PI Tutorials


OK... let's try and explain bandwidth....

The amount of bandwidth you are allowed each month by your webhost is a measure of the data transfer between your website and the computers of the people using that website.

Let's say your page has 400kbs of pictures and text on it. When a person views your page they download 400kbs of information to their computer (it goes into their Temporary Internet files) i.e. they have transferred 400kbs of data. That amount is deducted from your bandwidth allowance.

If they download some of your backgrounds, presets, objects etc - again, the measure of that file (in kilobytes or megabytes) is transferred from your site to their computer and deducted from the bandwidth allowance.

If you write an email via a site-based email address, use a form - or Guestbook - or any such item - you use up their bandwidth.

If you upload files FROM your computer to the site - again it is data transfer and you use up part of your bandwidth allowance.

If someone direct-links to one of your images on your site - the data is pulled down from YOUR site - and so once again uses up YOUR bandwidth and you may have to pay... Text links to your site from other people's computers do NOT use up bandwidth but as soon as someone clicks on one of those links and comes to your site, it DOES.

The fact of the matter is, that the servers (computers) that hold the files of websites can only transfer so much data - if one site starts to use too much data transfer it affects the other sites on that server - they slow down. Therefore webhosts have to estimate how much bandwidth can be allotted to each site, depending on how many sites they want to put on the server. They usually give enough (and more) for the average site to run.

How then, can a webhost offer 'Unlimited' or 'Unmetered' bandwidth? The fact is that unless they have a server with unlimited capacity (which doesn't EXIST!!!) - they can't. They are relying on the sites NOT using up the bandwidth they allow - they are merely making a calculated guess and by doing that, forcing the site owner to take a calculated risk. When a site does MORE bandwidth than expected they are in trouble and so is the site owner, even though it is totally beyond their control. This is why they all have a nightmare get-out clause that says 'If your site bandwidth usage starts to cause problems to other clients on the server, we reserve the right to suspend the site'. So they are NOT REALLY giving unlimited bandwidth - it is all a big con.

The question of 'hits' is something else - this is not the same as bandwidth. If you had a thousand 'hits' (views of a web page) but these were all to a page that was low in terms of kbs.... then it wouldn't be a problem - because the bandwidth usage would be low. However, if those 'hits' were to pages high in graphics and you then went on to download files such as presets from them - it would be a VERY different story.

This is why - when a URL is announced to a large group of people and a lot of those people go to visit that page as a result, the bandwidth usage goes up and up and up... if a lot of those people go on to visit other pages, up it goes again... if they download some files from those pages and send a nice little email to the owner to say thank you... it goes guess where!... As an example - when a large PSP group (new to me) gave the URL to one of my stained glass graphics pages last year, within two days I had done half a gigabyte of data transfer!... when you think that the average webhost gives about 3 gigs a MONTH, you can see the problem! Do remember - most people are members of more than one board... it gets announced on one board and a member sees the post and posts it on another board... in turn someone there sees it... I'm sure it doesn't take a genius to tell you what happens then...

Most decent webhosts will give a warning if you are exceeding your bandwidth allowance. Some just take down your site until the end of that month and then bring the site back up at the beginning of the next month. Some take your site off the web, ask you to contact them and then tell you what they want you to do to rectify the problem. Some demand extra money for the bandwidth you are using and some, like the one I have at present - demand that you buy more sites and domain names and split up the site between their various servers. Occasionally - like the one I had last year called Powaspark - simply tell you that you have 10 days to find a new host and then they take down your site for good.

It is easy to see, therefore, why too MUCH usage, too MANY links (without permission and therefore control) can, in fact kill a site altogether. I was in fact forced to split my site in 2003 and buy two sites and do weeks and weeks of work.... much of which could have been avoided if people had just ASKED me before publishing links.... and if they only realised that going to a site and downloading everything in sight is NOT always good for the site owner even though it is very flattering.

What really makes me angry in all this - is that many groups leave their members uneducated about these issues (and ones about direct-linking and copyright issues) and then moan and groan when they find that the sites they wish to use for resources or tutorials are no longer there!

I hope this has helped you to understand the bandwidth problem. Please don't hesitate to ask if you need anything explaining further - it really is my pleasure as it's lovely to find someone who really wants to understand. :-)

Lots of love, Rosie



© Rosie Hardman-Ixer 2000 - 2003