Web hosting the finer points!
article compiled by steve

 

Continuing our mini-series about web hosting, this time we are looking at two key features of your web hosting plan, bandwidth and disk space.

Let’s explain these key features in more detail and provide examples to help you decide the usage you could require and the implications of skimping on either of these features.

 

Bandwidth

This is more commonly described as monthly data transfer and is the amount of data transferred to or from your website or server each month.

When trying to choose a web hosting company and looking at the figures quoted for bandwidth, you will notice that some companies say “unlimited bandwidth”.
Some also give an amount say 500Mb. These figures also include your emails, ftp and other applications you may use.

Although when you read “unlimited bandwidth” you might think, “…Wow, that would be great!” but it would be  impossible to have as they don’t mean unlimited in the right meaning of the word.
What the web hosting companies take into account is that most web hosting accounts don’t use anywhere near their data allowance. So there would be an excess of bandwidth if it was needed, but there is always a limit that is not well specified. It would be worth looking at the terms of the hosting package to see how the company would enforce the policy.

An example of how the monthly data transfer works for a website page is shown below:

Each web page on your website is 20 KB and the page also has two images of 10 KB.
That means every visitor to the page will download 40KB of data.

If five hundred people download these files in a month, your monthly data transfer would be 19MB (40KB * 500) / 1024) for that one page, obviously your website would have more than one page. (In this calculation the figure 1024Kb is equal to 1Mb).

 

Say your website has 10 pages but only 100 people look at those pages each month. Then the monthly data transfer would be: (40KB*100) /1024) *9 = 35Mb.
So, the larger the files, the higher the data transfer usage when it is downloaded and the more traffic to your site, the more data transfer you will use. This example only has 2 images and text on the page but if you had more images, larger images then the amount would be different.
With that example in mind, you can reduce your usage. This can be achieved by decreasing the number and size of images, reducing the resolution of images, removing large downloads e.g. music and video files, removing background music and generally decreasing the amount of data which is being downloaded (maybe unnecessarily)
in each visit.

If by chance you use up your bandwidth, you may find that your website is offline without you realising it. This could then cause loss of position in Search Engines or simply inconvenience. Although, most companies would offer you the chance to pay for the excess without having to upgrade your package.

 

Web space (disk space)
This is the amount of data you can store on the hard disk of the web server. Every web hosting package comes with a certain amount of space. Although now as in the case of bandwidth some companies are offering “unlimited disk space”. Other companies still offer a set amount of disk space and they can be quite different depending on your hosting company.
The amount of disk space needed depends on what sort of website you have. Unless you have really large files (eg downloadable music or video), which take up the most room on a server then most people would be fine with a lower limit on the web space.
An example of how to calculate the disk space for the more common website is shown here:
Each web page of a website can be up to 45Kb. This figure does not include any images you have on that page. Depending on the size and amount of images on the web page, you would have to multiply it by 3 or 4 times.

 

Amount of disk space

50mb

250mb

500mb

1Gb

Number of web pages

640

3200

6400

13000

 

So after looking at these figures if you are looking at hosting package with either 500mb or 1Gb, would you ever utilize all the space provided by your web host?

In most cases the disk space offered in a hosting package includes the space of databases and email accounts so bear this in mind if the disk space is less than 50MB. If your website has a Content Management System you’ll probably be required to use databases. These databases can use a reasonable amount of diskspace, a hosting plan that skimps too much on the disk space can be a false economy in the long term.

We recommend that you purchase a hosting plan that has a little extra space than you think you may use at the outset. Whilst you can usually purchase additional disk space it could be better to have a little extra capacity on your site.

 

If you are at all worried about how much disk space you need, then try and choose a host that  allows account upgrades. Then you will be able to get more disk space and/or bandwidth if or when you need it. Thus saving you the hassle of changing hosts.

 

Next time, we will look at the web hosting companies that have fulfilled our requirements.

 

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