#Web Development

Why and How You Should Use a Content Delivery Network

August 26, 2013

Content Delivery Networks are used by all sorts of sites, from newsgroups to business to personal blogs. Most people are drawn to using a CDN because CDNs can both help decrease load time and increase uptime, as long as the CDN provider is trustworthy and maintains their servers. But smaller businesses and sites sometimes choose not to use CDNs, thinking they aren’t worth the price, or are too complicated to set up. That, however, couldn’t be further from the truth, and even the newest, smallest eCommerce or news sites should utilize a CDN for the following reasons.

CDNs make your site easier to use

The fact of the matter is no one wants to use a slow site. And sometimes its not even the site that is slow – it’s the extra css, images, and other assets that have to be transferred from a server all the way to a user’s computer. A dedicated CDN fixes that by spreading all of the various assets of your site to its own, local servers. So, if you are in California and a user in Florida wants to access your site, they don’t have to wait for their computer to load files from your server. Instead, the CDN accesses a server closer to the user, which cuts load time. Distance causes delays, and while those delays may not seem very long, milliseconds can be the difference between making a sale and being passed over.

They can also make you money

Amazon did a study back in 2007 that found a 100-ms increase in load time led to a 1 percent decrease in sales. A good CDN can decrease load time by around 200 milliseconds, which can translate to a 2% boost in sales – and that is nothing to sneer at. Even a small boost in sales can really help a company grow and increase its exposure. You do have to pay for a CDN’s services, but by using a CDN, you get more than a quick boost to your sales. More customers means more effective marketing, and increases the chance that you’ll get referral business. CDNs don’t even take that much time to set-up, especially if you built your site using Drupal and can take advantage of its module system.

Modules make CDNs Easy

As the module page says, this CDN module only aims to do one thing – pointing files to CDNs. And it does do it well. At its most basic level, it allows you to quickly integrate your site with a CDN. Before you use it, though, you will need to pay for access to a CDN – Amazon CloudFront is a great choice as it has a relatively high uptime, it is cheap, easy to use, and they have servers all over the place. After you define a custom origin sever, you can go onto setting up the module. Within it you are able to define what types of files you want to map to your CDN, which means you don’t have to change every, single URL on your site. It also comes with two modes; Origin Pull and File Conveyer. Origin Pull mode sets up the CDN to periodically pull files from your server and add or replace the relevant files to its own, local servers. File Conveyer is a little more advanced and, while it can optimize content before syncing to the CDN, the only sites that need to worry about it are those handling a lot of traffic.


With as cheap as a CDN is these days, and as easy it is to integrate one with your site, there really is no excuse for not using one. A good CDN will boost sales and traffic, along with increasing how much time people spend on your site. The faster the site, the easier it is to use. There are, of course, a variety of CDN providers out there, and depending on your needs you may only require domestic service, or one based in a particular country. But when you figure out your target market, start looking for a CDN provider. Then, when you develop your Drupal site, make sure to install the CDN module and get it started on the right path.

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