Content Delivery Network, commonly shortened as CDN, is a system of networked servers that are synchronized to deliver web pages and content to individual users based on the nearest web server.
The system is designed to take one’s web content and distribute them across different web servers, doled out in different geographical locations for easy accessibility and speedy conveyance.
The content requested is often pulled from the closest web server. For instance, if you happen to be browsing the site from Singapore, the content requested will be fetched from a CDN server in Singapore. If another user is browsing the same web page in, say, London, the content will instead be pulled from a Content delivery network server in London instead of Singapore. Therefore, it will increase your site speed and improve your content marketing strategies in Singapore.
To determine which server is closest to an end-user, the network utilizes content delivery network mapping technology, which is basically an algorithm that scans all web servers within the network in a matter of microseconds to pull out the closest.
What happens is that web owners and companies pay content delivery network operators to deliver their web content to individual users in the fastest way possible. CDNs will pay ISPs and network carriers to host their servers in their respective data centres.
So basically, CDN is an all-encompassing term for the different types of content delivery services in the gamut of video streaming, mobile content acceleration, software downloads, transparent caching, and a series of other services for measuring CDN performance, Multi-CDN switching, load balancing, cloud intelligence, and analytics to name a few.
At some point, CDN vendors may decide to cross over into an array of other industries including WAN optimization and security.
Content Delivery Network in Layman’s Language
In simpler terms, CDN replicates web content to distribute it across a number of servers for easy and speedy retrieval upon request. This way, when a user searches for a piece of content on the network, the system scans through the various servers to deliver the content from the nearest one. The algorithm running the process does everything at a lightning speed, thus lowering the latency and giving your site a wide exposure, spanning a wider geographical location.
Cloud Content Delivery Network Benefits
CDNs come with tons of benefits for users and web owners.
Improving Web Security
CDNs can help improve your web security by making necessary improvements to security certificates, providing DDoS Mitigation, and optimizing your security settings.
Clients pay for bandwidth. Meaning they pay for the capacity they utilize thus avoiding unnecessary costs like paying for unutilised capacity.
CDNs can also reduce the amount of data loaded through caching, thus significantly reducing your hosting charges.
No upfront investment on infrastructure. All the required purchases and maintenance costs will therefore be carried out by the ISP.
Faster Internet Access
The system works by bringing content closer to visitors, thus ensuring faster and more efficient delivery. The network is designed to reduce latency, increase performance and avoid traffic congestion.
Your visitors are NOT restricted to one place. Regardless of where the visitor is, the network can pull content from the nearest server to deliver it. That way, web owners are given the opportunity of exposing their content to new markets, some of which could be way out of their reach were it NOT for CDN.
CDN allows you to handle fluctuating traffic. With the network, you don’t have to worry about your web traffic overstretching your server resources as with shared hosting or VPS. Designed to scale your web resources up and down depending on the amount of traffic you’re driving, the content delivery network can handle almost any amount of traffic with little to zero downtime.
How CDN Works in Real-time
The transfer of files will take more time if a Singapore user sends a request to a server located in the UK or the US. However, with a CDN POP, the system can easily cache the web files and distribute them to different servers across the world. Meaning when the Singapore user requests for a web page, the files will be pulled from a Singapore CDN server instead of the US or UK server as it’s always been the case, thus reducing latency.
The Concept of CDN is NOT new and can enhance your Singapore local SEO efforts. If anything web owners have been using it to boost the performance of their websites since the 90s. The difference is that it was only available to the big wheels with a war chest of cash in venture capital.
The definition of CDN has however changed a great deal over the years. It has also revolutionized the digital landscape by making content delivery more efficient and cheaper, in addition to accommodating any website out there however small it is.
Besides latency (the amount of time it takes for your request to get a response from a web server), CDN can also help to improve your throughput. Let say, for instance, some user somewhere streams for a video online, waiting for an extra 200ms for the video to start loading can be devastating in a way.
It’s much more crucial that the video streams at a much-sustained speed of, say, 3 Mbit/s.
Now try comparing an old fileserver to a CDN – besides improving your latency by bringing your web content closer to the end-user, CDNs will also be working to improve your throughput.
For file servers, there’s the expected risk of your site chocking up really quickly with multiple users streaming it simultaneously, and the only way to allay the effect is to have multiple file servers to handle the task at hand. But since file servers operate from one location, you’re bound to suffer the risk of network congestion during the transfer of files from a webserver to the end-user.
CDN relieves you of the burden of scaling down your web servers where files delivery is concerned. More of your data can be delivered to the end-user and at a much faster rate than a file server, considering all your web content will be cached and globally distributed for easy accessibility and speedy conveyance.
