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Understanding Data Transfer

 by kerry mott

Website owners may benefit from a basic understanding of what hosting companies refer to as "data transfer". It is a cost component of nearly of all web hosting packages, and understanding it may help website owners make better cost decisions before choosing a web host.

Data Transfer Overview

Transfer i.e. ."Bandwidth" or "traffic" is the amount of information (in bytes) transferred back and forth from visitor's computer to the server your domain is hosted on. Examples of data transfer can be? someone filling out a form and submitting it back to your web site; a visitor downloading images, audio or video, or just surfing your website. Every time a web surfer visits your web pages, data is transferred from the server your website is hosted on, to their computer. As you want a lot of people to "hit" your site, you want a plenty of data to be transferred!

Your host may or may not include FTP as data transfer. If it does, this may be critical to your data transfer quota if for example, you make regular database changes that require downloading, making changes, and then uploading an entire database back to the server. This is just an example as many web sites implement CMS (Content Management Systems) that allow database editing through administration control panels, thus minimizing the quantity of data transfer.

You'll see that it is very common now days to get sufficient amounts of data transfer with most good online hosts. What that means, is that most small ecommerce storefronts should be able to get plenty of traffic, keep hosting costs down and not worry about running out of their monthly bandwidth quota.

Data Transfer Calculations

Here is an example of calculating data transfer for a hypothetical web account.

Say you have an account that allows 7GB of data transfer per month and your average file size transferred is 100KB (the size of 6-7 page views). This being the case you can move 73,400 files per month, or 2446 daily, over 30 days.

Here's how we get that number:

1.) Convert the avg file size fro KB to Bytes: 100 X 1024=102,400

2.) Determine the number of bytes in 7GB by the number of bytes in 1 GB ? 7 x 1073,741,824 =7,516,192,768

3.) Lastly, divide the number of bytes in 7GB by the number of bytes in your avg file size: 7,516,192,768 /102,400=73,400

What this means is that visitors would have to hit your site and transfer roughly 100 - 100KB files every hour 24/7 for a month before you would use up all your bandwidth. This is probably extreme unless you're really big, like Amazon. Meanwhile, rest assured, there are plenty of good quality hosts that include lots of bandwidth (50 GB) monthly for between $5-10 USD. This is typically enough for most small ecommerce sites to run smoothly. By the way, if your getting traffic like that then you probably don't need this article anyway because you can probably afford your own web hosting company!

Kerry Mott designs and develops websites through, a website covering web hosting, and SEO topics.

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