What is a CDN?
A CDN for WordPress is a Content Delivery Network that delivers your web files from PoP’s (Points of Presence, the CDN’s datacentres), rather than your own web server. This provides a geographically distributed group of servers that work together to determine the fastest way to deliver your static content to your users.
A properly configured CDN can also be used to help protect websites against DDOS attacks.
Other benefits include:
- Reducing your own servers bandwidth costs (as traffic is going through the CDN rather than your server),
- Increasing content availability and redundancy – Large amounts of traffic or hardware failures can interrupt normal website function. Thanks to their distributed nature, a CDN can handle more traffic and withstand hardware failure better than many origin servers.
- Improving website security – A CDN may improve security by providing DDoS mitigation, improvements to security certificates, and other optimizations.
Choosing the best type of CDN for WordPress
CDN’s come in two flavours – traditional pull CDN’s, and reverse proxy/WAF CDN’s.
Traditional pull CDNs cache a copy of all of your content and media and utilise a subdomain or a random URL to serve the assets from. When someone visits your WordPress site, a request is first made from the client to your hosting provider, and then to the CDN to fetch all of the assets.
One that you may have heard of before, Cloudflare, is the second type.
A reverse proxy/WAF CDN is slightly different than a traditional pull CDN. While it still acts likes a CDN, it intercepts all incoming requests and acts as an intermediary server between the client and your host. This is one reason why you have to change your nameservers and point your DNS to them. And unlike a traditional CDN, it typically doesn’t involve the use of a subdomain or random URL.
Generally speaking, for speed, a traditional CDN is going to be your best bet for speed. The downside here is they don’t really help with malicious traffic or bots – but that shouldn’t be the first concern when choosing a CDN. For this type, we recommend QUIC.cloud and KeyCDN.
If you want the added protection of the second type, then Cloudflare is the best choice.
Additional considerations when choosing a CDN for WordPress
You need to ensure that the CDN you choose has a PoP in the areas your users are present. For example, Perth, Western Australia is rather remote and many CDN’s only have a PoP on the other side of the continent.
Additionally, it is important to look at all of the additional features available with each CDN, such as;
- Zone Alias
- IPv6 Support
- Header Control
- Log Forwarding
- Gzip Compression
- Real-time Reports
- Byte-range Requests
- HTTP Live Streaming
- Image Processing
- Let’s Encrypt TLS
- Secure Token
- OCSP Stapling
- Block Bad Bots
- DDoS Protection
- Access Rules
- Two-Factor Authentication
- Instant Purge
- Origin Shield
- Strip Cookies
- Query Strings
- Brotli Compression
Need help adding a CDN for WordPress?
This is part of our optimization service. We can help you optimize your site above and beyond adding a CDN for WordPress, just let us know what you are trying to achieve, and we will let you know how we can help.