Managing Bandwidth and Disc Space on Your WordPress Blog

By Lisa Sabin-Wilson

One thing you will need to consider in the early stages for your WordPress blog is a web-hosting service. Web-hosting services provide two very important things with your WordPress account:

  • Disk space

  • Bandwidth transfer

Think of your web host as a garage that you pay to park your car in. The garage gives you the place to store your car (disk space). It even gives you the driveway so that you, and others, can get to and from your car (bandwidth).

It won’t, however, fix your rockin’ stereo system (WordPress or any other third-party software application) that you’ve installed — unless you’re willing to pay a few extra bucks for that service.

Managing disk space

Disk space is nothing more complicated than the hard drive on your computer. Each hard drive has the capacity, or space, for a certain number of files. An 80GB (gigabyte) hard drive can hold 80GB of data — no more. Your hosting account provides you a limited amount of disk space, and the same concept applies.

If your web host provides you 10GB of disk space, that’s the limit on the file size that you’re allowed to have. If you want more disk space, you need to upgrade your space limitations. Most web hosts have a mechanism in place for you to upgrade your allotment.

Starting out with a self-hosted WordPress blog doesn’t take much disk space at all. A good starting point for disk space is between 10 and 20GB of storage space. If you need additional space, contact your hosting provider for an upgrade.

Choosing the size of your bandwidth “pipe”

Bandwidth refers to the amount of data that is carried from point A to point B within a specific period. Consider living in the country. You would get your water from a private well. Between the house and the well are pipes that bring the water into your house. The pipes provide a free flow of water to your home so that everyone can enjoy their long, hot showers.

The very same concept applies to the bandwidth available with your hosting account. Every web-hosting provider offers a variety of bandwidth limits on the accounts it offers. When you want to view your website in your browser window, the bandwidth is essentially the “pipe” that lets your data flow from your “well” to your computer and appear on your monitor.

The bandwidth limit is kind of like the pipe connected to your well: It can hold only a certain amount of water before it reaches maximum capacity and won’t bring the water from the well any longer.

Your bandwidth pipe size is determined by how much bandwidth your web host allows for your account — the larger the number, the bigger the pipe. A 50MB bandwidth limit makes for a smaller pipe than does a 100MB limit.

Web hosts are pretty generous with the amount of bandwidth they provide in their packages. Like disk space, bandwidth is measured in gigabytes (GB). Bandwidth provision of 10 to 50GB is generally a respectable amount to run a website with a blog.

Websites that run large files — such as video, audio, or photo files — generally benefit from more disk space (compared with sites that don’t have large files). Keep this point in mind when you’re signing up for your hosting account: If your site requires big files, you need more space. Planning now will save you a few headaches down the road.