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What is bandwidth anyway? And how much do I need?

Bandwidth (or data transfer) is sometimes made a bit of a mystery by web hosting companies but it is a vitally important element of the web hosting you choose. It is simply a measure of how much load your web site puts on the facilities of the web server where your site resides. And obviously the higher the load the higher the cost is going to be.

Bandwidth is expressed usually as so many megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB) per month, so how is it measured? I'll try not to get too technical so please try to follow me.

Imagine we have a web page which has an html file with a size of 10 KB and the web page then contains two images, one of 15 KB and one of 25 KB, i.e. 50 KB in total. If someone calls that page through their browser then those three files totalling 50 KB will be downloaded from that site's web space onto the visitors PC so they can see the page. When that happens it consumes 50 KB of bandwidth. If that happens 20 times in a month then 20 x 50 KB or 1 MB of bandwidth per month will have been consumed.

So bandwidth is sort of related to the size of the files and the number of files and the number of pages and the number of visitors and how often they came back and so on ... The bottom line is that a busy site uses more bandwidth than a quiet one! So if your site starts off being quiet, but then becomes popular and it costs you a bit more for a bit more bandwidth, then usually you don't mind because it's the cost of success!

As with other aspects even the smallest plans we offer have a generous allocation of bandwidth but you need to be aware that it is a factor. In particular images and downloads can consume bandwidth greedily. If you are a software house and you let visitors download a demo of your software, and the demo is a 5 MB file (not large by demo standards) you consume 5 MB of bandwidth each time someone downloads it. Equally if you have a simple little personal web site which has a photo of your new grandson that has not been shrunk down for web site use (the photo that is !) you could again use up several MB of bandwidth.

250 MB per month is the bandwidth of our smallest lowest cost plan so don't get too worried as even that is a lot of files, pictures, downloads. However we would rather you were aware of the issue. Good bandwidth is the most important factor of quality web space. It is why we make a charge and you get good performance and why the freebie services can't give that performance.

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