Get an Estimate: How Much Hosting Bandwidth Do You Need?

Get an Estimate: How Much Hosting Bandwidth Do You Need?

Hosting bandwidth is one of the important factors to consider when comparing web hosting plans. So how much bandwidth do you need for your site? Is 10 GB bandwidth enough for a website?

With the prevalence of the Internet, anyone can publish their own website. The challenge lies with choosing the right web hosting plan, especially if you’re new to setting up a website (and the hosting process). Among the factors to consider is hosting bandwidth.

This guide will help you find out how much hosting bandwidth your website needs and how to keep your budget in line. Continue reading for some tips on how to do a practical estimate for your website’s bandwidth.

Bandwidth vs Data Transfer: Are They the Same?

Bandwidth vs Data Transfer: Are They the Same?

Bandwidth and data transfer are two terms that get tossed around interchangeably when discussing web hosting features. While both seem similar on the surface, they mean different things.

Bandwidth

Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transferred through a website in a given time, usually measured per second. It is used to quantify the amount of traffic and data allowed to transmit between your website and visitors through the Internet.

Data Transfer

On the other hand, data transfer refers to the actual amount of data transferred between two computers or the traffic generated. So, bandwidth is the rate of data transfer for a given device or computer.

Difference between data transfer and bandwidth

Let’s imagine bandwidth and data transfer in terms of highways (or expressways).

Bandwidth is the number of vehicles that can cross the expressway from one end to another at a given time. Data transfer would then be the actual number of vehicles that completed the journey.

Let's imagine bandwidth and data transfer in terms of highways (or expressways).

So a massive expressway with multiple lanes can accommodate more vehicles to travel on it in a short amount of time. In the same way, a high performing data pipe or Internet connection will allow more bandwidth consumption.

And, if there is a huge influx of of vehicles on the highway, the speed of the vehicle naturally decreases. The bandwidth will be reduced once there is an increase in the data transfer.

For website owners, the amount of bandwidth a web hosting provider can offer is one of the  good signs of their capabilities as a web host. This means that the higher bandwidth offered, the better the network speed and performance you can expect.

How to Estimate Your Hosting Bandwidth?

How to Estimate Your Hosting Bandwidth?

If you’re about to launch a website, estimating how much hosting bandwidth you need can take a lot of guesswork.

The best thing to do is to evaluate your website’s activity in the first few months after launching it. From there, you can figure out your actual monthly bandwidth usage and modify your plan appropriately.

Still, here are two approaches to estimating web hosting bandwidth; one for existing websites and the other for new websites.

Estimating Web Hosting Bandwidth for Existing Websites (formula)

For established websites, use this formula to calculate your hosting bandwidth:

Average page size × Average monthly visitors × Average no. of pageviews per visitor = Web Hosting Bandwidth

So, how do you find the individual components of the formula?

How to find "average page size"?

Pingdom Tools Website Speed Test

Find out the average page size of your website. To do so, test some of your website pages on Pingdom Website Speed Test and average out the results.

Example: Average page size -- Vodien's Blog

For example, the file size of some of Vodien's blog pages are as follows:

  • Home page (2.4MB)
  • The total of 25 random articles in the blog (30MB)

(30MB+2.4MB) ÷ 26 pages = 1.25MB

The average page size (estimated) for Vodien blog is therefore 1.25MB.

How to find "average monthly visitors"?

Average monthly visitors (using Google Analytics)

Find out the number of monthly visitors to your website. To do so, check your Google Analytics account (or any website analytics tool you're using).

Example: Average monthly visitors -- Vodien's Blog

Using the same example, let's assume that Vodien's blog gets 5,000 visitors on average per month.

For simplicity, we're using round numbers.

How to find "average number of pageviews per visitor"?

Average number of pageviews per visitor

Get the number of pageviews on your website. Again, check Google Analytics (or the website analytics tool you're using).

Example: Average no. of pageviews/visitor -- Vodien's Blog

Let's assume the average number of pageviews per visitor for Vodien's blog is 2.

