Picture illustration of a CDN Content Delivery Network

If you are a website or ecommerce owner, designer or developer, you need to know what a CDN is and what it does. First of all, a CDN is an abbreviation for Content Delivery Network. Some refer to it as a content distribution network. In short, a CDN helps the content of a website load faster in areas where the server of the website is not located. Let’s take a step back and talk about websites and servers, to ensure everyone understands.

Website Platforms

There are two popular types of website platforms (software) to make websites with. An open source platform and closed source platform. An open source would be something like WordPress or Magento. A closed source would be Wix or Squarespace. Open sources means the code can be modified and closed source means it cannot. Open source platforms are the most professional because of they have less limitations. WordPress is actually the most popular website platform in the world.

Hosting in Servers

Websites made using open sourced platforms require a host which is a server in order to store all the website data. The host / server is an electronic machine much like a CPU or computer for layman terms, but built to host websites. Servers need to operate 24/7 or the website will not be available. The power, speed, and configurations of the server affect the speed of the website as well. An example of a hosting service is PixelComb Hosting.

CDN – Content Delivery Network

So what does a CDN have to do with all this? Let’s say that you purchased a purchased a hosting service from a company like GoDaddy or PixelComb Hosting and you are in California. These hosting companies will likely provide you with a server that is in your location or close to your location. For people who visit your website from your area, speed will be normal. But what about people who visit your website on the other side of the country? Or people who visit your website in another country? Your website data from your server will need to travel long distances, and consequently your website will load and function slower.

If you use a CDN service for your website, the CDN would connect to your server and even domain, and essentially mirror your websites information using many servers throughout the world. Hence the phrase “content delivery network”. So if you and your server are in California and someone is trying to see the website in Canada, your website will still load fast or likely faster. Much of this is achieved through a cache system.

There are numerous companies that offer CDN services such as CloudFlare, MaxCDN and Amazon CloudFront. Some hosting companies like PixelComb Hosting also offer CDN services with their security services.

What else does a CDN do? It adds an amazing amount of safety. Hackers who would try to hack your website or server would find it much more difficult to attack. Not to mention many CDN services also come with a firewall.

Settings in a CDN can be changed by a professional and you can even prevent users in specified countries from interacting with your website. You can also set limits in interactions which target bots that try to spam websites.

So now you know what a CDN is. I guess the big question now is… Do you need it? For the most part, we always recommend it for websites that will serve in marketing and advertising. Ecommerce websites would benefit tremendously with a CDN service.

If you would like to learn more and would like our professional to apply a CDN as part of your Cyber Security, give us a call or message us.

Stay tuned for an article about who should have a CDN as well as another article about Firewalls.