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Does Size Really Matter When Looking for a Host? You Bet Your Megabyte!

By Jennifer Kirk
Posted Friday, November 26, 2004

Confused by megabytes, gigabytes and all the other fancy terms used by hosting companies? Learn what is what, how to choose, and getting the most for your money. Does size matter? When you are talking about size of bytes on the internet, it most definately does.

One main problem people have with byte sizes is that they don't divide nice and neatly by 10s or 100s. Just to make it confusing for the average computer user, someone decided that 1024 should be the magic number when discussing computer size.

So, how many megabytes are in a gigabyte? Here is a quick run through of byte sizes and how many of each is in what.

8 bits are equal to 1 byte

1,024 bytes are equal to 1 kilobyte (also known as KB or K)

1,024 kilobytes (KB) are equal to 1 megabyte (MB or a Meg)

1,024 megabytes are equal to 1 gigabyte (GB or a Gig)

1,024 gigabytes are equal to 1 terabyte (TB)

1024 terabytes in a petabyte (PB)

Now, how does this size affect you? If you are looking to purchase hosting, knowing these figures will help you.

If a host offers you a package with 1 GB of storage for your webpage, consider the fact that very few websites actually use that much storage. And the host knows you will not actually use that much storage, and it is an easy way for the company to "one-up" their host package to make it look as though you are getting so much more for your money.

What is the size of the average webpage? Most webpages are only 10-20KB in size (again, for a standard page ~ this does not include fancy ecommerce sites with an integrated shopping cart system). And the majority of your images are only between 5KB and 20KB in size (if your images are much larger, consider optimizing them for quicker loading speed).

How much storage should you expect to use? Unless you plan to offer huge files for download, or anticipate a multi-faceted ecommerce website, most sites use somewhere between 10-35 MBs of storage, including all html files and images.

What if you choose a low storage hosting plan and you run out of room? Most hosting companies will allow you to upgrade your server storage for free or for a one-time service fee, aside from the cost of a new hosting plan.

Bandwidth is another size you will often see quoted by hosts. What exactly is bandwidth? It is the files that your host will serve to each visitor to your site. For example, if you have an image-free html file that is 8KB in size, and over the course of the month it receives 100 individual visitors viewing the page once, it would use 800KB in bandwidth.

Each image, file, download program, and scripts are included in the amount of bandwidth you use. This is another good reason to optimize your images so that you are using less bandwidth. Another trick is to use the same header logo on each page, so visitors won't load a new image with each page view.

How much bandwidth will you need from your host? 1GB to 2GB is standard for many hosts, and most will allow you to upgrade if you discover your site is wildly popular and going through much more bandwidth than expected.

Be sure to read terms of your hosting agreement. If you plan on serving up MP3s or video files on your webpage, be sure to read the fine print. Some hosts exclude the use of these types of files in some hosting plans. Be sure to check before selecting a host if you plan on offering these kinds of downloads to your site visitors.

By knowing your bits from your megabytes, you are in an excellent position to know exactly what a host is offering you, and if it will fill your desired needs for your website.

About the Author
Jennifer Kirk is the owner and chief visionary of MyMommyBiz. Along with a very active message board community, visitors will find all the tools they need to start, build, and network their business or party plan online and off.