Hosting Bandwidth for Existing Sites & Answer to Example

Multiply the numbers you’ve found:

  • Page size (average)
  • Monthly visitors (average)
  • No. of pageviews per visitor (average)

Your estimate should include every website hosted on the same server. If your hosting account manages multiple domain names, then make sure to consolidate the page sizes, average number of visitors, and pageviews per visitor on all domains.

Example: Hosting bandwidth estimated (ANSWER) — Vodien’s Blog

Vodien Blog screenshot

 

So, with the assumptions we’ve made, Vodien’s blog uses 12,500MB of hosting bandwidth per month.

 

Average page size × Average monthly visitors × Average no. of pageviews per visitor = Web Hosting Bandwidth

 

1.25MB × 5,000 × 2 = 12,500MB

This straightforward calculation should give you a rough estimate on how much hosting bandwidth your website may consume. Since this only applies to your present usage, it might not give you the whole picture of your actual usage.

You don’t want to always upgrade your plan every time your data consumption changes, so you need to consider other technical challenges and give room for growth in the future.

Estimating Web Hosting Bandwidth for New Websites

Estimating hosting bandwidth for new websites (that are not yet launched) uses the same formula. The only difference is that you’ll have to estimate the numbers.

Average page size × Average monthly visitors × Average no. of pageviews per visitor = Web Hosting Bandwidth

In reality, most websites don’t use that much hosting bandwidth. So, is 10 GB bandwidth enough for a website?

If your site does not host resource-intensive media like video streaming and HD photos, then chances are, you can survive with even less than 10 GB each month.

It’s those websites that normally attract huge amount of traffic on a daily basis that will need hosting plan with higher bandwidth limit. Examples of these high-traffic sites are Facebook and Google.

Factors that increase hosting bandwidth usage (tip: give room for growth)

Factors that increase hosting bandwidth usage (tip: give room for growth)

These are more factors that will impact your bandwidth consumption:

Traffic Growth

Your website bandwidth use will grow as more people visit your site; unplanned traffic spikes may increase bandwidth usage per month.

Website Design Changes

Changing your site’s design might inflate the page size, thus, using up more bandwidth.

Web Page Additions

Adding more web pages will mean an increase in pageviews as well.

As such, when deciding your hosting plan, you have to include a buffer for growth.

Should You Go for Unlimited Bandwidth?

Should You Go for Unlimited Bandwidth?

Many web hosting providers offer unlimited bandwidth with their hosting plans. However, this does not mean you have infinite monthly data transfer and traffic with no limits. To a hosting provider, this is its way of offering a flat rate to their clients.

The truth is, it is impossible for a web host to offer unlimited bandwidth for a flat rate. Servers cost money. The more bandwidth you consume, the more it will cost the web host.

Since most websites are in the normal range of bandwidth usage, this assumption is used to market unlimited bandwidth hosting plans. When they say “unlimited”, it means they can distribute the bandwidth proportionately for all their clients. However, reality dictates that there will always be a limit to a web hosting plan. In fact, all hosts would include a clause for reasonable use (and/or limited server resource usage) in their terms of service.

By examining your website’s actual bandwidth consumption against the unlimited bandwidth plan offered, you can then assess which type of hosting you really need and if that web host can really provide what your website requires.

Takeaway: Choosing the Right Web Hosting Plan for your Bandwidth Needs

Takeaway: Choosing the Right Web Hosting Plan for your Bandwidth Needs

Once you have an estimate on how much bandwidth you require, you can use that as a basis when choosing your next web hosting provider. Take time to check their bandwidth allocation for each type of hosting plan.

If you’re thinking of having an unlimited hosting plan, you need to research further the maximum bandwidth allowed for that plan. Keep in mind that there are hosting providers that will not reveal the exact limit upfront so you will need to probe further. If a web host is not transparent with these important details, this could be red flag for more underlying problems in the future.