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What is a CDN? (Video Explanation)

Site speed is big business. Why? Because the faster your site, the happier your visitors will be: and therefore the more likely they’ll be to stick around, interact with your content, and — hopefully — return another day. So how can you go about making your site faster? Answer: there’s actually a myriad of things to tackle (here’s a bunch) — one of which is to take advantage of a technology that helps load your content (primarily images, JavaScript and CSS etc) from servers that are located as close as possible to the physical location of your site’s visitors — or to use the lingo of those in the know: by using a Content Delivery Network (CDN).

What exactly is a CDN and how does it work? Let’s take a look:

What Is A CDN (Content Delivery Network)?

Direct link to watch the video over on Vimeo.

– (note: video credits to Topher DeRosia – creator of HeroPress)

Video Transcript:

Hi! This is Topher for with WinningWP. In this video, we’re going to answer the question, What is a CDN or Content Delivery Network. Most times when you want to put up a website, you get hosting at one server and your website lives on that server. But with a CDN instead of having a single server, a Content Delivery Network uses a world wide network of servers to deliver your content. Let me show you what I mean. This is a map of servers for the Cloudflare CDN. Each pinpoint on this map is a web server. When you connect your main server with Cloudflare, it basically copies your website to all of these servers. And then anytime anyone requests your website, it delivers it to them from the fastest server. Which is usually the nearest geographically, but not always. So that means if you’re in Australia, you’re probably going to get it from one of these four servers. But if you’re in Africa, you’re going to get it from one of these servers and so on and so forth. But why would you want to do this? There are several reasons. One is speed. Let’s say you have a server in Chicago and that’s your only server. Anyone in Europe is going to make a call all the way across The Atlantic to get your site. Instead, they could be getting it from any one of these servers. Another reason is search engine optimization. Which is actually really just tied very closely to the speed aspect. Google ranks faster sites higher. That’s just the way it is. So if your site is faster, it’s going to rank higher. Another reason is to avoid attacks. It’s not uncommon for people to attack web servers and just bring them down by shear amount of traffic. But with a CDN, if they attack any one of these points, they can simply redirect all your traffic to somewhere else. And the attack simply goes away. Lastly, there’s cost. It does cost a little bit more than normal hosting to have a CDN. However when you compare traffic per dollar, the speed increase makes it very worth it. There are also different types of CDNs. Cloudflare tends to be a full site CDN where they copy your whole site and deliver it that way. But there are also specialty CDNs like libsyn for podcasting. They excel at hosting multi-media files, video and audio. And these tend to be very large files. And they have their own advantages. In addition to speed, there’s the enormous amount of drive space you’re going to end up using with a lot of MPs or video files. There are other specialty CDNs that specialize in other things like static files for your JavaScript or your CSS. These also help your site go faster. And lastly, there are some that specialize just in images for photographers. Regardless of your needs, a CDN can greatly help your site both for security and speed and I highly recommend it. If you’d like to learn more about Word Press, check out winningwp.com.

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By WinningWP Editorial

Run by Brin Wilson, WinningWP is an award-winning resource for people who use – you guessed it – WordPress. Follow along on Twitter, Facebook, and/or Google+
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