In the past, traditional web hosting services were the standard. However, as the internet and its associated technologies continue to change, it was only a matter of time before this would change. Today hosting companies have to combat content delivery networks or CDNs that are offered as an alternative solution.
Another thing that’s typical for the internet is that there are two sides with opposed opinions. It’s the same with web hosts and CDNs. Each side claims that their choice is better without considering the possible downsides.
Therefore, we’ve decided to put an end to this dispute and talk about the connection between these two and how they can work together.
How websites work
Websites are basically a collection of code and different pages. The code combines all elements of your website and puts them together in the structure you define. However, your website is accessible only if it’s located on a web server.
A server is basically a dedicated computer that handles all the requests sent to your website by a browser. Setting up servers can be very difficult and requires modern hardware.
This is why most people turn to host providers to get the server power they need. In other words, your website will be practically invisible if you don’t get hosting.
What is a content delivery network?
Today a big part of web traffic runs through CDNs, including some of the major platforms such as Amazon, Netflix, or Facebook. However, a CDN isn’t a replacement for hosting. It cannot host the entire website, but it caches content already hosted on the site and delivers it faster.
Web hosting explained
Hosting a website means providing a computer server where the website data can be stored. A web hosting provider ensures that all your content on the website and its files, including images, video, text, code, and so on, is available online for other internet users.
All of the websites online are hosted on a server. There are many different types of hosting options, including shared, cloud, dedicated, VPS, and so many more. Each option has its own features, capabilities, storage space, bandwidths, and so on.
How CDNs and website hosting work hand in hand
A lot of people confuse CDN and hosting. It’s impossible to have a CDN without hosting. They aren’t the same thing, even though they can do similar things. So the goal shouldn’t be to compare the two, but how we can combine them to get the best possible results.
Lower bandwidth requirements
When you’re looking for a hosting provider, you’ll see different bandwidth options. The more bandwidth a website has, the faster the pages will load in users’ browsers. A CDN can cache and optimize the data that needs to be provided by the hosting server.
This results in lower bandwidth requirements and lowers hosting costs. At the same time, all pages on a website will load faster.
Consistent content availability
The increased traffic can disrupt a website and its server. It can put a strain on the server and its hardware, and make the website very slow.
However, a CDN helps in handling increased demand as the servers in this network are distributed, and can share traffic between them. This ensures constant availability and prevents potential customers or leads from being lost due to an increase in traffic.
Both increase load times
CDNs distribute content across physical servers that are geographically closer together, so it takes less time to get content. Caching also increases load time, run uptime and ensures that data can be moved as needed.
On the other hand, web hosting packages have larger memory and better processing power, resulting in faster request execution speed. There are many other ways in which good hosting providers can increase speed, such as dedicated resources, faster hardware, etc.
They can act as a safety net for each other
No matter which of the two is more strained with the current demands, the other one can jump in. In other words, you never use the resources of both the CDN and the hosting server together. This is especially noticeable during traffic spikes.
If there is a sudden spike, your website will not go down, and the CDN will help deliver content quickly and reduce bandwidth requirements. In the end, both are good for improving the security level of a website.
Combining the best of both worlds
Both CDNs and traditional hosting servers have their own pros and cons. It’s not about choosing one over the other, but about leveraging both. A lot of people try to compare them, but that’s not the point. It’s about combining them to get the best possible results.
Today, there are out-of-the-box CDN server hosting options that implement your entire hosting infrastructure as well as a content delivery network.
We hope this post has helped you understand the differences between these two and how important both are to your website. Remember: high-quality hosting and a CDN can increase load speed, decrease bounce rate, improve user experience, and boost your website SEO.
Jerry Low is a geek dad, SEO junkie, and founder of WebRevenue. For the latest personal updates and news, follow him on Twitter.