Understanding Bandwidth

Web site bandwidth is the amount of files transferred for you, by your host, to your visitors. Each and every file element to your web pages is included in computing this total.

For example, here at issues each and every page we show you goes into a frameset. That frameset consumes about 200 bytes. Each frame in the set consumes 300 bytes just for the text portion. Our banners in the top frame consume another 1,500 bytes. The “say your piece” image file at the end of each page consumes another 6,882 bytes. Then a given page consumes between 500 and 2,500 bytes. Several thousand hits to the say your piece image are recorded each day at our site. All of this translates into between 8,000 and 10,000 bytes (8k to 10k) per page view. At the end of a given month we consume roughly 1 gigabyte in total bandwidth. Most sites allow only 10 or 20 gigabytes per year for the normal hosting fee, as a result Issues has to obtain more than the average amount of bandwidth to keep the site open.

If you exceed your bandwidth the host may automatically close your site down until the clock ticks off on a given month.

The same applies to free web sites. Tripod-Geocities, for examples, only allows a certain amount of bandwidth consumption per day and if you exceed that quota your site is suspended until the next day.

For the average person this quota may not mean much. Most sites only get a few thousand hits each year and never come close to exceeding their bandwidth, but those with pictures, music file and videos can easily use up their allotment of bandwidth with just a few visitors on less than a month. One MP3 audio song, for example, is about 5 megabytes in size. If just 15 people a day listen to that song you can run out of bandwidth at a site limited to 20 GB per year in less than a month. That 15 people per day is not a lot of visitors. That translates in to just a few hundred people a month, but each of them is drawing 5,000,000 bytes of bandwidth when they listen to your MP3 file!

Most sites charge an extra fee for you to get more bandwidth. This fee is around $10 a month for an extra 5 gigabytes, which will get you another 150 visitors to listen to your MP3 file each month. When you start getting thousands of visitors, have lots of pictures and pages to see you quickly find your allocation of 20 GB bandwidth gets used up before the end of a given month and your $7.95 a month site has to get upgraded to a $17.95 a month site!

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