What Does a Content Delivery Network Do?

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servers functioning as part of content delivery network

If you’re interested in optimizing your company’s website to improve page load speed, boost security, or lower your bandwidth cost, using a content delivery network may be the perfect solution. Akamai, CloudFlare, and other content delivery networks act as the midpoint between the origin server that sends the content and the individual user who receives it. 

What Is a Content Delivery Network?

content delivery network, or CDN, is a group of servers that work together to transfer online content to computers and other devices within a particular geographic area. Good content delivery networks increase the speed and reliability with which HTML text, photos, videos, JavaScript files, and other elements of websites can be viewed by users. By transferring data from the origin server through Internet exchange points, or IXPs, content delivery networks serve as the midpoint between the content’s origin server and the network of the user who loads the webpage.

Global connections shown through a content delivery network

Supporting Concepts of Content Delivery Networks

Points of Presence, cache servers, and various types of computer memory work together to support the full functionality of content delivery networks.  

Points of Presence (PoPs)

Point of Presence, or PoP, is the final step in the transfer of content from the origin server to the user. It connects a user to his or her internet service provider (ISP) by using a modem, router, or similar device. 

Cache Servers

cache server stores information from previous network use, which increases the speed of the same page loads in the future.  

SSD/HDD/RAM

Solid-state drives (SSD), hard disk drives (HDD), and random-access memory (RAM) are types of memory that are used to permanently or temporarily store information on your computer. 

Types of Companies That Benefit From Content Delivery Networks

Although using a content delivery network can be useful for a wide variety of companies, they are particularly beneficial for companies that rely heavily on complex website features. Video content, livestreaming services, and high-traffic online shopping sites often have more problems functioning correctly than simpler websites that consist mainly of text and images. Companies that provide entertainment, gaming, and shopping services, such as Netflix, Twitch, and Amazon, can benefit significantly from the assistance content delivery networks provide in keeping their sites working properly. Zoom and other sites that are used to livestream classes, meetings, and other events have also seen a significant growth in site traffic in the last few months, which content delivery networks can help to manage. 

Advantages of Using Content Delivery Networks

Using a content delivery network can benefit your website in a variety of ways, such as improving the functionality and security of the site. Here are four of the most significant benefits to using a content delivery network!

Technology connections and a content delivery network concept

Improve Internet Speed

One of the main advantages of using a content delivery network is its ability to speed up your internet service to decrease the amount of time it takes to load web pages. Because each content delivery network serves a particular geographic region, website content does not need to travel as far at one time as it would if it were sent directly from the origin server to the user. They also use file compression and minification to reduce file sizes, as well as optimize connections for sites that utilize TLS and SSL certificates. By keeping your page load time-optimal, you can avoid losing visitors that become frustrated waiting for slow websites to load. 

Improve Website Security

Content delivery networks also improve the security of your website by optimizing security certificates with DDoS mitigation improvements. Keeping your website secure protects your data and minimizes the problems that visitors to your site may encounter. 

Reduce Bandwidth Costs

Bandwidth costs are often higher than website owners would like them to be, particularly those that utilize videos and other features that require high amounts of data to function properly. Using a content delivery network can lower the cost of running your website by using caching and other optimization techniques to reduce your website’s data usage.  

Increase Content Availability

Significant spikes in website traffic can quickly slow down or even crash the site. Multiple content delivery networks generally have a much easier time handling high traffic than origin servers. By using a content delivery network instead of forcing all of your visitors to access your site through a single origin server, you can reduce the likelihood that your site visitors will experience significant service disruptions and increase the reliability of their access to your website content.   

Disadvantages of Using Content Delivery Networks

Although the benefits of content delivery networks generally outweigh the drawbacks, there are a few disadvantages to consider before deciding to use a content delivery network for your website. 

Requires Extra Step to Transfer Content

Using multiple servers is usually an advantage of content delivery networks, but it creates an extra step that is vulnerable to failure. A problem with the content delivery network can prevent users from accessing information even if the origin server and the user’s network are functioning correctly.

Potential Security Risk for Sensitive Information

Storing certain types of sensitive files on a content delivery network may not be secure because the network has access to multiple servers. However, the overall increased security of the content delivery network minimizes this risk.  

Extra Cost Per GB

Using a content delivery network adds approximately $0.10 per GB to the total cost of your bandwidth. However, this initial extra cost is often canceled out by the money you save with the content delivery network’s data optimization services.  

Using a content delivery network can be a simple and cost-effective way to increase the performance and security of your company’s website. At SADOS, we are here to help business owners throughout Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC solve both large and small IT problems to make sure their websites represent their companies in the best possible light. Feel free to contact us if you still have questions about whether a content delivery network is right for your company or to explore our other services. We are always happy to help!  

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servers functioning as part of content delivery network

What Does a Content Delivery Network Do?

If you’re interested in optimizing your company’s website to improve page load speed, boost security, or lower your bandwidth cost, using a content delivery network will help.

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