Using CDN to Make Your WordPress Site Load Faster
Google nowadays considers load time as one of the biggest ranking factors for their result pages. To secure a favorable spot on the SERPs, it’s advisable that you keep your load time under 2 seconds.
This is NOT easy as there’s a lot to be done, including picking a best-performing hosting service for your site. If your website is loading like terrapin, then odds are – every single one of your competitors with better load time will most likely displace you in the search engines.
There’s also a fair chance your site will completely disappear from the search engine.
Simple logic dictates that you choose the best hosting provider or, better, CDN. For WordPress, you’ll also need a good caching plugin and overall site optimization for speedy load time.
Top 12 Free Content Delivery Network Software for Businesses
As discussed earlier, a CDN is essential for all e-commerce businesses. Let us shift gears and look at the top 12 free content delivery network software for businesses available today. Be sure to compare and contrast the features as well as the pros and cons to identify one that best match your brand’s needs.
Pho credits: cloudflare.com
Cloudflare is the most preferred CDN software among bloggers and small business owners since it has a free plan and has no bandwidth restrictions. It also offers reliability, speed, and protection against common DDoS attacks.
This software has an automated platform optimization feature that enables you to deliver your website to the final consumers through its worldwide server network. This helps in reducing your website loading time.
When you change photos, content, or other material on your website, Cloudflare automatically caches it and clears the cached copies from your control panel.
This software is easy to use, and you can operate it directly from your WordPress dashboard. If you decide to use it without customising, change it to default settings with a single click and allow the plugin to handle the rest.
Cloudflare allows you to view performance indicators, including your saved bandwidth, number of blocked threats, and people who have visited your site.
This CDN software is suitable for established online businesses and has functional websites. Also, if you allow customers to give you their personal information, this might be the best CDN software for your business since it ensures data protection. However, to use all their security features, you need to upgrade to the premium plan.
Photo credits: aws.amazon.com
Amazon CloudFront is a content delivery web tool that works with other Amazon Web Services to ensure companies deliver information to the consumers with minimal latency.
Renowned platforms like Slack and Spotify use this software since it is one of the leading content delivery software in the industry.
Most people prefer this CDN software since it allows a free trial for a maximum of one year. The limitation for the trial period is 50GB outbound transfer.
Photo credits: cachefly.com
CacheFly is among the most established CDNs on the market. You can use this software to watch videos and listen to podcasts without any difficulties.
CacheFly has an easy-to-use interface that allows you to handle everything with ease. It comes with numerous security features, including DDoS and virus protection, to safeguard your site from hackers.
The main disadvantage of CacheFly is that it is expensive compared to other CDN software offering the same features. Therefore, despite the numerous advantages it offers, it cannot be suitable for small businesses.
Photo credits: imperva.com
Incapasula is increasingly becoming a popular CDN software in the market. It has an extensive server network and many data centres worldwide.
This software is simple to install and integrate into your WordPress site. It comes with a great free plan that offers several security features like login and spam protection and protection against DDoS attacks.
For people running a small business, this is the ideal CDN software. It is also suitable for amateur bloggers.
If you are operating a big business, the free version may not help you. Therefore, you need to upgrade to Incapasula premium. This premium package contains features that will help you run your business better.
Photo credits: netlifly.com
Netlify is a comprehensive tool for online project automation. You can use the program to create, test, and distribute all your web applications internationally. You can also use it to access your repository, add build parameters, and successfully launch your website.
This CDN software has in-built apps that can help you customize your tools efficiently. You can also use your most preferred tools for managing content, making payments, posting reviews, and searching.
Netlifly has a streamlined process that offers customers effective tools for launching and managing their websites better. You can also utilize the built-in add-ons to create a dynamic site by integrating a tool of your choice.
Photo credits: akamai.com
Akamai is among the most popular free CDNs available. It provides a more stable connection and lower latency by privately creating interconnections with Google edge sites.
This tool has the necessary API and CMS integration to serve users appropriately. It also has several features, including origin pull, custom SSL, dynamic and static content routing, cache clearing, and a shareable SSL certificate.
Akamai is used by several well-known firms worldwide, including Adobe, Facebook, and BBC.
- It is safe from external attacks
- The caching functionality is fast
- Has a reliable API
- Excellent customer service
- Great dashboard
- Real-time reporting
- Setting up takes a lot of time
- The user interface is a bit confusing to new users
- Learning how to use this tool takes a bit of time
- Activation takes a while
Jetpack Site Accelerator
Photo credits: jetpack.com
Jetpack is an easy-to-use CDN software that offers various features, including backup, security, and speed improvement. It has a service known as the site accelerator that helps in reducing your website loading time.
