CDN Hosting vs Traditional Web Hosting

By Brian Jackson
Updated on February 6, 2018
CDN Hosting vs Traditional Web Hosting

There was a time when traditional web hosting had lorded over everything else that happened over the World Wide Web. There were several hosting companies that housed basic as well as corporate websites, which were purely static and comprised of small files that could be viewed and downloaded by users on the internet. But, these days are long gone. Now, the internet has earned the reputation of being the central repository and delivery of personal, corporate and home multimedia content that has revolutionized education and entertainment. However, current technology and traditional web hosting is no longer capable of meeting the demands of websites.

CDN hosting

Today, content delivery networks or CDNs have gained prominence. These are simply networked systems that are in cooperative mode and peak with neural networks. Powerful servers known as edge servers are located in various locations for serving large corporations and they provide numerous services to the users seamlessly, without letting them know the location of the server from where data is sent. These networked hosts, which are deployed in different parts of the world, now play a significant role in surpassing the computing resources of traditional web hosting in order to deliver rich and high quality multimedia content in a reliable and cost-effective way, particularly when content delivery networks such as KeyCDN are used.

Differences between CDNs and web Hosting

  1. Web hosting is used to host your website on a server and let users access it over the internet. A content delivery network is about speeding up the access/delivery of your website's assets to those users.
  2. Traditional web hosting would deliver 100% of your content to the user. If they are located across the world, the user still must wait for the data to be retrieved from where your web server is located. A CDN takes a majority of your static and dynamic content and serves it from across the globe, decreasing download times. Most times, the closer the CDN server is to the web visitor, the faster assets will load for them.
  3. Web hosting normally refers to one server. A content delivery network refers to a global network of edge servers which distributes your content from a multi-host environment.

Content Delivery Network Market Growing at 26% CAGR to 2020

- MarketReportsHub

Content delivery network load

Since content delivery networks now take the majority of the load, this allows for savings on your web host, and also less of your resources being used. We pulled data from a client's site below for an example.

Bandwidth with web host

In the last 30 days they have used 12.01 GB of data with their web host.

Bandwidth with content delivery network (KeyCDN)

In the last 30 days they have used 34.84 GB of data with KeyCDN.

That means the content delivery network is handling 74% of the load. And remember, unlike a web host where everything is on one server, this is spread across a global network of POPs with more than a thousand servers.

Benefits of CDN server hosting

There are a myriad of benefits that can be associated with KeyCDN and other content delivery networks, which outweigh anything that's delivered by the servers of traditional web hosting. Balanced load architecture and multiple locations of servers are alternatives of traditional web hosting. There is no point of failure in this system. With the help of dispersed cache node locations, clients in different parts of the world can be served by web hosts from the closest servers in order to offer website acceleration and reduce telecommunication costs at the same time.

Main benefits of a content delivery network

  1. Performance: reduced latency and minimized packet loss
  2. Scalability: automatically scale up for traffic spikes
  3. SEO Improvement: benefit from the Google SEO ranking factor
  4. Reliability: automatic redundancy between edge servers
  5. Lower Costs: save bandwidth with your web host
  6. Security: KeyCDN mitigates DDoS attacks on edge servers

To read more about the benefits listed above check out our beginner's guide to a content delivery network.

The CPU utilization is maximized with KeyCDN as load is distributed across several hosts and this provides the best performance by balancing bandwidth and flattening peak times. This content delivery network has the ability of handling and surviving views of millions of pages, real-time multimedia content delivery and thousands of concurrent downloads without putting any major stress on computing resources. Another important feature of KeyCDN is that the quality of your data isn't compromised when it is delivered in remote or far-off locations.

CDN vs web hosting without CDN

We decided to do a quick test to show the results of using a content delivery network as opposed to not using one. We will be using our test site. This website is hosted on a DigitalOcean droplet with PHP7 and full HTTP/2 support, so the web host is already fast. We ran the test multiple times.

DigitalOcean without CDN

DigitalOcean without a CDN deployed tested fastest at 612 ms.

DigitalOcean with KeyCDN

DigitalOcean with KeyCDN deployed tested fastest at 378 ms.

So just by setting up a CDN which took a matter of minutes we were able to decrease our website load time by 38.24%! And this is for a well-optimized site, for typical website owners they will probably see an even bigger decrease in overall load times.

Local web font vs Google CDN

Here is another example which we shared in our case study on web font performance where hosting a font locally resulted in a 50 ms longer load time. In this test the server where the content was hosted is located in Dallas TX. The test was run from Los Angeles, CA. When using a Google Font it was being served from their CDN at this IP:, which is located not far from the test location and it resulted in a significantly less TTFB. So CDNs do make a big difference! Hosting locally with your web host is no longer always the best solution because you want the font to be downloaded from a location in closer proximity to the user.

CDN usage

According to BuiltWith, out of the top 10k websites, 48.3% of them are using a content delivery network.

Now let's look at the top 1m websites, only 14.7% are using a content delivery network. There is most likely a reason the top 10k websites percentage is so much higher, and that is because they realize the benefits of using CDN hosting and the speed advantages. CDNs have drastically dropped in pricing over the years so this is becoming less and less of a reason for people not to deploy a CDN.

Furthermore, traditional hosting is also becoming redundant because of increasing traffic on the internet as more and more people wish to view, stream and download large files. It is only possible to serve these large files with a network of CDN servers such as KeyCDN, which is fast becoming a standard. Content delivery networks offer timely and quick delivery of content as we have servers located in important and major locations of the world, which enable website acceleration for both small and large businesses.

Do you have a question pertaining to the differences between content delivery networks and web hosting? If so we would love to hear it!

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