One of the most magnificent things about the internet is how easy it’s made life for almost everyone who uses it. Buying toilet paper without leaving the house, checking up on exes, making yourself look better in photos and other important tasks have never been so simple.
The only reason the internet hasn’t made life easy for literally everyone instead of almost everyone is because not everyone’s main objective on the internet is cruising websites. Some people have to build and maintain those websites, keeping them relevant, competitive and secure. That is decidedly not easy – but it could be easier with the right tools, like a content delivery network, which was designed to cut down on effort expended by website owners. Here’s how.
A CDN makes users happy with this one weird trick
You know what people like? When web pages load quickly. You know what makes web pages load quickly? Cutting down on how far requested content has to travel. You know what cuts down on how far requested content has to travel? If you’re thinking I really don’t see how it could be anything other than a CDN, then boom, nailed it.
A CDN is a global network of data centers, with each center containing a proxy cache server. The cache servers store a website’s cacheable content, eliminating trips to the origin server and keeping content ready to send as soon as it’s requested by website users, all of whom have been automatically redirected to the server closest to them. That’s two major factors in reducing data traveling distance, and with 83% of internet users expecting a website to load in three seconds or less, those are two major factors you should consider putting to work.
Nobody’s perfect. Not everyone in charge of website development is tremendous when it comes to optimizing images, source code, content, networking sessions, bandwidth usage, or multimedia resources. Nor can everyone excel at updating to the newest internet protocols like IPv6 or HTTP/2. Alternately, some people in charge of website development are excellent at doing all of that but have better things they could be doing with their time. That’s the name of this particular game, after all. CDNs do all of the above.
A CDN helps you stay online
Whether your website is prone to natural traffic surges or you’re like every other website on the internet and you’re at risk of a DDoS attack, a CDN is here to help. A CDN is nothing if not a multi-server environment, which provides you with built-in load balancing. If a server is in danger of becoming overwhelmed with traffic, traffic is simply redirected to other servers to balance the load. This helps deal with influxes of legitimate traffic as well as the malicious traffic that comes from DDoS attacks.
Leading CDNs offer additional DDoS protection as well, should the current scourge of distributed denial of service assaults have you concerned.
A CDN helps you keep it encrypted
It should be a basic rule for website owners that if users can input any data into your website, your data needs to use the SSL handshake when establishing a connection between a user’s browser and a website to encrypt that data and protect it from attackers that seek to intercept lucrative information.
Abiding by that basic rule can get complicated since the extra steps the SSL handshake introduces into the basic TCP handshake in order to add encryption into the mix slows down the whole process. This leads to page load lag, which leads to frustrated users – unless a CDN is being used to help establish the encrypted connection as quickly as possible, of course.
A CDN helps you crack Google’s code
When it comes to improving your search engine rankings, you could 1) do the tireless research and SEO work yourself, 2) pay someone to do it 3) get an easy boost from having a CDN.
The choice is yours, but a CDN can improve your search engine rankings by increasing your page load time, since Google does like to reward speedy websites. You’ll also get a boost from using SSL, which could be a double boost if you’re using SSL and a CDN to speed it up.
If you’re here for the quick hit summary of a CDN’s capabilities, I’ll keep it short: A CDN can keep your users happier with faster page load times, optimize your code, content, networking and multimedia resources, help better guarantee uptime, encrypt communications between users and browsers for way better security, and rank higher in Google results. Just think of all the extra time you could spend buying toilet paper without moving.