Disk Space and Bandwidth: How much do I really need?
Website hosting fulfills a number of key functions, and chief among them is offering you disk space and bandwidth - the fundamentals you need to store your web page and have it accessible by the public.
For more on the key functions of a web host, please read our article on the subject.
As you read web hosting reviews such as those on this site, you'll see that different website hosting companies offer varying amounts of disk space and bandwidth. Knowing what your needs are will help you determine which web host, or website hosting package, you'll want to sign on for.
Let's have a look at disk space first.
Disk space is, literally, the amount of space your website hosting company offers you on their servers. If you are looking for shared hosting services - by far the most popular and affordable hosting option - you will be sharing a server with a number of other web developers. If you opt for VPS or dedicated server hosting, you'll have much more disk space to yourself, but also a higher price tag, as you'll see from web hosting reviews.
The amount of disk space you need will vary greatly depending on your plans for your website. Most websites don't need a lot of space - 100 MB is actually sufficient (more than sufficient!) for basic sites. Even the most basic website hosting plans generally offer much more than this. (Generally, a hosting package with 5 GB of space would hold the average site some 500 times over...)
If you are planning a potentially busy e-commerce site, or plan to add a lot of audio and video files, you may need to consider a site with more available disk space. If you are unsure of your future needs, you may want to go with a web hosting company that will let you upgrade easily, should you find business taking off!
Note: many website hosting companies offer unlimited hosting, which generally includes unlimited disk space. They can do this because so many websites simply do not use that much disk space! It bears remembering, though, that even unlimited hosting plans do come with some boundaries, so make sure to read the small print.
Bandwidth, on the other hand, is the amount of data visitors to your site are able to download. How much bandwidth you require, again, depends on what you have on your pages and how many visitors are coming to your site. If you go over the bandwidth limits allotted in your website hosting package, you may have to pay more.
Take note of bandwidth amounts as you read web hosting reviews. A website with 300 pages and a steady (though not intense) stream of visitors may use up to 2 GB a month. In other words, most websites will use less bandwidth than allocated. If you're concerned about the bandwidth limit, look for website hosting with unlimited or unmetered bandwidth.
In all cases, a careful reading of web hosting reviews should help you evaluate the many options and help you find the perfect website hosting service for you - with more than enough disk space and bandwidth to see you well into the future.