You may have heard a lot these past two to three years about a technology called “CDN”. Many of you may not even know what the acronym stands for, let alone why you need it.Well, let me be the one to help you with just that. Need a CDN ? Then Continue reading.
A CDN is short for “Content Delivery Network”, but we will be using the acronym through the entirety of this article. Content delivery networks use servers that are distributed throughout the entire world to deliver data, whether it be text, images, scripts, or any other file you can think of, to the person requesting the data. Since the CDN is hosting these files, the CDN is responsible for choosing the “best path” for the data to travel when reaching the end user. By choosing this “best path”, the data that is being transferred does so at the fastest possible speed, reducing bandwidth and saving money on all ends.
Why you need a CDN ?
But why would anyone want to take the time to host all of their files using a separate service, and also pay for that service? Well, let’s think about the benefits of using a CDN for hosting and serving our files. First, since we are using the CDN to store some of our files, we are using less storage space on our server, so we can get away with paying less for our web server since we are using less disk space.
Now, remember what I said earlier about the CDN choosing the “best path” for serving files to the end user? Well since we are storing our files on the CDN and on every request we are choosing the “best path” for these files to be served, we are saving money on bandwidth. This means that we have almost completely reduced our bandwidth load on our web server, since our files are being hosted elsewhere, and our bandwidth load for our CDN is going to be heavily optimized as that is part of a CDNs purpose. So right there, we are saving money on disk space, as well as bandwidth by using a CDN.
So we know that we may be either saving money by using a CDN, or offsetting the cost of paying for a CDN when we have lower web server requirements. Now what about the other, non-financial benefits of using a CDN?
Well the first thing that comes to mind is a better user experience. Whether you are hosting a static website, online software, or serving downloads, all data is going to be served at the optimum speed, using that “best path” we keep talking about. That means everything going through your CDN is going to be quick, snappy, and users are going to be happier. Having happy users means that your users are going to probably make note of your website, or keep using your service, and possibly tell people they know about their service.
Another benefit to using a CDN is stability. Let’s say you run a news site and you hit the front page of Reddit or get linked on Gawker. Instantly your site receives over 50,000 impressions and you want to make sure that your site doesn’t go down because you could be losing thousands of new visitors, as well as revenue from advertisements on your website. Well, by using a CDN, your files are offloaded to servers all around the world, so your files will be safe, and will continue to be served.
So why aren’t you using a CDN already? And need a CDN, You can save money, deliver a better experience to your users, as well as be safe when you hit the front page of a popular website. Want me to top it all off? Most CDNs only have you pay for what you use, so if you aren’t using it, you aren’t paying for it. I host tens of thousands of files on my CDN and every month I pay $4-$5 a month to keep it running. Not too bad if you ask me.