When your website is hosted in London and you try to reach an audience in Sydney it can prove difficult to provide a fast and convenient experience. That’s one of the reasons why having a CDN, or content delivery network, can be of great help. In this post I will explain you how to choose the best CDN for your website.
A content delivery network essentially is a group of servers that are spread around the globe with the aim of delivering webpages to visitors nearby. In other words, a content delivery network is like a local representative of your website. In stead of sending data halfway around the world, a CDN sends the data from its nearest server.
Aside improving the load time, most CDNs also come with security features and additional services to improve your website.
Types of CDN
There are two types of content delivery networks, so called push CDNs and pull CDNs. The first requires you to directly upload your files to the CDN’s server, while the second pulls web content from your original server.
The advantage of push CDNs is that you are able to directly determine which content is uploaded, when it expires and when it gets updated. In terms of the amount of traffic that’s used, pushing data is also much more efficient, since web content is only uploaded when changed or renewed.
On the other hand, the advantage of a pull CDN is that it’s relatively easy to set up. You’re able to leave your web files on your own server and merely have to create a connection. The disadvantage of a pull CDN is that it offers less flexibility and that it’s generally slower, due to files that can be re-queried before they have been changed and because visitors can access your website after content has expired.
Choosing the best CDN
In order to find the best CDN for you the first thing you want to look at is your website’s size. Since big and small are vague concepts, ask yourself if you have more than say 10,000 pages that are visited by thousands of visitors per day. In that case, it could prove more valuable to make use of a pull CDN.
Websites with many visitors will see that traffic is spread more evenly and more stable when being pulled. By setting so called expiry headers a webmaster is able to limit the amount of unneeded content pulls, ensuring that most visitors will receive cached content (lowering the amount of data spend).
Subsequently, a website with less pages and less visitors will generally benefit from a push system, since content won’t be re-pulled at regular intervals.
To give an example, imagine you have a stock photo website with thousands of images and thousands of visitors per day. In that situation it would be best to use a pull CDN, to spread traffic evenly. If you’re a news vlogger with a few dozen pages with videos, a push CDN could be the better choice, since most entries will be old and won’t get updated.
One example of a cheap CDN service is SpaceCDN, which offers everything the average webmaster needs.