About Web Hosting Bandwidth and Server Load
If you own an active website, two hosting issues you’ll definitely comes across are bandwidth and server load.
It is interesting to note that the term Bandwidth carries two meanings. Firstly it defines the magnitude of data that can be transferred to and from the server at any given point, hence the total network capacity available for users on a server. Secondly it also relates to the total limit of data transfer allowed for each user in a given month.
Any activity that you perform on the server causes consumption of bandwidth. For example each file you upload or download, any email you send or receive, any web pages that visitors to your website access etc, all of these actions result in network traffic being utilized.
Web hosting firms devise their plans and packages in a way that there’s a limit to total bandwidth that a customer can consume in a month. This makes sure that other users on the shared server also have enough traffic for their website visitors and that hosting companies themselves do not end up buying more bandwidth from their uplink provider.
The other important aspect affecting the performance of your website is server load. While server load has many definitions, it generally refers to the utilization of CPU. Just like every computer has a central processing unit to process instructions received from various applications, a web server also has a CPU that is central to its performance.
Anything you perform on the server adds some load even if very trivial to the CPU. In wider sense, the server load also refers to usage of other components like main memory, hard disk drives etc that are mistakenly taken as part of the CPU.
A request to visit a web page may result in server’s disk drive getting busy fetching files associated to that page from different locations, passing it to the main memory for visitor retrieval. While delivering web pages is a simple task, add customized scripts and web based database solutions in this scenario and very soon you’ll realize how tedious it becomes for the CPU to allocate limited memory among the competing requests.
Life would be much easier if all users on a shared server start to care about the load they are pushing onto the server, however generally that is not the case. Therefore it is important for you to learn if the shared server your website is hosted on is going under heavy load and stress caused by other users. Most of the times it’s only a small number of users that place the server undress stress and only the system admin can figure out who they are. What you can do is ask your hosting company to move you to another server that is not heavily loaded.
Server load on a shared server is one of the reasons why many website owners prefer to have a dedicated server, specially those with successful websites. On a dedicated server it’s much easier to optimize your html pages and any scripts or database you may have and see the result of this optimization in terms of faster website access and more satisfactory experience for your visitors.