Bandwidth vs Data Transfer

In the world of web hosting, the terms bandwidth and data transfer are commonly used in the same way. The two are connected, but not the same.

To clarify the difference between them, the illustration of a water hose is often used. The water hose represents the bandwidth, and water travelling through the hose is the data. A wider diameter hose has the capacity to deliver more water. Therefore, a web host with high bandwidth can transfer more data per second. This is good to look for, because it means your website will load faster.

Web hosts usually base their plans on the amount of data you can transfer to and from their servers in one month. It is estimated that the majority of websites use between two and five gigabytes of data transfer per month.

Unlimited Bandwidth

While searching for a web host you will find many that claim to offer unlimited bandwidth or unlimited disk space. No web host can really offer unlimited bandwidth. There is a limit to the amount of data a network can transfer, and the hard drive of a web server has a limited amount of space.

If a host is offering unlimited bandwidth, be sure to read its terms of service carefully to find out what the limits actually are. Some hosts will terminate a customer’s website without any warning or refund if their limits are exceeded.

Another concern is that a host advertising unlimited bandwidth will likely be appealing to many high-usage customers, meaning you will be sharing space with lots of sites using up lots of available bandwidth. The end result for you is a slow loading website.

Does all this mean you should avoid hosts advertising unlimited bandwidth? Not necessarily. It may seem backward, but if your bandwidth requirements are low, an unlimited plan may work well for you. Don’t run away from unlimited bandwidth, but do use caution and read the fine print.