would definitely never be the same, as the later would experience slow load speed.
No matter how technology must have advanced, latency due to distance will always be a challenge. If your website were on a CDN network, the user from China would be redirected to a server closest to him or her. That way, there won’t be need to access the server in Austin. Fast load time, the same content.
Normal Server CDN Server
So, as a rule of thumb the closer a user is to a web server the faster the load speed. That’s how CDN works!
Do you really need CDN?
Hopefully, by now you have understood what a Content Delivery Network is all about. You might be wondering if it worth your time and efforts – and money, too. The short answer is, it is! This is particularly true if your website/blog attracts huge traffic, and you are looking to attract traffic from all over the world.
However, if you are targeting localized traffic – traffic from a particular locality – CDN might not be necessary. Also, investing in premium CDN might not worth it if your website isn’t and won’t be growing.
That said, here are some of the benefits of using CDN:
A boost in website load speed
If you have been struggling to no avail to supercharge the load speed of your website, it’s about time you tried CDN. Improved load speed, as a matter of fact, happens to be the primary focus of CDN technologies. You should definitely give it a shot.
Ever heard of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack? Hackers use it to compromise the integrity of a website. They do this by sending fake, excessive traffic to a web server with the intent of overwhelming its capacity. When this happens, the result is denial of service, meaning real and genuine traffic would be cut off from the affected server. At this point, they can steal whatever information they want from a website.
CDN guards against this kind of threat. If you need more information on WordPress security, check out our guide.
A sudden surge in traffic can crash a website, particularly if the website sits on just a single server. However, with CDN the chances of this occurring is near zero, thanks to a tactic known as load balancing. In the event of a sudden traffic spike, loads will be distributed evenly across servers.
Best CDN Providers
The two biggest factors that will influence your choice of CDN service providers are the budget and size of the website.
If you are just starting out and limited on budget, you might want to start out with free a CDN network. For big businesses and content-heavy websites, premium CDN is a necessity.
Free CDN Hosting
1. CDN Enabler – WordPress CDN Plugin
There are also WordPress plugins like CDN Enabler that you can use to enable CDN (Content Delivery Network) on your WordPress site. We also mentioned KeyCDN premium solution below.
2. Jetpack Site Accelerator (formerly Photon)
Site accelerator isn’t exactly a CDN service. It’s a plugin which works by caching and serving your website’s images through WordPress.com servers spread across the globe. You still get the same performance improvement as you would on a normal CDN service provider.
It’s free for life, though there are some paid plans.
Cloudflare is a popular content delivery network provider and works on a freemium plan. The basic starter pack is free, but you would have to pay to get more features.
The free version comes with DDoS attack protection (limited), shared SSL certificate and global content delivery service. These are enough if you are looking to get your feet wet before taking a dive.
Premium CDN hosting
Stackpath has great features and an intuitive interface which is easy to use. Even more, it has a free, one-month trial package, which is great for starters.
Other CDNs listed here are easy to use, and some offer free trial packages too. So go check them out to find which would be the best fit. If you are looking for WordPress hosting to host your WordPress websites check our list. These popular CDN providers can work with any WordPress theme, so you shouldn’t worry about that.
If you are looking to grow your website traffic and expand globally, you can’t afford, not to have a CDN service for WordPress. Having one is a sure way to guard against downtimes, improve load speed as it will make your site faster, add an extra layer of security with WordPress firewall, and DDOS protection to your website. The best part: you can start for free.