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How To Determine The Optimal Website Hosting Bandwidth

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Posted on December 22nd, 2020 by Richard Conn in Tech, Guides

Website Hosting Bandwidth

Running a business in 2020 requires that you have a digital presence. Building a website is one of the first tasks of a new business's checklist. With that comes registering and buying a domain, website design, web development, and paying for hosting.

As of December 2020, there were 1,8+ billion websites in existence, according to Internet Live Stats. With so many websites vying for attention, yours must offer a positive user experience and be quick and easy to navigate.

Much of that comes down to how intuitive your design is, but your hosting bandwidth also plays a crucial role. The amount of bandwidth offered by your hosting company will determine how quickly and easily users can access your content. It's a fine balance that needs to be struck.

Understanding Website Hosting

Websites are a complex combination of files, folders, code, and other features. Websites come with their own esthetics, all of which are a part of the website theme or layout and design. There are images, written content, possibly even video content. All of this information is stored on a web server and is called upon when the website needs to be displayed.

This is where website hosting comes into play. So, what is website hosting? Website hosting is basically the home for the server that hosts all the web parts.

The following analogy will help you understand it better:

  • The website host can be referred to as the home for a website and all its parts.
  • The website domain name is equivalent to the street address for the home.
  • To visit the website, one needs to type the address into a browser.
  • This guides the user to the exact address and the home/website that resides there.

However, when you purchase website hosting, you're not buying your website property; you are only renting it. Consider yourself a tenant and your web host is your landlord. You are renting the storage space for your data and paying for it month to month. Within that rental agreement is a specified amount of hosting bandwidth.

When users type your website address into a browser, the speed at which it is returned is determined by the amount of bandwidth dedicated to your hosting.

Hosting companies all offer similar hosting services with comparable features. These are usually in the form of web hosting packages. Generally, packages are tiered according to the level of service offered, and a large part of that variable service is bandwidth.

What is Hosting Bandwidth?

Hosting bandwidth refers to the maximum volume of data transmitted over the web in a specified unit of time. The more bandwidth you have, the faster data can be transmitted within that time frame. Hosting bandwidth is also measured in megabytes and gigabytes, the same way that we measure the bandwidth in our internet connections.

The analogy of plumbing is often used to explain hosting bandwidth. Website hosting is akin to a plumbing pipe. The flow of water is the bandwidth. When the pipe is widened, a greater water volume can flow through it in a specified timeframe. When it is narrowed, the water flow for that timeframe is decreased.

The same can be applied to the web host's provision of hosting bandwidth. When more bandwidth is supplied, more data can be transferred in the specified amount of time. When the bandwidth is decreased, a smaller amount of data is transferred.

Larger websites require more bandwidth to run optimally and ensure a positive customer experience. The same can be said for websites with many images and files that need to be accessed for the website to display. Smaller sites can get away with less bandwidth. However, if you're expecting a lot of traffic, it's best to opt for hosting with higher bandwidth to enable your users' smoother experience.

Websites that need to perform critical business functions - such as running the video conferencing software - will have no option but to opt for high hosting bandwidth levels. This will ensure no issues relating to sound quality, video quality, or streaming unless they come from the user's side due to their internet connection.

How Do You Calculate How Much Bandwidth Your Site Needs?

The amount of bandwidth required for your website will depend entirely on your needs. Opting for a hosting package with less bandwidth than your website needs is futile. It simply won't enable the adequate functioning of your digital space.

Sometimes a business's hosting bandwidth needs to change over the course of the business's growth. Consider, for example, an eCommerce store selling Mac software for small business needs. Initially, there might be few customers visiting the site. Over time as the store gains traction, the traffic will increase, and so will the data transfer requirements.

With more people visiting the store regularly, larger amounts of data will be transferred per second as more customers browse multiple pages. This requirement places pressure on the site's performance, and the only way to ease that pressure is to increase the bandwidth.

It also makes no sense to purchase a hosting solution that has more bandwidth than you need. Certain hosting companies would try to sell higher tier packages as much as possible. Hosting providers that offer scalable solutions are the perfect answer in this kind of scenario. As the business and bandwidth requirements grow, the hosting provider enables more bandwidth to match the needs.

Steps to Take to Calculate Your Required Hosting Bandwidth

Understanding your website needs will make it easier to find out how much hosting bandwidth you need. If you're launching a brand-new site, it's a little tricky as you don't have anything to base your assumptions on.

However, if you're simply looking to make a change and find the most optimal hosting package and bandwidth, you can use your existing site to do the calculations.

