What is web hosting bandwidth, how does it affect hosting, and why should you care? It’s all to do with the data used or data transfer (uploads and downloads) allowed within a month. In this case, data refers to your website’s content in all its forms.
Websites that exceeded bandwidth limits in the past were inaccessible until the following month. Site owners who couldn’t wait would add more bandwidth, sold in Gigabytes (GB), or upgrade their plan. That’s less likely to happen now with so many unlimited bandwidth plans available.
Why Web Hosting Bandwidth Matters
Hosting companies sell packages based on the bandwidth you can use for any of its given plans. It’s a set amount of data your site can transfer to visitors over a calendar month. That data is your website content, e.g., files, images, and media, and each piece of content has a size. The larger the files, pictures, and videos, the higher the bandwidth usage.
Let’s use a 1MB (megabyte) page on a WordPress website to illustrate. If 50 visitors open that 1MB page over a month, that’s 100MB of data transfer used.
How Much Bandwidth a Site Needs
How much bandwidth a blog, website, or eCommerce business needs depends on content and usage. Text is the most economical of all data, though few sites are text-bland. Illustrated articles and interactive elements provide a much better user experience. Indeed, some projects couldn’t survive without them. Webmasters can estimate their web hosting needs quite easily.
This table shows the average bandwidth requirements based on page size and page loads:
AVG. PAGE SIZE
MONTHLY PAGE LOADS
It may surprise you how little bandwidth a new site uses. The numbers are low. Most experts suggest that over 90% of all basic, small-sized websites use 5GB or less per month.
When It’s Time to Consider Scalable Plans
A lot of small sites start with budget-end hosting plans. These are fine to get you up and running and to gather some valuable data. But a website that begins to get lots of traffic soon needs more of everything, including bandwidth. It’s not hard to calculate how much you need with small to medium-sized projects. Ask your hosting company for guidance if you’re unsure.
It’s better to upgrade your hosting to avoid issues. You don’t need to go too high, but it’s wise to opt for a scalable plan. Scalable hosting gives enormous peace of mind, especially for fast-growing sites. But why spend the extra when so many cheaper plans offer unlimited bandwidth?
Unlimited Bandwidth Plans
Many of today’s hosting companies offer unlimited bandwidth across various plans. Some advertise it as unmetered bandwidth, but it means the same thing. In reality, though, it’s nothing more than a marketing ploy as nothing is free. They do it because others in the industry do it, and they need to compete. These companies oversell, but that doesn’t mean they underdeliver.
Server limits on unlimited plans
Hosting providers know that most sites only need a few resources to function on the internet. And the fewer server resources they use, the more there is leftover for those that need extra. But what if your site gets popular on a cheap plan and starts to use insane amounts of bandwidth? In theory, you should be able to carry on, especially if it offers unlimited disk space.
Unfortunately, all is not as it seems. If it were, Google could host its YouTube website for just $2 per month. That’s an exaggerated case, but you get the gist. There are hidden limits on the so-called unlimited web hosting bandwidth and storage packages (see next).
Hidden rates and conditions in the small print
How many site owners scrutinize reviews or read the small print of web hosting packages? Not many is the answer to that. No one would need to upgrade their hosting plans if the cheap ones lived up to their promises. Thus, unlimited bandwidth is only unrestricted to a point.
Here’s an extract from a 2020 Hosting Agreements page of a major company.
So, there you have it, but there’s no need to name and shame here. All web hosts sell products and services in the same way. If your site gets busy and slows down on a cheap hosting plan, you know what to do. That is, upgrade to a more suitable package to avoid further disruption.