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Tips to Reduce Bandwidth Usage

In the past ten years, web hosting has increased its storage capacity dramatically. In doing so, they’ve allowed even the cheapest hosting plans to do some pretty advanced things. However, there is one little detail that they haven’t kept up with, and that’s bandwidth. Since storage capacity becomes cheaper every year, web hosting companies don’t have to place so much value on it. However, the Internet hasn’t become that much faster, and therefore web hosts, and in turn webmasters have to conserve it considerable. Here we’ll discuss a few ways in which this can be done.

Image Compression:

There’s a whole lot you can do just here alone. Images can be compressed in many ways. The first and easiest way is to change the file format. If you’re hosting images straight off your digital camera in JPG format, you’re probably wasting bandwidth. By changing the format to GIF or PNG, you’ll get images that take up less than half the room.The second way to do this is to simply re-size the images. Some image formats allow you to compress them via changing their quality. This is probably the last thing you’ll want to do, especially if you just spent $300 on a brand new camera and want to show off your images online. However, many newer cameras take pictures that don’t need to be so detailed, so nobody will usually notice a minor decrease in image quality. What they will notice though is faster loading times and your site not getting shut down for overuse of bandwidth.

Lowering Page Views:

This goes for forums mostly, but can also apply to some blogs as well. The idea is to pack as much data on a single page as possible, rather than having a user reload different pages with the same menus over and over again. The bandwidth all those menu buttons and CSS style sheets use adds up after awhile.

One simple trick in a forum environment is to simply increase the amount of posts displayed on one page of a thread. This way when long threads develop, the reader wont have to load a new page every 10 posts. And since most people use broadband internet today anyway, they’ll enjoy the fact that they can just load most of the thread all at once rather than having to click the “next page” button over and over again. So you’re basically killing two birds with one stone here by making both your web host and visitors happy.

Server-Side Scripting:

Not a lot of people know this, but most things JavaScript does PHP can do as well. Why is this important? Well, server side scripts are stored and run on the server. At no point in time do the scripts get transferred to the client’s computer. Notice the keyword here: “Transfer”. By limiting the transfer of these scripts and keeping them on the server’s computer to run, less bandwidth is taken up.

In most cases with sites that use JavaScript heavily, most of this programming can be done on the server. Not only does this reduce bandwidth usage and make scripts load faster, but it also keeps scripts more in uniform. Have you ever notice how some JavaScript scripts act different depending on what browser the client is using? Using server-side scripting eliminates this issue because no matter what Internet browser the visitor has, the server remains the same.

Special Scripts:

Believe it or not, most ActiveX controls and Flash themes are outdated. Due to advancements in common scripting languages, the majority of tasks ActiveX and Flash perform can be done through manual programming. It has also been determined that search engines like Google won’t rank your site as highly as it would without them. Since the robots Google uses aren’t able to read text in Flash, the bot is unable to determine just what your site is about and almost regards it as if it were a blank page.

External File & Media Hosting:

This one is our personal favorite method. There are a lot of services out there that are willing to host your files, videos, and other media documents entirely free of charge. Let’s take YouTube for example. Everyone has seen websites that have those little YouTube videos embedded in them.  Who do you think is uploading those files to your computer? Certainly not the host. The truth is that these files are streamed directly from YouTube to the viewer’s computer. What  you end up with is a video that doesn’t take up any bandwidth, probably loads faster, doesn’t take up any storage room, and users can also easily find your video by searching on YouTube.

A2HostingThere are loads of solutions for pretty much any kind of media type you have. If you’re hosting images, use ImageShack. You can embed those images wherever you want. What about file downloads? Use MediaFire.

So as you can see, there are a ton of ways to limit the amount of bandwidth your website uses. It’s also pretty safe to say that none of them really negatively affect your website either. Some of these methods can even improve your website as well. You don’t have to implement all of them, every little bit will help. So take some time and make a plan as to what your tactics will be to limit bandwidth usage on your website.

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