Tech in Plain English: Hosting Part 2

Tech in Plain English


Last week, we drew comparisons between finding a house and searching for web hosting.   By the end of last Tuesday’s post we had moved all our furniture into our suitably sized house i.e. we had found web hosting that provided enough server space to store the content of our website.  This week, our second installment of Tech in Plain English will rely on the same ‘house’ analogy to explain bandwidth in relation to web hosting.

A very popular house

As was the case last week where we relied on a number of assumptions, this week is no different, we shall assume that once you have moved into your house you intend to have an open door policy.  You will invite your neigbours, your neighbours’ neighbours and their friends.  You will post your address on every lamppost and you will tell everyone you meet to tell everyone they meet about your new home.  It may sound like a wild idea but when you get your website online this is exactly what you are doing (unless of course it is a private website).  You want people to visit your site and hopefully from there they can find a product or service that meets their needs.

To make the visit to your house simple, you have installed a driveway.  The only way in to your house is via this driveway so you will need to make sure that your driveway is long and wide enough to handle the flow of traffic to and from your house.  If you don’t do this your visitors will either spend most of their time queuing or, even worse, they will simply turn around and find another house to visit.

This is what bandwidth is. It is the driveway to your site.  It controls the flow of traffic to and from your site (site visitors) and enables your visitors to access its contents.

How big is your drive-way?

Most hosting providers measure the flow of traffic on a monthly basis but, instead of counting people or cars, hosting providers will count the amount of data accessed from your site.  When looking for web hosting you will have to determine how popular you think your site is going to be i.e. how frequently people will visit it and how much data will be accessed in a given month.

There is no specific formula to determine exactly how large or small to make your monthly bandwidth (data) allowance and it is very difficult to predict how popular how site will be.  However, returning to our house analogy, if you have a small studio apartment there is a limit to how many people you can accommodate so you driveway should reflect this.   Conversely if you have a six-bedroom mansion then perhaps you will need a large multi lane driveway.  This is one reason why you may notice that larger web hosting space often comes with increased monthly bandwidth allowance (compare Hatua’s Silver and Gold packages for example).

Some simple maths

Most hosting providers will quantify the monthly bandwidth (data) allowance in Gigabytes (GB) while an average page on a website is approximately 320 Kilobytes (KB).  Hopefully the calculations below will help you determine how much bandwidth you might need.

Let us assume that your website consists of 5 pages, so this means your entire site is 1600 KB (320 KB x 5).  There are approximately 1000 KB in one Megabyte (MB).  Therefore your site requires roughly 1.5 MB

Each time a visitor views a page on your site they are transferring 320 KB of data and if they view all five pages they will transfer 1.5 MB of data in total.

When calculating bandwidth, it is not the number of unique visitors that counts but the number of times a page is accessed.

So if the same person accesses the entire site 10 times in the same month the bandwidth used will be 15 MB (1.5 MB x 10).

If 100 people access every page on the site 10 times in one month then the total bandwidth used will be 1500 MB (15 MB x 10).  1500MB is approximately 1.5 GB (Gigabytes).

One last thing about bandwidth

The monthly bandwidth allowance includes all the data that travels through your hosting package.  This includes data accessed by people visiting your site as well as any data you upload to the site.  So if for instance you add a new page you will then potentially be uploading a further 320KB of data and that will affect your monthly bandwidth allowance accordingly.


Hopefully this has been a simple but useful guide on defining your hosting requirements.  The key things to remember are:

  • How much space you need to store your information,
  • How many times your information is accessed and how many times you will be uploading more data.

That way you can decide how many MB of storage you need and how many GB per month of data allowance is realistic.


If you have any questions about this topic or Hatua’s hosting packages or if you wish to suggest a topic for future Tech in Plain English posts please leave a comment below.
This post is part of Hatua’s Tech in Plain English (TiPE) series. TiPe’s  aim is to translate geek speak into simple english so that our service users can make informed decisions about their ICT needs.