An Overview of CDN for Asset Caching and Content Delivery
Published at March 29, 2023

Modern web applications need Content Delivery Networks (CDN). CDN is the transparent infrastructure of the internet that handles faster content delivery.

When we are scrolling through social media, shopping online, and reading articles on news sites, we realise whether or not we interact with CDN daily. The objective of a CDN is to practically reduce that physical distance to increase the speed and efficiency of site rendering.

To know more about how CDN caching is widely used, we’ve gathered about its definition, how it works, and its benefits.

What is CDN caching?

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a network of servers that has global delivery and collaborates to send content to users more quickly.

When a user asks for a page from your website, the CDN locates the closest server and sends the content from that server, shortening the time it takes to reach the user's device.

Websites may also be protected from some web app attacks or malicious attacks, such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks, with the support of a properly configured CDN.

Caching is the main of CDN services. CDN sends the content of your website to potent proxy servers designed for accelerated content distribution, much like how browser caching stores files on a hard drive where they can be viewed more quickly.

CDNs increased significantly over time. When caching, a CDN will send a local copy of the content from a close-by cache edge, or Point of Presence (PoP), reducing the load on an application origin and enhancing the requestor's experience.

CDNs now send dynamic content that is specific to the requestor and not cacheable, going far beyond simple caching. The performance and scaling of the application are benefits of using a CDN to serve dynamic content.

What is the Origin Server?

An origin server is a server that stores the original copy of a website's content, such as HTML files, images, videos, and other assets. When a user requests content from a website, the request is sent to the origin server, which then delivers the content back to the user.

If multiple users request the same content, the origin server can become overloaded, leading to slow page load times and poor user experience. This is where asset caching comes in.

What is the Edge Server?

It is impossible to answer the question "how does a CDN work" without first defining CDN edge servers.

An edge server is a type of server that exists at the outer edge of a CDN. Its purpose is to cache content closer to the end user, reducing network latency and increasing download speeds. When a user requests content from a CDN, the request is typically routed to the nearest edge server, which then delivers the content to the user.

How does a CDN work?

A one-second load delay causes 11% fewer page views and 7% fewer conversions. The world's largest online retailer Amazon estimates that every second of load time reduces their yearly revenue by about $1.6 billion.

Let’s say that a user requests a website, and the request is routed to the closest CDN server to the user’s location. A CDN server next decides whether it has a cached copy of the requested content.

CDNs keep static files in their cache, including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files. Instead of requesting it from the origin server when a user requests this content, the CDN gives it to them directly from their cache. This reduces the load on the origin server, which may improve the website.

For example, imagine a website hosted in the US but receiving visitors from all over the world. When a user from Japan sees your website, their request has to cross the ocean to the origin server in the US, which may cause slow loading times.

However, if you use a CDN, the user's request will be automatically forwarded to the closest CDN server in Japan, which will send the content much more quickly.

Two Popular Types of CDN

1. Pull Zones

The most popular form of CDN is a pull zone. The CDN server gets the requested content from the origin server and stores it in its cache when a user asks for it from a website. The information is served from the CDN server rather than the origin server the next time it is requested.

The adaptability of draw zones is one of their main benefits. So there is no need to manually upload files because they automatically cache content as it is requested. Pull zones are compatible with various content types, including HTML, images, and videos.

2. Push Zones

Push zones, also called origin-push, need physical content uploaded by users to the CDN server. In contrast to pull zones, which cache content as needed, this means that content must be uploaded in advance.

Push zones give more flexibility in how content is delivered. Users who use push zones can simply manage their content and regulate when and how it is delivered. Push zones are a great choice for websites with high traffic

Benefits of using a CDN

  • Faster Website Loading Speed: CDNs offer faster website loading speeds. It delivers content from the closest server to the user's location.
  • Improved Website Performance: CDNs reduce the load on the origin server by caching static assets at edge servers. This results in improved website performance, even during peak traffic periods.
  • Increased Website Availability: CDNs distribute content across multiple servers, increasing website availability and reducing the risk of downtime due to server failure.
  • Better SEO Rankings: Website speed and performance are important factors in SEO rankings. CDNs your website optimisation search engine rankings by improving page speed and performance.
  • Reduce Bandwidth Costs:  CDNs can help reduce bandwidth costs by reducing the amount of data transferred from the origin server to end-users.

Who uses a CDN?

CDNs already handle more than half of all traffic. There aren't many reasons not to use a CDN if even a small portion of your business is conducted online, particularly now that so many of them provide their services at no cost.

CDNs are used by a wide range of individuals and organisations, including:

  • E-commerce: CDN helps e-commerce websites deliver content quickly, reducing page load times, and improving user experience.
  • Media Companies: CDN allows media companies to distribute content across a global network of servers, reducing latency and improving performance.
  • Gaming Companies: CDNs are ideal for gaming companies because they allow for quick and reliable delivery of game updates, patches, and other content.
  • Government Agencies: CDNs help government agencies deliver content more efficiently, ensuring citizens can access the information they need.
  • Educational Institutions: CDNs allow education institutions to deliver course materials, videos, and other content distribution efficiently.
  • Small Business Owners: By improving website speed and reliability, small businesses can improve their online presence and attract more customers.

Wrapping Up

Using CDNs to cache assets and deliver content can be an effective strategy for optimising your website's performance.

Further, it is essential to thoroughly research and compare the different providers available to determine which is the best fit for your requirements. Having a plan for dealing with issues is important as well.

Do you need business technology consulting about CDN? Let’s discuss this with VirtualSpirit!

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