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Emily asks:January 18, 2023

How does a CDN increase the speed of a website?

I've heard that using a CDN can improve website speed, and I want to know how it works and how it differs from a "normal" server.

Thom Krupa

A CDN (Content Delivery Network) increases website speed through several key mechanisms, differing from a normal server in various aspects.

Key differences between a CDN and a normal server:

  1. Server location: A normal server is typically a single server located in one place, whereas a CDN uses a global network of edge servers distributed worldwide.
  2. Content delivery: A normal server directly serves content to users, while a CDN stores cached versions of your site's content on multiple edge servers.
  3. Performance: A normal server may experience performance issues when handling high traffic, whereas a CDN distributes traffic among multiple servers, maintaining optimal performance.

How a CDN increases website speed:

  1. Edge servers: CDNs use a network of edge servers to store cached versions of your site's content.
  2. Geographical proximity: CDN servers are closer to users than your origin server. When a user requests your site, the CDN serves content from the nearest edge server.
  3. Reduced latency: The shorter distance between the user and the edge server reduces data transfer time, resulting in faster content delivery.
  4. Load balancing: CDNs distribute traffic among multiple edge servers, preventing server overload and maintaining optimal performance.
  5. Content optimization: Some CDNs offer content optimization features, like compression and image optimization. These features reduce file sizes, further speeding up content delivery.

In summary, a CDN improves website speed by leveraging a global network of edge servers, reducing latency, balancing server load, and optimizing content. This approach differs from a normal server, which is typically a single server in one location, serving content directly to users without the benefits of a distributed network.

Answered by

Thom Krupa

Co-founder of Bejamas. Focuses on helping people create faster and better websites and apps. Never bet against the Web.

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