Unlimited Bandwidth Offers

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Some web hosts will offer unlimited bandwidth as part of their web hosting plans. Unlimited bandwidth sounds great, but if you understand the basics of web hosting, you'll know it is impossible for a web host to supply unlimited anything. Unlimited bandwidth is more or less a marketing ploy based on the assumption that no user will come close to exceeding bandwidth allotments. However, web hosts may still have fine, fees or surcharges for using too much bandwidth, unlimited or not, so make sure you ask your web host how they define unlimited if this is their offer.

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What is bandwidth?
Because you share a server with many other web sites your web host must keep track of how much disk space and bandwidth your site uses. Bandwidth is basically the amount of traffic, content, and other data that will be requested from the web hosts server and transmitted to the requesting computer for a set period of time. When a visitor requests a page (ie. types in your domain name into the web browser) the server is contacted and will return your site along with all the graphics and text. The more traffic (requests for your website) you will have to your site, the more bandwidth you will need.

Who will unlimited bandwidth hosting plans work for?
If you have a relatively small website that does not utilize large amounts of disk space or bandwidth (not too many visitors), then an unlimited bandwidth plan would be okay to choose. Just keep in mind that many web hosts place limitations on what type of files and data your website can contain if you sign up for an unlimited bandwidth plan. For example, a web host may place restrictions on audio or video downloads because they utilize large amounts of bandwidth. So make sure you know what the demands of your website will be before agreeing to the terms of an unlimited bandwidth plan.

How much bandwidth will I need?
As with disk space, if you exceed your allotment for bandwidth your host can charge you a hefty fee. So it is important to know how much you need. Here is the formula for determining the approximate amount of monthly bandwidth your site will need.

Number of pages x .05MB x Number of visitors/month= Total Bandwidth/month

This formula is based on each visitor viewing each page in your site once. Obviously this won't always be the case. Some visitors may only look at your home page, while other visitors will view many pages on your site. You may want to take the total bandwidth per month number as calculated above and double it to accomodate any future growth or any other unexpected spikes in data transfer.

When choosing a web hosting plan, what is the best thing to do with respect to bandwidth?
As with any important decision, the best course of action is to plan ahead and try to anticipate future needs. Unlimited bandwidth hosting plans are attractive, but may end up causing you trouble down the road if you exceed your web hosts' bandwidth limitations. Bandwidth costs web hosts money, and a web host will not run a loss on your account for very long before they start charging you additional fees or request that you move your website to a different web host. In short, do your homework and make sure you understand the terms of your web hosting plan.

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