What is Bandwidth in Web Hosting? This is probably one of the most common questions that you may ask while choosing an ideal web hosting for their website/s. Without actually knowing the concept of Bandwidth, yes, it can definitely be difficult to make the right choice.
Bandwidth requirement for your website may vary depending on many factors. In this article, I shall clear the concept of Bandwidth with respect to hosting along with the kinds of bandwidth offerings available in the market today – Unlimited, Unmetered, Limited etc. with examples.
You will also learn in detail the amount of bandwidth that your website may need for its smooth operation. If bandwidth is not given its due while selecting a hosting vendor or a hosting plan may result in under performance of your website, which sure can harm your brand and business.
So, What is Bandwidth in web hosting all about ?
Bandwidth primarily means the amount of data that can traverse to and fro from your website and its users at any given instance. There are instances where bandwidth is interchangeably used with ‘data transfer’, but they are two separate entities. Data transfer is same as bandwidth, but taken into account for a period of time, typically 30 days by most web hosting service providers.
Let me attempt to explain these two concepts with an example. Let’s consider Bandwidth as a pipe that allows water to flow through it. Bigger the bandwidth more the water that can flow through it, while data transfer is the amount of water can flow in a period of time, typically a month.
How do Bandwidth and Data Transfer affect your website’s performance?
If your website has less bandwidth offered by the hosting provider, no matter how good the connection of the user is, it will take more time for your website to be loaded on his device. The user has to wait for his turn in the network for the website data to be pushed on to his device.
With regards to data transfer, for example, if you have opted for limited data transfer package, your website may be unavailable for visitor if your data transfer amount is already expended. This means you lose on traffic and your business. Hence, it is important to quantify your data transfer and bandwidth requirements before opting for a hosting package.
Types of Bandwidth options that are available in the market
Primarily, in the hosting market you have 3 Bandwidth options, which include – Unlimited, Unmetered and Limited. One important thing to note while you are on a quest to select the right hosting package, bandwidth is the speed and is typically mentioned in Gbps (Giga bytes per second) and data transfer is the data amount per month and is depicted in GB (Giga Bytes)
- Unlimited Bandwidth – Unlimited Bandwidth means there is no cap on the data speed i.e. data that can be pushed across the network. But practically this not possible, how can speed be unlimited, isn’t it? There is certainly a cap on the bandwidth for it is a measure of speed.
Yes, the usage of the word is solely a marketing gimmick, because it sounds soothing. The word can sound misleading, but this doesn’t mean that hosting services offering such packages are bad.
- Limited Bandwidth – Very much similar to the previous one, but there is a certain specified cap on the bandwidth. Typically it is much lower to what ‘Unlimited’ bandwidth packages have to offer.
- Unmetered Bandwidth – ‘Unmetered’ bandwidth, in simple terms, is same as ‘unlimited’, it’s just that the speed is mentioned in Gbps. While the speed is limited and mentioned, the data transfer part remains unlimited.
- Metered Bandwidth – In Metered bandwidth packages both the bandwidth and data transfer is limited and monitored by the hosting provider.
Hope I am making sense with regards to the concepts of bandwidth and data transfer. If you are looking out for a an ideal hosting provider, make sure what actually ‘Unlimited’ in their terms mean. Have a look into their fine prints, you may not want to miss them. In most cases there is always some kind of restrictions on bandwidth, if not on data transfer.