Bandwidth is an important factor to consider when choosing a good web host but its’s still not the most important one. We previously talked about web hosting disk space and the reality of it. The 2nd most popular slogan of web hosting companies is Unlimited Bandwidth. So what’s all that about?

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In simple words, bandwidth is analogous to the amount of miles you can drive with your company’s car per month. All websites uses bandwidth to load the HTML, images, and files of your websites. So a web hosting company which is telling you that it gives you an unlimited bandwidth should be analogous to making you the king of the company’s car (ironically). Sadly this is also another marketing strike point that almost all web hosts use.

While bandwidth is cheap nowadays, you need to also think why will a company give you an unlimited bandwidth and do you really need so much bandwidth? Many people when buying a hosting account, are lured to this slogan and start dreaming to have their own little Rapidshare clone or even Facebook clone. Stop dreaming! Sites like Rapidshare, Facebook and even Google have hundreds to thousands or servers. They do not use a simple shared server.

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Note: I am not saying its bad or evil to use these slogans! This is marketing and since everyone use it, all the others too use it but if you read the TOS you will see these details.

If unlimited bandwidth would have been true, then the whole world would be transferring GBs of ripped DVDs every minute right now by paying a small hosting server at $6 per month. If you really want to start a file sharing website, then go for a powerful dedicated server which cost normally over $150/month for the basic.

When you choose a web host, you need to know what is your expected bandwidth usage per month and be sure you get a package that can satisfy your needs without over purchasing. Normally it takes a very large website to even uses 50GB of bandwidth per month!

Taking my own experience as example, Island Crisis itself uses at most 200GB of bandwidth per month and that’s with about 8000 daily readers.

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Normally a bandwidth of 30Gb is more than enough per month for a small to medium website. If you plan to have some 4 to 5 small to medium sites hosted then a bandwidth of 100GB to 200Gb itself should be enough but it can be too much too depending on the traffic of the website.

If you want to know why hosting providers can safely tell you about unlimited bandwidth it is because they know you will never even use so much bandwidth. And in case you are being the bad dude and doing warez transfer(using scripts) for more than the REAL bandwidth they have given you, you will simply get a notice that you are abusing on their tos.

In the next post I will talk about how to choose a webhost that can sustain traffic peak. If you missed yesterday’s post about the truth of unlimited disk space do read it now.

8 Response Comments

  • AndyN  August 23, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Clearly “unlimited” is a marketing rather than technical term but it does have the advantage of keeping it simple for a new users who don’t really know what they need. Beginners should be more concerned about the level of support available.

    Reply
  • Inf  July 13, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    I’m not generally concerned by bandwidth, since my traffic is relatively low. Mitigating the effects of a digg “attack” would be to use a caching system.

    I’m more concerned with the space I get from my webhost and specially, the uptime they provide. Also, the security features they offer matter much more to me than just bandwidth.

    Imagine your blog taken over by some script-kiddie somewhere, posting goat p0rn on your frontpage. There is no better way to kill your reputation at once.
    .-= Inf´s last blog ..5 possible and cheap improvements at UoM =-.

    Reply
    • Kurt Avish  July 14, 2009 at 7:34 am

      Not really of your opinion concerning caching and bandwidth. Caching yes it does reduce your bandwidth consumption but it depends how are you doing the cache system. Caching is more to reduce server load. As for blogs there is wpsupercache (which has been a nitemare for many..will come on that later) which do the job well but even though your file is cached, you still uses bandwidth (less). So to handle digg effect through caching… I can tell you its nothing dependent on it :-) To cater the digg effect depends on the server ram and also what hidden limitations the host placed on your specific account. (Will be discussed in todays article on Reliability).

      For security, yea thats an extremely important point and the post is already in the draft for tomorrow :-) Disk space is important too but as long as you are getting over 3GB for a small site or even a set of 5 small sites upto 5GB is even enough. Ofcourse if you get more its never too much…however to know the REAL space instead of the advertised space, the user must experience with the host itself to know that..as hosting companies will never tell it to you.

      Reply
  • Sachin  July 13, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Lol, yeah. I know about the Digg effect, my personal website is in French so no worries there, it virtually can’t be digged. As for the Web Design Bureau I’m just waiting for things to calm down a bit to get time to write articles. I also need a web access BTW ;-)

    Reply
  • Bruno  July 13, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    I dont have thousands of visitors per day like you … but yeah if I turn pro, I’d rather go for large bandwidth than large host space

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  • Sachin  July 13, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Well, I don’t get enough traffic to be concerned by bandwidth usage but I do keep it in mind.

    Reply
    • Kurt Avish  July 13, 2009 at 1:56 pm

      Yes you should cater for it. Having atleast a good reserve is good as you never know when your article can grab the front of digg…and you get the flood. A digg front page can bring 100000 visitors in one in some cases. Keeping some 50Gb “enplus” from the usual monthly consumption should be a good step.

      Btw Sachin, the theme that you created I would be glad if you can make it in and English version too :-) The theme rocks but am sort of allergic to french language lol :P Hope you’ll be releasing the EN version soon as I was planning to use it on one website but then because I was in a hurry with that site I was a bit lazy to do all the changes :D

      Reply

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