Entering the online world requires you to know a few technical terms to choose the best web hosting plan for the website you are about to launch. Bandwidth is one of these terms as it plays a major role in deciding the fate of your website.
I’m sure you must have heard about bandwidth before today, especially while choosing your internet plan. If you didn’t bother much about knowing it at that time, don’t fret.
Today, I’ll be discussing bandwidth and its need for your website covering both unlimited and unmetered bandwidth offered by web hosts these days. Let us first understand the meaning of bandwidth in web hosting.
What is bandwidth in web hosting?
Bandwidth in web hosting refers to the maximum amount of data that can be processed on a website within a specific time frame. It is generally measured in bytes per second and determines the speed of data flow between your website and its visitors.
Bandwidth must not be confused with data transfer as the latter refers to the amount of data that can be transferred irrespective of any time frame. Bandwidth impacts the loading time of your website as it is time-specific. The more the bandwidth, the faster the data is delivered to your website visitors.
What does unlimited bandwidth mean?
Unlimited bandwidth means your website can share any amount of data within a specific time frame. Many web hosts offer hosting plans with unlimited bandwidth thereby allowing you to keep your website performing at its best at all times.
However, in the true sense, no web host can provide you with unlimited bandwidth because every server has an upper limit depending on its capacity to transfer data within a specific time frame.
That said, unlimited bandwidth is more than enough for a wide majority of websites whether small, medium, or large. In normal circumstances, any website on a shared server will never consume all the available bandwidth.
Unmetered bandwidth vs. Unlimited bandwidth: What’s the difference?
Unlimited bandwidth is often confused with unmetered bandwidth but these two terms have different meanings. In common language, however, the two terms are usually used interchangeably by many people.
Unmetered bandwidth means your website can share data with its visitors without any limits. In other words, the total amount of data transferred to and from your website remains unlimited no matter how many visitors your website might receive in a given month.
Unlimited bandwidth, on the other hand, means the data transferred to and from your website within a specific time frame, usually, one second, remains unlimited. Since this data transfer is time-specific, it impacts the loading time of your website pages.
The difference between unlimited and unmetered bandwidth lies in the speed at which data can be shared by your website. While unlimited bandwidth relates to the speed of data transfer, unmetered bandwidth relates to the overall amount of data shared by your website.
Unmetered bandwidth is usually measured in bytes of data like 20 Megabyte (20MB) or 2 Gigabyte (2GB) whereas unlimited bandwidth is measured in bytes per second like 20 Megabyte per second (20Mbps) or 2 Gigabyte per second (2Gbps).
For easier understanding, you can compare unmetered bandwidth with fuel available through a hosepipe at a fuel station and unlimited bandwidth with the opening of the hose pipe. While the quantity of fuel available is unlimited at the fuel station, the pipe opening decides the speed at which the fuel gets filled into your vehicle.
The unlimited quantity of fuel available can be compared to unlimited data in unmetered bandwidth. On the other hand, the opening of the hosepipe can be compared to unlimited bandwidth. Greater the opening, the more the fuel flow, i.e. faster delivery of fuel in case of fuel station or data in case of unlimited bandwidth.
The table below highlights the major differences between unmetered bandwidth and unlimited bandwidth for better understanding:
|Basis||Unmetered Bandwidth||Unlimited Bandwidth|
|Meaning||It means that there is no limit to the amount of data shared by your website.||It means that there is no limit to the rate at which data can be transferred to and from your website.|
|Relation||It relates to the total amount of data transferred in a month.||It relates to the speed of data transfer through your website.|
|Traffic spikes||Unmetered bandwidth is related to total website traffic rather than traffic spikes.||Unlimited bandwidth allows a website to handle traffic spikes quite efficiently.|
|Performance||It does not impact the performance of a website.||It has a positive impact on the performance of a website as it reduces the loading time of web pages.|
|Measurement||It is measured in bytes. For instance, 50MB or 2GB.||It is measured in bytes per second. For instance, 50Mbps or 2Gbps.|
How to get unlimited bandwidth?
Since limited bandwidth can negatively impact the speed of your website, it is always a good idea to get unlimited bandwidth. It will not only improve your website performance but will also provide a better user experience to your website visitors by loading your web pages faster even during high traffic hours.
You can get unlimited bandwidth for your website in a variety of ways:
- When choosing a hosting plan for your website, look for hosts that offer unlimited bandwidth with their shared hosting plans if you are on a tight budget. Shared hosting is cheaper than other types of web hosting and can help you save tons of money.
- If you are not restricted by your budget or just unsatisfied with the features of shared hosting plans, pick higher hosting types like Virtual Private Server (VPS). Such hosting types tend to have higher or unlimited allocated resources to satisfy the needs of larger websites and can for instance offer unlimited bandwidth without any issues.
