Web hosting is hard to shop for. For one thing, the prices vary so much that it’s very difficult to get a sense of the value of the product. For another, it can be hard to grasp just what you’re paying for.
Perhaps because of this, ads for web hosting tend to focus on bandwidth. Bandwidth is a measurement of the resources used to transmit information online. At left you can see a couple of months of usage by a site that has a fairly typical pattern where weekdays are busier than weekends, so we see some hills and valleys as the weeks pass. At the far right of the chart we see a sudden increase in traffic for a few days, from five or six hundred visits a day to nine thousand. Clearly, the bandwidth the site required increased.
This is easy to see and fairly easy to imagine, and of course we all want traffic to increase, so it’s not surprising that we focus on bandwidth when we look at web hosting.
The amount of bandwidth you need for your website is the size of your site times the number of visits you receive in a month. The size of your site will be larger if you have lots of multimedia, smaller if you have clean code and well optimized images. Of course, more pages also means you have more data to transfer and will likely use more bandwidth than a site with fewer pages.
Our example site has a homepage which is about 963 kilobytes in size and usually gets about 10,000 to 15,000 pageviews each month, so doing our arithmetic shows that 1 or 2 gb of bandwidth a month should be fine. Web hosting companies usually offer 4 or 5 gb of bandwidth in a basic plan, and many offer “unlimited” bandwidth.
Chances are, your site doesn’t actually need 4 or 5 gb of bandwidth. Most don’t. Our example here is a fairly popular site; the great majority of sites use less than that. A large hosting company can offer “unlimited bandwidth” knowing that most of the sites they host will use 1gb or less. The occasional traffic surge like the one we see here is balanced by the generally small amount of bandwidth most sites use. A site that routinely takes up that much bandwidth will be hearing from the hosting company (check the small print).
It’s a safe bet, if your company’s website has more than 50,000 pageviews a month, you’re not worrying about spending a few bucks a month on hosting.
So if bandwidth isn’t really the issue for the average website owner, what should you think about when you decide which web hosting company to choose? Speed and uptime are two important things. A slowly loading website will be less popular with search engines than a snappy one. Uptime just means the percentage of time your site will be online. It might be fine for your site to be unavailable in the wee hours of the morning every now and then, or you might really want to be sure that your site is always up.
For most of us, service is probably the most important factor. We don’t even think about our web hosting unless we have a problem, but when things go wrong, we need to be sure that we can get hold of a human being and get our problems solved fast.
If your website is important to you and you’re ready for managed hosting, call Oyova. We can answer your questions and help you determine the best plan for your site and your business.