What is Web Hosting Bandwidth?

Business leaders encountering web hosting for the first time come across a plethora of technical terms. But while these are confusing, they are important for making the right hardware decisions about your site.

In this post, we ask: what is web hosting bandwidth, and why does it matter?

A Definition of Web Hosting Bandwidth

Web hosting bandwidth refers to the amount of data your website can send to users in a fixed period of time. Most website hosts measure bandwidth in gigabytes per second or GB/s.

Web site hosts may specify the amount of bandwidth you get with their service – for instance, 50 GB/s. Others may simply say “unlimited bandwidth,” meaning that you get as much as you need when you need it.

Bandwidth can be a tricky concept to understand, particularly if you come from a non-technical field. However, metaphors can help. Many people understand bandwidth by analogy to water pipes.

City districts require wide pipes to provide enough water for all the people who live there. By contrast, individual houses require narrower pipes because only one or two people will demand water at the same time.

The same logic applies to websites. Companies with thousands of visitors per day require their websites to transfer more data, necessitating higher bandwidths. By contrast, smaller firms with much lower traffic to their pages don’t need as much.

Note that bandwidth size refers to the maximum amount of data that the hosting company can transfer to users (given the level of service) in a predefined period. It doesn’t say anything about the total amount of data they will permit you to transfer. For instance, your website might operate quite comfortably within the host’s bandwidth limits. However, users may transfer more data than the carrier permits between billing periods, leading to additional fees or, in extreme circumstances, website shutdowns.

Why Does Bandwidth Matter?

Bandwidth matters because it controls how fast pages load for visitors during peak times. Your website might load quickly during the middle of the night when no one wants to access it, but slowly in the evenings, precisely when prospects are most likely to buy.

To keep sales high, you’ll need to choose a bandwidth that can accommodate user data requirements at peak times. You’ll also want one that allows your website to display dynamic features that visitors find appealing.

How to Calculate Your Bandwidth Requirements

To calculate your bandwidth requirements, you’ll need to consider:

  • The size of your webpages
  • The average number of pages web visitors open
  • The maximum number of concurrent website visitors you expect

Then use the following formula:

Bandwidth requirements (GB/s) = Average web page size (GB) x number of concurrent visitors x number of pages each visitor opens per second (s)

Remember, you’ll want to leave a little wiggle room, so choose a plan that offers 25% to 50% more bandwidth than your predicted maximum.


SaneChoice started in 2004 when a customer was frustrated by their hosting provider at the time. Since that year, SaneChoice has been providing technology services to clients worldwide, with a strong focus on helping small businesses understand technology.

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