The content of your website determines the space requirements, of course, but that content goes beyond the usual HTML files, images, databases, etc. It also includes things we don’t always think about, like email accounts, access logs, and third-party programs or scripts you may have installed.
In the early days of commercial website hosting, a typical plan often provided around 25 megabytes of storage space. While that may seem hard to believe now, those early space limitations led a lot of us to be concerned with how much disk space our websites used.
Disk storage space isn’t usually an issue anymore since GreenGeeks and many other hosts offer accounts with unlimited storage space. But if you have the need to determine storage space requirements for your website, there are some things to consider.
Disk Space and Bandwidth
The first thing to remember is disk space and bandwidth are not the same things. Disk space is file storage space, and bandwidth is the amount of data that is transferred from your website to visitors. So when we talk about disk space, that number remains the same whether ten or ten thousand visitors access it.
Email, Logs, and Databases All Count
When calculating the disk space your account uses, you have to look beyond the /public_html directory where your uploaded website files live. If you make an FTP connection to your account and go up one level from /public_html, you’ll be in your home directory, and you can see there are a lot of things taking up space there. Application configuration files, logs, email – it all adds up. Your databases don’t live in your home directory, but their disk space usage also counts toward your overall storage usage.
Disk Space for Video and Audio
While it may tempting to load your latest album or feature-length video up to your “unlimited storage space” website, it’s almost always better to use a dedicated platform for those kinds of large downloads or streaming files. Not that your website isn’t capable of serving up those kinds of files, it is. But YouTube or Vimeo can serve your video more efficiently than any website host, and they make it easy to embed the videos on the website pages that are served from your host.
The same thing applies to audio, whether it’s music or a podcast. You certainly could serve the files directly from your website, but sites like Bandcamp or Soundcloud have great built-in players and infrastructures that can deal with that increase in demand when your single goes to number one. Podcasts can also present problems as a lot of users will automatically download new episodes as soon as they become available. A specialized podcast host like Libsyn or blubrry is ready for that kind of action, while a shared web server can strain under the pressure of hundreds or thousands of users downloading a large file at the same time.
Again, you certainly can host audio and video files on your GreenGeeks site. But if you expect (or hope) to serve large numbers of users all downloading at essentially the same time, a shared hosting platform may not be the ideal backbone for that. If you can offload media streaming to a specialized platform, your website will continue to perform great under the pressure of popularity and you’ll enjoy the best of both worlds.
Estimates Are Estimates
Finally, unless you already have an active website it’s difficult to estimate how much space you might need for the project you have planned. You’ll usually find that the need for storage space grows more rapidly than you’ve anticipated, so if you lock yourself into a limited storage space plan, make sure you have the option of increasing the amount of space available to you should the need arise.