Everything You Need to Know About Bandwidth


The term “bandwidth” is becoming popular due to advances in cellphone internet capabilities. It’s also an important part of web hosting, especially if you’re a small business and you’re looking for the best solution.

If you’re not quite sure what that means for you, your internet browsing, and your website then that’s okay.

Simply put: bandwidth is usually used to refer to the amount of information that an internet connection can handle.

The larger the bandwidth, the more information that can flow through the connection per second.

However, that’s just “simply put.” There’s still so much more to know about bandwidth. Here’s our guide to help you figure it all out.

What is Bandwidth?

Bandwidth refers to the volume of information per unit of time that a transmission medium (i.e. internet connection) can handle.

If the bandwidth is larger, more data can move faster through it. This is why internet connection is faster with higher bandwidth.

Still with us? To help define bandwidth, imagine this scenario:

You have a regular garden hose. The water that flows out of it is bandwidth. In this case, it’s low bandwidth.

You also have firehose. The water that flows out of it is also bandwidth.

More water flows out of the firehose, right? Yes! The opening to the firehose is larger and allows more water to pass through per second.

This is how bandwidth works, except it’s expressed in bits per second.

This is why you’ll often see your internet provider selling plans in Mbps or Mb/s. This means that the data transfer rate is however many megabits per second.

This is also something that most web hosting providers will list in the details of their plans.

The more megabits that the bandwidth allows you to transfer per second, the faster the connection will be.

So, what does all of this mean for you? Well, it allows you to tweak your own network connection so you can get faster internet when you need it.

That sounds pretty cool, right? It is, especially if you stream a lot of videos or play a lot of video games online.

Understanding the Difference Between Mbps and MBps

They look so similar it’s almost hard not to get confused. However, the next step in understanding bandwidth is understanding the various terms and vocabulary associated with it.

Like anything that’s measured, bandwidth also comes with a unit of measurement. Depending on who you’re asking, they might refer to it in different ways (bytes, kilobytes, megabytes, etc.).

This is similar to expressing how long something is in inches, centimeters, feet, etc. It’s all the same, but with different units of measurement.

When it comes to bandwidth, though, knowing how to convert these units of measurement will help you avoid paying too much for poor internet service.

Let’s say you’re looking for a new internet provider and you see that they have a plan that offers 15 MBs. Becuase there is a capital B, this is referring to megaBYTES. This is different from megaBITS.

Because there are 8 bits in a byte, this means that the bandwidth capabilities of that network would actually be 120 Mbps.

That’s a pretty fast download or upload speed, as Netflix only recommends that you have a 5 Mbps connection for streaming high-definition movies.

When it comes to your website hosting needs, experts say that 5 GB of bandwidth per month is sufficient for 20,000 visitors a month. If your website becomes more popular, you can always increase your bandwidth speed.

How to Check Your Bandwidth

There are many ways to test your bandwidth. The easiest way is to perform an internet speed test.

Even though internet speed test sites can be pretty accurate, they’re not always the best way to truly check your bandwidth.

These sites will give you an upload and download speed. This simply means how many megabits you can either upload or download per second. The higher the speed, the faster you can upload files.

If your download speed is 8 Mbps, then you can download 8 megabits of information per second. There are 8,000 megabits in 1 GB of information. So, it would take about 1,000 seconds, or roughly 16.5 minutes to download 1 GB of information.

This is helpful for calculating how long it will take to download a large file from the internet or to load a move on your computer.

If someone else on your network is downloading the same file, it would double the time because the network only allows for a certain amount of data to pass through at any given time.

The network would have to share the bandwidth between the two downloads. This is why your internet might seem like it’s lagging when there are multiple people trying to use it all at once.

Increasing your bandwidth is a simple way to download or share files faster.

However, this depending on what you’re doing on your computer and what kind of pages you have on your website. You might not need that much more out of your bandwidth speed.

Starting a blog that doesn’t feature a lot of media won’t require that much bandwidth, for example.

How Much Bandwidth Do You Need?

How much bandwidth you need depends on what you’re doing on the internet. So, it’s easier to break this down by activity.

Video Streaming

Streaming tends to take up the most amount of bandwidth. This means that if you live in a household where multiple people are likely to be streaming videos all at once, you’ll want to pay for a higher speed.