Useful tip: Whenever you choose a hosting plan offering unlimited bandwidth, the host never limits the data transfer speed of your website. However, the processing power and RAM of the host’s server decide the ‘limit’ of the unlimited bandwidth.
Though this limit is far above the usual bandwidth needs of us all, I highly recommend going through the terms and conditions attached to the hosting plan you are about to pay for.
Is limited bandwidth okay for a small website?
Yes, limited bandwidth is okay for a small website in most cases. However, you need to ensure that the hosting plan you purchase gives room for handling minor traffic spikes that your website may experience.
Every upload and download of information from your website is counted to measure the use of bandwidth.
Limited bandwidth is okay for your website when:
- The website is small with page sizes in KBs (Kilobyte) including the media files added to the page.
- It receives consistently modest traffic without any major traffic spikes.
- You do not plan to expand your website too much soon.
- You do not run an eCommerce store, a magazine, a photography portfolio, or such a similar media-heavy website.
- You are not offering heavy files for your visitors to download from your website. For instance, free download of a large ebook or another resource on signing up for your website’s newsletter. Smaller files can, however, be offered without any issues.
Is 10GB bandwidth enough for a website?
Yes, 10GB bandwidth is enough for a website in most cases. For a small and medium-sized website or blog without much media content, 10GB bandwidth is more than enough.
If, however, you have a news portal or a magazine with a lot of pictures and videos added to web pages, you might have to purchase a bigger plan providing more bandwidth. Also, for large websites with lots of web pages, content, and visitors, 10GB will not be sufficient.
How can you calculate the bandwidth need of your website?
Even a layman can calculate the bandwidth needs of his website with ease. You just need to determine the expected monthly visitors to your website and the average size of the website pages you have created.
Since your website visitor might also get interested in visiting other pages of your website, you must also consider this factor while calculating your website bandwidth needs.
Let us understand this calculation with an example here:
Let’s assume that you are expecting to receive 30,000 visitors per month and have an average website page size of 50KB. Also, you expect each website visitor to visit an average of 3 pages on your website.
In such a case, you will need 4.5GB of bandwidth per month calculated as follows:
Number of monthly website visitors X Average page size of your website X Average page visits by each website visitor
30,000 visitors X 50KB X 3 page visits per visitor = 45,00,000 KB
Since 1MB = 1000 KB, therefore; 45,00,000 KB translates to 4500 MB
Again 1GB = 1000 MB, therefore; 4500 MB equates to 4.5GB
It is always a good practice to keep a margin of 50% to cover unexpected traffic spikes that you might receive from, say, one of your blog posts that gets viral on social media.
In our above example, adding 50% margin i.e. 2.25GB (4.5GB X 50%) to our total bandwidth requirement of 4.5GB leads us to a value of 6.75GB. So, getting a hosting plan that offers at least 6.75GB of bandwidth will cover the monthly bandwidth requirements of a website with similar numbers.
It is worthwhile to mention here that reaching a mark of 30,000 visitors per month i.e. an average of 1,000 visitors per day is a huge achievement. It might take years even for large and famous websites to achieve this goal.
This was all about calculating your bandwidth needs accurately by predicting your monthly traffic and determining the average page size. You can easily calculate your bandwidth needs with the above formula.
If you already have a website and want to know your bandwidth usage, you can check it out in your website control panel. Every host displays it differently, so you will have to search for this insightful information accordingly.
If you don’t know the average page size of your website, you can also utilize a very useful tool called Pingdom. Though the tool is originally built to know the load time of a website, we can use it to find the average page size of a website as well.
You just need to fill out your website’s page address and select the location from the dropdown to find the time it takes to load from a specific location. Have a look at the screenshot of a test run for my website’s homepage here:
The page size displayed here is 1.6 MB. For finding the average page size, you will have to check the size of a couple of pages from your website and take an average of the total figure. Then use this figure in the bandwidth formula above.
Bandwidth needs for your website vary with time. If you are just starting and do not expect to route tens of thousands of people from your social media accounts in the beginning, it is best to start small. Paying additional costs for the resources you don’t need will just be a waste of money.
On the other hand, choosing a hosting plan with limited bandwidth might not fulfill your website needs. Selecting a smaller plan than needed will negatively impact your website’s page load speed.
A slow website is neither preferred by your visitors nor is it a favorite of search engines like Google. So, consider determining your bandwidth needs well in advance and keep a check over the total usage from your control panel to keep the performance of your website excellent at all times.
I’d suggest you start with a small plan and gradually move up the ladder as your website content builds up and traffic grows. Choose a web host who makes it easy to upgrade your hosting plan as per your needs without affecting the performance of your website while upgrading the plan.
What type of website are you planning to create? Do you plan to add any media content to it? Let me know in the comments below if you want me to help you determine your bandwidth needs. I’d be more than happy to be a part of your online journey!
Also Read: Shared Web Hosting: All You Should Know!