How Your Hosting Affects Your User Traffic - Your Side of the Bandwidth Dance
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Anticipate and plan in advance
With the sites for which I am optimizing, I always ask myself the question "how much traffic do I want daily?" This is for the sake of having clearly defined goals which I will then be using as a guide to my optimization strategy. Looking at the amount of traffic that my optimization strategy should generate for me, I can easily estimate how much bandwidth I need every month by multiplying my expected daily traffic by my average file size and average number of page views.
For example, if I estimate 800 hits a day, and my average file size is 5 kilobytes, and I get a minimum of two page views per user (you can mix the data usage up; use averages, minimums and maximums, whatever makes your day) that's 8000 kb. That is an anticipated bandwidth usage of 8 megabytes a day; double it to make life interesting and multiply it by 30 -- you now have close to 500 MB a month. Now this is still within reasonable limits, but when your optimization strategy kicks in, you may have some particular days when you have 5000 hits a day, and some days you will get people that view maybe ten or twenty pages in one sitting. Your one gigabyte of standard bandwidth is looking paltry -- actually it's insufficient. Fortunately buying overages does not cost too much, but overages could come too late; you may actually have lost a few days if the traffic comes in really fast.
Now I know the above projections seem optimistic to some, but it happens, sometimes through no fault of the webmaster. Some external circumstance may make your site the destination of the moment (a review of your web site by Forbes, Time, or Newsweek, or your site being in the news for some other reason). It may not happen immediately, but if you do have a plan for increasing traffic, and you follow it, it is inevitable that your traffic will definitely go up.
The key strategy from the above would be to start off with a standard web hosting package and as you optimize, you keep an eye on your server logs to check your users' behavior. If you have users who save every page they are interested in, or only seem to read a particular section of your side and ignore the other pages, or who seem to have a hankering to download a particular ebook or software, then you should be prepared to increase bandwidth at a moment's notice.
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