opinion

How to calculate bandwidth for new projects

Brad Gosse

You have probably heard this story.

Your site is growing, traffic and sales are up and then it happens. Your host suspends you for too much traffic. No warning just pulls down your site asking you to pay more money.

If you don’t know this by now let me break it to you. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS UNLIMITED HOSTING.

Before you say “but MY host IS unlimited” check their Terms Of Service. Find me a host with true unlimited bandwidth and watch how quickly me and my porn biz buddies bankrupt them ;)

When you plan a project you need to at least look at bandwidth especially when delivering video. Understand how many people have to buy each month before you approach your limits. Move to a dedicated server, BEFORE you hit those limits and wind up with your site offline.

Understand your hosting terminology. Megabits and megabytes are not the same. 1 megabyte = 8 megabits

Megabytes/Gigabytes (aka MB/GB notice the caps) are the numbers we are used to. Your hard drive is measured in gigabytes, 1 GB is 1024 megabytes (just round it to 1000 in a jam). So a 200 GB hard drive has 204,800 megabytes

Megabits/Gigabits are the numbers used to measure the throughput of your network or internet connection. My home network is gigabit (ie: when I move a file to my wife’s computer) but my internet connection is 6 megabits.

So if you have a hosting package that allows for 10/mb sec that means an average of 10 megaBITS per second. To make it simple if you have 1 person hitting your 500 kiloBYTE webpage every second you are doing 4 megabits per second on average.

Some hosts will cap your transfer in terms of total gigaBYTES per month. 1 gigabyte = 1024 megabytes

If your members area has 1 gigabyte of data to download, and your host allows 500 GB of monthly transfer you will want to upgrade before hitting 200 members. Always plan ahead, be proactive not reactive with hosting.

Your ISP usually talks in terms of megabits because:

1. It sounds better to quote bigger numbers
2. That is how network bandwidth is technically measured

To put this into perspective the average cable or DSL connection is 4-6 megabits download and 500 kilobits upload.

I know much of this may be confusing. My best advice is this. If your revenue allows for a dedicated server now. Get one. You may notice increases in overall speed because you are not sharing the resources of a single computer with several other businesses.

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