What is Unlimited Bandwidth?
Bandwidth is the term used to measure exactly how much data is being transferred from your website, when a page is clicked on. This doesn't mean how many 'hits' or 'views' your page has, as a 10kb page will use less bandwidth than a 100kb page. If 100 people access a 1kb page then this uses the same amount of bandwidth as 1 person accessing a 100kb page. It's important to understand what bandwidth is before picking a web hosting package, especially if your websites have pages that are full of data (pictures, videos, etc). Many web hosting servers now offer unlimited bandwidth as part of a package, but what does this actually mean? Let's take a look at the different types of 'unlimited' that you may come across.
Some web hosting servers will offer packages that include totally unlimited bandwidth. This means that no matter how many videos, pictures and downloads you have on your website, this web hosting package will cover it. These packages may not be the easiest to locate, but they're perfect for sites that need to be able to handle a lot of data. Examples of sites include:
- Download sites
- Image galleries
- Video sharing sites
- File uploads or P2P sharing
- A site created to direct traffic to other sites (affiliates)
Not every website owner will need something that is totally unlimited, so unless you run one of these websites look for a different – and possibly cheaper – package.
Restricted unlimited may sound like a complete oxymoron, but restricted unlimited packages are actually the most common by web hosting servers. These basically put in place a 'fair usage policy' to ensure that you're not one of the sites we mentioned before; download sites, file uploads, picture galleries, etc. Some fair usage policies may also have a cap on their 'unlimited offerings' which means that your site will slow down during peak times, but will still be accessible. This is the best package for businesses, organisations and blogs that will require a 'normal website'. The fact that there are restrictions won't usually have an impact on your website, unless you experience an extremely high number of visitors on pages filled with data.
Qualifying for Unlimited
Some web hosting servers will want you to qualify for unlimited bandwidth before making it an offering. This is usually done if you use a certain amount of data per month (for example, less than 5GB) as they know you won't be going over their fair usage policy. Find out if there are any rules and regulations surrounding your chosen web hosting companies' unlimited bandwidth packages, before signing anything. Some companies may have a 'pay per' system in which you pay for any extra data you use, over the qualifying amount.
Unlimited bandwidth is handy to have on your website, especially if you have plenty of images, videos, content or visitors. However, make sure you've read and understood what each company is offering and ensure you get the right package to suit your needs. Effectively, the majority of website owners will look for 'restricted unlimited' or 'fair usage unlimited' packages, whereas less than 1% of website owners will need something totally unlimited.