Content Delivery Network Options

A content delivery network (CDN) helps deliver faster internet content to users. Read a guide on the best content delivery network options in 2021.

Website data was previously stored on one central server, which was housed in a singular location. This resulted in slower load times and diminished user experiences. A content delivery network (CDN) is conversely a group of servers housed in various locations for the purpose of delivering faster internet content. The faster a CDN delivers data and internet content the better the experience is for users.

How exactly does a content delivery network function? What are my best options for a CDN in 2021 and how will it enhance my website performance? CDNs also absorb & defend against distributed denial of service (DDoS) and other cyber attacks better than single-server infrastructures are capable of handling. What are the top content delivery network providers on the market today? Read ahead for a guide on how to explore the best content delivery network options available in 2021.

Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) vs. Single-Server Delivery

The former method of placing all your website content onto one server is no longer effective for most user needs today. Single-server content delivery is slow because regardless of where a person/business makes an upload/transfer request the source data is sent from one centralized location. Single-server content delivery is also more vulnerable to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

Content delivery networks (CDNs) are comprised of multiple servers in various designated locations. Your data/content is copied and uploaded to each server on the applicable CDN. Because multiple geographic server options are available your requests are fulfilled from the server located closest to you. CDNs therefore reduce upload/transfer time. CDNs also reduce DDoS attack risks by routing suspicious activity to one centralized location and removing (filtering) it from the network. CDNs also protect against DDoS attacks by distributing malicious activity around network servers and shielding your applications and websites.

How Content Delivery Networks Enhance Website Performance

CDNs improves website performance by increasing the delivery speed of all relevant content from its source to the origin of the request. Having data copied and stored on various servers lightens the delivery and storage responsibilities required of each server. Each server therefore functions and operates with more speed and efficiency because the workload is shared across the network.

How does this CDN process and delivery method specifically enhance the performance of a website? CDNs handle spikes in traffic without a glitch. Using a CDN also reduces server costs. This leaves more money in the budget for website and content development. Server optimization is also performed on each type of content to increase delivery efficiency. HTML pages, stylesheets, videos, images/pictures and javascript files are all uploaded/transferred at high rates of speed regardless of the amount of traffic on the website.

CDNs also cache resources and data as a way of enhancing website performance. Cached resources prevent responses to data upload/transfer requests from generating in geographically distant servers. Responses to data upload/transfer requests are instead generated from the server/cache closest to the request origin. 

Caches are initially filled from a designated origin source. Certain data is stored in caches unless manually deleted. CDNs also clean (purge) caches at schedule frequencies throughout each year to maintain consistently higher transfer/upload speeds.

User Experience

How does the overall CDN process and delivery method enhance the user experience of a website or server? Website users submit requests to hear music and view pictures. Users, who are likely clients/customers or potential clients/customers, expect an audio or image player to work instantly. People visiting a website also expect pages to load instantly regardless of what type of content is on them.

Using a CDN makes the user experience more enjoyable. Users might not know what is happening behind the scenes to create such an experience but they do know when a website makes a positive impression. Fast page loads, functioning links, no buffering when streaming audio/video and user-friendly store options all help create great user experiences. CDNs are the reason such positive experiences are possible.

Enhanced Security

Server and data security are always foremost on the minds of website and business owners in 2021. Data and content spread across numerous servers on a CDN helps mitigate cyber attacks. DDoS and other attack risks are always present in modern times, however. TLS/SSL certificates authenticate all data entering the server prior to sending it to users. Data/content on CDNs is also encrypted adding yet another layer of protection to the process.

Top Content Delivery Network Providers 2021 (and pricing)

Choosing the best CDN for you and/or your business is an important decision. Pricing is always a consideration but so are numerous other factors such as delivery speed, user experience, security, server maintenance, customer service and more. The best content delivery network providers offer a combination of every element you need.

Pricing is based on usage amounts but also on commitment. Some service providers offer discounts to clients committing to one or two-year+ contracts. Some reduce rates for monthly commitments while others simply charge a fee per GB used. Some of the top delivery network providers for 2021 include: