Many hosting providers advertise “unlimited” bandwidth. What does it really mean?
Bandwidth describes the maximum data transfer rate of a network or internet connection. It refers to how much data can be sent over a specific connection in a given amount of time. The higher the bandwidth, the more data can be transferred simultaneously.
How does bandwidth affect my website?
Bandwidth will determine how quickly users are able to view your website pages. If your bandwidth is low and you have a lot of users, most of them will have difficulty in loading your pages.
You will need to keep this in mind when planning your website and your hosting provider. If page-load times exceed four seconds, visitors may not come back to your website. The higher your bandwidth, the more people will be able to visit your site at the same time.
How to calculate the bandwidth needed for your site.
Bandwidth and storage are two important aspects to consider when building a website and selecting a hosting provider. While storage space can be managed easily either by increasing it on your plan and/or deleting or offloading content, but bandwidth is more complicated and you may not always be able to anticipate bandwidth needs in time to adjust it.
Why do you need a lot of bandwidth?
As your website grows with time, your visitors will also grow. Your storage and bandwidth needs will also increase accordingly.
If you’re website frequently introduces new pages, like blog posts and product pages, it’s a good idea to get a hosting package with a considerable amount of bandwidth. With sufficient bandwidth, your visitors will be able to view these new pages without much hassle.
Bandwidth requirements depend on your website type. Even a low-bandwidth connection can be sufficient for a website with more text and less content. Text is very economical, it occupies very little bandwidth. However, the addition of images, embedded audio, and embedded video can slow down the overall page load time of a website for users on slower connections.
Having a high bandwidth connection is essential for websites that deliver streaming media, those that load a lot of high-resolution content on one page or those that deliver large data downloads.
Bandwidth is typically measured in millions of bits per second (megabits per second, or Mbps) or billions of bits per second (gigabits per second, or Gbps).
Here are the steps to calculate how much bandwidth you need:
- Estimate the average page size of your website in kilobytes (KB).
- Multiply that average page size (in KB) by the monthly average number of visitors.
- Multiply the result from step 2 by the average number of page views per visitor.
If you don’t host large media files or do a lot of streaming, you should be able to manage with 10 GB per month.
This is just the beginning of knowing your bandwidth requirements. You will also need to include an allocation for extra traffic in case unexpected traffic spikes, like those caused by social news sites, and festive seasons for e-commerce sites can cause bandwidth usage to spike during those specific seasonal periods.
Suppose your plan provides bandwidth to support a thousand visitors, but one month, you get five thousand. Due to the lack of bandwidth, most of the five thousand visitors wouldn’t be able to access your website. This is a good reason to have more bandwidth than you usually require so that additional visitors are catered to in case of a spike.
However, when choosing a web host, choose one that allows you to upgrade your disk space and bandwidth if you should need it later on.
Are unlimited bandwidth hosting plans a good idea?
Having unlimited bandwidth is definitely a good idea as you never know when you will have a spike in your website visits. However many hosting providers who have these unlimited plans have special conditions and limitations.
Almost all unlimited hosting providers use Terms of Service (TOS) agreements to legally restrict what their hosting service can be used for. It is important to ensure that these terms don’t affect your content.
It may be wise to find a hosting provider that allows you limited bandwidth, but with sufficient allocations so that you receive excellent quality of service. At Hosting Review, our Hosting Finder Tool gives you a convenient way of finding a good web host with bandwidth allocations that will suit your needs.
Can I reduce the bandwidth my website use?
While it is a wise choice to estimate your bandwidth needs and find a suitable web hosting plan, it is also important to continuously optimize your website to manage its bandwidth needs.
The size of your content files and the number of visits will have the biggest impact on your bandwidth needs. You would definitely want to increase the number of visits to your website, however, you will need to optimize your content file sizes to ensure optimum page load times.
These are some of the things that you can do to optimize your bandwidth usage:
1. Off-load your content or switch to an external image provider
We can outsource the hosting of our images to a Content Delivery Network or an external website. There are a number of free image sharing sites on the internet.
Ex: Imageshack, Flickr, Photobucket, Amazon S3
2. Turn on HTTP compression
3. Outsource your RSS feeds
Many websites offer RSS feeds. Instead of visiting a website every day to see what has changed, RSS readers automatically pull down the latest RSS feed at regular intervals. Google FeedBurner provides custom RSS feeds and management tools for bloggers, podcasters, and other web-based content publishers.
While this can be useful for reducing your bandwidth usage, it can also affect your regular visitors, so keep that in mind.
5. In general, build simpler pages. Remove any unnecessary text, images or other files to keep your pages as small as possible. Use PNG and GIF images to save bandwidth. Remove unwanted tags, white space, and comments. Limit your Meta tags to those absolutely necessary.
Your bandwidth needs will depend on many things like the size of your pages, how many visits your website receives, and how much bandwidth your hosting service offers you.
However, it is something that needs to be planned right from the point of designing your website. You will also need to host your asset files in a manner that ensures optimum bandwidth usage.
Choose your hosting service wisely to ensure that your website has sufficient bandwidth. Visit Hosting Review to find more articles like this and use our Hosting Finder Tool to find a suitable hosting plan. Our tool allows you to filter and compare hosting services by their features.