Sorting your site’s bandwidth requirement
Making sure you have the appropriate bandwidth for your business website is essential, but how do you go about it? Bandwidth can be a tricky subject to wrap your head around, even if you're an experienced website owner, so read on and get to grips with the ins and outs of meeting your bandwidth needs.
Understanding bandwidth and what it means for you
Bandwidth is a way of measuring how much data is being sent from one place to another via the internet. Your site uses bandwidth to share images and files with your users, and when you set up your account with your hosting provider, you probably agreed to use a certain amount of bandwidth every month.
Each page on your website contains information to be transferred to your customers, whether it's a homepage with motion graphics or a simple text-based ‘Contact us’ page. However, the more complex a page is, the more bandwidth it uses. If your pages contain several large images, a video and a midi sound file, for example, you'll need a higher bandwidth allowance than a text-heavy site.
When websites unexpectedly experience heavy traffic or have an unusually high number of customers using their services, they may be penalised, either by higher bills or, more worryingly, disruption to the site.
If you want to provide your customers with uninterrupted service, it's crucial that you don't exceed your bandwidth limitations.
Calculating your bandwidth requirements
Ideally, you want to make sure you always have plenty of bandwidth to play with, so you need to look closely at your site's requirements and what you need to be able to meet them.
Every single piece of data on your site will have a corresponding file size, so it should be easy for you to work out how large any one page will be. Let’s say that you create a homepage with a file size of 20 kb. The same page has a couple of images, each 20 kb, and you also decide to add a sound file that is 40 kb. Altogether, this page would be 100 kb.
The next factor to consider is the amount of traffic you expect your page to receive. For every 10 customers that view your 100 kb page, you'll be using 1 Mb of bandwidth. So the more customers you expect, the more bandwidth you need.
It's also worth bearing in mind that providers will often include transferring files to and from your website via a file transfer protocol (FTP) or a file management system when calculating your bandwidth usage. This is normally a very small amount of the whole, but if you happen to have a website that is constantly updated with new videos or other large files, it's worth including this in your calculations.
Making sure to host your site appropriately
When choosing a hosting provider, be sure to check that they are able to offer you good prices and a degree of flexibility – especially over peak seasons. You should also find out how and if they will penalise you if your site accidentally exceeds your bandwidth for any given month and check out their track record. By working these things out at the beginning, you can save yourself from running into trouble due to unexpected bandwidth issues.