One of the most difficult questions to answer when you’re choosing web hosting is: “How much bandwidth does my website need?” That’s because figuring out your website’s bandwidth requires both mathematical calculation and a tiny bit of guessing. Bandwidth doesn’t need to be expensive. However, if you buy more than you need, you might end up kicking yourself for wasting money. But you also don’t want to buy less than you need, because you might end up frustrating your visitors with your slow, laggy website.
The good news is that, with a little effort, you can figure out the bandwidth sweet spot that will please your website and your wallet.
But just so we know we’re on the same page…
Sometimes, right after you find yourself asking, “How much bandwidth does my website need?”, you also hear a tiny voice whisper, “Also…what’s bandwidth?”
Bandwidth is the amount of data (usually expressed in gigabytes) that a website can transfer to its visitors over a certain time. Data transfer includes all uploads and downloads.
It’s easier to understand bandwidth if you picture web traffic as actual traffic. If visitors to your website are the cars that make up traffic, then your bandwidth would be the lanes of a highway. The bigger your bandwidth, the more traffic can comfortably visit your website (and the more you have to spend on web hosting).
The smaller your bandwidth, the less you have to spend on web hosting (and the more chances you have for congestion and frustrated visitors). Having too much bandwidth means your savings will take a hit, but having too little bandwidth means your SEO will take a hit.
That’s why choosing the right amount of bandwidth is such a delicate balancing act.
How much bandwidth does my website need?
Bandwidth depends on the size of your webpages, as well as the number of people who visit your website every month, and the number of pages they visit. If you’ve had your website for a while, you’ll have a much easier time calculating your bandwidth than you would if you were launching your site for the first time.
To calculate your bandwidth, use this formula:
- Start with the average size of your webpages, in kilobytes. If you don’t know this off the top of your head, there are lots of free tools you can use online to test this.
- Multiply your average page size by your average monthly number of visitors.
- When you have your answer, multiply this number by the average number of page views per visitor.
Remember to include all the websites you host on your server in your calculations.
So, if you have twelve websites, for example, you should start with the average size of webpages on all twelve websites. After that, multiply it by the average monthly visitors for all twelve websites, then multiply that number by the average number of page views per visitor for all twelve websites. You get the gist. Too much of a brainer, try this site to calculate your bandwidth.
But when you have your answer, you’re not done yet! You still need to add some extra bandwidth. This way, you have a bit of wiggle room.
Why do I need bandwidth wiggle room?
Here are some factors that can affect your bandwidth usage:
1. Traffic spikes
If you get a shoutout from a popular social media influencer, your website could suddenly find itself with more visitors in a day than you typically have in a month. When this happens, you’ll need more bandwidth.
2. Changes to your layout
Changing your layout might increase your average page size, which will increase the amount of bandwidth you need.
3. Adding more web pages
As your website produces more content, you’ll need more webpages, and more bandwidth.
4. Building your following
More visitors mean more data transfers and more pageviews per month. When your website starts to get a steadier flow of heavy traffic, you’ll need more bandwidth to keep your visitors comfortable (and to keep your site from crashing).
Read more about why you need more bandwidth for your site.
How much bandwidth does my new website need?
If you’re launching a new website, you probably won’t need massive amounts of bandwidth, because websites usually take a while to start attracting steady traffic. This isn’t the case for all new websites, though. If you have reason to believe your website will have lots of visitors right from the jump, you should invest in more bandwidth.
Websites that tend to have massive traffic right from the beginning are usually connected to established brands. So, if you have a brand that’s been around for a while, definitely get more bandwidth. But even if you have a new brand, the kind of website you’re launching might mean you need more bandwidth. If your website offers a product that’s in high demand and requires lots of data transfer (like downloading movies), you should invest in more bandwidth, even if your brand is new.
When you have a new website, asking, “How much bandwidth does my website need?” won’t lead to a definitive answer. That’s because you can’t really know in the beginning how much traffic to expect.
The right hosting provider will help you scale your hosting package to suit your changing bandwidth needs.
The Takeaway: How much bandwidth?
The general rule when you’re choosing bandwidth is to take as much as you need, then multiply it by five (or ten) to account for traffic spikes. Buying more bandwidth than you need is always better than buying less. Why? Because it’s better to pay for bandwidth that’s already built into your service package than paying for exceeding your allotment. A good web host will help make sure you never overpay for bandwidth, no matter how much you need.