What is a Content Delivery Network and How Does It Help?

posted in: News

At Purple Dog, we highly recommend that you consider using a CDN (Content Delivery Network) for your website.  In a nutshell, a CDN or Content Delivery Network sits between your domain name and your website to offer enhanced speed. Nobody likes a slow website. A fast and secure website is a big win for you and your customers.

Through our own experience, we have have developed considerable knowledge and expertise around the implementation of CDN technology.  It has proven itself to be an extremely worthwhile service that’s effective and affordable.  Cloudflare is one such CDN service that we offer because they also provide an effective layer of additional security and in today’s online world, that’s another big win!

What makes a good CDN?

Speed, security and affordability! A content delivery network (CDN), is a network of servers, typically spread across multiple data centres around the globe. The objective is to provide high availability and performance gains by distributing the content of a service to multiple “edge points”.  In other words, wherever you are in the world, you can access for example, a news website from your nearest data centre, even though the news website is based on the other side of the world.  A good CDN will also usually offer additional services such as protection from hackers, spammers and robots – all of which plague website owners.  Another factor is the cost of the CDN and of course, the reliability.

How Does it Work?

Your domain name’s primary DNS (that’s the code used to tell web-browsers where to point your customer when they type in your domain name) will often point all traffic directly to the Origin web-server that serves your website (e.g. a web host company).  Therefore, in such setups, anyone typing in your web address will connect directly to that Origin web server – which is typically located in one physical data centre.

With a CDN such as Cloudflare, your website is analysed and the content is cached, ‘crunched down’ and compressed to reduce the data size, making it faster to load.  The data is then distributed across the globe to thousands of locations often referred to as “edge servers”.  Since each of these edge servers now hold a local copy of the data (e.g. your website), they can serve that data to any local visitor, wherever that visitor may be located.  By serving the data locally to local users (and not from the origin server), the website loads much faster.

Furthermore, with Cloudflare, the web traffic goes through a varying number of ‘filters’ to weed out any ‘bad traffic’ – that’s robots, spammers and hackers – and yes, there’s a lot of those!  This helps website owners against so called DDOS and other malicious users (and yes, there are lots of them too!)

Sound’s great – what do we need to do?

If you are a Purple Dog customer, get in touch to check if you need assistance.  If you’re not a Purple Dog customer yet, why not!  Get in touch so that we can help you.

For both existing and new customers, your DNS records for your domain need to be migrated to the CDN because this usually results in a better, faster and more secure experience for all.

Why do we need to migrate DNS?

Traditionally with many service providers, website DNS is published via the local network partner or even via the Origin server. While this is generally fairly reliable, an improved level of service is achievable particularly around DNS security and speed when using the CDN.  The change is also beneficial to help maintain a robust and highly secure network.

What are the benefits?

By moving the DNS records to a CDN platform, a user can achieve a much higher degree of speed and reliability. Since the CDN will have enormous reach across the global internet, it is able to publish DNS records ‘everywhere’ very quickly.  By doing that, your website will load faster, be more secure and benefits from additional features designed to ensure reliability and provide increased performance.

Are there any downsides?

Not really – the changeover is usually painless and seamless – and we have many years experience, so we can assist you!  While any change does carry a small risk, these are minimal and done correctly, there’s usually no negative affect to any of your services from this changeover.  Because the DNS is not really changing (it’s already published – we are simply migrating them to a more robust platform) – the change happens fairly quickly and without any noticeable difference in most cases – except of course you’ll notice the speed and security differences.

What does this cost?

The cost for a CDN does vary from plan to plan, depending on what you want to achieve.  However, the good news is that we offer a basic plan free – and it’s enough to get you a decent speed and security level.  We set all of this up for you at no cost because the work will take place within the Club Purple Maintenance and Web Hosting fees that you’ve already paid when you join up!  How marvellous!

Sign me up – let’s gooooooo !

You don’t need to do anything if you don’t want to!  Just contact us and we will handle it for you!

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