CDN, know as Content Distribution Network or some times Content Delivery Network can be used to deliver your websites content to the end users with a higher than normal UP Time and speed. Another advantage of using a CDN provider is a higher level of security for your website and the transfer of data.
A CDN doesn’t remove the need for Web Hosting, the function of the CDN is to sit between visitor and your Web Host provider acting as a reverse proxy for the website.
Do I need to use a CDN
The quick easy answer is no. For most gerneral hobby and small business websites a CDN isn’t really needed. I would say a CDN is worth using once your website has started to receive large world wide traffic volumes. A good aCDN provider will have a very large number of data centers around the world, the chances are that a CDN will have a data center much closer to your end user than the webhost provider you have chosen. This will result in a faster download and response times from the CDN.
CDN Security and Performance settings
A good CDN provider allows you do adjust a large number of Security and Performance settings. All default settings are set to a sensible level so don’t be discouraged when you initially see the available settings.
Available CDN Settings:
- Cache Level
- Minimum Expire TTL
- Auto Minify
- Security Level adjustments
- Advanced DDos protection
- Challenge passage TTL
- E-mail address obfuscation
- Server Side Exclude (SSE)
- Browser Integrity Check
- Hot Link Protecction
- Web Application Firewall
FREE CDN Provider
CloudFlare offers a Free CDN plan, a Pro Plan and also the top level Business CDN package. The Free Plan offered by CloudFlare doesn’t restrict the number of websites a user can registered but some of the Security and Performance settings are restricted. CLOUDFLARE
How to use CloudFlare CDN
If you have decided to use CloudFlare or another CDN provider here are the basic steps for setting up a CDN connection.
- The first step is to create an account with a CDN Provider. We have included a link to CloudFlare who are currently offering a Free Plan – CLOUDFLARE
- Add a new website to your CDN account. This generally involves typing in a website URL which you own, the CDN provider will then scann the website.
- You will then be asked to confirm DNS – Domain Name records. The only basic records you want have active are the Domain name (Your website name) and the WWW record. The rest will automatically bypass the CDN system.
- Select a CDN Plan for the website. As mentioned before CloudFlare offer a FREE CDN Plan which can be selected at this step. All settings can be left set to the default:
- Performance – CDN ONLY (Safest)
- Security – MEDIUM
- Automatic IPv6 – ON
- Smart Errors – ON (Partial)
- The next step is to update your Domains Name Servers. To do this you will need to log into your Domain Name Provider and update the Name Servers to the Name Servers that the CDN provider supply.
- Confirm the change to the CDN Name Servers at your CDN provider.
- And now you are finished, the change of Name Servers can some times take up to 24hours.
W3 Total Cache CDN Setup
You can continue to use the WordPress performance plugin W3 Total Cache after setting up a website on a CDN. CloudFare is available in the extensions section of W3.
The CloudFlare extension will need to be activated before the CDN setting can be accessed. Once you have entered the correct CDN account data you will be able to turn on/off the CDN Development mode. You will need to turn off the CDN when creating new pages or posts on the website, once you have finished updating the content on your website the CDN Cache function can be turned back on.
CDN Analytics can include information on the number pageviews, Threats, Crawler visits, Bandwidth saved by the use of the CDN and the number of visits. Threat reports can be broken down by origin, which includes the number of Hot Link protections, Failed Browser Ingegrity checks, Known Threats and the number of IP’s being Blocked.
CDN & SSL Certificates
Some CDN providers also manage the use of SSL certificates. Providers such as ClouFlare offer a FREE SSL service listed as Flexible SSL, although this is not as secure as a full SSL Certificate it is an option.
SSL between the visitor and CloudFlare — visitor sees HTTPS on your site, but no SSL between CloudFlare and your web server. You don’t need to have an SSL cert on your web server, but your visitors will still see the site as being HTTPS enabled. CloudFlare
Some CDN providers will automatically assign a basic SSL Certificate to your domain but if you have a paid CDN plan then you can manage the use of a third party SLL.
To check for any SSL installation problems free ssl checkers can be used such as SSL CHECKER
SSL checkers may give false results if the the Domain name servers have just been changed to the CDN Name servers during the setup process.
Results of a SSL Installation check of the free Flexible SSL supplied by CloudFlare CDN: