To increase traffic and conversions on your website, you need the right amount of web hosting bandwidth. Sufficient bandwidth will help your website support dynamic, interesting content and load much more quickly, which is essential for attracting and retaining more site visitors.

The importance of page speed, and therefore bandwidth, can’t be overstated. In fact, conversion rates drop by an average of 4.42% with each second of additional website load time, so speeding up your website as much as possible should be a key part of your SEO strategy. Keep reading to discover more about bandwidth, including what it is, why it’s important and how to calculate the amount of bandwidth you need.

What is bandwidth?

In web hosting, bandwidth is the amount of data that a website can transfer from its server to site visitors in a certain period of time. Therefore, if your web hosting plan gives you a higher bandwidth allowance, you can deliver more content to a greater number of website visitors, which means your website will continue to run smoothly and load quickly even during peak traffic times.

To help you better understand the concept of bandwidth, think of it in terms of pipes with different diameters. Websites with high bandwidth are represented by wide pipes, which can deliver a larger amount of water each second. Thinner pipes aren’t able to deliver as much water each second, and if they’re overloaded with too much water, this could cause backlogs or even a burst pipe (crashed website).

Page weight and web traffic

Bandwidth is affected by both page weight and your total number of website visitors. Page weight, also known as page size, refers to the total number of bytes on a particular web page. Complex content like images and videos will increase your byte total and therefore the page weight, which means your webpage will require more bandwidth to load.

You’ll need to factor in the number of daily visitors in addition to the page weight. So, if your web page had 5 megabytes of content and you get roughly 100 visitors per day, this would consume 500MB of bandwidth. This means you would need to choose a web hosting plan that offered you at least this much bandwidth, otherwise your website could suffer from poor page loading speeds or crashes.

Why is bandwidth important?

If your web hosting plan offers insufficient bandwidth for your website (either due to too much traffic, too much complex content or too many downloadable files), users will struggle to access it. The page may take too long to load, elements could be missing or the website could completely crash. 

To optimise your conversions as much as possible, you need to keep your website available and ensure it completely loads within a couple of seconds. Plus, you need enough bandwidth to support your website during its peak traffic times, as lost revenue due to crashes in this period could be devastating. In fact, slow-loading websites cost retailers a whopping £59.6bn each year due to lost sales. Over half of UK customers have admitted that loading speed is their primary reason for abandoning purchases, so check your hosting plan to make sure you have enough bandwidth to cover high-traffic periods.

Another thing to consider is that more bandwidth will support greater page weights. Internet users are often drawn to websites that feature dynamic, interactive content and image-heavy rather than text-heavy pages, which will mean greater page sizes. So, if you want to improve your website’s content as well as page speeds, bandwidth is a key metric to look at.

To learn more about improving the loading times of your website, read our informative article on how to speed up a WordPress site.

How much bandwidth do I need?

To keep site visitors engaged, you need to ensure that you’ve got a web hosting plan with enough bandwidth to support your website. However, you also don’t want a plan with too much bandwidth, as this means you’re paying for more than you need.

If you’ve already got a hosting plan, the easiest way to evaluate your bandwidth usage is to log into your web hosting control panel, which could either be hosted on your web host’s own software or on a website management platform like cPanel.

No matter which web hosting provider you’ve chosen, you should find a report or page dedicated to bandwidth in your control panel, showing you exactly how much bandwidth your site is currently using. This will help you predict when you need to upgrade your hosting plan as your bandwidth needs increase, or you could identify an opportunity to save money by downsizing your plan if you don’t need as much bandwidth as you initially thought.

In addition, you can use various tools such as Google Lighthouse and Google PageSpeed Insights to measure the performance of your website, which will tell you whether you’re in danger of exceeding your bandwidth allowance or whether your current web hosting plan is slowing you down.

Bandwidth calculator

You can also work out your bandwidth needs manually. As mentioned above, you’ll need to factor in page weight and website visits, but you may also need to include downloadable content if you offer this on your website. Multiply the following values together to create a rough monthly bandwidth estimate in kilobytes (divide the total by 1,000,000 to get a bandwidth estimate in gigabytes):

  • Average number of visitors each day
  • Average number of pages viewed by each visitor
  • Average page weight/size of a page on your website
  • 30 days in a month

If people can download files from your website, you’ll need to add this to your calculation. Multiply the average number of downloads per day by the average file size, and then add this number to the overall total you just calculated.

