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What is Web Hosting Bandwidth and How Much Do You Need?

Daren Low
May 25, 2024


When picking the right hosting plan for your website, you’ll need to keep an eye on how much bandwidth your web host will provide.


Why? Well, if your hosting plan provides too little bandwidth, your website is likely to slow down significantly under high-traffic. On the other hand, too much bandwidth will have you paying unnecessary additional charges to your hosting provider.



So, for efficiency’s sake, you’ll want to get a bandwidth amount that’s appropriate for your website’s needs.


In this post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about hosting bandwidth. We’ll talk about what bandwidth is, Why it’s important, how to calculate the amount of bandwidth your site needs, and how to see how much bandwidth your web host is offering.


Let’s begin!


What Is Web Hosting Bandwidth?


While looking for the best web host for yourself, you might have noticed that each plan comes with a specific amount of bandwidth you can use.


Hostinger cheapest hosting plan with limited 100GB bandwidth

Hostinger’s cheapest web hosting plan caps bandwidth at 100GB.


But what is bandwidth anyway, and why should you care?


Well, bandwidth is the amount of your site’s data that can be transferred from its servers to users at a given time, so it’s actually a super-important consideration you need to make when picking a hosting plan.


For instance, if a webpage on your website has a size of 3 MB and 6 users visit the page at the same time, you’d need a bandwidth of 18 MB to accommodate that kind of traffic. But if, for example, your bandwidth is limited to 15 MB, you wouldn’t be able to accommodate the six users, which could lead to problems for you.


Hopefully, that’s enough to clear up your understanding of bandwidth. But if you’re still a bit bewildered, I find it helpful to think of bandwidth as the width of a road. The wider the road, the more the number of cars can be on the road at the same time.


That being said, if too many cars use a narrow road at the same time, there will be a traffic jam, and none of the cars will be able to move ahead.


cars on the road

Bandwidth is similar to the width of roads – the wider the road, the more the number of cars that can pass.


The concept is not too difficult to understand, but people commonly confuse it with Data transfer.


To save you from making the same rookie mistake and using one term in place of the other, the difference between data transfer and bandwidth is simply this:


  • Data transfer refers to how much data actually got transferred.
  • Bandwidth refers to how much data (at max) could’ve been (or can be) transferred


In the road analogy, bandwidth would refer to the number of cars that could pass at a given moment while data transfer would be the equivalent of the actual number of cars that did pass at a given moment.



How Do I Calculate How Much Hosting Bandwidth I Need?


Now – let’s discuss how you can calculate the exact amount of bandwidth (in concrete figures) you should get for your website.


Turns out, the process of calculating your bandwidth needs is pretty simple! You can calculate the figure using the mathematical formula below:


The average size of your web pages x Average number of monthly visitors x Average number of pages visited by each visitor x Contingency figure


What do each of these factors mean? And how do they tell us the amount of bandwidth our website needs?


Well, let’s have a look.


First, recall that bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transferred from a server to the end-user at a time. This means that by choosing our bandwidth size, we’re trying to set a limit to how many people our website can adequately serve at a time.


Ideally, we’d want this figure to be high enough to cater to the usual amount of traffic coming to our website, as well as any unanticipated traffic spikes that may arise.


At the same time, though, we want to make sure that our bandwidth isn’t set so high that we never use it anywhere near capacity, and end up paying a lot of unnecessary additional fees for subscribing to a higher bandwidth package.


person calculating a math formula

You can calculate your monthly bandwidth needs using a simple mathematical formula.


So, we look at these four factors:


  1. The average number of website visitors per month
    this figure will tell you the usual amount of traffic that comes over to your website over a month’s period. Arguably, this is the most important element of the bandwidth calculation equation since this is the baseline (or the minimum) number of people you should aim to accommodate through your bandwidth size.
    If you don’t know the average number of people visiting your website, go over to your Google Analytics or WordPress dashboard (or the dashboard of any SEO tool you might be using for your website i.e., SEMrush) and find the figure there.
  2. The average size of each webpage
    Just knowing the number of visitors coming to your website isn’t enough, though.
    You need to put that number into perspective by finding out the average size of the web pages on your website because ultimately, it’s the amount of data being transferred that matters; not the number of people to whom it’s being transferred.
    To understand this, think of the home pages of two hypothetical websites A and B. Website A’s home page has a total size of 5 MB, while website B’s homepage has a total size of 2 MB.
    Further, suppose that 3 people visit website A each day, and 5 people visit website B each day.
    At the face of it, it seems as though website B would require a larger bandwidth (since more people visit it each day); however, since the size of website A’s webpages is much larger than that of B, its bandwidth requirements end up exceeding B’s requirements even though website A has fewer visitors coming in each day.
    If you don’t know the average size of your web pages, don’t worry; there are several online tools out there such as Pingdom that can help you find this figure.
  3. The Average number of web pages a single visitor visits
    Of course, it’s important to remember that visitors often visit more than just a single webpage when they visit a website.
    For example, while making a purchase in an online store, you go to the home page, the product category page, the cart, the checkout page, and the shipping page.
    It is therefore important to account for the average number of web pages a single visitor goes through when they come to your website.
  4. Room for unexpected spikes
    Finally, the last element of this equation is the consideration we make for unexpected traffic spikes that may occur. The previous three elements combined will tell you how much bandwidth you’ll need to accommodate your usual traffic.
    But remember that you won’t always be dealing with your usual amount of traffic; sometimes, unexpectedly, a traffic spike may occur and if your website isn’t equipped to handle those, you’re going to get into a lot of trouble (and potentially miss out on a huge opportunity for sales.
    But how much extra room should you make for these unexpected traffic spikes? Well, it’s not a fixed rule, but most people go for an additional 50% bandwidth to be safe.


So, a website with an average page size of 3 MB, and 10,000 monthly visitors (who each visit 3 pages at once on average) will have the following bandwidth requirement:


3 MB x 10,000 visitors x 3 pages x 1.5 = 135,000 MB or 135 GB per month.



How to Know How Much Bandwidth A Web Host Is Offering You


Once you’ve calculated how much bandwidth your website needs, the next question you’ll want to ask yourself is how much bandwidth your web host is currently offering you (and how much it can offer you at most).


Well, different web hosts come with various bandwidth options and you can find out what options they have for you on their websites or in the descriptions of their hosting plans.


DreamHost plans offer unlimited bandwidth

DreamHost, like many hosts – now offer unlimited / unmetered bandwidth.


If your bandwidth needs are different from what’s specified in a plan, you could even get in touch with a representative of your chosen web host and ask what they can do to accommodate you.


Another thing you should be mindful of is the kind of hosting you’ve opted for with your hosting provider. If your website is on shared hosting, it will share a single server with other websites, meaning it will be sharing the bandwidth as well.


So, if your website is very large, you may want to consider looking into VPS or cloud hosting, for example.


“Unlimited” or “Unmetered” bandwidth


Most web hosts that offer unlimited or unmetered bandwidth (i.e., Bluehost) also impose a transfer speed limit on you, which ultimately ends up limiting the amount of bandwidth you can use per month.



Crowded Restaurants Must Be Able to Serve More Dishes At A Time


waiter handling two plates of food at the same time

Like restaurants, you need to match your ability to serve content with the number of visitors coming to your website at a given time.


Much like how restaurants need to match their ability to serve food to the number of people dining in at the same time, you, as a site owner, need to match your site’s ability to serve content to the people visiting your website at the same time.


This is what bandwidth is all about, and now that you’re up to speed, you can now go ahead and upgrade your website!




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