If, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is that in Megabytes? This is something you might want to know, if you store words, pictures, and videos on your website, and your monthly hosting cost is based on your site’s data transfer rate.

Oakley Studio offers nine “Levels” of hosting all based on how much data you website is sending to visitors. That data is measured in Megabytes (MB) or in much larger Gigabytes (GB). But how much is a Megabyte? How much is a Gigabyte? This blog post will help you understand MB and GB in terms of words, pictures, and video. We’ll do some simple estimates, starting with Bytes (B) and Kilobytes (KB). Here is how these chunks of data are related:

1,000B = 1KB
1,000K = 1MB
1,000MB = 1GB

(NOTE: This is an approximation which makes the math a whole lot easier.*)

A Website Is a Collection of Pages

Page of Text. A page of text with a thousand words is just about 5 Kilobytes in size.

Now let’s consider a page full of text – a thousand words of text. Each word, on average, is 5 letters, and each letter is 1B. Each word is 5B. So then a thousand words is 5,000B, or 5K. Suppose that’s the only page on your website, and it gets viewed 200 times every day. Then 5K * 200 views = 1,000KB or 1MB per day. That’s the “data transfer rate” for your one-page website. Of course most websites are a collection of many pages. Let’s suppose your website actually has 20 pages which are all visited 200 times per day. (All together that’s 4,000 page views.) Then your data rate for the entire website is on average about 20MB per day.

A website with 4,000 page views per day means visitors to the site are viewing about 120,000 pages per month. Suppose you have 3,000 core visitors who like to drop by maybe five times a month (about once or twice a week) to read a few pages on your site. You have 3,000 visitors * 5 visits per month = 15,000 total visits per month, to view 120,000 pages on your site. Then each visitor is viewing about 8 pages per visit. That’s pretty decent traffic and readership. Nice going!

Text with Pictures. Markup indicates filesize of text vs images.

If a Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words…

Next, let’s consider pictures. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then it’s the same size (in data) as a full page of text. That’s 5K. (This is actually a pretty small picture, but let’s go with it.) And suppose you have, on average 3 pictures on each of your 20 pages. That’s 60 pictures on your website, which are all viewed 200 times a day. Then 5K * 60 pictures * 200 views = 60,000K or 60MB per day. Add that to your 20 pages of text: 20MB + 60MB = 80MB per day. Already you can see that pictures will contribute a lot more to your data rate than plain old text. But don’t worry – a website that is sending an average of 80MB per day to its visitors is still Level 1 – “Startup” hosting and costs just $17 per month. That’s a price any startup business can handle.

What About Video?

Text with Pictures & Video. Video files are huge compared to text and pictures.

Finally let’s consider video. A video is essentially a stack of pictures viewed really fast. Typical video “frame rate” is 30 frames (pictures) per second. Say you post a 33-second video on one of your pages. How much data is that? You’ll see that 30 frames of video * 33 seconds = 990 frames. We ought to round that up and call it 1,000 frames. We could then say that a video is worth about a thousand pictures. And if a picture is 5K, then a short video is 5,000K or 5MB. That 30-second video adds 5MB of data transfer to a page every time it gets viewed.

Going with our previous website example, maybe you have only 2 pages on your website that present a short video. But those two pages are each viewed 200 times per day. That’s 400 video views in one day, adding a whopping 2,000MB or 2GB of data transfer per day. Add that to your previous 80MB per day and your website is no longer Level 1. At 2.08GB per day, your website is now Level 5! Adding those two 30-second videos to your website is like adding 2,000 pictures on top of the 60 pictures and 200 pages of text that were already there. Do you want to spend and extra $82 per month to host those two videos on your website? Probably not.

Video Hosting on YouTube, Vimeo, Google, or Amazon

Instead of hosting those videos on your own website, upload them to a video hosting service for a lot less money. Video hosting services use specialized servers and really big pipes to deliver huge amounts of data at very low cost. Some, like YouTube, are entirely free – supported by advertising. Video hosting services allow you to embed your videos on your web pages, and visitors to your site can watch them without having to leave your website. Video hosting provides a great service to website owners who really need to present videos on their website while avoiding the high cost of hosting those huge video files on web servers that are not suited to hosting video.

Stress-Testing Oakley Studio Web Servers

Every year we have one or more clients who host videos on their websites and then are surprised when their monthly hosting bill goes sky high. They did not realize that a picture is worth a thousand words, and that a video is worth a thousand pictures. Video – even as short as 30 seconds – is a huge chunk of data. But don’t worry; our servers can handle it if you really want to host videos on your own Oakley Studio website. It will stress-test our servers to the limit, and we will respond quickly by moving your website to its own server. (Yes, Level 8 and Level 9 websites get their own server!) But we’ve been pleased with how well our cloud-based servers are able to handle huge bandwidth and deliver video.

That sort of unplanned server stress-testing has helped us get a better idea of the optimal load we can put on our servers, and we adjust CPU speed, server Memory, and available Bandwidth to help handle extreme loads. We will have more to say about “Load Optimization” in an upcoming blog post.

Starting in 2021 we are dramatically increasing the bandwidth (data rate) thresholds for each hosting Level. For those clients that really do want to host their own videos, we say bring it on! And for those who don’t (or do so “by accident”) we provide guidance and coaching to help reign in the costs by switching to a video hosting service instead.


* For those who like the details, a Kilobyte is actually 1,024 Bytes. This blog post is about 1,150 words, and contains three pictures.