Judging web site size

Website Size, Does it really matter?

The size of your website determines how much disk space you will need with your web hosting account. A website usually comprises HTML pages and images, but can sometimes include files for download, sound, video, animations, and other multimedia elements. Also, database-driven websites can use up more space than a regular website because they can store large amounts of data on the web server.

Disk space is measured in Megabytes (MB). A web hosting account may come with anywhere between 2MB and 200MB of disk space, but more often than not, you will not need a great deal.

An average single HTML page, containing perhaps 6 small optimized photos, might consume 200KB worth of disk space. This means a 2MB web hosting plan might allow for a ten-page website before you need to concern yourself with disk space. That said, many websites do not feature photos on every page; you could easily build a 30-page website without reaching a 2MB disk space limit if you are careful with your photos.

More advanced multimedia has a greater impact on the size of your website. An MP3 audio file can be 1MB per minute, whereas a video could be 10MB per minute (this depends greatly on how well it has been compressed). Animations using media such as Macromedia Flash tend to remain small because they are vector-based – that is, the animation is not saved as a series of images; rather, an instruction set on what to draw. However, animations that contain real photos will grow rapidly in size.

Storing files on your website for download by your visitors can be a helpful tool, provided you take care not to exceed your allocated disk space. PDF documents and ZIP files are commonly put on a website as downloadable files, but they tend to be quite large; so make decisions on whether a file is really necessary.

If you plan to design a graphic-intensive website, or one with heavy reliance on animations, movies and sound; you will want to carefully consider the web host through whom you purchase hosting. Web hosts charge differently for disk space, and some might be more affordable for the type of requirements of your website.

Also remember that large files use more bandwidth to transfer, hence, it will dramatically increase the data transfer of your web hosting account. Take this into consideration when choosing a web host. Consider placing large files behind a password-protected directory so that only those visitors to whom you grant access may download the files.

Database-driven websites add to the size of your server space used. Often a web host will combine the disk space used by your website and the associated database, so take care with the type of information you store in your database to ensure it does not create an unwanted size surprise.

Tips on reducing the size of your website:
* Optimize your photos and graphics by ensuring they are saved in the correct format (jpg or gif) and are suitably compressed
* Remove old or redundant files from your website
* Protect download directories by using .htaccess files
* Prevent unwanted directory listings by using .htaccess files.