If you have a website, one of the most important things you need to know about is bandwidth. You don't know what that is, you say? Okay, here we go.
Basically, bandwidth is the amount of data you can transfer at one time. When you have less bandwidth, your site takes longer to load regardless of what connection your visitors have.
With more visitors, each visitor is going to have to wait his or her turn if you don't have enough bandwidth to accommodate everyone.
If you can lower the amount of data transfer you have on your end, you'll have a site that more people can visit, because you won't have to worry about exceeding the amount of bandwidth your hosting provider allows you.
The more data you transfer, the more bandwidth you consume. The less data you transfer, the less bandwidth you consume. Therefore, keep it simple for best results.
How much bandwidth do you need?
How much bandwidth you need for your site depend on a number of factors. Basically, you want to keep your site as simple as possible, to reduce the amount of bandwidth.
This, in turn, makes it possible for more visitors to visit your site. Not just that, they'll be able to visit your pages more easily and will be less likely to leave because they're waiting for your pages to load.
To determine how much bandwidth you currently use, take a look at your traffic history.
If you don't have a site yet and you want to get one, you can estimate how much bandwidth you use by estimating the following factors:
- Daily number of visitors, or the number you expect
- Daily average of page views per visitor, or the number you expect
- Size of your site, including graphics, or the size you expect it to be
Then, take each of those numbers and multiply them by 30, then add them together. This gives you a rough average size of your monthly transfer needs. If you're also going to offer downloads, then take the number of expected downloads per day, multiply times 30, and add that to the above transfer total.
You should also give yourself a small percentage extra in transfer needs to account for e-mail traffic and any uploads you make.
Are "unlimited" hosting plans a good idea?
You might have noticed that some hosting plans offer "unlimited" bandwidth. In theory, this is a good idea, because it means that you don't have to watch how much bandwidth you're using.
However, that's only in theory. What really happens is that you're given a fixed amount of bandwidth no matter how many visitors you have. Therefore, if you have a small amount of visitors, their transfer times and therefore their wait times are small.
However, if you have a large amount of visitors, they simply have to "get in line" with everyone else and their allotted amount of bandwidth is going to be proportionately smaller depending on how many more visitors there are.
This means that they are going to have much longer wait times than if you don't use much bandwidth, even if you're using an "unlimited" hosting plan.
Therefore, your true best bet in most cases it's going to be to limit the bandwidth you yourself use (including for website graphics and things of that nature), so that you have more left over for your visitors to use.
You can also cache your website for easier and faster loading, but then set a date of expiration in the HTTP headers so the browser will refresh content after a certain amount of time.
Spiders too can reduce your bandwidth, but if you use robots.txt, this can help keep them in control.
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