First, ascertain the following:

  1. Find out what your average website page size is in bytes (KB or MB)
  2. Estimate how many average visitors your website will receive monthly
  3. Multiply the average page size by the monthly average number of visitors
  4. Estimate how many average page views each visitor will make
  5. Multiply the result from step 3 by the average page views per visitor

So, how do you find out the average website page size? Use a web page speed test tool to run a web page speed test. The results also showcase the size of the web page you're testing. You can look at your competitors or similar websites to gauge this. Run a few tests on different pages to get the average.

With an existing site, you can use any analytical platform, such as Google Analytics, to define the monthly average visitors and monthly average page views.

Website page size X website visitors X page views = required bandwidth

Let’s assume the website page size is 1MB with 1,000 visitors and 5 page views each:

1MB x 1,000 x 5 = 5,000MB or 5GB

This number is an average and an estimation, so it's best to treat it as the minimum requirement. Let your website grow into this requirement, and get in touch with your hosting contact center to help you scale up as you need it. This also gives you space to expand, add more content, create and add multimedia content, and work on delivering a better experience for your users.

If you're launching a new site, use the above estimation to start with. Once your site is live, you can let it run for a few weeks, gather the relevant data, and make an accurate calculation. You can then adjust your hosting bandwidth accordingly. If you have multiple sites on the same server, you need to calculate the above for each and add the results together.

Changes to Factor Into Your Hosting Bandwidth

This estimation or calculation is a great start to finding your optimal website hosting bandwidth, but consider these next steps if you want to get super granular.

Changing Website Requirements

If your website needs to stream content or host large multimedia files, you may need to add more bandwidth if there are higher traffic volumes.

Changing Your Layout

If you make changes to the website layout, theme, or structure, it might require more bandwidth to run optimally. It could also require less if you downsize. In this instance, be aware that you are not paying overtly huge fees for hosting bandwidth you don't need.

Changes In Traffic Volumes

Over time, through increases in rankings and other factors, your site will naturally garner more traffic. If your traffic volumes increase significantly, we have no doubt that you will be pleased to pay for additional bandwidth.

Rankings can change with algorithm updates. Suddenly ranking in Google's featured snippets for a random question could vastly increase the levels of traffic you're used to seeing. Having your content shared by a high-profile business could also result in higher volumes.

Seasonal Spikes In Traffic

Your site might experience seasonal traffic, such as festive shopping traffic towards the end of the year or traffic matching other significant holidays. You might need to account for these spikes by bolstering your hosting bandwidth for those periods.

This can be a temporary measure that you pre-arrange with your hosting provider to revert once the seasonal traffic dies.

Pro tip: having a streamlined customer support system in place during these spikes in traffic will connect customers directly to you to report any difficulties or downtime. We recommend implementing a fixed VoIP phone service that is affordable and experiences almost 100% uptime throughout the year. That way, your customers can always get hold of you.

Changes In Space Requirements

As your website starts to take shape and you add more content, you will find that your need for additional space becomes prevalent. More content equals more page views, which equals a need for more bandwidth. Give yourself enough room to grow without having to adjust your hosting bandwidth almost immediately.

Cater For Downloads And Sales

If users need to download content from your website or expect a sudden dash of people after the launch date, ensure your bandwidth can manage the flow.

Hosting Packages And Bandwidth

Understanding your required bandwidth will help you make a more informed decision when choosing your website hosting package. Hosting is generally sold month to month, but most providers will allow you to pay for a year upfront at a reduced cost.

Some scalable solutions will offer automated services that will notify you as and when you need to upgrade. You should get notifications as you're approaching your limit so that you can factor in enough time to make the necessary changes to upgrade your account. Your hosting provider will assist you and the process to switch is swift.

If you happen to go over your allotment in a given month, you could be charged overage fees. You will receive communication that you're approaching your limit, so it's up to you to increase your bandwidth if you see you're going to exceed the limit. Overage fees can amount to a fair price, so make sure you're receiving your hosting provider's emails.

Bottomline

Generally speaking, it is recommended by most professionals that you always buy more than you need to accommodate any of the above changing scenarios. You would hate to miss out on any additional traffic simply because your bandwidth couldn't handle the capacity.

Calculate your estimated optimal website hosting bandwidth and use it as a guide to measuring your needs.

Richard Conn

Richard Conn is the Senior Director, Search Marketing for RingCentral, a global leader in unified communications and virtual phone systems. He is passionate about connecting businesses and customers and has experience working with Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Experian, Target, Nordstrom, Kayak, Hilton, and Kia.

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