One of the first things to do in the entire process of building a website is to purchase both a domain name and a hosting plan. The options for a domain name is pretty vast, as long as it has not been used or bought by someone else. When it comes to a hosting plan, on the other hand, you are somewhat limited by the available offers from hosting companies. Although there are hundreds of companies out there, the plans they offer are quite similarly varied.
You may also notice that each plan (or package) comes with a specific amount of bandwidth. Now to understand what web hosting bandwidth actually refers to, here are the key elements explained.
If you are starting a website, the bandwidth provided by hosting companies is a crucial factor that determines how fast users/visitors can access your pages and contents. A good understanding of bandwidth will help you set up the website and pick the appropriate hosting plan for it to support a stable good performance. Bandwidth really is a lot like plumbing. Larger bandwidth allows for a higher amount of data transfer per unit of time; just like how a wider pipe diameter can handle a bigger volume of water flow at any given time.
Verizon defines bandwidth as the maximum volume of data that can be transmitted over an internet connection per unit of time. The amount of website bandwidth is measured in megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB). There is roughly a million MB in every GB.
However, there is an important distinction to make between the users’ and the website builder’s bandwidth. When talking specifically about the latter (instead of Internet usage), bandwidth refers to the maximum volume of information possibly transferred between a website and its server in a given amount of time, typically measured in GB per month. For users, it is the total amount of data they are allowed to access from the Internet for a specific period of time.
To calculate how much bandwidth you need for a website, there are three factors to put into account:
- Average webpage size: check as many pages as you need on a website to get more accurate averages. There are many free online tools to do the math.
- Average number of pages a visitor views: Google Analytics and website dashboards can provide an accurate reading for this particular statistic. The layout of the dashboard varies depending on the platforms you use, for example, WordPress and Weebly.
- Expected average number of monthly visitor your website gets: again, the information is accessible from the website dashboard and Google Analytics.
Assuming your website has an average webpage size of 1 MB with 1,000 monthly visitors, and each of them views 10 pages per visit, all you have to do is to multiply the numbers:
1 MB x 1,000 visitors x 10 page views = 10,000 MB
You get a total number of 10,000 MB, which is equal to 10 GB. Bear in mind that the number of visitors are calculated on a monthly basis; in other words, a website with 1,000 visitors per month averages to only 33 visitors daily. Opting for a bandwidth of 10 GB per month is probably more than enough for a newly launched website containing a dozen or so pages. As the website grows with more page counts and visitors over time, bandwidth upgrade is inevitable.
To make sure the website offers reliable performance, it is wise to treat the aforementioned number as the bare minimum. It is indeed the bandwidth you need, yet redundancy makes everything better in this case. Purchase a web hosting plan that offers at least 50% more bandwidth than the current necessity. It gives more room to add more content and handle possible traffic spikes.
A website doesn’t just happen. It needs a place to store all the files including all the technical codes behind the layout, theme, features, and functionalities along with the entire contents such as texts, images, videos, and sometimes applications. This place is known as website hosting.
The company or organization that provides this useful place is referred to as a web hosting service provider or simply web host. For a website to be accessible and visible on the Internet, it must be hosted or stored on a specialized computer called server.
A domain name is like the street address for a website. By typing its location to a browser’s address bar then press Enter, the Internet will deliver the contents right to visitor’s screen. Web hosting is like the actual house where the website resides. How fast the website can appear on the screen partly depends on the amount of bandwidth that a web hosting service provider allocates to that specific website. There are also other factors too including visitor’s Internet connection quality and device specification.
When you purchase a web hosting plan, you are not actually buying the space and make it your own property. It only means you rent a data storage space on the Internet for a specific amount of time to keep the website running online. Once the rental period is over, you have to either renew the agreement or relocate the website to another server.
