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Hosting FAQ: Bandwidth vs Disk Space

Something we find is that customers often get confused by is the difference between bandwidth and disk space allocations in their hosting accounts.  As much as we try not to use confusing jargon when speaking to clients, occasionally there’s just no avoiding it.  Bandwidth and disk space really can’t be explained in any other words.

Interactive Red’s secure hosting at The Bunker in Kent

Why should you care?

Whilst I can’t speak for every hosting provider, here at Interactive Red we carefully tailor our hosting packages to suit the average needs of our average customer.  To keep our prices competitive and enable us to continue providing good value for money we impose certain restrictions to each package, two of which being a limit on the amount of Bandwidth you can use each month and the amount of disk space you’re allowed to use on our servers to store files.

This might seem straight forward enough to me but I’m sure some of you are already beginning to switch of at this point!  So concentrate, here comes the science bit:

  • Bandwidth
    Just as your home internet connection will be limited to the amount of downloads you can make each month, so is your website.   Each time someone visits your website (and yes that includes you, not just customers!) all of the assets that are required to display the requested webpage in a person’s browser are downloaded from the server to their computer and that takes up some of your bandwidth allocation.  Likewise, if you download emails to your computer or send emails through your hosted domain then the size of those emails counts towards your bandwidth usage.  Think of it like your mobile phone contract, you’re allowed a certain amount of GB or MB per month and checking your Twitter, Facebook or Emailing eats into it.  The point to remember is that Bandwidth is a monthly allocation so at the end of  each month you can start eating into it again!
  • Disk Space
    Quite simply disk space is how much space your website takes up.  In reality the website itself isn’t going to be particularly massive in terms of combined file size – unless you have a site that users can upload large images to or you have an ecommerce site where you’re regularly adding new products which have images or documents stored on the server.   But, it doesn’t end there, you have to think about emails too.  Depending how you’ve configured your computer or how you use your email you might find that emails are stored on the server for long periods of time.  The more emails you receive without downloading them, the more space it takes up.  The danger here is that if you use all of your disk space because there’s lots of emails stored online the server could start “bouncing” new emails back to the sender so it’s important to be aware of your space restrictions.  One further point to remember is your deleted items will need to be emptied to truly clear space on the server too – if you delete an email from your inbox it’ll still be stored online until you clear the deleted items folder too.  Oh, and don’t forget sent items is also going to need clearing out every now and then.

In other words

In summary then, bandwidth is anything where the website has to send information across the internet and disk space is anything where information is stored on the website’s disk space.  No doubt some of you will still be no clearer on this which is why we’re always happy to help out by monitoring your hosting package regularly and keeping your informed when things are running a little close to the mark!

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