A Content Delivery Network (CDN) will drastically reduce server lag by storing static resources on a network of faster loading and better-located servers to your own.
However, choosing a CDN can be tricky since there are many options available. Finding the right one depends entirely on your needs and the popularity of your site.
In this post, we’ll look at some of the more popular CDNs available for websites, big and small.
I’ve deliberately excluded some CDN companies, such as Akamai and CenturyLink, which are better suited to large-scale enterprise sites, so this isn’t the best post for them, but if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative… this is where to start.
But first, let’s address what CDNs are and how they can actually benefit your WordPress site.
*Feel free to skip this section if you’re already familiar with CDNs
What is a CDN?
In simple terms, a CDN helps close the distance and bulk between your website and your website’s visitors.
So, regardless of how many large media files, images, or pages you have on your website, a CDN allows your visitors to experience and interact with your website just as fast as if they were locally based.
For websites with a lot of traffic and/or with a large global audience, this is a huge deal.
Those few seconds you lose in load time (and in potentially converted business) are extremely valuable.
Rather than dump your video assets, or try to find more WordPress plugins to help with compressing image files – you can instead turn to a CDN to help improve your website’s performance (as well as security, stability, and more).
In the diagram below, we can see in detail the concept of how a CDN works.
For example, below you’ll see the global server network of a CDN service, in this case, Cloudflare.
If your site is hosted in the US, and your visitor is in Europe, the heavier images will be served out of the Europe data centers.
Vice-versa, if your server is based in Europe, and your traffic is coming from the US, one of the data centers in the US will be used to serve the heavier content.
Now, besides physical location, the size of resources is another determining factor in speed.
Your website’s speed can affect more than just the user experience and your on-site conversions, too.
It’s a well-known fact that search engines are looking to rank relevant and high-performing websites with better search rankings.
If visitors are abandoning ship
This article was written by Raelene Morey and originally published on WPMU DEV Blog.