This tool allows you to back up your data, clone regularly, and migrates sites. Additionally, it optimizes your images and keeps your CSS files and video content in its server network without any charges. As a result, YouTube’s suggestions and advertisements will not overshadow your video content.
The main disadvantage of this tool is that it doesn’t have in-built caching. Therefore, if you need to cache your website files, you need additional plugins like WP Super Cache.
If you are a new website owner or your website is rapidly expanding, Jetpack is the ideal software to use. This is because it is pre-installed with numerous WordPress hosting providers, making it simple to use.
- You can conveniently add essential features
- Frequent updates
- Well-organized user-interface
- You will not lose your content if you decide to change your theme
- You can add quality stuff to your website even when using the free plan
- Suitable for people with little knowledge of WordPress
- Slows down your page
- It makes it harder for search engines to locate your bogs
- It gives you limited options for the plugins to use
- You may encounter difficulties with other plugins
- To get access to all free options, you need to log into WordPress.com
Photo credits: arvancloud.com
ArvanCloud is a comprehensive CDN software equipped with cutting-edge and unique technology to provide data security and fast data delivery.
This software is convenient since its free plan has similar features to those of the premium plan. Therefore, there is no need to upgrade. The free CDN plan offers 200GB of monthly bandwidth for both downloading and uploading.
Any website can take advantage of this software because it is quick and secure.
- Easy to use
- Intuitive user interface
- Has clear limits on pricing plans
- They offer free SSL certificates
- You don’t need to upgrade to the premium plans
- Easy to set up
- It does not have some crucial functionalities
- Limited documentation
- The are a bit confusing
- A bit slow
- The mobile user interface is a bit disappointing
Photo credits: gumlet.com
Gumlet is a CDN software designed for new-age media delivery with low or no code plugins.
Nowadays, most businesses use the internet to communicate with their clients through videos and pictures. Having a slow website is the last thing you need since most people will not trust your business. Therefore, you may end up losing potential clients.
Most developers use Gumlet to deliver small pictures and videos to customers with the highest resolution faster.
This software is beneficial to most developers since they don’t need to worry about creating different versions and sizes of media files. The tool automatically optimizes the media files for all users once incorporated. It resizes, compresses, and converts them to different formats.
- Images load faster
- Easy to set up
- Compresses your images without losing quality
- Intuitive user interface
- Improves website speed
- Each time you customise the domain name, you need to pay
- Poor customer support
- It uses more bandwidth at times for little saving
- If you don’t have any technical expertise, it may be challenging to know the suitable options
Photo credits: litespeedtech.com
When installing this WordPress plugin, you need to exercise extra caution. This is because specific cache plugins do interfere with the functionality of other existing ecommerce plugins. However, LiteSpeed is compatible with WooCommerce.
This CDN software is suitable for well-established website owners.
- Easy to learn
- Excellent customer service
- Guaranteed safety and quality
- You don’t require big hardware
- It can read Apache configuration files
- Offers in-built cache
- They have a licensing policy that limits how you use it on your server
- The free version is limited
Photo credits: smartvideo.com
SmartVideo is a free CDN software that Swarmify developed. It makes it easier for you to intergrate videos into your website without relying on YouTube’s code.
This software is majorly used for creating videos. Therefore, if you are a vlogger, content producer, or educator, this software is ideal for you. However, if you need additional features, you need extra plugins.
Moreover, SmartVideo enables you to create buffer-free videos. It also allows you to customise the video player and convert YouTube embedded codes into smart videos.
SmartVideo works with various WordPress page builders, including Elementor, Beaver Builder, and Divi.
- Fast video speed
- Quality videos
- Updated technology for video creation
- It saves both time and money
- No cons reported so far
Photo credits: fastly.com
Fastly is a free CDN software that helps the world’s most popular online enterprises keep up with emerging trends and customer expectations.
Most organisations trust Fastly due to its advanced technology, which speeds up technical innovation, mitigates emerging risks, and grows on demand.
Examples of companies that use Fastly include Pinterest, Vimeo, Airbnb, The Guardian, and Ticketmaster.
- You can modify customer reviews by stripping cookies
- Supports various forms of media, including videos
- Image add-ons make video editing simpler
- It may not be easy to set up
- Poor customer service
- It can be slow at times
Exactly What You Should Consider When Selecting a CDN
By now, you already know how important it is to have the right CDN for your website. It has a significant impact on speed and SEO. Let’s dive in and look at the core factors you should consider when shopping for a CDN.
