Whether you are reading this post on a mobile, tablet, or computer, the content in this post is shown to you via a CDN server near you. CDN means Content Delivery Network, which is almost similar to a cellphone tower. Based on your locations, the nearest server will handle your requests and interactions with your website.
Ok, what will happen without a CDN? Say for example, if your website is hosted on a US server and your client in Italy clicks a button on your website. The data has to travel nearly 8614 KMs from the US server to reach the user in Italy. Your user must wait patiently till the page loads.
Another best thing is Google wants your website to load faster, almost within a second. This is the main reason why Google has introduced AMP to make the websites to load faster on mobile devices. CDN helps you to deliver contents quickly to the audience around the world. As WordPress now powers nearly 33% of the websites on the internet, we must consider using WordPress CDN.
How CDN Works
Each CDN services use different cache practices to store and show your content. But the general concept is, a copy of your website is stored in the CDN servers all over the globe, just like a clone. When a user clicks a button or sends a request, a copy of your website (or part of it, usually media files and static assets like CSS and JS) will be sent quickly to the user from the nearest CDN server.
When we add a new feature or a page to our website, for the first time the information will be fetched from the main server. And from the second time onwards, the information will be fetched from a CDN server. In simple words, it reduces the load on your server.
For example, when a website request is sent from Chicago, the nearest CDN server Ohio will respond. If the Ohio CDN server is down or it is not available, data will be fetched from the nearest server like Quebec.
There is no constraints in CDN, you can clone your entire site. Blog posts, videos, images, and codes, whatever you want, you can clone/cache and place it on the CDN server. But remember, the CDN is just a clone and it is not a stand alone independent part of your website. When your main server is down, the user can still see the cached information like your posts, pages, and images. The only thing that users can’t do is dynamic functions like posting comments, sending requests, and stuffs like that.
Why Using a CDN in WordPress?
As all of know WordPress is a CMS (Content Management System) which handles both static and dynamic contents. We use themes and plugins to easily built our dream websites. If you own a WordPress site, you will know that we don’t often change our designs.
Unless we are making a big overhaul to our design and taking our website to the next level, our websites stay pretty much the same. Using a CDN will help you deliver the static contents easily to the users.
No matter whether you are having a WordPress website or not. The main benefits of CDN are:
- Uncompromised Performance
- Saves you money
In SEO, the site’s loading speed is considered one of the factors to rank your website. Using a CDN will make your website load faster and let the user easily access your content. Plus, using a CDN forces your site to use the latest technology like HTTPS for security and HTTP/2 protocol for better speed and uptime.
Google in its yearly marketing conference told that for every one-second delay you are losing a customer. This loss in customer rate is huge if you are an eCommerce store owner. As more than 50% of the internet traffics are from mobile devices, your website should load faster on mobile devices as well. There are different levels of optimizations and AMP adjustments to do that, which we will discuss in another post. The borderline in using CDN is it will give you an edge in the SEO ranking.
The CDN greatly reduces the server load, since most of the static contents are dealt with by the CDN, the main server can concentrate on the dynamic functions. If you are an online publishing news or magazine website, the CDN will help you easily manage the traffic during your peak time.
Here is a small example of my site load time with and without CDN measured using Pingdom. My site speed is increased considerably from 707 ms to 249 ms.
Another smart move done by most successful online site owners is to maintain a separate page for billing and checkout process. Designers and strategists discuss a lot to make the online shopping experience easy to the user. By splitting your content load you can execute the buttery smooth experience plan easily.
Saves You Money
One of the biggest misleading information shown to us on the shared hosting is “unlimited bandwidth”. No hosting providers will give you an unlimited bandwidth in shared hosting. Depending on the plan and the hosting you select, you will be having a bandwidth limit. As your website grows and begins to get lots of traffic, the hosting provider will humbly request you to upgrade your plan.
Here is a simple example, the shared hosting starting plan starts from $3 to $4 per month. While the dedicated hosting plan starts from at least $80 per month. If you see closely, in the dedicated server, it will be noted that you get 5TB/10TB bandwidth. It is clear that the hosting providers charge for the bandwidth. When you exceed the given limit, then you have to pay extra.
Since the CDN delivers the static content to the users and filters only dynamic functions to the main server, your bandwidth usage will be reduced by 50%. If you are in pay as you go hosting scheme, then the CDN will definitely save your money.
