The Incapsula Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a global network designed to improve your website’s performance while lowering the cost of your bandwidth. It does so via intelligent caching, cache control options, high-speed storage, and optimization tools. Research has shown that a delay as small as one second in site loading can cause a significant loss in traffic and conversions. Google recommends that sites load within 500 milliseconds to 2 seconds max.
How Incapsula Can Benefit You
Speed is king, and the primary goal of a CDN is to improve your page load speeds. Incapsula claims that, on average, websites using its CDN are 50% faster. Additionally, these sites consume up to 70% less bandwidth; if you’re not on a hosting plan that features unlimited bandwidth (or throttles bandwidth after you’ve exceeded a previously-defined number), you’ll find this outcome helpful.
How Incapsula Works
There are several key features that make Incapsula capable of speeding up your page load times and reducing your bandwidth usage:
Dynamic Caching Technology-Based on Machine Learning
Caching resources means that something (such as a web page or an image) is stored and can be served to the user without additional calls to the server. However, not everything should be cached.
Conversely, dynamically generated resources, which change over time, shouldn’t be cached. Incapsula, therefore, uses machine learning to determine what should be cached and what shouldn’t. This means it isn’t wasting resources caching dynamic aspects or not caching static aspects, leading to slower page load times. The advanced learning system continuously profiles your website’s resources to gather information on the frequency with which files are updated.
Furthermore, you can set the mode of caching for your account. You can choose from the following pre-defined options:
- Disable Caching: No caching is performed, and all content is transferred directly from your server to your user
- Static Only: Cache only content that you have marked as static using standard HTTP headers
- Static and Dynamic: Cache the content identified by Incapsula’s algorithm as static. Incapsula applies a learning algorithm to your site, which profiles all its resources and identifies those that it considers static. This learning algorithm reruns every time it detects a change on your site, though you can set the frequency with which this runs
- Aggressive: Cache all site content; you can set the time period for which the cache refreshes
See all Incapsula features
You can also implement custom caching rules, via the Incapsula GUI, so that your CDN caches things based on the file’s name, type, folder path, or URL parameter.
In addition to server-side caching, Incapsula automatically optimizes client-side caching on your behalf. This means that as much content as possible is cached and stored locally on the user’s computer, tablet, or smartphone. For repeat visitors, this ensures the best possible user experience due to faster page load times.
If you ever need to completely clear your cache, the Instant Cache Purge can clear out the content across the Incapsula network in less than one second.
Self-Healing Mesh Network Topology for Reliability
The primary way by which a CDN works is to decrease the distance between your visitor and the server from which the files are served. You might be limited in server location with your web host, which is where CDNs come in. With a global network, a CDN can pull files from your server, store them, and serve them from the location closest to the visitor. As such the larger the network, the more likely it is your visitor will get a quick response.
The Incapsula network consists of 38 data centers located on five different continents around the world, and it is capable of handling 3.5 terabytes per second. Instead of using the traditional hub-and-spoke model for its network, Incapsula has opted for what’s called a mesh network — each individual server can communicate with all other servers, instead of having to relay messages through a central location (or the hub, in a traditional network). This means that issues in one location do not have a ripple effect on other locations, leading to increased reliability and resiliency.
See Incapsula CDN for more information
Incapsula’s Content and Resource Optimization
Content caching is just one aspect of improving your users’ experiences. To boost performance further, Incapsula uses a wide variety of optimization techniques on your site, including:
- Dynamic File Compression: Compressing files means that a smaller file is sent from the server to user, which obviously takes much less time. Most web servers and browsers support content compression, but configuring your web server to do this automatically requires technical knowledge. As such, Incapsula automatically compresses files it sends out on your behalf, so even if you aren’t able to do so on your web server, you can be assured that the smallest file possible is getting sent.
- Image Compression: Images may not be the largest files in use on your site, but given the frequency with which images appear, you may be able to obtain great increases in speed with the appropriate optimization techniques. Incapsula offers multiple types of image compression, which allows you to find the right balance between image quality and site performance. And remember, you do lose some quality when you compress images.Additionally, Incapsula enables you to render images progressively. What this means is that a lower-quality image is displayed almost immediately, and as time progresses, the quality improves. This has the benefit of providing your users with an immediate visual response (as opposed to a delayed response, which is what would happen if the browser didn’t load until the full, high-quality image did).
- Code Minification: In short, minification is the process of removing all unnecessary characters from a source code without changing its function. In a lot of languages, whitespace and new lines characters are unnecessary. Comments are also not necessary to the code parser. These two things are added only for the readability of the developers. The downside to this readability is that it adds to the file’s size. By removing this, you can send out a smaller file. Incapsula, when delivering files, performs code minification on the fly.
- Session Reuse: Also known as keep-alive, session reuse allows Incapsula to maintain an open connection with your web server for short periods of time between sessions. The means the additional calls happen faster, which is useful especially if you have a secured site.
- TCP Connection Pre-Pooling: Calls to your server require a new connection, and it takes time to do this. As such, Incapsula will open several connections simultaneously on the first call, reducing the waiting time required to return the requested resources.
In addition to the features above that directly impact your page’s performance, Incapsula offers the following features that indirectly improve your site:
- Bad Bot Misdirection: If Incapsula determines that there’s a malicious bot attempting to access your site, it will redirect the bot, clearing the way for legitimate, human traffic.
- URL Beautification: Incapsula allows you to easily set up redirection so that users see a cleaner, simpler URL
- HTTP/2 Support: HTTP/2 offers significant improvements to page load speeds and responsiveness, as well as enhances security for your site. You can easily enable this protocol for your site with just a few clicks in Incapsula, and you don’t have to update your existing infrastructure.
- Security: Incapsula comes with real-time traffic monitoring, DDoS protection, web security, failover handling, and load management. As a result, if there are any issues with the CDN network, your users are not likely to notice it.
Incapsula Pricing and Billing
All new users to Incapsula get a free, no-risk trial. Afterward, there are several options from which you can choose.
Personal bloggers might be interested in the free plan, which includes bot mitigation, CDN use, and support for two-factor authentication.
The next plan up is geared toward professional bloggers, which gets you everything included in the free plan plus:
- Web application firewall
- Advanced performance
- PCI compliance report
- Backdoor protection
- SSL support.
For small businesses with thriving websites, the next plan up gets you everything already mentioned plus:
- Protection against network layer DDoS attacks
- Protection against application-layer DDoS attacks
- Automatic DDoS detection and security triggering
- Support for custom SSL certificates.
Midsize and enterprise-level users, however, can also purchase the following features:
- 24/7 support and an uptime SLA
- Support for custom security rules
- Real-time event monitoring
- Load balancing and failover
- Infrastructure DDoS protection (BGP)
- The option for managed services
- API access and custom branding.
The only plans that require service commitments are the enterprise-level subscriptions.
See Incapsula CDN for more information
Incapsula’s CDN is a solid, full-featured CDN that goes above and beyond, hosting your site’s files geographically closer to your site visitors to improve the end user experience. If you’re looking for a holistic solution for your site, Incapsula might be a good fit for you.