To host or not to host?

Should you host videos on your website or use YouTube instead?

You already know that, if managed correctly, including videos on your website can make for a highly engaging experience that encourages visitors to spend longer learning about your business.

But wait, before you rush out, create loads of high quality video content and ‘slap’ it on your website, are there other considerations?

Yes, basically it’s all to do with bandwidth. Many of us simply think of data bandwidth in relation to our mobile phone contracts and/or how much we download as data consumers. However, if you have a website you are also a data provider.

Buried (to varying depths) in the small print of every hosting contract there may be a monthly bandwidth allowance. This is simply a limitation on the sum total of all data viewed from your website, and for most entry level or even mid range hosting contracts will be in the region of 10 gigabytes (GBs) to 30GBs per month:

  • UK2 (£1) = 1GB
  • Namesco starter package (£5/month) = 10/GB
  • TSO Host (£3/month) = 20GB
  • Redstation (£9.88/month) = 20GB
  • Heart (£3/month) = 30GB
  • 34Sp (£10/Month) = 100GB

It’s worth mentioning that many hosting companies offer unlimited monthly bandwidth; such as 1and1, Hostpapa, Easyspace, Fasthosts, 123Reg and more. Again, it might be wise to check their small print for something along the lines of “reasonable usage policy applies”…

Every time a visitor reaches and browses your website, their browser will be reading all the files necessary to view each web page. This includes all the HTML files (the actual web code), scripts, text files, images… and video files, if present.

So, if you had a video filmed in full (1080p) HD of around 3 minutes, it would be at least 500 megabytes (MBs) in size; and depending on how the film was encoded, potentially much more. Let’s say you had 4 on your website. That means if a single visitor watched all 4 in their entirety, they would have pulled down 2GBs of data (in video files alone) whilst on your site. Let’s also say you had 3 visitors a day who behaved similarly, that would be nearly 6GB in data, in a day!

That would equal around 90GB per month assuming the similar visitor activity; and let’s face it, most businesses would want more than 3 visitors to their website a day, so what would happen if their online marketing campaign really took off?

Clearly this is going to be a problem for your hosting company, who in theory at least, could suspend your website (not good), or certainly more likely impose additional fees.

What to do?

It’s very simple – host the files elsewhere for free and simply include a link on your website. Apart from the lack of bandwidth issues by using 3rd party video hosting, the performance improvement you’re likely to see by streaming videos from these sites makes it worthwhile in itself. YouTube handily provides this exact service, but there are others to choose from too including:

  • Vimeo
  • Vzaar
  • Viddler
  • Wistia
  • Sprout Video
  • Brightcove
  • Vidyard
  • .. and of course Facebook.

As YouTube is almost certainly the most popular and accessible, we would probably recommend that platform for most users. It’s very quick and easy to create a YouTube account and upload almost as many videos as you could wish for. It’s then simply a case of grabbing the “embed” link and then using that to create what’s called an iFrame on your website.

If you’re not sure how to go about this, just ask us, we’d be happy to help you out.

There are some circumstances where using a 3rd party video host may not be ideal, such as if the content of the videos is confidential. In that instance, either self-host (check bandwidth restrictions) or check out Sprout Video who have worked in all sorts of video security options to their service.

Do you need to outsmart your competitors? Contact us now on 0845 310 2457 to discuss what you need and how we can help you meet your goals.

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2017-08-02T10:26:57+00:00