Web Hosting Bandwidth Explained including cPanel tool

Aug 14, 2020 under Linux Server

When I first started out making websites, one of the critical concepts that confused me back then was how Web Hosting Bandwidth worked and how much of it I needed for my client’s web projects.

I came across so many Web hosting companies offering different bandwidth allocations; some even claimed to offer Unlimited Bandwidth for higher-tier plans.

It took me a while to really understand fundamentally what Web Hosting Bandwidth was and how it is measured in a real sense.

In this article, I’m going to be explaining as simply as possible how Web Hosting Bandwidth (sometimes mentioned as Data Transfer) works, and I’ll also try to answer all the questions that might come to mind when thinking about Bandwidth for your websites.

What is Web Hosting Bandwidth ?

Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be Transmitted between users (Website Visitors) and a Server concurrently.

It is measured in terms of MB/s (Megabyte Per Second). But most Hosting companies express Bandwidth in terms of GB/s (Gigabyte Per Second) to simplify things.

You can think of Bandwidth as a file transfer.

When you upload your website files on a web hosting server and configure it to go live, each time a person visits any part of your website (index.html or some inner page), an HTTP request is sent over to your server to fetch a copy of the file/page to be served on the visitor’s browser.

This is where Bandwidth comes to play. If the size of the page requested is 100KB per se, then 100KB worth of Bandwidth will be used from your allocated web hosting Bandwidth to complete the request.

The more concurrent users on your website requesting for pages or a form of a file on your server, the more Bandwidth is used up.

Some hosting companies will place limits (Bandwidth throttling) on the total amount of Bandwidth that can be used per second or minutes to prevent misuse (Very common with shared hosting plans when traffic spikes).

Most Hosting companies reset their Bandwidth limit every month, so say you’re allocated with 40GB worth of Bandwidth for the month. If about 40% is expended or it is entirely exhausted. In the succeeding month, the Bandwidth would reset back to its default 40GB Allocation.

Note: Bandwidth is expended when downloading or uploading files from a server. If you upload a resume file per se with a size of 2mb, 2mb worth of Bandwidth would be expended to complete the request.

How Much Web Hosting Bandwidth do I need?

The total amount of Bandwidth you need for your website depends on the size of files on your server and the number of visitors (traffic) that you will be serving.

For most static websites like company landing pages, personal portfolios, etc. An entry-level shared hosting bandwidth allocation (about 10 – 50 GigaBytes ) should be enough.

For more technical websites like HR recruitment portals, movie streaming sites, or anything the serves more than static web pages, it would require you testing it out to get a reasonable estimate.

You can never be too sure until your web project is live. That is when you can start measuring Bandwidth usage. The results over a month or a couple of months would determine whether you should scale up or reduce your bandwidth allocation.

What Happens When You use up Your Web Hosting Bandwidth?

Most commonly, when you use up your allocated Web Hosting Bandwidth, your hosting companies would temporarily suspend your hosting account and send an email alert to upgrade your current hosting plan.

Some hosting companies do offer extra Bandwidth as an add-on, so upgrading is your only option.

Hosting companies like NameCheap that offer Unmetered Bandwidth in my experience would throttle the speed at which Bandwidth can be used up, resulting in a slower site!

It depends on the hosting company policies and differs from one hosting company to another.

How Do I Increase My Web Hosting Bandwidth?

To increase your web hosting bandwidth, you can either choose to upgrade your current hosting plan or contact your host support team to inquire if they offer Addon Bandwidth packages.

Upgrading your plan to match your usage is always the best option though, it saves you time and the stress of worrying over bandwidth usage.

How To Check Web Hosting Bandwidth (cPanel)

You can check the total allocated Bandwidth (Using cPanel) for your hosting plan by following the steps below.

Step 1: Log into your Cpanel account

Step 2: Scroll down and locate the Bandwidth stat

Usually under the Statistics Tab at the right part of your screen.

As you can see from the image above, my Bandwidth has the (Infinite) symbol, which signifies that my Bandwidth is unmetered in that account.

You will come across some hosting companies that offer this feature. Still, it’s not always really unmetered, most hosting companies also have Fair Usage Policies which restrict abnormal usage of Bandwidth and can get your account suspended if you’re not careful.

I took this screenshot from my other hosting account’s Cpanel under a different hosting company that doesn’t offer unmetered Bandwidth, and you can easily see the limit of 48.83GB placed on my account.

Once this is used up, I would practically have to upgrade my plan or wait for the reset date.

Some hosting companies also provide Bandwidth usage statistics from your user dashboard when you log into your account.

