When you visit a website that loads slowly, you may think to yourself, “why is my internet so slow?”. Just understand that not all websites are created equally when it pertains to hosting speeds. This article helps answer the central question of “what is monthly bandwidth in web hosting?” and, more importantly, helps explain how to determine what your bandwidth usage is and different types of bandwidth.
In addition to giving you a 101 on bandwidth, we will review some of the best web hosting providers based on our research and answer frequently asked questions.
What Is Bandwidth?
Think of bandwidth as running water running through a host. The larger the hose, the more water (bandwidth) you will be able to provide out the end. The same concept applies to web hosting providers when they host your website. To deliver the content on your site to the end-users visiting your site, all that data must be sent down that water hose to the requesting user. You may notice if a website loads slowly, it could mean they have a bandwidth plan that has been superseded due to a high volume of users trying to load content on your website.
It is crucial to understand how much bandwidth, on average, your website is using and how many visitors in a given period visit your site. Knowing these two factors helps you get into a web hosting plan that suffices for day-to-day browsing and gives your website a buffer in case of an uptick in traffic. We will cover these two factors more later in the article.
Why Is Bandwidth Important in Web Hosting?
We have covered bandwidth; now, we have to discuss the difference between bandwidth and data transfer. You need to clearly understand the differences when researching a web hosting company and viewing bandwidth plan options to fully comprehend which hosting plan you need to subscribe to.
Bandwidth vs. Data Transfer
Bandwidth is the amount of data that is transferred in a given amount of time, while data transfer is the amount of actual data transferred from your site.
Data transfer is used up when images or videos are loaded on your websites or files downloaded, whereas bandwidth is just the speed at which those files can be downloaded. If you have a web hosting plan that provides high bandwidth usage but a low data transfer rate, you may find your website down often as your users will quickly exceed a low data transfer rate with their high bandwidth utilization.
Our research determined that bandwidth is critical when utilizing the fastest loading speeds for your website and managing operating costs. So not having a solid understanding of your bandwidth metrics puts you in a very expensive bind.
Not having enough bandwidth brings your site down, thus costing your possible revenue, but having too much incurs a costlier monthly premium. Web hosting providers have to charge monthly for specific bandwidth speeds as there is a wear and tear that occurs with more activity on your web hosting servers.
Ensuring they remain up and running takes many resources, person-hours, and money to maintain those data centers.
Types of Network Bandwidth
There are different types of network bandwidth used for various purposes. The following types of network bandwidth all vary in performance, speed, and cost to utilize. Let’s take a quick look at the key differences and understand which types are most likely associated with website hosting.
Public Wireless (4G LTE Mobile)
Public wireless primarily belongs to the mobile device space. The LTE (long-term evolution) tends to be more expensive to provide as it requires limited cellular towers to carry the signal. There are different speeds tied to public wireless bandwidth. For example, 3G, 4G, and now 5G in certain areas are all examples of public wireless. Each brings more bandwidth to compatible devices.
Public broadband bandwidth is the most commonly used as it involves centralized cabling stretched out across vast distances to provide internet. Public broadband comes in three different types:
- DSL (lower end speeds, usually run through telephone lines)
- Cable (midrange speeds through dedicated cable line)
- Fiber optic (fastest delivering GB speeds on fiber optic cable lines)
As the name implies, private networks are reserved for high-paying customers. Usually, businesses or governments participate in having their own secure personal internet contract. These contracts can be pricey and lengthy but offer the highest level of speeds up to 10 GB in some areas. Companies that want to set up their own SD-WAN (Software-Defined – Wide Area Network) usually directly agree with several ISPs (Internet service providers) to have a dedicated internet pipeline.
What Is Unlimited Bandwidth?
Be very careful when jumping into a web hosting plan that offers unlimited bandwidth. It is essential that you fully understand your website’s performance requirements. There is no such thing as unlimited Bandwidth.
Web hosting providers have physical servers to maintain, and these servers have a limit. Using the term “unlimited bandwidth” is a selling tactic to draw in individuals that are unaware or new to web hosting. Unlimited bandwidth is a gamble that web hosting companies are taking to provide ignorant websites with “just enough” bandwidth to where they won’t notice it is not “unlimited.”
Every web hosting provider should have some policies around what exactly constitutes “unlimited.” This must be researched to avoid potential bandwidth reduction or even overage charges if too much bandwidth is used.
How To Calculate Your Bandwidth Needs
Before selecting a web hosting provider, you should determine how much bandwidth you will need. To calculate a rough estimate of bandwidth needs, the following bits of information will need to be gathered from your website’s management portal:
- Average page size
- Average monthly visitors
- Average daily visitors
- Average page views
Once you have gathered the above metrics, you will multiply all five of the values together to obtain your bandwidth. On average, most website pages are around three MB in size to give a sense of scale.
If you notice that your bandwidth is higher than you expected, assess the amount of high-volume content stored directly on your websites. For example, if you have files stored on your website for direct download, then that is a lot of data transmitted each time someone clicks to download.
Another thing to look for is displaying videos directly on your site. Instead, try inserting a hyperlink to another site that is displaying that video.
How To Check Bandwidth Usage
There are several ways to monitor your bandwidth usage. One would be to check with your hosting provider to see if they have a way to gauge bandwidth usage from the website’s admin channel. You can also check your live usage on certain web browsers.
We’ll use Google Chrome to show you how:
- To start, right-click and “inspect this page” or press F12
- This will bring up a side menu with several different tabs
- Navigate to the Network tab
- Once on the network tab, refresh your browser page that you are on that you want to monitor on your website
- In the lower right corner, you will see all the following metrics regarding your speeds:
- Bytes transferred
- Requests made
- Size of each request
- Time each took (down to the millisecond)
The second method is the easiest way to check bandwidth performance on any page in a few clicks. You can easily capture your screen for documentation for tracking.
The Best Web Host Bandwidth Providers
The following list is based on our research of the top five best web hosting providers based on bandwidth. You’ll find the pros and cons of each and a summary of what the industry thinks of each solution based on reviews. We also encourage you to perform your research before signing a contract with a hosting provider.
GoDaddy is one of the more popular options for web hosting. You probably have seen their ads on TV or seen their logo toted in the NASCAR series. GoDaddy’s primary focus is wide-scale availability to all.
- Prices are cheap, anywhere between $1 – $4 a month
- Reliable platform and dashboards
- One-click WordPress installation
- High restoration fee (or the cost to restore content that may have been deleted), up to $300
- Does not have live chat customer support
What Customers Are Saying
The overall sentiment of the user reviews is that GoDaddy is simple to use and primarily focuses on startups or those unfamiliar with web hosting. The negative reviews pertained to those users who wanted more from their hosting provider or mentioned that customer support is lacking.
Bluehost is known for its shared hosting platform and is most famous for its reliable security measures plus its overall simplicity in getting your website hosted. Its speed and 24/7 support are also a game-changer for those serious about getting the job done.
- Reliable uptime (no minimum SLA)
- Generous storage
- Do not limit bandwidth your website receives
- Though upfront costs are cheap, renewal rates are high
- Upsell pitches everywhere
- Only US-Servers
What Customers Are Saying
Overall, 60% of the reviews are bad due to speed issues. Of the positive ones, users state the price and staff are terrific.
HostGator offers the best in VPS (virtual private servers). HostGator is tailored for both individuals and businesses alike with a 99.93% uptime. HostGator also provides a 45-day money-back guarantee if this uptime is not met and withheld for the duration of your first trial.
- Unlimited storage
- Several supported programming languages
- Unmetered Bandwidth
- Prices and fees are hidden and confusing
- Missing advanced features like a staging area
What Customers Are Saying
It seems that the majority of users are happy with their experience, stating that the customer support is helpful and the speeds are consistent. Although the pricing model is tricky, once understood, fees can be avoided.
Hostinger is known for being one of the most affordable web hosting providers. Prices start as low as 99-cents a month and are best suited for those concerned about monthly budget spend. The lowest plan also comes with a free SSL certificate and SSD storage.
- Guaranteed 99% uptime
- Free domain
- Custom dashboards
- No daily backups offered
What Customers Are Saying
The reviews were astonishingly positive for Hostinger. The support is beneficial, with users stating most issues are quickly addressed through their support channels.
WP Engine is the best-managed web hosting provider and best integrated into the WordPress platform. They have several options for start-up plans and also partner with some of the big names in technology (Google, AWS, etc)
- Top-notch enterprise-level support
- Technology is easy to use and understand
- Handles Security logistics for users
- Non-enterprise plans have slow support
- Color schemes in the admin portal are hard to look at
What Customers Are Saying
It seems like everyone is satisfied with the performance of the WP Engine; the only primary complaint from users is about how slow support can be for the non-enterprise plans.
FAQs About Bandwidth and Web Hosting
What Happens if I Exceed Bandwidth?
It is essential to set alerts on bandwidth usages to prevent exceeding. Set up an alert for every time your utilization hits 85 percent, 90 percent, and 95 percent usage to ensure you provide yourself enough time to adjust accordingly.
There are several things that can happen if you exceed your bandwidth. In the worst-case scenario, your hosting provider has the option to shut down your site entirely, without warning.
It is also possible that a daily fee is charged for the length of time you are over your bandwidth utilization.
Last, you still have a limit for “unlimited” bandwidth accounts; once exceeded, your bandwidth allowance drops to the designated rate. Unlimited bandwidth is simply saying “you can use as much bandwidth as you need, up to a certain amount, then it will be throttled back to normal levels”.
What Happens When You Have Low Bandwidth?
If you have a low bandwidth contract in place, you are limited on the amount of traffic that can visit your site within a given period. Low bandwidth is usually either free or very cheap to host.
Still, it is essential that you fully understand your website’s usage to ensure you avoid overage charges. Remember, if for some reason, your website traffic increases rapidly, it may be shut down, or you can be charged a hefty overage fee.
Can You Increase Bandwidth?
Yes, most providers allow you to increase your total bandwidth for a price increase. If you need to do this, try and look for incentives or long-term deals to get the best bang for your buck.
Can You Reduce Bandwidth?
Yes, but be aware that some providers charge a reduced fee for you to limit your bandwidth or back out of your current contract. To manually reduce the amount of bandwidth your site is generating, try performing the following actions to limit bandwidth overages.
- Compress images
- Reduces the size of downloads
- Use external reference links for file downloads or videos
- Tune your QoS settings (Quality of Service)
- Set access restrictions to specific regions
- Limit or restrict VoIP network usages (Voice over Internet Protocol)
Is There a Difference Between Bandwidth and Traffic?
Yes, as stated above, bandwidth is the size of the pipe, hose, tunnel that the data is traveling through to your website. Bandwidth determines how much traffic is allowed within a certain period. At the same time, traffic is the total amount of data sent or received to your website.
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