Netflix recommends:

  • 3 Mbps if you plan on streaming normal-quality video from one computer
  • 5 Mbps if you plan on streaming high-quality video from one computer
  • 10 Mbps if you’re going to stream high-quality video from more than one source at a time

While these are just suggestions, they’re pretty accurate. If you need to download, upload, share files and browse the web while streaming video, then you’ll definitely need to search for a plan with a higher speed.

Online Gaming

When it comes to gaming, a connection with low latency is actually more important than the bandwidth speed.

Latency is the time it takes data to travel from one node to another. In gaming terms, this is the time it takes your computer to talk to the gaming server.

You can get away with a bandwidth speed of about 1-3 Mbps as long as the latency is low.

File Sharing

This isn’t as much of an issue for small companies on the backend of things. Bandwidth comes into play for businesses usually when it comes time to share files across a network.

Video production companies or any business that has to transfer large media or photo files will need to ensure their bandwidth speed is higher.

Companies who frequently upload or download large files will need to invest in a plan of at least 50 Mbps.

Getting What You Need

It’s important to note here that, the bandwidth speed you need isn’t always what you get.

Even if you purchase a 50 Mbps/month plan, it doesn’t mean that the bandwidth speed will always be 50 Mbps.

Speed can change depending on the quality of your hardware, the network demand, and even the presence of viruses or unnecessary add-ons.

It’s best to be transparent with your internet provider and let them know what’s more important to you. Will you be doing a lot of video conferencing or simply live streaming videos for your employees in the office?

All of this is great to consider when figuring out how much bandwidth you need for a business or small office.

Managing Your Bandwidth

If you’re at the office and see that your internet is lagging, there are ways that you can manage your bandwidth speed.

As long as your internet provider and hosting provider are both up-to-date on their infrastructure and providing you with your own dedicated server, there are certainly ways to increase your upload and download speed.

This is bandwidth control. It allows you to limit the amount of bandwidth that the program can use at one time.

Individuals and companies usually use this when they want to use the internet to complete a task but they don’t need it to be running at full speed.

For example, if you want to download a really large video file that a client has sent you, you can use a download manager program to limit the bandwidth.

You can instruct it to only use 10% of the available bandwidth. This will obviously mean that the download will take much longer, but it will free up more space to let others use the bandwidth at an acceptable speed.

This is especially helpful if you have a lot of employees doing many things at once. Limiting each employee to a certain percentage of bandwidth speed can help ensure that one person isn’t hogging all of the power.

Certain programs and software support bandwidth control naturally on your computer. You might find these in:

  • Your computer’s Download Manager function
  • Online backup services
  • Cloud storage services
  • Torrenting programs
  • Routers

Any time you are using a program or software that processes large amounts of data, such as content marketing software, you’ll likely find that there is some function to limit the use of bandwidth.

Maximizing Your Bandwidth

You can use network bandwidth monitors to monitor your bandwidth. There are three main ways you can use a monitor of this type:

  • Control the data flow through your internet connection
  • Streamline data from one point to another
  • Optimize data so it consumes less than the full amount

Sounds very similar to bandwidth control, right? It’s basically the same thing.

There are a few other ways you can maximize the speed, power, and efficiency of your bandwidth. Altering your internet connection, in general, can help improve things.

WiFi is great, but if you have the ability to do so, wired ethernet can provide you with a much stronger connection.

This is especially helpful if you plan on transferring files between devices.

Experts note that if you are working with an internet connection of over 25 Mbps, you’ll receive better transfer speeds if you can connect directly to the ethernet cables.

The next solution would be to employ the help of a bandwidth control manager. However, you can set it to monitor specific aspects of your computer’s functions.

If you give services priority, for example, it will let you set bandwidth priorities for different applications. You can add or remove these applications from a list if you know which programs you need to work faster on.

Netmask priority is another way to direct bandwidth to where you want it to go. This will give priority to IP addresses that you add to a list.

This is great for companies that want to give priority to certain computers in the office or certain departments that need to upload and download things faster.

It All Starts with Hosting

Now that you understand a little more about bandwidth, it’s important to go right back to the start.

You can’t optimize your website’s speed or worry about your office’s connectivity unless you first have a great hosting provider.

This is crucial when setting up your company’s network, and it will set the stage for success later down the road.

Be sure to take a look at the monthly data transfer allowance and ensure that it will work for your company’s needs.

This could affect the types of transfers you can make in the future regardless of the kind of bandwidth you have with your internet provider.

If you’re not sure where to start, you can take a look at our hosting plans and get in touch regarding your needs. We’ll be happy to direct you to the plan that suits you and your needs best.