How (and Why) To Enable Photon, the Free Jetpack Image CDN
Photon, which is a feature of the multi-talented Jetpack plugin from WordPress.com, is really easy to configure. We’ll assume you already have Jetpack installed. If you do, you can just watch the video and follow along – otherwise, continue reading and we’ll get into the basics of Jetpack Photon.
If video isn’t your thing, let’s start by understanding a CDN. Content-delivery networks are systems that use a network of servers to deliver static files to people around the world faster. They mostly provide their speed benefit by being closer to people. Your server may be in, say, Dallas, Texas. For someone in the continental US, that’s not too far away, and high speeds are likely to be easy to achieve.
For someone in India or Sweden, there’s a lot more network infrastructure and kilometers of copper and fiber-optics in between. CDNs help someone’s experience of your site be faster by having a server closer to the visitor in Sweden or India. A closer server means they get the files they need sooner (with less latency) and so the site feels snappier. Alex Denning’s post from Tuesday goes into more detail about CDNs, your options, and alternatives to Photon.
Jetpack Photon is a CDN that uses WordPress.com’s established infrastructure to serve images faster. Unlike other CDNs, it won’t host all of your static files, just images. But it’s free and rather simple to configure, so it’s a quick win for any site already using Jetpack.
Here’s what you’ll do:
- Go to Jetpack > Settings in your left bar in the WordPress admin area.
- Click on the “Appearance” tab.
- Click the switch on Photon (as of publishing, it’s the second option there), so that it’s darker blue and sitting to the right.
- You’re done! Now, thanks to Jetpack Photon, all your images should be served from WordPress.com’s large server infrastructure and feel much faster for visitors on the other side of the world. Who knew it was so easy to make the world’s internet feel faster?!
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