A CDN or Content Delivery Network is also known as a content distribution network. It is basically a series of computers or servers spread throughout the world that are responsible for serving static contents of a website. WordPress CDN or CDN in WordPress is actually a regular CDN with support for Auto Optimization of WordPress CMS content.
Its main function is that the contents are served as quickly as possible. So if your content is hosted in the United States, with a CDN you serve them much faster in the United Kingdom. Or a country that is very close to your country!
In this article I want you to know the importance of a CRC and its advantages and disadvantages. But you will also know when you should use it and the best way to manage it from WordPress.
WordPress CDN: What it is, advantages, disadvantages and when you should use it
The importance of the CDN in web optimization
WordPress Optimization/ Web Performance Optimization or WPO is the techniques used to make a website load as quickly as possible.
Especially when a website has many it creates heavy load time.
Obviously, the ideal would be to reduce these to a minimum so as not to have many, but you can’t always do that.
In the case of WordPress, there are themes that have many scripts, plus those added plugins that we have installed have more.
That is why when we are optimizing a WordPress website, we use these types of services that help us reduce load times. When using a CDN, what we do is that these static files are distributed across all those servers. So if someone accesses your website from for example America, these files are used from the nearest CDN server.
With which the load times decrease considerably.
Especially the time to first byte or TTFB which is the first byte that is loaded from the web reduces magically through the Content Delivery Network.
Advantages of using the CDN (Content Delivery Network)
There is numerous benefit of using a CDN. I am going to list the major advantages of using it on the WordPress website.
The main advantage is performance improvement. By not having to serve these files from the main web host, the website will load much faster. Especially for locations that are far away from your hosting.
When we add a CDN to WordPress, most of the static files will be served by it. Since most files are served by a third party, we will have savings on hosting costs. So we can increase traffic considerably without having to increase our plan. From my experience, many sites would save a great amount by putting a CDN.
Another key factor is that we will improve the availability of our website.
There is a common error 500 that we get from the server when serving so many files. It sometimes ends up as the server is not available. Downtime means you are losing traffic. Traffic could bring you money. Using a CDN we remove these possible problems.
Content Delivery Network Increases Security
And last but not least, we may even gain security. There are some CDN services that provide some security systems such as DDOS protection, SSL certificates, and many others that can improve the overall security of your website.
So the advantages are everywhere.
In summary, if we use a WordPress CDN:
- We improve performance.
- We save hosting resources.
- We improve the availability of the website ( less or no downtime).
- We increase security.
Disadvantages of the CDN
A CDN also has its disadvantages or possible problems that must be taken into account before you use one.
You depend on more services
The main disadvantage of the CDN is that when you used to rely on your hosting service, you now depend on 2 to serve your website. So there are twice as many possibilities of an error. Obviously, this is rarer to happens, but it should not be left behind.
More control panels
You should also know that from now on, all static file management is done from the Content Delivery Network.
If we are making changes to the web and the cache needs to be cleaned, it is done from the CDN panel.
Although in WordPress there are plugins that connect with them, which saves us from entering into your control panel, still it might feel too much for some people.
DNS Management Knowledge
Some CDNs require a DNS change and since this is done from domain registrar’s control panel, you need to know how to change that. After you change it, DNS management is done from the CDN and much easier. Although there are others who simply need to create a cname to work, still you need to know how to change DNS values. It is another issue that we have to take into account when managing everything with CDN.
CDN costs money
There are 2 versions of CDN available, free and paid. Some offers only paid services and some offers both. Sometimes due to lack of knowledge, you usually pay for them, when the free versions could serve the need perfectly.
It is not a big deal if you pay as it helps a lot, but it is important that you know it.
- You depend on more services.
- More control panels.
- Some CDN needs DNS change.
- They usually cost money.
When do you need to use a CDN with WordPress?
I am going to give you some guidelines when you should use a CDN.
You have lots of multimedia files
There are websites such as those of photographers who have a large number of multimedia files. In this case, it is highly recommended to use it to lighten the webserver and save bandwidth.
Obviously, this does not eliminate the obligation to optimize images in WordPress.
They are loaded from where they are loaded, they should be as light as you can make them. Please read our website speed optimization article on how to do that.
It depends on the location of your audience
I would use a CDN when a website receives a large amount of traffic from other countries/continents.
For example, if your website is hosted in Canada, but you have a large audience in Asia that speaks English well.
Surely it is very fast for the People of Canada, but not for those of other continents. So in that cases, go for a CDN for better user experience.
It is not possible to change the WordPress Theme
When a WordPress website has too many scripts, the ideal is to change the theme.
But there are times when this is not possible either by time, by resources or whatever.
So we have no choice but to use a CDN to load it much faster.
When the Content Delivery Network won't help you
A CDN will not help you with external or third-party scripts. I mean any file that is not hosted on your website/webserver.
It will not help you to put it because not being hosted on your server, it cannot copy and distribute them.
- Advertising scripts: like those of Adsense, although here I am referencing a website on how to optimize Adsense to load faster.
- Google sources: these are loaded from your servers.
- External icons: for example Font Awesome.
- Social networks: those of Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- Analytics scripts: for example Google Analytics.
- Conversion: Facebook pixel, Adwords, etc.
- And many more…
Although for these there are certain techniques with which loading times can be improved.
Well-known Content Delivery Networks for WordPress
I have prepared a list of the best and well-known CDNs and most importantly you can use most of them directly into WordPress.
Jetpack is a well-known WordPress plugin that brings many options and one of them is a CDN for images.
What it does is, it copies all images and serve them from WordPress servers scattered around the world. I personally do not like it because it is only for images on the free plan and this plugin greatly overloads the installation. But if you are paying, it is good options as it also provides security.
Cloudflare is a free CDN that most of the people use and that I usually recommend and install to all my clients.
In addition to significantly improving speed, it makes your site better available and more secure.
It also has paid plans, but with the free one, you don’t have to spend a dime if you don’t need much. If you need advanced DNS protection, privacy and attack saving, you should go for the paid ones. Highly recommended from me.
You have many options such as minifying files, own cache, and others.
StackPath (former MaxCDN)
I was actually writing for MaxCDN which is now a part of StackPath. StackPath / former MaxCDN is another widely used CDN that is similar to Cloudflare, although I have not come to use it yet.
In addition to the static file sharing function, it has speed, security, and analytical improvements.
It is a good option, but it is not free, so to use it you have to pay a recurring monthly fee. It is not expensive because it starts for only 10 dollars a month, but it is good.
Amazon CloudFront is the Amazon CDN. I have been using it for a long time and I have to say that it is very good. But yes, it is paid and you pay for what you use.
It is a more professional option for those who need a good performance.
How to manage a CDN from WordPress?
The best way to manage a CDN from your WordPress website is by using a cache plugin.
It is true that you can do it from your own control panels or even by installing some of your own plugins for it.
But it is better from a cache plugin because you save access to its panel and also save resources by not installing another plugin that consumes more resources.
As today it is mandatory to have a cache plugin because it helps a lot. There are many plugins that do cache, although I personally prefer WP Rocket. It has compatibility with the best-known CDN such as Cloudflare, Amazon Cloudfront, MaxCDN, and others.
Over to You!
A CDN is a good tool to improve web performance, but even better if we don’t need it. Personally, I prefer to have a well-optimized website and which doesn’t need it. But as you have seen, there are cases in which there is no choice but to use it.
Did you know all of the things that I have mentioned about the Content Delivery Network? Do you have any more CDN in the knowledge that I should review?
Come on, Let’s comment. I’ll wait for you in the comments. Until next time, take care.