What is most appropriate to improve the performance of your website: a content delivery network or a dedicated server? In this post, we explore CDN vs dedicated server.Posted on 28 October 2016 - Hosting
If you’re weighing up the benefits of using either a content delivery network (CDN) or a dedicated server for your website, the chances are you either have a high traffic website or you’re delivering lots of heavy media files to your customers.
If your website does not match either of those description, it is highly probable that a CDN will be best option (or at least the one you should try first). At entry level, a CDN is likely to be considerably cheaper method to take the strain off your main server by hosting and serving all static items on your website than a dedicated server would be.
Before we go any further, let’s have a quick look at the two options:
As we’ve just mentioned, a content delivery network is usually used to take the strain of a server by serving some of the site’s content. This is achieved by using multiple servers and networks to deliver content quickly.
Benefits of a CDN include:
A dedicated server is a piece of hardware (i.e. the server) that is dedicated solely to you. In other words, none of the space or resources are shared with other customers.
Benefits of a dedicated server include:
A dedicated server will usually require more upkeep than a CDN. If you’re getting managed hosting from a company like Tibus, this will not really be an issue. If you’re looking after everything yourself, a CDN might be less work.
As we said at the outset, a basic CDN is likely to cost less than an entry level dedicated server. The more traffic your site gets, the more likely it is that the balance will be tipped in favour of the dedicated server becoming the more economical option.
In theory, a CDN offers 100 per cent availability because it will use multiple networks to serve your content. Depending on the nature and configuration of these networks, performance could be affected. With a dedicated server, the entire resource is geared towards serving your website. As long as the right piece of kit is selected and managed well by your host, performance should not be an issue.
The reliability of CDNs varies considerably between different providers. Choose wisely and you shouldn’t have a problem. With a dedicated server, as mentioned above, everything should be built and designed to match your requirements by your web host. Choose a web host that promises 99.9% availability to ensure a reliable service.
The construction of content delivery networks, as outlined above, means that problems might be harder to track down than if you’re using a dedicated server. As such, you might expect quicker resolution to support requests for a dedicated server.
Hopefully the information above has helped you to find the pros and cons of both a CDN and a dedicated server, and apply these to your situation. We normally recommend CDN in combination with all standard hosting platforms in order to improve performance and take the strain from the primary web server.
However, even for high-traffic websites, including those that rely on a dedicated server, we usually recommend a CDN to form past of the hosting architecture.
So, in summary, a CDN is nearly always a good idea. In some cases, it might be most effective when used in tandem with a dedicated server.