Before we get into those questions, it helps to explain what bandwidth is and how it works.
What is Bandwidth?
Simply put, bandwidth is the maximum amount of data that can travel through your internet connection at any given time. For example, a standard gigabit Ethernet connection has a bandwidth of 1000 Mpbs (megabits per second), which means that about 125 megabytes of data can travel through your connection per second.
You should note that a megabit and a megabyte are not the same thing. Megabits are the speed data travels within your connection, where magabytes refers to the size of a file. However, having high bandwidth doesn’t necessarily equal speed, just capacity. The type and size of files is what determines how fast and efficient your pages load and how well the site functions overall.
How Does Bandwidth Affect Website Performance?
Inadequate bandwidth affects website performance in several ways, including:
- Download speed, which is the amount of time it takes to download a page or file
- Latency, which is the amount of time it rakes a query to travel from the browser to the server
- Bounce rates, which is the rate at which people visit your site and leave immediately
- User experience (UX), or the amount of enjoyment or usefulness guests experience when visiting your website
All of these things tie together to determine your position in the search engine results (SERPs) and inline reputation. Google and your potential customers take these metrics very seriously, and so should you.
How Much Bandwidth Do You Need?
When determining your internet requirements, you want to have enough space to create new projects without affecting core function or draining resources.
Text-only websites require very little bandwidth. You can usually get away with about 25 Mbps. The more bells and whistles you add, the more you’re going to need to depend upon the allotted resources of your hosting service and ISP. However, content on your website isn’t the only thing that affects site speed. Ads and other external content play their part in slowing you down.
In order to calculate the amount of bandwidth to keep your traffic happy and pages fast and efficient, measure the average size of your web pages in kilobytes, multiply that figure by the average number of visitors per month, and multiply the result by the average number of page views per visitor.
That equation should give you a pretty good estimate, but bandwidth can be eaten up by other factors that you will need to control in order to get the level of data transfer you’re paying for.
How to Optimize Your Bandwidth
Changes in layout, such as adding a new theme or features, content type, traffic flow, and scalability also affect bandwidth, speed, and latency. Even bad neighbors can affect your website performance if you’re on a shared hosting plan.
When you’re building a website, it’s essential to test it to determine what components, if any, are affecting speed and latency. A decent hosting service should include speed tests as a feature in your plan, If not, there are various plugins for web builders like WordPress as well as some standalone testing tools. One of the best is Pingdom, and it’s free.
Outside of buying enough bandwidth to cover your requirements, there are several ways that you can tweak your website and improve performance.
- Enable caching: When you enable caching, the user-side browser won’t have to keep loading your page every time someone visits your page.
- Optimize images: Bigger images eat up bandwidth. Reduce file sizes, convert files to Jpeg, or consider using only one featured image rather than a gallery.
- Move some media offsite: Consider linking video thumbnails to Your YouTube channel and create a gallery that’s accessible from your Instagram. Get rid of any gifs or other cute but unnecessary animations, and don’t use flash.
- Optimize HTML and other coding: Minify JS and CSS code, get rid of HTML that isn’t needed, remove comments, and eliminate any unnecessary tags or white space.
With the above tips and information, you should be able to create a website that’s functional, fast, and aesthetically pleasing.
The bandwidth requirements for website hosting are not the same as what you would need from an internet service provider for routine browsing or even gaming and steaming at home. While it’s inconvenient to have your browser freeze or system crash at the critical part of a movie, having this happen while customers are trying to place an order will adversely affect your whole business.
In addition to speed and reliability, your website should be secure. Using plugins and antivirus/anti-malware apps is a start, but you can further harden your website by installing a VPN on your router and any device you use to access your website.
This is an especially good practice for developers, who often require stricter privacy during app production and may have multiple clients or team members accessing works in progress.
Just remember to use security best practices like setting permissions according to role, use two factor authentication to limit access, remove the default login, and set parameters to lock the login after a small number of failed attempts and you should be fine.
Bandwidth determines how fast your website performs and can affect reliability. In order to make the best hosting and design decisions, you need to know how much bandwidth is adequate for optimal performance with room to scale or handle unexpected traffic spikes without crashing or freezing.