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Q&A

Why content delivery networks often require a www. redirect?

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Why do Content Delivery Networks are often developed in such a way that they would require adding a Cname value such as www. before example.com?

I ask this after switching from one CDN (Cloudflare) to another (Namecheap) and coming across the same pattern of the need to add www. before the domain;

I don't really care from that, it's just that four redirects http → https → httpsWITHOUTwww → httpsWITHwww can make websites load somewhat slower, especially on shared hosting environments, even with traffics of 100 or 1,000 unique IP visits per month, and that's somewhat misses the very purpose of CDNs, so why?

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Rather than re-iterate all of its points, I will link Netlify's reasoning in To WWW or Not WWW . It's a very eloquent article.

That said, I'll try to summarize in my own words:

  • You need to use a CNAME record to direct traffic to their address name for your webapp. Otherwise it can't serve customers content from a local-to-them server address.

  • You don't want to use a CNAME record on your apex (subdomain-less) domain, because that will prohibit any other records from being registered on your apex domain such as the MX record for email.

  • It doesn't need to be www specifically. That is just a common convention understood by everyone as synonymous with the "root" website.

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+3
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Other than their preferred configuration options, nothing really "requires" that a particular resource be behind a particular subdomain. Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) are often just setup as separate sites (e.g., a CDN for example.org could be hosted at examplecdn.org or cdn.example.org, etc.)

In most cases, it's just a convention based on best-practices in order to simplify system administration for the back-end IT staff.

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