Disclosure: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. This helps keep this site running.
Let's assume you don't yet have a website and you're trying to figure out how much bandwidth and disk space you need from your hosting plan. Here we'll use my data from 3 of my own blog-style sites to find out how many visitors add up to how much bandwidth, and what amount of disk space is used.
As explained in the next section, this amount should be considered a ball-park figure and not a precise quantity, but it'll give you a good feel for the amount of resources you'll go through per amount of visitors. After that, I'll go to actually calculating these figures for you from my own bandwidth and disk space usage data.
First I'll explain what bandwidth and disk space is and why we'll get a ball-park figure, or alternatively you can just skip ahead to the data now.
About bandwidth and disk space, and why we'll get a ball-park figure
Bandwidth relates to how much data is being sent over by your site to the viewer. The reason the figures we'll calculate are ball-park is that the amount of data being sent by your site depends on the content of each viewed page.
For example, if you have a text-only page with no images at all, only a small amount of data is going to be sent over so only a tiny amount of bandwidth will be used. By contrast, if you have an article that's a step-by-step illustrated how-to with 10 large high-resolution images in it, that's going to be a lot of data that has to be sent over (mainly because of the images) and therefore a larger amount of bandwidth will be used.
An article with a single medium-sized lower-resolution image will be somewhere in between these two extremes.
Extra for experts: Audio (e.g. MP3) and video take up even more bandwidth, but don't worry, you're unlikely to be in this situation even if you plan on showing your YouTube videos. In that case you'll most likely be embedding from YouTube or some other video-sharing or podcast-hosting site - this type of audio or video doesn't count against what's being used in your web hosting plan (that audio or video part of the bandwidth comes from YouTube, Vimeo etc instead). Ignore this bit if you're confused; it'll make sense later.
The good news is that even bearing in mind differences between different sites, we can still get a ball-park figure for how much bandwidth and disk space your site will use per visitor.
Disk space is different from bandwidth. Disk space is how much storage your website data takes and this has nothing to do with how many visitors you get. Even if you had zero visitors to your site (and therefore zero bandwidth), your images and website files such as Wordpress still have to be stored SOMEWHERE (i.e. at your host) and it's the amount of space it takes up on disk at your host that is what we're talking about here. As you write more articles, you'll use more disk space - not because of visitors as mentioned above - because you'll be adding images and other things to your site as you write articles.
A bit lost on disk space? Then just know this:
- disk space is different from bandwidth
- you'll need disk space no matter how many or few visitors you have
- you will use more disk space as you write more articles and upload more images (good news though: disk space works out more efficiently at your host than you would think)
Extra for experts: Please note also that the disk space includes not only items you've put up yourself for your website (e.g. Wordpress, image uploads) but also everything your host has already provided built-in for the running of the back end, such as email, cPanel, your backups, and so on.
Disk space will not vary with how many visitors you get, but it should still be thought of as a ball-park figure because this will be affected by several things:
- your choice of CMS (Wordpress, Joomla, etc)
- your image uploads (how many images, their size, and their resolution)
- how your host has set up the server
- how many site backups you store at your host
Don't stress about all these factors! We'll still be able to get a decent idea of how much disk space you'll need.
Calculation of how much bandwidth is used up by how many visitors, and how much disk space you need
OK here we are, about to calculate how much bandwidth is used up per visitor and how much disk space you need. As the title of this article indicates, these figures will be relevant to a typical blog site (not another type of site such as ecommerce). This is because the raw data for bandwidth and disk space comes from blog sites that I own, not other types of sites.
The raw data: relationship between bandwidth and number of visits
So for 3 different blog sites that I own, I used the website visitor statistics provided by my web host to determine:
- how many visits (total visits, not unique visitors) I had in 1 month to each of these websites
- how much bandwidth was used up that month by each of the sites
In case you're wondering, that data came from the AWstats software that is bundled with most web hosts.
Since each month might give a different "snapshot" of what was going on with the site, I decided to get that data at 3 different 1-month periods: the previous month, then a time 6 months ago, then another 6 months before that i.e. a year ago total. This gave me 9 sets of data (3 sites x 3 different months) for how many total visits to the site, and how much bandwidth was used up.
