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Introduction to CDNs
Rapyd Team avatar
Written by Rapyd Team
Updated over a week ago

CDN was created in the late 1990s to address the lagging performance of the Internet. Since then, it has continued to be better in tackling content delivery which is mostly very high in quality.

What is a CDN?

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a network of servers that work together to deliver web content to users in a fast and efficient manner. These network servers are geographically distributed to provide content.

Today, CDN is used by E-commerce websites, media companies, news companies, and of course social media sites.

For example, Netflix, a popular streaming service, uses CDN to deliver high-quality video content to its subscribers. It helps to reduce buffering time and ensure a smooth streaming experience for users.

What type of content can a CDN deliver?

  1. Static content: This includes images, CSS files, JavaScript files, and other types of static files that make up a website's design and structure.

  2. Dynamic content: This includes content that is generated on the fly, such as search results, personalized content, and user-generated content.

  3. Video and audio content: CDNs is commonly used to deliver high-quality video and audio content, such as live streams, on-demand videos, and podcasts.

  4. Software and applications: CDNs can also deliver software updates, mobile apps, and other applications.

Most businesses deliver their services online through the content they generate as listed above.

How does CDN work to deliver content ?

When a user requests content from a website that uses a CDN, the request is automatically routed to the server that is closest to the user's location, known as an edge server. This reduces the distance that the content needs to travel, resulting in faster load times and a better user experience.

Here are the basic steps that a CDN follows to deliver content:

  1. The website owner signs up for a CDN service and configures it to cache their content.

  2. The CDN creates content copies on multiple servers in different regions.

  3. When a user requests content from the website, the request is automatically directed to the closest edge server that has a cached copy of the content.

  4. If the requested content is not available on the closest edge server, the CDN will route the request to the next closest server.

  5. The edge server delivers the cached content to the user, resulting in faster load times and a better user experience.

  6. The CDN can also provide additional services, such as load balancing, security features, and analytics tools.

CDN can also deal with data protection.

Besides delivering content through servers, a CDN can effectively safeguard a website and make sure it remains secure. For example, it can provide fresh TLS/SSL certificates, which ensure proper authentication, encryption, and integrity standards.

But a CDN provides data protection in many other ways. Here is a list below to describe this:

  1. DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) protection: A CDN can protect against DDoS attacks, which aim to overwhelm a website or server with traffic and make it unavailable. The CDN tackles this by detecting and blocking malicious traffic before it reaches the origin server, thus preventing data theft or other damage.

  2. SSL/TLS encryption: A CDN can use SSL/TLS encryption to secure the data transmitted between the origin server and the end user. This helps prevent eavesdropping or interception of sensitive information, such as passwords, credit card details, or personal information.

  3. Web Application Firewall (WAF): WAF is used in CDNs to block common web attacks, such as SQL injection or cross-site scripting (XSS), which can be used to steal data or take control of a website.

  4. Access Control: A CDN can limit access to content based on certain criteria like IP address, geographic location, or device type. This helps prevent unauthorized access to data and reduces the risk of data breaches.


CDN is an essential component for every website and application as it assists in delivering content safely and efficiently to users.

Due to the ease of cloud computing, CDN has been marked by faster speeds, improved performance, and more sophisticated services that enable websites to deliver content.

So a CDN can provide businesses with a significant competitive advantage in today's digital age.

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