Owning websites is great. It’s a lot of fun to see traffic coming to your website – even if it’s just a handful of people a day. You may own a blog, small website or a larger website like for your business and you may be seeing more and more people coming to your site. You can often look at your website statistics with a program that your web host has running on your server or you may also have Google Analytics installed on your website – giving you even greater detail into who is coming to your website, how long they’re staying and with what keywords they’re finding you.
One statistic that may really matter soon if it hasn’t already is the amount of data that people are grabbing from your site, known as bandwidth or data transfer. Each time someone visits your website, they’re downloading it to their computer. Each “hit” is a connection made to grab that data. So a web page with 8 images on it, would produce 9 hits. One is for the page itself and then 8 more – one for each image. The metric “hits” is a useless number because every web page does not have the same amount of images or items on it. Some have 1 and some have 50.Your web host may have set a bandwidth limit on your website and you may get charged if you go over that limit. In some cases, the web host will turn your site off if you go over that limit.
So how do you know how much you need? Good question. It will depend on your website.
If you have a lot of big files on it, like audio and video files, then you will need more. If you have videos on your site that you’ve embedded – like from YouTube, then you are not hosting those files – YouTube is. It’s using their bandwidth, so you don’t need to worry.
You should also watch your image sizes. Some lazy webmasters upload big image files to their site and then sort of resize them by grabbing the corner of the image in their editor and “shrink” them. Well, that’s not really making them smaller, it’s just showing them smaller. The size of the file that you uploaded to your site is the size of the file that people will be downloading – even if you’re forcing it to be shown at a different display size. If you’re seeing a lot of bandwidth usage and if the images on your website take a long time to download, then this could be why. To fix this, you need to resize each image using a photo editing program like Photoshop.
Web browsers also “cache” image, which means they save them on your computer and don’t re-download them if they don’t need to. This helps speed things up and eases the amount of traffic out on the Web.
I own a number of sites, so I’ve put together a chart that can be used as a guideline to find out how much bandwidth you may need. Remember that 1 GB is 1024 MB and 1 MB is 1024 kb and so on. This shows actual statistics from a number of different websites and their unique visitors per month, pages viewed per month, pages per each unique visitor, the data transfer used for that site that month and then the amount per visitor. Again, since the amount of images on a page varies with each site, we’re going to get different numbers.
I’ve looked at stats from some website I own and have come up with 0.97 MB per website visitor. This is just 5 random websites that I have access to and not scientific, but we’re looking at roughly 1 MB of data transfer per user on average. This may be a bit conservative since on each of these sites, people viewed less than 2 pages each. This gives you an idea about how the stats should look.
You’ll also notice that each site above used several gigabytes. The lowest one is 2.3 GB. So for any website that gets reasonable traffic, you definitely need 3 GB or more per month. Sites with higher traffic could easily top 20 GB or more per month.
The best alternative is to find a web hosting company that offers unlimited bandwidth (and disk space) so that you don’t get socked with extra charges every month and/or your website being turned off. These hosts do exist out there and are relatively easy to find but make sure you find a good one and not one that’s too cheap and will cause you problems or have outages.