The number of total visits varied from 1,700 to nearly 10,000 per month in my data sets, depending on which site and which month.
But really, to get to the heart of the question we're answering, we care more about the ratio of bandwidth to visits than the individual numbers of visits or bandwidths. So I divided visits by bandwidth to get the ratio, and from that we'll get a ball-park figure that you can use as a rule of thumb.
Here are the ratios of my 3 sites for bandwidth to number of visits:
|The month 6 months ago
|The month a year ago
Final calculations of how much bandwidth corresponds to how many visits for a typical blog site
Here is the take-home message for bandwidth:
As you can see from the table above, for every 1GB of bandwidth used up, I got 2000 - 3700 visits.
To turn it on its head, this is the same as saying that for every 1000 monthly visitors, I used up 0.27 - 0.50 GB of bandwidth.
So those sentences above are a good rule of thumb for you to work out how much you need from your hosting plan.
Remember that your mileage may vary depending on how many images per page you use, but the data here give a good ball park figure of how much bandwidth compares to how many visits for the average blog website
Remember disk space does not vary with the number of visitors you have, but rather with how much data you store on hand at your web host (e.g. total number of uploaded images, text, Wordpress files, email, backups etc).
For me, according to the disk space usage data from my web host, I use up around 3G for these sites added together. This is broken down as follows:
Website files: 0.2G per site
Backups: 0.3 G per site
Email: 0.2 G per site
Web host setup including server logs: 2G
This gives a total of almost 3G per site.
You therefore typically want 5G or more of disk space with your hosting plan, assuming the plan is counting the web host's portion of the files. If the plan does not count the web host's portion then you can get away with a lot less disk space (e.g. 1G to start with). This is something you can ask them in customer chat before signing up. However, to get over the problem of your web host having strict limits on your bandwidth or disk space, I recommend getting a hosting plan with unlimited (or unmetered) disk space and bandwidth instead, such as the Hatchling plan from Hostgator.
You don't need to spend much to do that. The price of less than a cup of coffee a month will get you a decent web hosting plan that has the bandwidth and disk space you need - let's take a look at a few additional options also.
Cheap web hosting plans with unlimited / unmetered disk space and bandwidth
In addition to unmetered bandwidth and disk space, you'll also want your host to offer cPanel, which is a back end to your sites that enables you to handle everything point-and-click, such as setting up email, and so on. cPanel is so easy to use and saves so much time and heartache that I wouldn't consider a host without it, and you shouldn't have to either. Here are the best cheap hosting plans with safe reliable hosts which I recommend. They all come with unmetered or unlimited bandwidth and disk space, and they all have cPanel:
- the Pro Plan at Greengeeks - it's just one step up from their most basic plan level and still extremely affordable. Bonus: it's an eco-friendly host.
- any of the plans from Hostgator - the Hatchling is cheapest. Starting at just a few dollars a month, all their shared hosting plans are generous. Hostgator is a very beginner-friendly host.
- the Drive plan of A2 Hosting - a step up from their most basic plan level. A2 Hosting offers you tons of options for customizing your hosting plan (for example, selecting your desired version of PHP) if you want that - and if you don't, their defaults are sensible.
The bottom line
Using my data from 3 blog sites I own, for every 1GB of bandwidth used there were 2000 - 3700 visits. To put it another way, every 1000 monthly visitors resulted in the usage of 0.27 - 0.50 GB of bandwidth. The amount of disk space used by my sites was around 3GB per site when the hosting setup was counted in the disk space (without the host setup files, this figure was only 1GB per site). I've explained in this article why these figures should be considered approximate; your mileage may vary.
Therefore if you're just starting out with your blog then 2GB bandwidth is easily sufficient for your website, for example. According to my numbers, that would allow you to handle up to 4000 to 7400 visitors per month, which is a lot of visitors - far more than the average beginner would get.
To avoid the problem of running up against the hosting company's limits, you should get an unlimited or unmetered hosting plan. Reliable yet cheap options for this are the Pro Plan at Greengeeks, the Hatchling Plan at Hostgator, or the Drive plan at A2 Hosting.