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White Paper

Speed, Scale, Security: Delivering A Great Download Experience

February 1, 2021
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Original source: Limelight Networks


Delivering file-based content over the increasingly congested public internet is a challenge. Not only do you have to compete with more than 20 billion connected devices (1), but also with a growing number of users accessing, streaming, and downloading a rapidly expanding universe of content.

The result is growing congestion that can undermine your ability to get your software, game, patch, or device update to your end users as quickly as possible. And every minute that your users spend trying to download your content is a minute they can’t spend using it.

The key to a high-quality user experience lies in a reliable, efficient service that minimizes latency. There is more to latency than just internet congestion. Anything that gets in the way of a user accessing your software — the webpage or download portal, your publishing process — can undermine the download experience.

The key to tackling the latency challenge lies in the systems, infrastructure, and processes you use to make your download available. In order to provide your files as quickly and efficiently as possible, you need to optimize how you deliver them to ensure that the entire experience is fast, secure, and globally available.

What Does It Take To Deliver Downloads

You need to reach your users with the same levels of performance, availability, and security wherever they are in the world. When it comes to delivering downloads, there are several important elements to consider:

  • The location of your file-based content — By placing your software closer to your end users you speed its delivery. The most effective way of doing this is by using the distributed caching capability of a Content Delivery Network (CDN) which is the fastest way to get your content to your audience.

  • How your file-based content is distributed — The public internet is becoming increasingly congested as demand continues to grow. Moving your delivery to a hyper-connected massive private edge network greatly reduces congestion points and latency by providing the capacity and connectivity where it is needed most – where your users are.

  • How your file-based content is secured — As more file distribution moves online, security becomes a bigger concern. It is critical that only authorized users have access to your file-based content and that your content and infrastructure is protected. You also need to consider how to quickly remove your file-based content from the distribution network should it become compromised, for example software that has a security vulnerability.

Unexpected sources of latency

Anything in your file-based content download workflow that causes users to wait works against your brand. In order to minimize latency and provide the best possible user experience, there are several areas to consider:

  • Bypassing the public internet and getting your software closer to your audience

  • Augmenting cloud computing with compute at the edge

  • Redundant distributed origin storage

  • Optimizing security of the delivery

Understanding User Expectations

Users are becoming less tolerant of delay. They expect an on-demand experience and your ability to deliver that experience directly impacts your brand and reputation. When it comes to downloads, your audience expects a download experience that is:

  • Fast — The download happens quickly (both the file and the webpages through which the software is requested).

  • Available — The user can download the software or update for their device no matter where they are, on whatever network.

  • Secure — The user is assured of the software owner’s identity which is especially important for high-value content like new game releases.

Availability is more than just scale

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are on the rise. The first half of 2020 saw a 151% increase in the number of DDoS attacks compared to the same period in 2019 (2). Yet even organizations that are not the direct target of such attacks may be impacted by them - an attack against someone in the same data center as you could make it more difficult for users to reach your website. Whether directly or indirectly impacted by an attack, the result is a flood of support emails and phone calls. You need the peace of mind to know that in the event of a DDoS attack, your software, updates, or firmware are still available for download.

Enabling Fast Downloads

Ensuring that your downloads happen quickly can be a challenge. Internet traffic is growing rapidly with content like online video that can interrupt or compromise the speed of your delivery — it can slow your file downloads as well as the webpages through which you make your content accessible.

In order to ensure quick, reliable, and consistent downloads you need to position your software as close as possible to your end users. A CDN achieves this by caching your file-based content across a distributed network to minimize the distance between your content and users. The CDN ensures you have the available capacity to meet anticipated demand, as well as burst capacity during peak periods. The CDN also offloads your origin from user download requests, giving you greater control over your infrastructure costs, including egress charges.


The unavailability of your download service results in failed downloads and frustrated users. Your CDN needs to be highly available with built-in redundancies. The CDN is also able to minimize the load on your origin servers, protecting them from becoming overwhelmed or unavailable and preserving a reliable download service for your customers.


It is important to protect the investment you’ve made in your software. Having access control and authentication systems in place to ensure only authorized users are able to download file-based content, as well as mechanisms like HTTPS to deliver encrypted content, are of crucial importance to support this type of delivery at scale.

Delivering A Great Download Experience

Limelight’s solutions can simplify your download workflow, maximize resources efficiently, and speed up file downloads, helping you deliver a great experience to your customers:

  • Speed — Deliver your software or device updates on one of the world’s fastest, most reliable CDNs, leveraging cache located around the globe and interconnection with >1,000 ISP networks worldwide to ensure that your files are delivered as close to the end user as possible.

  • Availability — Get the scale to deliver your software or device updates to any number of users anywhere in the world, irrespective of periods of peak demand.

  • Security — With a global HTTPS footprint, a range of access control mechanisms, token authentication, dedicated virtual IPs, and integrated DDoS, WAF, and bot protection, you can be assured your downloads are protected and your brand reputation is preserved.

Powerful Components For The Best Possible Download Experience

Limelight provides several software and infrastructure components to ensure you can provide the best possible download experience for your customers:

Figure 1: File-Based Content Download Workflow

  • Content Delivery — Built on one of the world’s Largest, private CDNs, Limelight’s Content Delivery is a powerful service that ensures your file-based content is delivered to your audience consistently, reliably, and as fast as possible.

  • Origin Storage — A distributed origin storage solution, Limelight’s Origin Storage integrates with our global CDN to optimize worldwide delivery and management of file-based content.

  • SmartPurge — The ability to flush your file-based content from the cache in tens of thousands of globally distributed edge servers within milliseconds should the need arise.

  • Performance — A delivery acceleration service that ensures personalized, complex websites and apps are delivered to your users on any device, anywhere, providing rapid response times to increase views and conversion rates, reduce site abandonment, speed transaction completion, and improve online revenues.

  • Security — With a global HTTPS footprint, a range of access control mechanisms, token authentication, dedicated virtual IPs, DDoS, WAF and bot management solutions will protect your downloads, users and brand reputation.

  • Edge Compute — A powerful, multi-product solution that enables bare metal, virtual machine, or serverless compute options at the edge of the global Limelight network.


Delivering software downloads or device updates is no easy task. Although the components may seem simple, optimizing them is not. To orchestrate the best possible download experience for your end users, you need to fine-tune three critical features of your workflow — the speed at which you deliver your files, the availability of your downloads, and the security of your file-based content. Limelight’s solutions ensure that your files are delivered quickly to your users, regardless of where they are, so you can focus on developing great content.

(1) https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/executive-perspectives/annual-internet-report/white-paper-c11-741490.html

(2) https://www.helpnetsecurity.com/2020/09/17/ddos-attacks-rise-in-intensity-sophistication-and-volume/

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