4.21. Enabling a CDN for Course Assets

By default, all course assets are served directly from your Open edX instance. For courses with large enrollments, or courses with large assets, such as high- quality images, PDFs, or video files, this can increase not only the load on the instance but also the time it takes for learners to load the courses on their computers and mobile devices.

You can configure your Open edX instance to serve assets from a content delivery network (CDN) instead. Using a CDN offloads the work required to deliver assets from your Open edX instance.


Whether you need a CDN depends on the type, and amount, of content in your courses. Not all installations need a CDN for their course assets.

4.21.1. Overview

A CDN, or content delivery network, is a service that places servers all around the world, and keeps copies of content on those servers. Instead of serving files from one location, a CDN serves them from whichever server is closest to the end user. This results in faster download speeds and, ultimately, faster page loads.

4.21.2. Guidelines for CDN Configuration

When you configure a CDN for use with your Open edX instance, you should identify your Open edX instance as the origin server.

Choose the cache expiration carefully: you want content to be cached long enough to keep the load on your Open edX instance low, but not so long that changes made to course assets are not realized within a reasonable amount of time. As a starting point, edX recommends a cache expiration period of one hour.

4.21.3. Enable the CDN

After you configure your CDN, follow these steps.

  1. Sign in to the Django administration console for your base URL. For example, http://{your_URL}/admin.

  2. In the Static_Replace section, next to Asset base url configs, select Add.

  3. Select Enabled.

  4. Enter the hostname for your CDN provider.

    For example, if you were using CloudFront, this would look something like d37djvu3ytnwxt.cloudfront.net.

    Be sure not to include the scheme (http:// or https://) when you specify the hostname.

  5. Select Save.