What is a CDN?

CDN is short for Content Delivery Network which is a network of servers that deliver cached static content from websites to users based on the geographic location of the user. Pretty confusing eh? Let’s break it down in simpler words.


Normally when a user comes to your online community, they are redirected to your web host’s server (i.e DigitalOcean). Your web host’s server is located at a central location i.e Houston, TX. So every user on your website is accessing this one server to view your website. Now if you have high volume of traffic, then you can overload your server which leads to a slow loading site or even server crash. This is where a CDN comes in handy because it is a network of servers, but most importantly these servers are spread through out the world. When you use a CDN, your static content is cached and stored on all of these servers. Static content includes images, stylesheets (css files), javascripts, Flash, etc. Now when a user visits your site (original server), the CDN technology redirects them to the closest server to their location.


For example: If your main server is hosted in Houston, TX, and someone from Durham, England tries to access it, then they will be redirected to the closest server which may be in London. This limits the number of internet hops needed to transmit the static files to your end user.


User’s proximity to your web server has an impact on load time. By deploying your content across multiple geographically dispersed servers, you can make your pages load faster from the user’s perspective. This is when CDN comes in handy. In simple words, the closer the CDN server is to where your user is, the faster the user gets the content.


Why you need a CDN for your Online Community?

If you read the above section, then you can clearly see that having a CDN can make a huge impact on your website. Below are some of the advantages that we have seen on our site by using a CDN:

Speed – Once we started using a CDN on our online community, the site got faster.

Crash Resistance – Thanks to you guys for sharing our articles, we have received huge spells of traffic from social media on some of our articles. If it wasn’t for the proper CDN and caching setup, then our site would crash so many times. CDN allows us to distribute the load to multiple servers instead of having 100% traffic to our main server thus making it less likely to crash.

Improved User Experience – Since we started using a CDN, we have noticed a decline in bounce rate on our site. Furthermore, we have also seen increased in pageviews and numbers of pages viewed by each user. So clearly a fast site means improved user experience.

Improvement in SEO – Google has clearly stated that faster sites tend to rank higher in Search Engines. We have noticed our site ranking higher once we did the optimization on our site.


What should be known about CDN?

If you are going to have a CDN network for your website, you should first know that:

Is it necessary to have a CDN for your web? As if you are having local users and hosting locally, then you need not to have any CDN.

While choosing the CDN for your website, you first know where your users are.

How much traffic you get with your content adding plan? Do you add less content per month, then you need not to have CDN.


Conclusion: CDN improves the time taken by the host server to receive, process and deliver the content. CDN helps in saving bandwidth and improve user experience. It helps in ranking a website on search engine and load the content fast. CDN market has been very competitive so CDN is must be adopted by websites that offer too much service globally.

To set up CDN for your  Crea8socialPro designed online community, we have a detailed tutorial to help you through the process. Check it out here