Content Delivery Networks are a globally distributed network of high performance servers which are used to deliver static content (files, media such as images or video, portions of websites) to users at high speed wherever they are in the world. Wikipedia gives some good general information about CDNs
A content delivery network (CDN) is a large distributed system of servers deployed in multiple data centers in the Internet. The goal of a CDN is to serve content to end-users with high availability and high performance. CDNs serve a large fraction of the Internet content today, including web objects (text, graphics, URLs and scripts), downloadable objects (media files, software, documents), applications (e-commerce, portals), live streaming media, on-demand streaming media, and social networks
Some Cloud Hosting Providers offer CDN services as part of their hosting packages, or independently. When you use a CDN for your website, a lot of the larger files can be downloaded by your visitors from the CDN rather than directly from your website. Often, it can be downloaded from a CDN edge server which is geographically closer to the user than your website, or even from multiple servers as well as your cloud host’s server.
Using a CDN on your website can deliver multiple benefits, often at a relatively low cost (compared with other approaches to improving web site delivery). Some of the ways a CDN can help your site are:
- Reduces server load (because a lot of files are accessed via the CDN edge servers instead of your own server.
- Improves website speed: this is great and works on multiple levels – see below.
- CDN servers are usually very fast and efficient: its not uncommon for a file to download 2-10 times faster from a CDN than from your server.
- Browsers can only download a certain number of files (eg 2, 6 or 8) from one domain at any one time: adding a CDN allows your site to be downloaded from 2 or more domains in parallel improving speed
- This reduced server load means your server can be faster doing its other work, such as delivering dynamic content and otherwise serving your page efficiently
- Your website info cached on CDN edge servers is highly accessible in the event of a peak usage surge. This helps your site stay up if your traffic increases 10x overnight, meaning less chance of your site slowing down or crashing just when you need it most.
How To Configure a CDN to run website
Installing a CDN can be simple or complex, depending on your technical expertise and the type of your website. Some CMS systems like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal have plugins or add-ons which make setting up a CDN fairly easy. Often the CDN functions reside in caching plugins for these CMS platforms. For some other sites setting up a CDN can be quite involved. Its worth seeking professional help if you are considering adding a CDN to your cloud hosted WordPress site.
Cloud Hosting Providers offering CDN services.
Australian WordPress Cloud Hosting provider Cloud Hosting WP offers a WordPress Cloud Hosting solution including a CDN setup service and wordpress speed and performance tuning as part of their hosting packages.