We would recommend multiplying your final total by 1.5. This gives you a bit of leeway for high-traffic periods or unusual traffic spikes.

What happens if I exceed my bandwidth allowance?

We’ve already established that insufficient bandwidth can cause your website to load slowly or even crash, but what else can happen if you regularly use more bandwidth than the amount allocated in your web hosting plan? 

One option is that your hosting provider may charge you overage fees when you use more bandwidth than your allocated amount. The combination of overage fees and lost revenue from poor loading speeds could have a large impact on your budget, so make sure you keep an eye on your bandwidth so you know when you need to upgrade. Some providers will even auto-upgrade your plan when you use too much bandwidth, which will help you avoid overage fees and poor loading speeds (although you’ll need to pay more for your upgraded plan).

Alternatively, your hosting provider may suspend your website if you’re using far too much bandwidth. Check your control panel regularly to stay up-to-date on your current usage and traffic.

How can I reduce my bandwidth?

If you’re exceeding your bandwidth allowance but upgrading your plan isn’t currently an option, you’ll need to reduce your usage quickly to avoid overage fees and keep your website running smoothly. Reducing traffic isn’t an appealing option, so you’ll need to reduce page weight instead. Here are some easy ways to reduce page weight:

  • Reduce the number of images and videos on your website.
  • Compress images.
  • Enable compression for HTTP, CSS and JavaScript.
  • Implement the lazy loading technique, which is where certain elements on the page (e.g. images) aren’t loaded until the user interacts with them.
  • Implement caching and use caching plugins.
  • Use a content delivery network.

Unlimited bandwidth

For many website owners, choosing unlimited bandwidth is a great way to reduce the stress of calculating bandwidth and ensuring they don’t exceed their allowance. However, unlimited bandwidth can be a misleading term, as there’s no such thing as ‘unlimited’ when it comes to web hosting bandwidth. 

Instead, unlimited bandwidth is more like undefined bandwidth. You aren’t given a set monthly allowance, but if you use a huge amount of bandwidth because you aren’t performing normal website operations (e.g. you start file sharing), your hosting provider could suspend your website and ask you to upgrade your plan.

However, web hosting companies can advertise their bandwidth as ‘unlimited’ because they know that the vast majority of websites on their servers will never exceed the available amount of bandwidth, making it effectively unlimited. These unlimited plans are often a good deal for small to medium-sized websites, as they aren’t in danger of exceeding the limits. Plus, the website owners won’t have to worry about calculating their bandwidth usage before choosing a plan.

Bandwidth for high-traffic websites

Owners of high-traffic websites may be more concerned about potentially going over their bandwidth allowance. If your site receives a lot of visitors or contains a lot of downloadable content, you may be interested in a 10Gbps server instead. A bandwidth allowance of 10Gbps means you can transmit and receive data at up to 10 billion bits per second, helping you handle high traffic volumes every single day.

Frequently asked questions about web hosting bandwidth

How much bandwidth do I need for web hosting?

The amount of bandwidth you need will depend on your average page weight, average daily/monthly traffic and the average number of downloads plus file size if applicable. Scroll upwards to the ‘Bandwidth calculator’ section in this article to discover how to work out your website’s monthly bandwidth needs.

Is 2GB bandwidth sufficient for a website?

2GB of bandwidth may be enough for a smaller website with mainly text-based content, such as a blog. If you want to include more images and videos, or if you expect your traffic to increase significantly, you may need to upgrade to a web hosting plan with more bandwidth.

How much bandwidth is required for 1000 users on a website?

The amount of bandwidth needed will also depend on the average page weight and the average number of file downloads (if applicable). If you have 1000 daily or monthly visitors, you’ll need to multiply this by the average size of pages on your website.

What type of website uses a lot of bandwidth?

Websites with a lot of images, videos and downloadable content use a lot more bandwidth because they have a higher average page size. Sites that get a lot of traffic (such as ecommerce sites) will also use a lot of bandwidth, so if your website fulfils both criteria, you’ll need a web hosting plan with plenty of bandwidth, such as unlimited bandwidth or 10Gbps bandwidth.

Looking for unlimited bandwidth? Fasthosts has got you covered. Choose from a variety of hosting plans, including shared, dedicated, cloud and VPS hosting, and get unlimited bandwidth for your website. Get in touch today to find out more.