What Is a Content Delivery Network (CDN)?

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You’ve heard the classic tale of the tortoise and the hare and their illustrious race, right? If not, spoiler alert!

In the end, the tortoise’s slow and steady pace wins the race. And, the hare is left feeling foolish for running most of the race fast as can be, and then piddling around while the tortoise crosses the finish line.

While this is a great anecdote to motivate people to take one step at a time toward their weight loss or career goals, it’s not a great anecdote for how users want the internet to run.

No one wants to sit around and wait for days for a website to load, even if it is making that tortoise-like slowwwww as tar progress.

Cue throbber icon followed by a frustrated yell into a pillow.

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When people search for your website on the internet, they want sprint of the hare website speed. In fact, 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less, and 40% of consumers will wait no more than three seconds for a web page to render before abandoning the site.

Now, what does this reworked fable have to do with the question you Googled? Google search: What is a content delivery network?


Content delivery networks (CDN) are the hares of the internet (but they are 100 percent reliable when it comes to finishing the race, as opposed to the hare in Aesop’s fable, just to get that out of the way).

In more technical terms, a CDN is a group of servers that reduce website latency time and provides speedy delivery of internet content.

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How Does a Content Delivery Network (CDN) Work?

The more you want your website to do, the more power it will need to load quickly. Think about some of the world’s favorite websites: Netflix, Facebook, and Amazon.

All of these industry giants use a CDN to speed things up. These websites have billions of daily searches and a lot going on behind the scenes to make their websites the obsessions that they are, and that means they need more power and speed.

A CDN works by placing servers at exchange points (IXPs) between different networks, offering an opportunity for different internet provides to link to each other and give each other access to resources on their respective networks. 

Additionally, a CDN places physical servers in data centers across the globe to help move traffic as quickly as possible. These CDNs provide speed and connectivity securely, cheaply, and reliably (again, a better hare than the one in Aesop’s fable). 

With the help of a CDN, these top websites can deliver content effectively and quickly, no matter what browser they are using, what internet service provider they use, and regardless of where they are located.

Can Smaller Website Benefit from Using a CDN?

It’s a given that huge companies like Facebook will use a CDN, but what about smaller websites? 

Do you really need to invest in a CDN? Well, it depends on how much you are doing on your website, and what your current website load times are.

If you use assets like HTML pages, javascript files, stylesheets, images, and videos, then you’re asking your website to do a lot of hard work, and it may need additional help.

 If you use all these assets and notice your website isn’t loading quickly, then a CDN is an easy and affordable answer.

What Are the Top Benefits of a CDN?

It’s already been stated that main benefit of CDN services is they help with latency and improves website load times. But, how?

Here are some primary ways CDN services reduce load times:

Since CDN servers are distributed globally, it reduces the distance between users and website resources. This means less cyber travel and faster service.CDNs help reduce the amount of data transferred by compressing file sizes. Smaller files = faster load times.CDNs boost the speed of sites that use TLS/SSL certificates through an optimized connection.CDNs also come with hardware and software optimizations that transfer data quickly.

Let’s look at some additional benefits of a CDN.

CDNs boost reliability 

The last thing you want is for your website to go offline. When your website is down, you lose potential sales and/or the interest of your audience members.

A CDN works to help you deal with things that could potentially cause your website to go offline, such as hardware failures, spikes in traffic, malicious attacks, and boosts in your website’s popularity.

Here’s how a good CDN helps protect your site:

Load balancing distributes traffic evenly across several services. This makes it possible to manage boosts in traffic.

If one or more of the CDN servicers go offline, there are still other CDN servers working. Your traffic will be redistributed to other servers that are still working. 

Similarly, if one data center has technical problems, another data center can pick up the slack.

But, that’s not all! Content delivery networks also help keep your site secure. Let’s take a closer look.

CDNs improve data security

The more you can do to protect your site from hackers and security breaches, the better. 

Here’s how a CDN will help:

A CDN keeps your site secured with current TLS/SSL certificates. 

These certificates ensure the ability to verify provided identifications, the ability to encrypt info sent from one host to another, and the ability to detect forgery and tampering.

It provides DDoS mitigation, which means it protects a targeted server of a network from a specific type of attack and mitigates incoming threats.

If you’re looking to increase the security of your website, a CDN is a helpful tool.

CDNs reduce bandwidth costs

It’s no secret that websites can get expensive. The more bandwidth your website consumes, the more you’ll have to pay.

CDNs are capable of reducing the amount of data an origin server provides. This helps reduce hosting costs for website owners.

If you know your website will require more bandwidth, then look into a CDN now.

Wrap Up

Investing in a content delivery network is a sure-fire way to speed up your website, especially if your company operates globally.

As with any other outstanding product, when you opt to use a CDN, other critical elements of owning and operating a website won’t suffer. In other words, you’ll still be able to ensure reliability, data security, and keep your operating costs down.

For more information about web hosting or to learn more about CDNs, visit HostGator today.

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