If you’re in the market for a web host (like if you’re moving to WordPress), you may want to listen up because this post is for you!
One of the things that intimidates me about shopping for webhosts is the technical stats. What is disk space, bandwidth etc and how much do I need for an average WordPress blog? What features are must haves and which ones can I skip over? Part of the reason I picked Bluehost is that it has unlimited everything so I don’t need to know what they are. But I want to leave Bluehost!
Jessica from Books: A True Story
Great question! I’m going to break this down into three sections: definitions, the “unlimited” marking lie, and how much you actually need.
Disk Space is hard drive space. Every computer has a hard drive. As you fill up your computer with photos, apps, and documents, you use more disk space. It’s the same on a website. You upload files and photos to your website, and the more you upload, the more space you use.
When you buy web hosting, you have a permanent, fixed amount of disk space, and you can’t go over that amount.
Bandwidth relates to how much data is on your site, and how many people view it. Every single page and asset (images, files) on your site has a file size. For example, an image might be 200kb and a CSS file might be 20kb. So let’s assume those are the only two things on your website (that will never be the case, but let’s pretend). Every time someone visits your site, your site has to transfer that amount of data (220kb total) to the user. So, generally speaking, you can multiply the size of your website by the amount of visitors you get per month.
Bandwidth is measured on a monthly basis. You get a monthly allowance, and once the month is over, your counter resets to zero.
In web hosting, “unlimited” is a marketing lie
In the case of disk space, most hosts say that they offer unlimited disk space, BUT they put limits on what you’re allowed to use that disk space for. Documents, backups, log files, and other files you store on your site usually DO NOT count towards “unlimited disk space”. The only “unlimited” kind you get might be the actual website files (which are pretty small to begin with!).
And as for bandwidth, hosts won’t necessarily limit your bandwidth, but they will limit other things that cause you to use bandwidth. If you use too many resources (RAM, CPU), they could shut down your account. RAM and CPU in itself isn’t bandwidth, but RAM and CPU are what help your site stay online and run smoothly, and when your site is online you’re using bandwidth. So it’s like they cut you out before you can even use it.
The reason web hosts market themselves as having “unlimited” amounts, is because they will provide more than enough disk space and bandwidth for your average user. Most people with websites don’t use tons and tons of disk space or bandwidth, so the limits that the host has will likely be enough. It’s only when your site starts getting really big and/or popular that the web hosts will come back to bite you and shut your site down (or force you to pay more money).
So how much disk space and bandwidth does a blogger really need?
To help put it in perspective, Nose Graze is currently using about 2GB of disk space. But keep in mind that disk space is something that you constantly use more of. As book bloggers, we’re always uploading new book cover images, slider images, etc. It’s important to give yourself a little room for growth.
10GB is probably enough for most bloggers. I would not recommend anything under that!
Bandwidth is so hugely different for every single blogger. It depends on a combination of the size of your website and your amount of monthly visitors. Luckily, there’s an easy way to estimate your monthly bandwidth usage:
- Use Pingdom’s website speed test tool to calculate your blog’s page size. Simply put in your blog URL, press “Test Now” and wait for the results.
- When it’s done, you’ll have a number under “Page Size” (see image above). This is the size of your website.
- Multiply that number by the number of visitors you get per month.
- That final value is the bandwidth you would use per month in megabytes. You may need to convert this to gigabytes to compare it to what the host offers. You can just do that by typing into Google: 36000 MB in GB.
This method isn’t totally perfect, but it will at least give you a general idea of how much bandwidth you might need.