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What is a CDN?

Whether you are new or a seasoned website or ecommerce professional, you need to know about what a CDN is and what it does. First of all, a CDN is an abbreviation for Content Delivery Network. Some refer to it as a content distribution network. For the most part, what it says is very much what it does. But let’s take a step back first and talk about websites and servers, to ensure everyone understands. 

There are two popular types of website platforms to make websites on. An open source platform and closed source platform. An open source would be something like WordPress or Magento. A closed source would be Wix or Squarespace. If you don’ know this by now, open source platforms are the most professional platforms because of they have less limitations. 

Websites made using open sourced platforms require a host which is a server in order to store all the website data. The host / server is an electronic machine much like a CPU or computer for layman terms, but built to host websites. Servers need to operate 24/7 or the website will not be available. The power, speed, and configurations of the server affect the speed of the website as well. 

So what does a CDN have to do with all this? Let’s say that you purchased a purchased a hosting service from a company like GoDaddy and you are in California. These hosting companies will likely provide you with a server that is in your location or close to your location. This means your website would likely be hosted out of California or Arizona. For people who visit your website from these states, speed will be normal. But what about people who visit your website on the other side of the country? Or people who visit your website in another country? Your website data from your server will need to travel long distances, and consequently your website will load a bit slower. 

If you have a website and you have CDN applied, the CDN would connect to your server and essentially mirror your websites information using many servers throughout the world. Hence the phrase “content delivery network”. It’s like having more than one server. So if you and your server are in California and someone is trying to see the website in Canada, your website will still load fast or likely faster. Much of this is achieved through “cache”.

What else does a CDN do? It adds an amazing amount of safety. Hackers who would try to hack your website or server would find it much more difficult to attack. Not to mention CDN’s provide a firewall. 

Settings in a CDN can be changed and you can even prevent users in specified countries from interacting with your website. You can also set limits interactions which target bots that try to spam websites. 

So now you know what a CDN is. I guess the big question now is… Do you need it? Stay tuned for an article about who should have a CDN. 

 

Want a CDN for your website? Contact us!

What is a CDN - Content Delivery Network

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