When your website becomes more popular you will notice that bandwidth usage goes up, especially if you have a limit on your account. The problem is of course down to quite a few things, one of them is images. The more images you have on your site the more bandwidth will be taken up because of the size of the file in use.
If the image is high quality and not optimised for web use you must always check the file size, the bigger the file the more bandwidth will be eaten up. Then of course there is the issue of people hot linking to your images or even to video files you are hosting on your web server. The more these files are used and the more resources they take up the quicker your bandwidth will run out.
Optimising the use of your Bandwidth
The first and easiest thing to do is to look at the image usage on your site and how big these files are. The best size to aim for is around 100k, if you find you are using files that are 500k for example chances are you are going to see a big pull on your bandwidth. Bandwidth is going to be taken up whatever you do, but the best thing to do is to try and get some control over it.
Whenever you upload an image check its dimensions and file size. As an example if you only need an image that is 500 x 400px for example and you are uploading one with a huge resolution then shrinking the image down through CSS this is still going to have a big download file size for your site to have to manage. Edit the image and resize it to the size you want, aim for a file size that is around 100k and you will find that not only will the site itself speed up but less bandwidth will be wasted.
Another thing that can be done is to look at hot linking. This is where somebody has taken the link to your image and is using it on their site; it saves them bandwidth while using yours. You can actually check for this by looking at the backlinks onto your site, if people are linking straight to the image then take action and stop them having access. Hot linking is one of the biggest problems with bandwidth.
When you want to host videos it can seem quite useful to set this up from your server, but a better way to do this is to host your video on an external site. The easiest way would be to use a video hosting site such as YouTube to do this. Make sure you have the rights to show this video of course so no copyright infringement takes place.
Another way to control bandwidth is to also look at cache options for your site. The better cache service you can get the better as this will reduce the total size of the website download itself meaning less bandwidth is used for each hit on the page.
Websites can be both fun and productive but they can also be stressful when you have to juggle the pressure on your bandwidth limits and the multimedia requirements of your site. Control the size of the files that you are allowing to be viewed on your site and your bandwidth will keep in levels that are under your control. Of course when your site increases in size and the bandwidth is affected by the total number of people viewing it there will come a point where you have to either increase your bandwidth or look for options where the bandwidth usage is unlimited.