I have made an in-depth review of the top hosting providers. Take a look at it to know the best hosting provider for your needs
CDN provides an extra level of security to your website. With CDN you get clever bots and scripts that continuously scans your site to protect it from attacks and malware.
WordPress websites are easy prey for hackers. Since it is easy to use, after the initial setup we forget about updates and maintenance. WordPress websites which are not updated for a long time can be easily hacked. Properly updating WordPress and adding an extra level of security given by the CDN will make life harder for the malware. One of the biggest security advantage in CDNs is it acts as a Web Application Firewall (WAF) to protect your data and also protects your site from DDoS attacks.
Best CDN Providers For WordPress
Most hosting providers will have a tie-up with a CDN provider to help their customers. For example; Kinsta, a Google Cloud based hosting provider pairs with Key CDN. The benefit of using a CDN recommended or supported by your hosting provider is you can easily integrate the CDN in your website. But that doesn’t mean you should use only the CDN recommended by your hosting provider. You can always integrate the CDN you like. Here are few best CDN providers that work best with WordPress websites.
In the recommendations mentioned above, the Amazon CloudFront and Microsoft Azure are the best solution for enterprises and fully online based companies. All other recommendations are the best options for both simple bloggers and business websites of all sizes.
Cloudflare is a well-known CDN service provider. The best thing about this CDN is it gives you all basic functionalities in the free version itself. If you are a blogger or your website is gradually gaining traffic, a free account is more than enough for your initial stage, later you can upgrade if you want. The premium plan starts for $20/month, check their entire pricing list here.
Cloudflare has nearly 180 datacenters and is well distributed in different parts of the world. Cloudflare gives you a dedicated WordPress plugin to make the integration easier fo WordPress users.
Amazon CloudFront is the golden web standard for the global network. They are the best and have data centers in almost all the places in the world. Big companies like Netflix and Apple use Amazon Web Services. The best thing about the Amazon CloudFront is you can buy a small part on their server or can rent a whole array of servers. The pay as you go plan gives you the flexibility to choose the plan you want or you can simply use their Free tire pack for simple and initial needs. You can check all their pricing details here.
The 180 POP points, makes Amazon CloudFront as one of the best CDN providers. Check their global network below.
Key CDN is the best CDN solution if you have most of the users in North America and Europe. Though most of its CDN networks are North America and Europe, they are slowly expanding in the Asia Pacific region, so you can easily reach your audience from any part of the world. Check their network map below.
The Key CDN uses a pay as you go scheme. Based on the region and rate, your monthly bill may vary. If you don’t like monthly commitment, this plan will be helpful for you. For detailed pricing details, check here.
MaxCDN is now integrated with StackPath CDN Edge Service. By this integration, you get an extra 36 Points of Presence along with the one you get before in the MaxCDN. This CDN service is only best for North America and Europe audience. In other places, this CDN has only fewer networks. Check their CDN network map below.
The pricing starts from $20 per month. If you are skeptical about the limited number of CDNs in this service, you can use their free one month trial before buying a plan. You can check the entire pricing details here.
Sucuri is a well-known internet security company. If security is your priority, then Sucuri is the best option for you. Along with the CDN service, you also get plenty of security tools to monitor your website. Because of the top end features and extra perks, the starting price itself starts at $200 per month. You can check all the pricing details here.
Since CDN is one of their feature, you get only super data centers located at the major parts of the world. This might be a small drawback in using their service.
Microsoft Azure is the second best CDN and global server network provider next to the Amazon Web Service. Since Microsoft is basically a software company, you get plenty of modern tools to monitor your website. In fact, among all the WordPress CDN providers mentioned in this list, Azure has the best dashboard with an intuitive interface. Pricings are made based on the users, right from a single developer to bigger organization, there is a plan for you. Check their pricing plans for more details. Since they are the next best web service provider, their POP list is huge. And as usual, Microsoft follows their old school trend in this list too. You can check their PoP list here.
Now you may get a basic idea of why we are using CDN with WordPress websites. It not only helps you deliver the contents fastly to the user but also helps you save some money. Say, for example, an image or video link on your website has gone viral and is shared on a big website like the New York Times, HuffPost, or other such websites which has millions of views per day, your bandwidth will go through the roof. It may go even worse if you are in a pay-as-you-go scheme. In such scenarios, CDN will help you a lot.