Why you should be using a CDN for your website

Most websites on the internet use a single physical machine for hosting, or even a web hosting server they’re sharing with other websites to reduce the costs. This is one of the reasons to use a website CDN, apart from other benefits.

The internet is a network of wires which are interconnected all over the world. Due to geographical limitations, people closer to the web server will get the content much faster than those that are further, because the data has to travel a much longer distance.

What’s the issue with a bad load time?

Because many websites have visitors from all around the world, people from farther away are waiting longer to load the content.

Let’s say you host your website in Germany and do not utilize a CDN. Users from Germany can receive a response from the server almost instantly. However, visitors from countries such as the USA or Asian countries will have a much higher delay.

Server Response Time Test
Figure 1 Server response time testing from bitcatcha.com

Since a website serves many requests to load all content, this can result in adding seconds to the load time of a quick website.

Here are some relevant website load time statistics from Google:

  • The probability of bounce increases by 32% as page load time goes from 1 second to 3 seconds.
  • As page load time goes from 1 second to 10 seconds, the probability of a mobile site visitor bouncing increases by 123%.

Source: Google/SOASTA Research, 2017.

Furthermore, a higher TTFB (Time To First Byte) time can lower your SEO rankings.

While there are other methods to optimize your website that we might cover in a future article, using a CDN is one of the easiest to implement and can provide the highest improvements.

What is a CDN?

CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. The main usage of a website CDN is to deliver static files and content from your website or application much quicker than usual, from the nearest PoP (Point of Presence), based on the visitor’s location. Modern CDNs can also cache dynamic content.

How does a website CDN work?

Content Delivery Networks specialize in ensuring that the visitor’s request is served in the shortest amount of time possible. They make this possible by placing many PoPs around the world in geographically diverse locations which allow for essentially any user to receive the quickest response possible.

For example, if your website is hosted in Germany when a user visits your website from Japan, the request has to travel over 9000 kilometers. This can result in a response time increase of over 300ms.

Even though web pages usually do not weigh more than a few megabytes, this size is split in usually 50 or more requests, and this is where a long response time compounds.

With a CDN, they’ll usually have a PoP in Japan or close to it, which will reduce the response time to under 50 ms, resulting in much faster loading of the website.

Figure 2 Response time from a website under a CDN

Apart from speed, are there any other benefits of a CDN?

Although this will largely depend on the CDN provider you choose, there can be other benefits beyond your website’s speed.

Security
A CDN can help secure your website, protect it from DDOS attacks, help you implement a Firewall at the edge, and improve certificates, among other things.

Redundancy
Most websites do not always receive a large amount of traffic, and it might not be worth upgrading your hosting to handle the spikes. Since a CDN essentially replicates your content around the world, it takes the load off your server which means more resources available for PHP processes and other server-side tasks.

Cloudflare CDN does a lot more

First of all, Cloudflare is Free. Most other website CDNs do not have a Free tier and usually charge you for your bandwidth usage. Since Cloudflare is in the Bandwidth alliance which aims to heavily discount or waive bandwidth fees, they do not charge for any bandwidth and can have a fully free tier.

As opposed to most other CDN providers which aim to server content only, Cloudflare goes above and beyond and offers many more features such as:

  • Security: Cloudflare provides DDOS protection, bot protection, and a WAF (Web Application Firewall)
  • DNS hosting: This allows you to also have geographically diverse anycast-enabled DNS servers
  • SSL/TLS Features: Cloudflare can install a TLS certificate for your website
  • Workers: Cloudflare can enable script execution at the edge that run when requests meet the criteria.

Cloudflare is a do-it-all provider, and it can help you secure and speed up your website when you use it.

As a hosting provider, we are obligated to do our best to serve you better and help you grow your business by enabling you to scale your website. To that end, Eltris has partnered with Cloudflare to offer you a quick and easy method to set up Cloudflare on your domain.

Figure 3 Cloudflare’s Network of PoPs

Final thoughts

Choosing a great web hosting provider is still the best course of action to ensure that your website is reliable, quick to load, and can handle load spikes.

However, using a website CDN is slowly becoming more of a requirement rather than a choice if you want to be able to get ahead of the competition. And with free options such as Cloudflare available. Why wouldn’t you use one?

Our mission has always been to always keep up with the newest technologies, so we can provide a better service for you.

By using the latest PHP stacks, LiteSpeed, and server-side caching, and providing easy integration with Cloudflare, you can have a world-class website platform in just a few minutes.