Business, Tech, Web

Understanding CDNs: How Websites Stay Accessible Throughout the World

Today, the majority of traffic online passes through content delivery networks (CDNs) to get to their destination. While every website is hosted from a server, load times increase if that server is far away from you and your device. This is where CDNs come in, distributing content across the world and making everybody’s online experience more convenient.

How CDNs Operate

Why CDN Services Are Increasingly Popular

Every website online is hosted from somewhere, typically a well-maintained server room where webmasters can rent space to host their sites. Larger companies also use their own server rooms, to protect data and have complete control over their hosting solutions. No matter what the case is, these server rooms can be continents away depending on where you are in the world.

More businesses than ever are going online, with entire industries relying on fast and convenient internet connections nowadays. For example, on-demand streaming and iGaming conduct business from their websites, which often cater to international audiences. Their content is delivered through CDNs, especially when that content is live and latency delays become more impactful. For example, big iGaming sites feature live casino games where this could become an issue, if we didn’t use CDNs. Take blackjack at Paddy Power, where lobbies full of players can play the game live with a human dealer host, and all interactions take place online. Since streaming demands more data than a typical webpage, many livestreams like this cut down on latency by filtering through a CDN arrangement. For every live service, the user being closer to a data center makes their experience better, faster, and more responsive. Thanks to CDNs, the average user is never too far away from one.

Across the world, there are many networks of server rooms dedicated to content delivery. These are content caches, which contain copies of internet pages with a focus on data-heavy assets like images, videos, and the basic HTML structure of the page. This includes JavaScript files, which can hinder page speed if they take longer to load.

In short, they host copies of online content locally. Then, when somebody in South America tries to access a site in Europe, the site will reach them from a data center in the same continent.

Benefits of Using CDNs

What Is a CDN, and Why Do Companies Use Them?

Most hosting solutions already come with CDN integration, if not the option to use it once enough traffic hits your site. Cloudflare and Amazon CloudFront (as part of AWS) are some of the biggest names in CDN management, so their services are used by both large and small websites. A map on Cloudflare’s website shows every data center they use to manage worldwide web traffic, and they are just one service out of many.

There are several good reasons to use a CDN but, since using them has become the norm, everybody benefits from them whether they know it or not. The most obvious benefit to using a CDN is on the user’s side. It’s easier to connect with a data center 30 miles away than the host 3,000 miles away, and the result is faster loading speeds for the pages being accessed.

Site owners don’t want their visitors to experience agonizingly slow load times either, especially when it worsens the bounce rate. A poor bounce rate (where visitors leave a site before it loads properly) can harm the site’s search performance. A CDN is just one way that site owners can improve loading speeds, with others explained here by HubSpot.

CDNs are also a common-sense way to sidestep other site hosting issues. Host services often charge based on bandwidth so, if cached CDN data is served to international visitors, the host server is sending out less data. This means the site owner pays less to host the website. Likewise, it means the host server won’t be overwhelmed by traffic since the whole world isn’t fighting to access that one server, they are accessing multiple CDNs instead. This is an inherent security benefit, as traffic spikes can be weaponized in DDoS attacks, and hardware failures on the host’s side won’t immediately down the whole website globally.

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