What Is A Content Delivery Network? (CDN)

Another valuable piece of information for you that you may find helpful for your site, to speed it up.


What is a Content Delivery Network (CDN)?

I talk about a little bit about it in a few random places and I sort of got the idea that a lot of people didn’t really know what it was.

There is one guy, his name is Nick in the Google+ group, if you’re watching; Hey, Nick… he said he had never heard of a Content Delivery Network before even though his site was operating really slowly. And this is the thing about a content delivery network; it can be really helpful to you. What it’s basically is, it’s a network of servers around the world that will host some of your website’s files. Usually it’s going to include images, theme files like stall sheets, java script; things like that — basically, things that don’t change very much. And it will host them on the servers throughout the world.

So, basically it does two things.

One is it takes the load off of your server and allows your server to concentrate on the things that it needs to concentrate on and it can offload the load onto something else via static files.

The other thing is that it will speed up your site for other people around the world because it will automatically pull those files off of the server which is closest to them. So, if the content delivery network that you have happens to have a server in Amsterdam and someone is hitting your site coming from that area of the world from Northern Europe or what have you, then it’s going to pull those files off from Amsterdam even though your server might be located here in the United States and therefore it’s going to speed up the site for them.

So that’s basically what a CDN does. And the thing is, if you think this is only for the big people; think again. That’s incredibly cheap to get a CDN. The network that I use is called maxcdn.com and you buy that like a terabyte of them with over there like 39 bucks or something and a terabyte will last you like a long damn time. And then you could use the plug-in W3 Total Cache and that’s a free plug-in by the way and you can hook a CDN into your blog.

Now, another option you might want to check out; and I’ll talk about this more a little bit later once I’ve had the opportunity to test it, is called Cloud Flare. It’s at cloudflare.com. They have a free content delivery network (CDN) that you could tap into. And they also do some other things. Basically what they do is that they are kind’a firewall to your blog and if they detect any crappy traffic coming to your site or bot traffic or anything that can be a potential risk to your site they will re-divert it to a copy that’s sitting out on their network.

So, it looks really cool but I’m not getting into a whole lot of detail about that but you might want to check it out and that’s cloudflare.com and it is free. And maxcdn is what I’m using; I think maxcdn has a really good network, they’re not free but they’re cheaper than dirt so don’t worry about it. But that you can get a CDN set up pretty well.

Now if your site is running pretty snappy, maybe you don’t need to worry about it. But if you’re trying to eke out some additional horsepower out of the hosting account that you have, definitely check out implementing a content delivery network.

People call that a CDN.



  1. Great simple info on how to use CDNs for blogs.

    > if they detect any crappy traffic coming to your site or bot traffic or anything that can be a potential risk to your site they will re-divert it to a copy
    Now that is a smart scenario, and I bet this will be even more useful in the years to come, as automated attacks and spam are on the rise.

  2. Great summary on what a CDN is in plain English (instead of all the IT jargon)!

    Like you have pointed out, CDNs are great for offloading traffic from the origin server and to cache web files on the cloud for a speedier delivery to the end user’s browser. MaxCDN is definitely a great tool for blogs and smaller static sites. The two primary benefits that all website owners should understand and be aware of.

    I also want to point out there are also enterprise level CDNs for larger commercial sites that serve up a ton of media files (e.g. images and videos) and/or dynamic elements (e.g. user applications). Examples of enterprise level CDNs include Akamai and CDNetworks (I am an employee here). In addition to site speed and offloading, these CDNs also provide dynamic acceleration, cloud DNS, security, market penetration services etc… Enterprise level CDNs generally deploy a larger amount of servers around the globe and have a more reliable network… smaller CDNs do have a history of outages.

    Great post and I applaud you for doing this while driving… did you do this in one take, or did you have to keep driving until you got it right?



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