A Content Delivery Network (CDN) can help speed up your website so your users get the best possible experience, wherever they are in the world. This article explains how CDNs work and why you should use one to improve your website’s performance.

What is a Content Delivery Network?

Instead of hosting your static website assets, such as images, on one server, a Content Delivery Network caches your assets across multiple servers around the world. These are also known as edge servers, or nodes. When a user visits your website, they are served content from their closest edge server, thus reducing latency and speeding up your website.

The concept of a CDN is illustrated below. In the first example, there is no CDN, just a single server hosting a website. In this case, the server is hosted in London, with website users spread all over the world. While users in Europe are relatively close to the server, users in Australia are considerably further away, which means they are likely to experience latency in receiving data. This means they will experience slower content-loading speeds than visitors in Europe.

The second graphic, below, illustrates a CDN. In this case, the origin server is still located in London, and this stores the original version of the website. Spread across the world, however, are edge servers, which cache (essentially duplicate) the original website’s assets. When a user visits the website, they receive content from their closest server, and therefore experience reduced latency and faster loading.

 

Why should I use a CDN to serve images?

A CDN is not always necessary. If your customers are based in one country, it may well be sufficient to maintain a single server in that country. For those serving website visitors over significant geographical distances, however, a CDN can boost loading efficiency – and with it, customer satisfaction. Utilising a CDN can also mitigate against spikes in traffic, which may otherwise crash a website. By distributing bandwidth across multiple servers, visitors can enjoy fast loading speeds, even during peak periods.

Does SmartFrame use a CDN?

Yes. While SmartFrame is not a CDN provider, the technology uses a CDN to ensure that customers enjoy consistently fast loading speeds. In fact, in some cases, we’ve found that an embedded SmartFrame can load faster than when images are served via our customers’ own Content Delivery Networks. If you don’t currently have a CDN, but your website serves lots of images to users across the world, try it out for yourself and see the difference.