How to Identify Your Bandwidth Usage
What is bandwidth?
The term bandwidth refers to the rate of data transfer for a fixed period of time (usually measured in bits per second). This measurement is often used for billing purposes for services such as web hosting or a content delivery network. There are two types of bandwidth transfer, outbound and inbound, both of which are explained in the section below:
- Outbound Bandwidth is consumed when the server sends assets to the visitor (e.g. a response to a request for a style.css file from a client).
- Inbound Bandwidth is consumed when data is coming into the server (e.g. if a client uploads a file to the server).
Some services combine both the Inbound and Outbound bandwidth used to generate a total bandwidth amount, others take the greater of both values to define the "total" amount. Knowing the amount of bandwidth you use for your web project can be useful when calculating how much it will cost for a service, such as a CDN. The next section will show a couple of examples of how to identify bandwidth usage amounts if you are using a web hosting provider.
Identifying bandwidth usage from your hosting provider
Many hosting providers often have a section where you can view the amount of bandwidth you used in a given time period. If your hosting provider caps the amount of bandwidth available in your hosting plan, you can use this information to help avoid bandwidth limit exceeded errors.
If you are using cPanel, your bandwidth information can be found in the dashboard on the left-hand column.
As can be seen, the current monthly bandwidth transfer amount is 7.02GB. This hosting plan does not restrict the amount of bandwidth you can use, however this value is still important for determining the cost of other services.
With Vultr, you can also see the total monthly bandwidth amounts. This usage graphs provide you with a bit more information regarding the amount of bytes sent / bytes received on a daily basis.
Vultr determines the total monthly bandwidth usage by selecting the larger number from either inbound or outbound.
DigitalOcean displays bandwidth usage a little differently. Instead of showing your aggregated total amount of bandwidth, a graph displays the amount of bandwidth used across particular time periods.
With the method, you can find out how much bandwidth you used during an average day and then multiply that amount by 30 to estimate your bandwidth usage for the month.
Alternatively, there do exist other tools for monitoring the amount of bandwidth you use on your web hosting server. For example, vnStat is a console-based network traffic monitor for Linux that keeps a log of your network traffic. This allows you to later go in and see how much bandwidth was consumed for a given time period.
Identifying CDN bandwidth usage
If you are not yet using a CDN provider and are unsure of how much it will cost, you can use the bandwidth amounts found through your hosting provider (like the process we used above). Once you have the bandwidth value for the month, you can enter it into KeyCDN's pricing calculator. Since static content often accounts for 80% or more of a static website, the bandwidth value you receive from your hosting account will most likely be a good approximation of what to use to estimate your CDN pricing.