How to Check your Web Hosting Bandwidth Usage

If you would like a detailed breakdown of your Bandwidth usage, theirs a tool on the Cpanel that provides just that.

Simply login into your Cpanel account and locate the Metrics Tab then select the Bandwidth option located directly under it.



The Bandwidth Usage Tool gives you real-time statistics of how much Bandwidth your website is using, the domains and requests responsible for expending Bandwidth, and the total amount used for each month.

If you would like to know precisely what domain is using up the bulk of your Bandwidth, then this tool would be your best bet.

How to Optimize Web Hosting Bandwidth

There are several things you can do to reduce or optimize Bandwidth on your web server. To save you money on upgrades or buying Add-on Bandwidth allocation, you can try out a few of these options.

  • Optimize Image Files (WebP)
  • Move Large Sized Files and Resources to an external file server
  • Cache your Static Web Project files
  • Use a CDN (Cloudflare)
  • Limit File Upload Size

Optimize Image Files (WebP)

I had this photography portfolio Web project once, which had large HD images, the average file size of each was about 5-6mb. Considering that I would be serving more than 50 – 100 images per visitor, I decided to do a little research on web-optimized image formats, which lead me to WebP.

Most of the images were in PNG image format, so I decided to do the conversion expecting a better result.

Using a free PNG to WebP converter I found online, I was able to convert all the images, and I noticed a massive slash in all the image file sizes after the conversion. You can also convert images directly on the server side if you use Linux web hosting plan, try imagemagick library

The average image file size reduced from 5mb to about 300kb per image file, that’s about 84% file size reduction, and it still retained good enough quality for the project.

Ever since then, I’ve made it a practice to always use the WebP format for most of my image-intensive projects and always compress my images in other formats as well.

Images are one of the most significant Bandwidth consuming resources on most websites, each time a user switches to a new page, a request to your server for all the images needed to serve that page.

That is why it is essential to optimize image file sizes, not just for page loading speed but also to reduce Bandwidth usage. See also another good resource of efficiently encode images.

Move Large Sized Files and Resources to an external file server

Another thing you can consider doing to reduce Web Hosting Bandwidth usage is moving all large-sized files resources to a dedicated hosting server.

Doing this not only reduces Bandwidth usage on your central server but also increases the speed at which files get served.

During traffic peaks, having an external hosting server for larger files can be a life-saver, it’s like splitting the load in two for your platform.

There are specific hosting servers tailored for hosting huge files efficiently; one popular option you can check out is AWS (Amazon Web Services) Cloud Storage.

You also purchase a standard web hosting server and configure a subdomain to point to it just for hosting large files i.e., files.Yourdomain.com

Cache your Static Web Project files

A good practice used by most veteran intermediate web developers is the leveraging of caching technology to reduce bandwidth usage.

Caching is merely storing copies of commonly requested page files, images, scripts, CSS files, etc. on a visitor’s computer or a CDN server.

This drastically improves load time for returning visitors and reduce Bandwidth required to load pages.

Use a CDN (Cloudflare)

This should be a no brainer actually as one of the significant advantages of using a Content Delivery Network is to reduce bandwidth usage.

A CDN acts as an intermediary between your website and your visitors, and it relies mainly on caching technology and stores copies of files on your server on several data centers spread across the globe.

Cloudflare is one of the most used CDN, but you can also choose from a list of over 60 CDN web hosting providers.

So whenever a visitor requests a page or a specific resource, the CDN serves it from one of the data centers closest to the visitor’s location.

This means that no request is sent over to your central server, so no Bandwidth is expended.

Note that not all the files on your server will be cached to the CDN’s server, files like images and HTML pages are commonly picked up though.


Image Source: Cloudflare.com

Limit File Upload Size

To ensure that your website users do not misuse your web hosting Bandwidth, it is always a good idea to limit the file upload size for all your web forms.

Allowing users to upload unoptimized images or documents will always do more harm than good. I always make sure to set standard file size limits for each file type I allow in my web projects. That way, I can control the size of documents uploaded to my server, which in turn helps me save a lot of Bandwidth.

Conclusion

Alright guys, that about wraps it up for this article. We’ve gone over what Bandwidth is and exactly how it works, as well as some excellent tips for reducing Bandwidth usage.

Whether you’re trying to decide how much Bandwidth you need for your next project or just curious about the topic, this article should have answered most of your questions and given you a general idea of what to expect.

If you have any questions about Web Hosting Bandwidth that has not been covered here, you can leave a comment or your overall experience when it comes to Web Hosting Bandwidth.

This is a sponsored post, edited by whtop.com team

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