Why Should You Spend Money on a CDN?
This is an important question you need to ask yourself before continuing your search. Most people are unaware that not all websites require a Content Delivery Network.
For example, a pretty new website which focuses on a few segments of your target customers using a local data centre where it’s hosted.
Another example is a new website with minimal traffic. Getting a CDN could negatively affect its performance and uptime.
Needless to say, the primary role of investing in a CDN is to reduce website latency, enhance loading speed, and other additional features that are meant to ensure that the site offers the best user experience to the target website users.
That said, investing in the wrong CDN will have significant negative ramifications on your website. Instead of improving its performance, it will do the opposite, thereby lowering your credibility and competitiveness. Having defined reasons why you should invest in a CDN will help you make the right decision.
Location/Geography of your Target Web Visitors
When creating a website, it’s imperative to do market research to know where your ideal visitors and customers live. Identify the regions or countries with the highest number of visitors landing on your website on any given day of the week.
This information will enable you to select a CDN that will serve them the best. You definitely don’t want to avoid keeping them waiting for minutes for some aspects of the website to load. The ideal CDN should have several servers in the identified locations to deliver content fast and reliably to the target customers.
Contrary to popular belief, CDNs are different in terms of their capabilities and their features. The number of servers is one of the primary features that differentiate them and consequently affects performance.
Compare and contrast the features of every CDN on your list to find one that suits your website needs and budget. Knowing why you need one and the audience geography will help you make the right decision.
Consult widely, and if you are not sure about any of the features, don’t shy away from seeking clarification from the support team.
Architecture and Design
The are two primary CDN architectures – the traditional and modern design. The traditional design has dispersed small PoPs while the other option has mega PoPs hosted in the vast Internet Exchange Points (IXP). The architecture directly impacts the results of the CDN when its put to the test.
Analytics and Reporting
As a digital business owner or SEO expert, you are already aware of the importance of continuously monitoring the performance of your website. Otherwise, you will be making decisions based on assumptions and not the actual market data.
The same applies to the website CDN. The ideal one should offer regular and comprehensive reports and analytics to enable you benchmark site performance.
If you notice a sharp drop in site load speed, it’s probably because the amount of traffic to your website has increased. In such a scenario, the best thing is to look for a different CDN whose servers can accommodate the increased traffic and are situated in the locations that generate the most traffic.
More importantly, the CDN service should report cache misses, dynamic pages, frequent content changes, and handling cookies. All this information will help you make the most out of your website.
Traceroute is one of the critical network diagnostic tests that should be done when evaluating the suitability of a particular CDN to your website. Traceroutes help to gauge transit delays of data packets on specific IP addresses and monitor paths.
Most of the CDNs we have worked with use commercial geo-mapping databases that guarantee authentic IPs. Though technical, take time to understand how traceroute works to validate each CDNs on your list.
DNS and Critical Setups
When you purchase a new CDN, you must configure it to achieve the expected positive results. As a small business owner, you may not have the technical knowledge and skills required to complete the processes independently.
Therefore, it is recommendable to go for a user-friendly content delivery network, that is, one that does not have complicated DNS setup and other processes. Ease of usage is one of the primary factors that set the best CDN from their counterparts. You may have to consult other people who have used it to get a clearer perspective of how it works before making the final decision.
Customisation & Flexibility
Sticking with the primary CDN settings may not be possible since your website may differ from what the developer perceived. Your needs may also change in the near future requiring you to customize the CDN accordingly.
Based on these facts, we recommend choosing a CDN that allows a certain degree of personalisation to avoid the hustle of changing the CDN frequently. As mentioned in the previous tip, you should choose one that is user-friendly to make the customisations yourself.
For example, Myltics has a Flexible Multi CDN solution that is new-generation and gives users unlimited customisation using an artificial intelligence-powered load balancing tool. The CDN is exceptionally scalable and this makes it ideal for small businesses.
Distribution Speed and Number of Servers
A CDN with a more extensive coverage network is the best option for businesses with a global market base. It can deliver content fast to all website visitors no matter their location.
During our research, we came across several CDNs with more than 240,000 servers and 100,000+ servers in their independent network.
Your final decision should be based on the amount of traffic your website gets, audience geography, and CDN needs.
Concisely, more servers mean your website visitors will be subjected to less buffering and enjoy more reliability. They won’t have to wait for videos to play or graphics to load fully. Every business wants and has plans to expand its operations, so it’s only right that you choose one that allows for scalability without charging clients an arm and a leg.
Quality of Customer Support
We should have probably mentioned this at the start of this section, but we felt it’s important to discuss the other factors first. Every online business owner gravitates towards service providers who offer timely and round-the-clock support to customers.
