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What is Bandwidth in Hosting?

Bandwidth, in internet parlance, refers to the amount of data transferred to-and-fro between a web server and a web browser. When a website visitor visits your website, there is a two-way communication. While most of the communication involves data flowing from the web server to the web browser, the visitor would also be sending data from the web browser to the web server in the form of page requests and form submissions.

For every page that is downloaded in the website visitor's browser, the amount of server bandwidth consumed would roughly be the aggregate of the sizes of downloaded files. The files that may be associated with a web page would comprise:

  • The main html file.
  • Image files corresponding to embedded images in the page.
  • Video and other multimedia files, if they are also embedded in the page.
  • There may be one or more CSS files to take care of formatting of your text in appropriate fonts, sizes, and colors.
  • There may be a couple of javascript files which may be required to present navigation menus or other features on the page.

So, one web page displayed on a web browser would require all of the above files to be downloaded. A plain HTML page may consume bandwidth of the order of 40–50 KB per visit. Pages with a lot of graphics, on the other hand, can consume 200-300 KB of bandwidth per visit. Web pages with audio/video embeds would consume bandwidth as high as the size of the audio/video file itself. You can make a guess about the number of visits expected on your website and carry out a rough estimate of your bandwidth requirement. An average website would typically have a bandwidth requirement of less than 5 GB per month.

If you already have a hosting account, your current web statistics program should give you a rough idea of how much bandwidth you are using at the moment. Hosting companies typically offer 10–20 times the bandwidth as disc space allocated. For example, if you have a disc space of 10 GB, your bandwidth will be typically 100–200 GB/month. Beware of companies offering unlimited bandwidth as they usually have a non-specific clause in their terms and conditions saying they may shut down your website if you use an excessive share of their web server resources. Further, the unlimited bandwidth is unlimited for all websites on the shared server, and if some websites are hogging too much bandwidth, you are not even assured of your minimum rights. However, good hosting companies enforce strict resource usage controls such as CPU and main memory usage, and this ensures quality service even with unlimited bandwidth setting, i.e., even when they are not monitoring bandwidth usage, they are able to ensure a fair distribution of resources amongst all users.

Ways to reduce your website's bandwidth consumption

If you have hosted a website for quite some time now, you might have seen this message: "Bandwidth Limit Exceeded" when you visited your website. This indicates that traffic to your website has increased and it is time for you to increase your bandwidth allocation, which means upgrading to a higher spec hosting plan. Of course, there is a price to pay for more bandwidth. Hence, it makes sense to do some tweaking with your website content so as to reduce the bandwidth consumption. Here are a few simple ways to do that:

  1. Optimize your image files - check and reduce the sizes of images where you do not need very high resolution or large-sized images.
  2. If possible, reduce the resolution of any video files that you are rendering through your website.
  3. Convert audio files to mono instead of stereo.
  4. Use techniques to compress images, audio and video files before sending from your web server to the user's browser.
  5. Implement a client-side service worker to cache media files and all static content in user's browser.

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About the Author
Rajeev Kumar
CEO, Computer Solutions
Jamshedpur, India

Rajeev Kumar is the primary author of How2Lab. He is a B.Tech. from IIT Kanpur with several years of experience in IT education and Software development. He has taught a wide spectrum of people including fresh young talents, students of premier engineering colleges & management institutes, and IT professionals.

Rajeev has founded Computer Solutions & Web Services Worldwide. He has hands-on experience of building variety of websites and business applications, that include - SaaS based erp & e-commerce systems, and cloud deployed operations management software for health-care, manufacturing and other industries.

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