Bandwidth, the essential resource of Internet connectivity, is an important consideration to take into account when choosing a hosting company for your website. Simply defined, bandwidth refers to how much data you plan to move into or out of your hosted website over time. If the total data movement capacity of a hosting company can be visualized as a large pipe, your bandwidth needs can be expressed as how much of that pipe will need to be dedicated to supplying your servers.
Because bandwidth is a limited resource that is crucial to Internet communication and commerce, hosting companies typically charge for bandwidth as part of their hosting plans. In order to choose the right plan at the right price, here are a few things you should know about servers, bandwidth, and you:
Avoid Killer Overage Charges. Just as mobile phone carriers charge additional fees if you use more than your allotted minutes in a given month, hosting companies may charge overage fees if your hosted website exceeds the amount of bandwidth in the contract. When choosing a hosting company, find out whether and how they charge for excessive bandwidth use, and whether bandwidth overages can result in your site being shut down.
Know your traffic. The bandwidth you need to operate your hosted website depends on how many people visit your site each month, how many pages they view on an average visit, and the average file size of the web pages, images, or other data that they access. If possible, install traffic analyzing software on your website to keep track of the amount of data accessed in order to get an idea of your bandwidth needs. When in doubt, as with mobile phone plans, too much is better than not enough.
Ask about your options. Different types of hosting contract may come with different bandwidth allowances, depending on price and resource use. A shared hosting contract may have more restrictive bandwidth requirements, since a website sharing a server with other websites has an increased potential to disrupt other clients if bandwidth limits are exceeded. For a dedicated server contract, in which your site has the full resources of a server and broadband connection to draw upon, a larger bandwidth allowance may be included up front, and bandwidth overage policies may not be as restrictive.
Having a general idea of your bandwidth needs, and knowing what types of hosting contracts are available, can help you to choose the hosting company that is best suited to the requirements of your business. Many hosting companies make bandwidth usage records and statistics available to their customers, giving you the option of adjusting your contract to accommodate the amount of traffic your website actually receives. By selecting an initial bandwidth plan that gives you a margin of error, and choosing a hosting company that will work with you to adjust your plan over time, you can eventually arrive at a server bandwidth arrangement that will be optimal for your business.