In my last article titled Utilizing CloudFront with WordPress and W3TC Total Cache which as you can probably guess was a simple how to on setting up CloudFront on a website powered by WordPress. There’s nothing wrong with the guide itself; however, I feel as though I jumped the gun for some of my readers by not explaining what a CDN is as well as the pro’s and con’s they can provide a site with.
First on the chopping block: WTF is a CDN?
Verrrry simply put a CDN (Content Delivery Network) is a group of servers that will be used to serve your websites static files such as images, CSS & JS. CDN providers such as MaxCDN and Amazon’s CloudFront have servers located in most major regions so that they’re consumers (you) can server their website visitors files from a server located closer to them.
(skip to the end of the post for a beautiful infographic “Why You Need a CDN for your WordPress Blog?” courtesy of Wpbeginner)
Next to tackle: … OK cool. Now why should I use a CDN?
Unless you’re running a server yourself or are purchasing a dedicated server your site’s files are being housed on the same server as other sites (if you have a VPS than a little less) all using a certain amount of resources allocated to that specific server.
This is usually one of the primary factors slowing websites - assuming the sites in question are running as error free as possible. In which case there’s no real work around other than heavily leveraging various caching methods.
Using my site as an example I currently am running on a GoDaddy shared hosting account – which I can safely say isn’t the best. I’m heavily leveraging various caching methods to take some of the demand off the server – less in more when it comes to files and transfer speeds with shared hosting. Without using a CDN my average page load speeds were un-cached 7 seconds and a cached load at 3 seconds – admittedly horrible considering my profession. Now currently using CloundFront to server my files my site loads well…. you know.
With the above in mind I’d like to strongly suggest you comb through you websites back-end to ensure all nuts and bolts that may cause a hiccup in page loading is cleared before making any more investments. There’s not point in throwing away money signing up for a CDN.
In my next post to be released this weekend I’ll be going through my recommended CDN’s to help you choose the right service provider for you or your company’s needs.