How To Analyze Traffic (Bandwidth) and Disk Space to Host your Social Media Site

The internet is undoubtedly the busiest street on earth. With thousands of websites and millions of visitors popping up every day, it becomes more complex to manage and maintain a website whose traffic keeps on going with time.

Enter social media and you make it even more complex. Social media site hosting can no longer be done on shared servers because shared hosting is just not the right thing that can scale a web app. Today you may have 100 users using the app, but within a few months, you have no idea on how many zeros will be added behind that number. And it will happen very quickly, which might bring down the entire thing like a house of cards (if you are not prepared for the scale). The impact of hosting a social media site is enormous and it will come from nowhere, not giving you any time for preparation. Before you decide to purchase hosting for your brand new social media site which is about to launch, here are a few things you should take care of.

1. Choose a hosting provider wisely

You should choose a hosting provider that is right for your business (and not randomly choose a hosting company). This is very important for the long-term success of your website. Specifically, you should consider the following factors before you choose a web hosting provider

  • Will this web host meet your minimum uptime requirements?
  • Will this web host scale with your business?
  • Is this web host reputed and dependable?
  • How many data serving points this company has?
  • Does this company provide real-time technical assistance?
  • Should you go for an expensive dedicated hosting or a virtual private server hosting can meet your demands?
  • What hosting platform you need? Is it Windows or Linux VPS?

Does this hosting company provide a smooth transition from one plan to another? So if you get started with shared hosting and want to eventually try a Windows or Linux virtual private server hosting solution, how smooth the transition will be?

These are some, if not all of the factors you should consider before you choose your web hosting company. You can always migrate to another host if things go wrong, but why make the effort of moving from one host to another when a little bit of research will help you time, effort and money?

2. Analyze Bandwidth of Your Social Media website

The first thing you would want to analyze before you launch your social media website is how much bandwidth your web host can provide you, should you get a spike in traffic. The first thing to note here is visitor metrics. You should calculate the following metrics:

  • How many visitors visit your website every day
  • Number of pages per visit
  • Average page size of all the pages on your website.

A typical web page can size anywhere between 30KB to 1MB (depending on the number of embedded images, JavaScript, CSS and other files that the website uses for rendering). On an average one HTML page should not be more than 50 KB in size. So let’s say your website gets 1000 visits every day and each user clicks through 5 pages. Your total bandwidth requirement for any given day would be,

= (1000 X 5 X 50) = 250,000 KB = 250 MB.

What this means is that 250 MB of data is transferred from your web server to the computers of the users who are using your social media site. More the number of users, more will be the bandwidth. So the bandwidth will only rise with time, should your website starts getting big and user engagement increases.

Now that you have figured out the daily bandwidth quota needed for your social media site, it won’t be too hard to calculate a monthly bandwidth range. In our example, it should be around 6000 – 10,000 MB.

You can cross check this data in the cPanel of your existing web host. Just take a look at the Bandwidth section and you should see daily and weekly bandwidth trends. Server logs and Awstats will also provide you useful numbers on how much data is being transferred to your users on any given day.

analyze bandwidth

Before you choose a new web host for your social media website, it would be worthwhile to check with the support team, whether the plan you are taking would support your daily and monthly bandwidth needs. Each hosting plan comes with some bandwidth limitations and you should check this before availing the plan.

If you are choosing a VPS hosting plan to host your social media website, make choice of your VPS hosting provider wisely.Things like uptime management, reliability, technical assistance, caching, billing can get really messy if you choose a provider without doing prior research.

3.  Analyzing Disk Space

Most web hosting plans come with fixed disk space usage and depending on the plan you subscribe to, your disk space is allocated. But here is an important point to note.

When you choose a web hosting plan on a shared server, the entire disk space is not allocated to your website. Disk space is allocated in batches, depending on the needs of the website. So if your web hosting plan provides you 10GB of disk space and you are using just 200 MB, the initial quota that will be allotted to your website will be around 1GB.

When your usage increases and nears the allotted quota of 1GB, the provider will add more disk space on demand in batches. This is how shared hosting works. Added to this, there are other web host factors to consider before you proceed. If you are hosting your social media website on a shared server, here are a few things you should consider evaluating
The total file size of the framework which you will be using. Ideally, you would want to download all the files of the framework and see how much file size it takes for the server. Let’s take an example to understand.

The total file size of the framework which you will be using. Ideally, you would want to download all the files of the framework and see how much file size it takes for the server. Let’s take an example to understand.

Let us suppose you are using Ruby on Rails to create your social media website. The core files of your application would be anywhere around 85 – 100 MB (at most). This won’t take up much space at all, but you should check the total size of the web application framework which is powering your website.

If you are using Caching plugins, check the size of your cache.

Keep an approximate count of the number of user uploaded image files on your website. If you have 1000 users, it is possible that your website will have images around 4000-8000. If each image takes up 100KB of space, the total disk usage of the image turns out to be 1 GB.

Are you using your own website to host user-uploaded videos or other file types? Keep an approximate count of these files as well and calculate the file size per user. This will give you some idea of the disk space used by each user on an aggregate, so you will be able to calculate how much disk size you need as you scale up your social media site.

You can get a rough idea about disk space already consumed by your website from your hosting cPanel. Given below is a rough disk usage of a blog with 2000 pages:

analyze disk

Keep in mind the scale factor. As you scale your social media site, the disk space usage will rise exponentially and you will need to upgrade your disk space very quickly. Otherwise, it is possible that a sudden influx of traffic will crash your entire website down.

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Written by:
Shezagary has been a Project Strategist since 2009 and also involved in the launching of startups and tech companies in New York for over 5 years. She has keen interest in writing her own experiences about business plans and upcoming business supporting technologies. She loves public speaking.
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