What is Data Transfer?

Data transfer is a term that is sometimes used by web hosting companies interchangeably with bandwidth.

But it's actually a little bit different.

If you remember we talked about bandwidth as being analogous with a highway - with the number of lanes in the highway representing the bandwidth. data transfer

Data transfer is the amount of data that the server moves up and down that highway for you during a particular time period - usually per month.

Let me give you an example to help this concept make sense in everyday life.

Let's say you have a web site on organic windowbox gardening.

You have it hosted with a company we will call Big Web Hosting Company.

You have a few regular visitors to your site. Each time they visit one of your pages the server needs to transfer more data. Updating your site also requires the transfer of data. The web hosting company keeps track of how much data transfer your site has perfomed each month.

As long as the total amount transferred in each month remains below a certain level things are fine.

Your hosting company measures your data transfer each month

Let's say your web site becomes more and more popular. You are advertising about the benefits of organic gardening and getting much more traffic to your site (many more visitors). And those visitors are looking at many more pages in your web site each time they visit.

Or you start a blog on your web site and many people begin to visit your site in anticipation of the next update.

As long as the data transfer used each month stays below a certain level, things are ok. And your hosting company Big Web Hosting Company remains happy.

What if you go over your limit?

However, once you start to exceed a predetermined amount in a particular month, one of four things will happen - depending on the details of your hosting plan and on what hosting company you are with.

  • Your site will shut down and people who try to visit will see an announcement to that effect. It is often a nasty sounding sign too - such as this site is not available due to overusage of data transfer limits. (Makes it sound almost criminal doesn't it?) (and NOT good for business image)
  • Your site will continue to run as usual but you will be billed for the extra - usually at a special high rate!
  • Someone from your hosting company will contact you to suggest or require that you change to a higher data usage plan - at a somewhat higher monthly rate than you are now paying
  • Nothing will happen because you have a plan with your hosting company that already allows for unlimited bandwidth or unlimited data transfer.

Keep in mind however, that if your site becomes hugely successful and receives a very large amount of traffic - say you appear on Oprah - or Larry King Live - even "unlimited" hosting plans have clauses in them that do in fact restrist the usage and require additional payment or switching of plans or maybe even require you to change hosting companies.

I am sure you have heard of large amounts of traffic "crashing" a server after the appearance of a previously little known person or small business being featured on such a show.

If this happens to you, fantastic!

I am sure the extra charges will pale in terms of the extra sales and publicity you are enjoying.

A confession - I must admit that for myself, due to an unwarranted fear of each of my web sites becoming overwhelming famous - LOL - I have tended towards hosting with unlimited data transfer plans. Especially when they are reasonably priced. You know. Just in case.


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