Caching has tremendous value for sites suffering from performance issues. Content is stored in memory on a local web server and delivered much more quickly since retrieving from memory is much faster than searching a hard drive. But what happens when you have large amounts of data that must be delivered quickly over the Internet? If you have a 100GB file, you don’t want to store it in memory, but you want it transferred to users quickly. The answer is a CDN.
CDNs work differently than when you cache data on a local web server. A CDN integrates with your server by being the “middleman” between your web server and your visitor.
Without a CDN, your visitors type a domain name in their browsers and connect directly with your server. Whether the user is in the US or China, the connection is made at the same server and location.
When you incorporate a CDN in the process, you configure your domain to work with edge servers located across the globe. A CDN usually has several servers located at key points around the globe, and they work together to deliver content to users assigned to them. When a user in Australia types your domain into a browser, they are “assigned” to an Australia data center due to its close geographic location to the visitor.
You might be wondering, then, how a CDN can deliver content to your visitors since your server doesn’t have a presence in a data center. You don’t need to move to a CDN’s server farm. It pulls the data from your server automatically.
When a user requests your domain, the CDN immediately pulls the content from your server and caches it at their data center. The data is cached across the CDN network, so all data centers have a copy of your content. The next time another user requests the same page, the CDN already has a copy of your content, so this next user gets a cached copy, which is much faster. Add the fact that the data center is closer to your user than your original server, and you’ve just sped up your site transfer speed astronomically. This is the primary benefit of a CDN network.
Types of Businesses That Can Benefit from a CDN
CDNs bring benefits to several industries, but a few have the most advantages. The gaming industry depends on its uptime, but it also delivers large files to customers in an effort to update software and bring in more revenue. A game CDN can cache these files and content and deliver them must faster and with reduced bandwidth usage during patch days when everyone is downloading files at the same time.
Ecommerce stores use CDNs to speed up pages especially during heavy sales times. During seasonally high-peak traffic, a CDN caches content and takes a load off of your origin server. In case of a failure, the CDN also has a copy at the data center.
Any corporation that relies heavily on their website functioning with high performance can benefit for a CDN, and that amounts to mostly any organization that makes money online. If your site suffers from performance issues, and you need better failover at a low cost, it’s time to invest in a CDN network.