How to Speed Up Your WordPress Site: Part 4 – Using Content Delivery Network (CDN)
If you aren’t satisfied with the speed or responsiveness of your WordPress site, consider using a Content Delivery Network (CDN). CDNs are server networks that deliver web content based on the geographic locations of the user, website, and the CDN.
Let’s take a look at why CDNs can solve vexing problems like periodic slowdowns and traffic spikes that can crash a site.
CDNs Speed Up Page Loads
It’s now pretty well known that every second it takes for a webpage to load, the more impatient the user gets. This is even more pronounced for mobile users, who start abandoning sites that fail to load after just one second, according to much-cited statistics from Kissmetrics.
Google, in fact, recommends servers to begin responding within 200 milliseconds.
Central servers are exactly this: powerful, centrally located computers that house just about everything websites require: storage, software, networks, email, scripts. CDNs, though, deliver only web content.
CDNs save on download time by pulling only content from central servers. They bypass all the hardware, software, and other information stored on the central server. Because they are dispersed throughout the globe, they identify the server that is geographically close to the user requesting data, which saves several milliseconds.
CDNs are essentially networks of servers,so they can easily route data from one server to another in the event of a traffic surge or security alert, with minimal slowdown.
A CDN like CloudFlare, which works well with WordPress hosting, can begin responding to a request within 30 milliseconds. As an added bonus, it maintains a data center in Johannesburg.
CDNs Deliver the Latest Cached Data
The data CDNs deliver are cached (copied) to a network of servers in different regions. The servers keep these copies in gateway, or edge, nodes that are common access points for data requests.
Users who request information receive it from the server closest to them. That server will also communicate with the originating server to provide updated data as they arrive.
This is why someone reading the front page of a news site will see it refresh every several minutes. The CDN serving the site is constantly receiving newly cached data to deliver. Readers who happen to be on it at the time will also get the new data.
To prevent interruptions, many news sites offer instant article downloads for offline reading. The reader can return to the live site to get the latest update.
Downloads can’t be fast enough.
How CDNs Deliver Content
CDNs use three different ways to deliver website content:
- Peer to Peer delivers the same information to a large number of users. Examples include software patches and updates.
- Origin Pull distributes small files like those on WordPress sites. It’s best for files less than 10MB. It stores content on the website’s own server; the CDN then pulls the content it needs and delivers it. Each time a file is requested, delivery time gets shorter, which helps with Google ranking.
- PoP Pull continuously uploads content to the CDN’s host server, usually through FTP (file transfer protocol). The CDN stores the data for delivery.
WordPress Plugins for CDN
Many WordPress plugins will allow you to configure a content delivery network. Here are a few that you can use:
Not all CDNs provide dedicated WordPress hosting. If you’re looking for this service, take a look at our hosting packages, which also include unlimited bandwidth and daily backups.