Nobody wants to wait for hours to have an issue that affects the performance or availability of the site to a select group of customers fixed. Please don’t take their word for it, submit a ticket and note the amount of time the support team takes to respond.
Website Bandwidth Requirements
Website bandwidth requirement is another factor that should inform your decision to ditch a particular CDN and settle for another provider. As mentioned earlier, not all websites require a CDN, and so if your website falls in that category, you will save thousands of dollars.
Experts believe that if your bandwidth is lower than 100 GB you absolutely shouldn’t spend money on a premium CDN. However, if your bandwidth is above 100 GB you need one for your site to run smoothly and be available to all your users at any given time of the day.
Virtually all providers have different packages that are based on the amount of bandwidth a website consumes. Compare the packages to find one that best suits your website. Don’t worry; you can always upgrade to a higher package as the website bandwidth requirement changes.
Understand the Concept of Push or Pull Server
Does your CDN provider offer the push or pull server service? This is one of the questions you should ask the company in the support ticket to determine the quality of support they offer to customers.
There is a difference between the two. The webmaster does not move the content from the original server in the pull CDN. Instead, the webmaster rewrites the URL that is pointed to the CDN. Most of the providers have a dedicated pull zone specifically for this purpose.
On the other hand, the webmaster or users upload content directly to the CDN servers and links to it in the push CDN. That said, some providers offer both options.
Frequently Asked Questions About CDN
What problems does CDN solve?
The primary role of CDN services is to solve network congestion problems caused by rich web content such as video and graphics. Picture a traffic jam; the CDN is the traffic police officer who works in tandem with the traffic control centre to restore normal traffic flow.
Can a CDN be used for network isolation?
Yes, CDN can separate bad traffic from good traffic, thereby ensuring smooth content delivery to users. Therefore, it can prevent bad traffic from the servers. On the same point, your servers are primarily set to respond to good data requests from actual website users in the regions that you mapped.
Which are the common challenges in CDN?
Like servers and other modern technologies, CDN is prone to several problems such as constant monetisation of applications and websites and latency issues. Experts predict that the future of the CDN market will be influenced by the increasing demand for advanced cloud services, inception of federated CDNs, and entry of mobile CDNs into the market.
Is CDN faster than local?
Yes. CDNs deliver content/data faster to website users than local website servers. When searching for a CDN for your website, consider the location of your users to avoid getting a CDN whose servers are not within the jurisdiction of your target audience.
Why is a CDN faster?
CDN is faster because every time a user requests for your website, a node closest to the user’s location delivers the static content. As a result, the data does not have to travel long distances – reduced latency. Precisely, CDNs’ main goal is to ensure that website visitors download data from servers that are closest to their geographical location.
What is a CDN error?
CDN error (CDN_Error) occurs when servers cannot connect with each other. Due to the lack of a clear connection, they cannot load content. This problem can be caused by a server malfunction or the WiFi internet network signal.
Can a CDN be hacked?
Remote hacking is a significant security concern for servers and CDN service providers. The two can be compromised, so it’s imperative to hire a service provider with robust security systems. Check the company’s reputation and go the extra mile to contact them directly to know how they deal with security breaches.
Can CDN be used for lowering latency?
CDNs can lower network latency through content caching, connection optimisation, and progressive image rendering. In the latter, a progressive series is laid over the website visitor browser. Each overlay has a higher quality resolution. The visitor will think that the page is being loaded faster in the browser than it usually would be due to this effect.
What are the benefits of a robust CDN?
Firstly, a content delivery network stores videos, images, and other website assets in multiple servers distributed across the globe. The benefits include more efficient, reliable, and faster way of delivering website content to the users via their browsers.
A faster loading website will provide an excellent user experience to customers, thereby boosting your brand’s trust. Note that online shoppers gravitate towards websites that load fast and are secure. CDN generates real-time analytics to enable you to get a deeper understanding of your website traffic.
Also, because the website assets are stored in servers spread worldwide, you will require less website bandwidth from the core web hosting company, thereby lowing your operating costs.
Lastly, CDN will protect your site from the plethora of modern-day cyber threats that traditional firewalls cannot cope with, such as SQL injection and DDoS attacks.
It’s a Wrap
The content delivery network boasts a barrage full of benefits. If your site is NOT on the network, then there’s a whole lot you’re missing.
This post answers some of the obvious questions web owners have concerning CDN. If you’d like to learn more about the content delivery networks and how to go about it, feel free to take advantage of MediaOne’s free SEO consultation by contacting them today.