There are several different types of web hosting:
- Shared hosting: a website will be stored in the same physical server as many other websites. All the domains in the server share the same server resources such as CPU (Central Processing Unit) and RAM (Random Access Memory). It is affordable and budget-friendly, perfect for entry-level relatively small-sized websites.
- Dedicated hosting: unlike a shared hosting plan where one server is used by multiple websites by sharing resources, a dedicated hosting plan provides an entire server for just a single website. It gives the website owner almost total control over the server.
- VPS hosting: you can think of it as the middle ground between shared and dedicated plans. Although there can be multiple websites in a VPS hosting, each of them has its dedicated space in the physical server. VPS hosting allows for more customization and bigger storage space, but essentially it still is just another version of shared hosting where many websites share resources.
- Cloud hosting: the most unique characteristic of a cloud hosting is how it utilizes two or more physical servers to host multiple websites. If you opt for this option, your website data are most likely stored in several connected servers. Since each server can lend its own resources, cloud hosting potentially is the most powerful at any given time.
And then there are managed hosting and colocation. Most hosting plans you come across online are likely categorized under the former. This simply means service provider does everything to manage the resources including hardware, software, and configuration to ensure optimum performance for your website. All upgrades, updates, and monitoring also are managed by the service provider. Colocation means you rent a space in a data center facility to place your own private server. The facility will provide power, IP address, cooling system, and bandwidth the server needs, but it is not managed. Colocation gives much more access to higher bandwidth at a lower cost; the downside is that you are left to configure and maintain everything including software, services, and hardware.
Web Hosting Bandwidth
Now that you’ve become more familiar with both bandwidth and web hosting, you can easily draw a line between the two to give a proper definition for both terms combined. Unless you have your own private server, a web host – from which you rent a storage space in a server – will give you a certain amount of bandwidth for your website.
Based on the explanations above, you can say that web hosting bandwidth is the maximum volume of data a website can transfer from and to its server over the Internet per unit of time. Thereby stronger larger bandwidth allows more visitors to simultaneously access more information (contents) on your website without sacrificing speed. On the other hand, weaker smaller bandwidth can only offer so much room for multiple visitors to access the website at the same time.
Service providers describe their bandwidth options by explaining the volume of data resources a website can use in a specific period of time, usually in GB per month or terabyte (TB) per month. It is nothing but a commodity for service providers, so normally you have to pay extra for more bandwidth. Thankfully for small-sized websites, the vast majority of entry-level packages from any service provider are adequate. At least the low-end hosting option offers a good bargain for new website owners who cannot yet expect hundreds of daily visitors. Of course, website owners can always upgrade where there is the need to do so as the contents and number of visitors grow.
Accessing larger file size means using a higher volume of data for the transfer, therefore websites that contain a lot of multimedia files require more bandwidth than those filled with texts only.
There is no such thing as unlimited bandwidth. Many service providers use the term as nothing but marketing strategy to lure potential buyers. Each time a visitor accesses any content of any website in the server, the data transfer consumes a portion of the allocated bandwidth. There is always a possibility that a sudden spike in visitors utilizes all the available bandwidth, resulting in slow loading and poor performance in general. Service providers say “unlimited” only because they know that under normal circumstances the server’s traffic will never use all the available resources.
The most suitable web hosting plan (and bandwidth) for you is the package that suits your current needs. You don’t have to pay for the most expensive plan if you only have one or two websites with relatively low page numbers each. Unless you have a massive website with hundreds of pages, multimedia files, and thousands of visitors on a daily basis, the most expensive package from any service provider will most likely be a waste of money.
To conclude, this was all about what is web hosting bandwidth and which one you should select. It isn’t a topic that you should stress about if you are just starting your website. You won’t get too much traffic on day 1. A website takes a lot of time to get a decent number of visitors.
Also, in most cases, you won’t even have enough data on the website. For instance, if you are staring out a blog, you will gradually post all the content, right? So, the bottom line is that bandwidth is not something that you should worry about. However, you should have enough knowledge about it.