There’s a lot to think about when you’re configuring a new server, but networking options seem to cause the most confusion. What does bandwidth mean? Do I need an unmetered server? How much is bandwidth usage going to cost me? What is the amount of bandwidth that I may need?
In this article, we’re going to answer your networking questions and explain what you need to know to choose the right bandwidth plan for your server.
See Also: ServerMania Cloud Servers
Networking Jargon Explained
There are a few key concepts you should understand about a server’s network connection: upload and download, bandwidth, port speed, and the difference between metered and unmetered connections.
Hosting providers may use different words for the same concepts, but in what follows, on our cloud and dedicated server order pages, and in the cloud control panel, we use the following definitions:
Download and Upload
In the context of server hosting, downloading is transferring data from your server hosting provider to the internet. If you host a website, the user downloads web pages. If you host videos users stream from your server, they are downloading the video data.
Upload is the opposite, data is transferred over the network to your server. When you put a video on your server, you are uploading the video data.
Another way to think about the same idea is data ingress and egress. Data ingress is when data enters our network and goes to your server via its network interface — this is uploading. Data egress is when data from your server goes through its network interface out onto the internet — this is downloading.
In both, data travels through the server’s network interface and is counted towards bandwidth use.
Network bandwidth, often shortened to bandwidth, is the amount of data uploaded to or downloaded from your server in a month on the server's internet connection, measured in Terabytes. A bandwidth plan determines how much data you can transfer without paying extra, just like the bandwidth cap on your phone’s mobile data contract.
Bandwidth does not tell you how fast the server’s network connection is — that is the role of port speed. Network bandwidth can be either metered, meaning that there is a fixed amount of terabytes that may be transferred each month, or unmetered.
See Also: High Bandwidth Servers
Port speed, or simply speed, is the maximum data that can be transferred to and from your server in a second, measured in Gigabits per second (Gbps). It is determined by the capabilities of the server’s network card and the switches and routers that connect it to the internet.
This isn’t a perfect comparison, but you can think about port speeds in the same way you think about your phone’s mobile data network: LTE and 4G let you download faster and download more at the same time than 3G, and 5G is even faster.
Port speed affects:
- How quickly data is transferred: a user can, all else being equal, download a video file hosted on your server much faster with a 10 Gbps port than with a 1 Gbps port.
- The number of concurrent connections the port supports. A faster port supports more simultaneous downloads and uploads.
A port speed of 10 Gb per second is the port’s theoretical maximum, but that doesn’t mean a user experiences a constant and consistent download speed of 10 Gbps. Network latency and distance impact download speeds, and the networks between your server and the user, the user’s ISP, and their local network may not support data transfer at that speed.
However, a 10 Gbps network does offer much faster uploading and downloading than a 1Gbps port, while providing low-latency connectivity to many more users at the same time.
What port speed do I need?
The required port speeds depends upon the exact nature of your server. A media streaming server that has thousands of connected users will have larger requirements than a simple website running WordPress. For the majority of our users, 1Gbps is more than enough capacity for their needs.
ServerMania Dedicated and Cloud servers both include bandwidth options with a 1Gbps connection as the standard port speed. On Dedicated Servers in London, Los Angeles, and NYC Metro, port speeds up to 50Gbps are also available. Depending on how much bandwidth your server consumes and how many users connect to the server at any given time, these higher port speeds allow you to alleviate network congestion. This is especially important for applications such as a Content Delivery Network or VPN provider.
Metered and Unmetered Plans
On a metered bandwidth plan, you decide how much bandwidth you need and we monitor how much you use. Provided you don’t exceed the plan’s allocation, you pay a flat rate for all uploading and downloading. If you do exceed it, you pay extra for the additional data transfer.
Unmetered bandwidth is available on some Dedicated Server plans for clients with large or unpredictable bandwidth consumption. On an unmetered plan, clients can transfer as much data as their port speed allows.
Unmetered plans are ideal for media businesses that stream large amounts of video and other organizations that transfer high volumes of data.
How to Choose a Bandwidth allocation for your server
The right bandwidth and port speed for your server depend on the applications and files you intend to host and the number of users they support. The best way to choose is to measure how much data you currently use before selecting a suitable bandwidth allocation and port speed.
Network monitoring tools can help you to figure out the best plan. On Linux, you can choose between several command-line network monitoring tools, including iftop, nload, and bmon — all of which are available from distribution repositories.
Choose a bandwidth allocation that comfortably supports the amount of data you regularly transfer in a month, with a margin to account for unexpected spikes in bandwidth use.
Dedicated Server Data Transfer
We offer bandwidth usage plans that range from 20 Terabytes per month to 100 Terabytes per month and unmetered bandwidth plans for clients with large bandwidth needs. Bandwidth plans can be modified at any time by opening a support ticket or contacting our support team if bandwidth consumption requirements change.
Dedicated Server Port Speed
Most ServerMania Dedicated Servers have 1 Gbps ports, enough for web and app hosting unless there are large numbers of concurrent users or frequent transfers of large data files such as videos.
For clients that need more speed, we offer 10 Gbps unmetered ports on selected server specifications that we tailor to the unique needs of each client. Use cases that may benefit from 10 Gbps port speeds include:
- Storage and back-up servers can take advantage of a fast computer network connection to reduce upload and download time for large data files.
- Media streaming, especially video streaming, may require substantially higher data throughput than a 1 Gbps port can support.
- VPN and CDN servers may need to support many thousands of concurrent connections at low latencies.
Cloud Data Transfer and Port Speed
All cloud web hosting servers have a 1 Gbps port speed, so you only have to choose the amount of bandwidth you need. You can choose from 1 TB to 20 TB. If you use more, you pay $0.01 per Gigabyte. You can monitor your bandwidth use and manage bandwidth plans in the ServerMania Cloud control panel.
If you have further questions about choosing the right bandwidth plan for your web hosting server, don’t hesitate to contact us — we’re always happy to help.