What is bandwidth (net)?

My web page host has informed me that I’ve exceeded my 500MB/month and may have to pay extra.

My site is pretty much an informational fansite, not unlike a book. Nothing to download or transfer files.

I’ve never had this problem before, so what caused it now? How do I reduce my bandwidth?

What caused it can often be determined by looking at the log files, assuming you have access to them. If you find a common REFERER_URL entry, then someone has probably linked to your site. Have you posted a link to your site recently on a message board, guest book, etc?

To prevent it, you can only do two things, reduce your content or reduce the number of people who visit the site.

Bandwith is the actual size of everything transferred from your site to the visitor.

Do you have a lot of images on your site? What about large html pages? Have you experienced a suddent spike in popularity? Running a message board or a chat room?

The more sinister scenario that comes to mind is that your host has suddendly clamped down on bandwidth for its clients. Was there a 500MB limit stated when you originally signed up.

With apologies to the mods, I recommend the host I use. Reasonable rates and great support. The cheap package looks right up your alley:


Everything on the net is a file that your browser tranparently downloads. Many people seem to not know this. Say your webpage itself is 10KB (all that text and HTML code) and you have 10 or so pictures on it that are 50KB each. It would take less than 1000 people visiting to download more than your allowed 500MB just browsing the site.

Solutions: Make your pictures smaller (better compression) or replace them with small thumbnails to the larger pictures so that they’re not downloaded by everyone that loads your page (this has a added side effect of making your page load faster).

Of course this is assuming that you have all these pictures or large texts. But 1000 people, by just browsing, downloading 500KB each is not unresonable.

Another option would be to find a new host (theres a few out there offering good terms and massive “bandwidth” at less than $5US p/m).

Reading back over my post, I realize that my first sentance was a really terrible answer.

Here’s a better one. In terms of webhosting, the important part is:

Bandwidth is a term that’s been distorted fairly significantly from its original meaning – twice. I will attempt an explanation – you let me know how helpful it is.

When you communicate from one point to another using an analog wave that occupies a particular frequency range (band), the speed at which you can transmit data for a given signaling technology is dependent on the size of this frequency range (the width of the band). So transmitting in the range 100Mhz - 110Mhz gives you (theoretically) twice the data capacity of using 100Mhz-105Mhz because the band is twice as wide. So the original meaning of “bandwidth” is just that, the width of the frequency band you’re using, which in this case would be 10Mhz or 5Mhz, respectively.

However, since data communications is so often concerned with how much data you can move around at once, and your data transmission rate is directly linked to the size of your frequency band, the term “bandwidth” has come to be a relative measure of data transmission rate. We can say that one modulation technique yields more bandwidth than another because it allows us to pack more data into a signal, even if the actual frequencies used might be identical (so to be precise, the frequency bandwidth has not changed). In fact, we even carry this over into the digital communications world, where the term is technically just plain wrong. We still use it to mean “data rate”. It’s engineer slang.

The second mutation is what you’re looking at. Since “bandwidth” has come to mean “data rate”, and your web host is interested in keeping you from filling up their net connection with the traffic for your web site, they limit how much data you can transfer. However, they don’t usually do this by limiting the rate at which you can transfer data – they just put a cap on the total amount of data you can transfer for a given time period, like a month. So your “bandwidth limit” for the month is 500MB.

So depending on context, “bandwidth” can mean 1) the size of a frequency range, 2) data transfer rate or 3) total data transfer quota.

There’s actually a fourth meaning, which is like fingernails on a chalkboard to engineers: Some marketing schmucks like to say “I don’t have the bandwidth to deal with this issue now”, which is basically a cute way of saying they don’t have the time. I guess it’s supposed to be a metaphor for only having the capacity for dealing with tasks at a certain rate, but I wonder how many people who say this actually have any clue as to what the term means.

Thanks everyone!

From what I’m reading, 500MB is not very large for bandwith. My site is rather graphics intensive and has lots of sections, so that’s probably the reason. I also wonder if I also got a surge in popularity somehow…

I paid the $6/month for the extra gig thru www.arishost.com. The host cost me $25 for the year, so an extra $6 a month is worth not having the banner ads/pop-up windows.

Now that my bandwidth is no danger to me, feel free to check out my Godzilla page.