Every hosting account has a certain allotment of disk space. The disk space is used to hold all the files which make up your web site – HTML files, graphics, scripts, and multi-media content. Usually the more expensive the hosting package the more disk space and the more bandwidth you receive.
A basic web site with just a few pages requires less than 1 MB of disk space. As you add more content and include things like downloadable files, pictures, music, and video you will require more disk space. Email also takes up disk space. If you have an account with a small disk allotment you may find that unsolicited SPAM may be eating away at your disk allotment. It’s always a good idea to go through your inbox from time to time to delete unnecessary emails.
What will happen if you use too much disk space? Each web host has their own policy about this but it’s safe to say that you will be charged for the extra space. Often this penalty is much higher than regular rates for disk space so it’s important to keep an eye on how much space you are using and if you are approaching the limit, either purchase more space or delete some files.
How can you tell how much space you are using? Most hosting packages have a control panel for making adjustments to almost every aspect of your account. These control panels usually tell you how much disk space is being used and may also rate it against your allotment so you can see at a glance if you are approaching your limit. If your hosting account does not have this feature you can judge the amount of space by downloading your entire site to a folder on your personal computer in order to check how much space it takes.
As a rough guide, consider that an average web page (3 graphics and 2 screen lengths of text) takes about 20 kb (to be generous). At this rate, a hosting package with 10 MB can have about 500 pages. Since most small sites are less than 50 pages 10 MB should be plenty to get started. But what about databases? They are usually calculated separately from your disk allotment but check with your web host to see what their policy is.
If you place music or video files on your website your need for disk space (and bandwidth) starts to take off. A typical 3 minute MP3 file takes about 2.5 to 3 MB of disk space. A short video (very poor quality) can take 1 MB. A good rule of thumb for those wishing to host multimedia is to estimate the total size of the files and get an account with double that space. This will allow for future expansion. Always check with your web host, though, before placing sound or video files on your website. Some have policies against this type of content because it places a strain on the bandwidth allotment – a serious consideration with a shared hosting package.