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Blog Post Oct 28, 2020

What Is a CDN and What Effects Does It Have on Your Website?

You may have seen the acronym “CDN” floating around on the web. Sometimes, if a website is down, you may see it referred to somewhere in the messaging. But what is a CDN and what can it do for you?

A CDN is a Content Delivery Network. It’s a group of servers that work together to speed up the delivery of content on the web. Whenever you open a website, there are a lot of elements that need to be loaded: images, javascript files, videos, and so on. A CDN works by keeping copies of your website content on multiple servers that will then deliver content to users based on their geographic location. The closest web server will deliver the cached version of the content requested by the end-user; this speeds up delivery and can improve website performance. A CDN allows the transfer of all those elements to be done more quickly versus when using a single server.

A large portion of the internet’s traffic runs through CDNs. From small businesses and blogs to major corporations, many rely on this technology to enhance the user experience for their websites. In fact, most websites employ them already, including big players like Facebook and Amazon.

A CDN is a valuable tool for any website. The reason why so many websites rely on them is because they offer unique benefits that can help them deliver high quality content and massive file downloads at scale to all corners of the world.

Benefits of a CDN

This type of functionality is a popular choice among website owners and companies because of the strong benefits they provide websites. Here are the different effects a CDN can have on a site.

Faster Page Load Times

Did you know that the majority of users would click away from your website if your page takes longer than 6 seconds to load? Slow websites do not foster loyalty among users, and they can also negatively affect how search engines rank your content. How far we’ve come from the snail-speed days of dial-up. With a faster connection comes the pressure to deliver at speed.

A CDN creates faster response times and improved performance. A pre-saved version of your website is saved on all distributed servers and then the closest CDN server can serve that cached content to a user much more quickly. So when a user in, say, Norway wants to visit your site, the CDN closest to Norway will intercept the traffic and deliver the pre-saved version of your site. Caching content means traffic doesn’t have to travel so far and content can be served up much more quickly.

The end result for your user is a seamless, quality experience regardless of what device they use and where they are using it. Faster web page loading times can reduce bounce rates and increase the amount of time a user spends on your site, which in turn, can also lead to higher eCommerce conversion rates.

Content Availability

Going viral with a great piece of content or blog post that catches the mainstream and delivers a wide swath of new users and potential customers to a website can be great for a business. But, if your site is not prepared to stand up to that sudden traffic spike, then what started out as a positive can quickly turn into a negative. Your server may become overloaded with user requests, resources can max out, and your website could go down. Without a CDN in place, your server’s hosting resources are all that is available to handle the traffic.

Another consideration is if your site is the target of a swarm of botnet traffic. Your hosting site’s resources may be overwhelmed and your site will be taken down.

A CDN offers protection against both of these situations because the workload is distributed across multiple servers. They can handle more web traffic and even overcome hardware failure because the content stored on the CDN has redundancy. One server failing does not mean the data is lost and won’t lead to downtime.

By spreading out the traffic, you preserve your server’s resources and keep downtime to a minimum – you could even avoid downtime altogether.

Stronger Website Security

No matter how many well-meaning internet users there are in the world, there will always be a small, but powerful group of actors that seek to take down websites, steal information, and get away with crimes. Remember those botnet attacks mentioned above? A CDN can offer mitigation against these Denial of Service and DDoS attacks along with other types of hacking attempts with special security features built into their service.

Most CDNs today offer enhanced security that creates a layer of protection you won’t get anywhere else. They will route traffic through their secure systems and mitigate a wide variety of attacks – keeping malicious users away from sensitive data and systems operations. CDN services can also improve and strengthen the effectiveness of your security certificates and optimize other areas of your site to reduce the risk of an attack that could bring your business to its knees.

Many websites are operated by owners who are not in tune with the technical side of server maintenance. Because of that, they run outdated systems that have serious vulnerabilities, allowing hackers to swoop in and exploit them for their own financial gain. The internet is a volatile place, and every website owner needs to take their cybersecurity seriously, both for the sake of their businesses and for the sake of their customers/user base.

Lower Bandwidth Costs

Bandwidth is one of the major expenses of website hosting. Any time that a big image or video needs to be loaded on a user’s computer, the host has to deliver it through bandwidth. It can chew through a lot of data and drive your costs up.

With a CDN keeping copies of that web content cached on their network of servers, along with other optimizations that it can provide, your website can reduce the bandwidth needed to operate. This can potentially cut costs.

One of the best services available to website owners who want to take advantage of CDNs is SiteLock, a Sectigo Company. As a leading website security solution provider, SiteLock offers CDN services as part of both their Pro and Business plan levels.

Beyond CDN services, the plans also include daily site and malware scans, vulnerability scans, daily backups, and more. Along with a faster website, you can also have peace of mind knowing that hackers aren’t going to get access to your site – or your customers. It’s important to take a proactive approach to keeping your site safe and healthy.