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Where is the disk space being used?
Thursday, January 2nd, 2020

Summary: If your intention is to use your web hosting account mainly for your website and your website relies mostly on HTML, PHP Scripts, and images – then the amount of disk space you really need may be minimal. Sure, more disk space for the same price might be appealing – but are you ever going to need that disk space? Why not focus on other server peripherals, like disk space, server response time, server reliability, and hosting provider reputation when choosing a web hosting provider?

In a previous post we learned that the average disk space being used by our accounts is right at 1.8GB. That kind of makes you wonder why web hosting companies are trying to sell you gobs of disk space that you do not need and will likely never use. A better approach might be to consider a reasonable amount of disk space on super fast solid state disks that do not have any moveable parts and can provide super fast load and response times.

To take this a step further, we decided to take a look at where specifically the disk space is being used on these accounts. If an average account is using 1.8GB of disk space – where is that disk space being used at and for what purpose? The results were interesting to us.

How did we conduct this survey? Well for this survey, we couldn’t take a look at all of our accounts… there was just too many. So we took a look at 100 random accounts that were using between 1.5GB and 5.5GB of disk space. Then from that we broke down the disk space usage into 8 categories: HTML Files, PHP Files, Mail, Image Files, Video Files, Zip files, Tar.gz files, and then any Other files. Did we mis-characterize some files? Probably. But our hope is that since we took 100 random samples, then the chances of this skewing the results is slim.


What’s interesting about these results is that far and away the largest percentage of the disk space is being used by email stored on the account. This is not all that surprising that this is the case, but the surprising part is by how much. The 43.3% being used by mail is over twice of the disk usage of the next category – the hard to define Other category – and over 3 times more than the next highest, Images. This tells us that mail is a huge part of web hosting when it comes to disk space storage.

The other takeaway from this is just how little HTML and PHP files factor into this, about 2.6% of the disk space is used by these two file types.

Video storage was small at 3.2% but this also factors into what type of website you are going to be using. The majority of websites are not video specific – only 31 of the 100 accounts had any videos to count. The issue with video is that if your website is heavily reliant on video, chances are really good that you are going to know about this and you’re going to have a much firmer grip on what your disk space needs are. The purpose of this study is more for general use – people that may not understand exactly how much disk space they need or where it’s being used.

Zip files, Tar.gz files, and likely a lot of the files in the Other category refer to mostly backup files – where users may choose to keep a backup of their account or script readily available on their web hosting account. A lot of times this space can be reclaimed if the user will download the backup files to their own computer for save keeping and delete the copy on the web hosting server.

This study was definitely interesting. And it gives us food for thought on how we might be better able to offer plans to better fit our customers needs. The big takeaway from all of this… if you’re puzzled by just how much disk space you really need for a web hosting plan… first consider if you’re website is going to be hosting a lot of videos, if it’s not then consider how you can manage the email accounts you expect to host on the account. Can you manage the disk space being used for those accounts? Perhaps even consider an alternative mail setup – we can help you with that. Outside of those two items – your disk space needs are probably going to be a lot less than you may see advertised with other web hosting providers. Consider other factors, like speed of the disks, are they SSD? Has that web hosting company been in business long enough to be equipped to handle factors like these?

There are a lot of factors that go into choosing a reliable web hosting provider. We encourage people to take a deeper look at what different web hosting providers offer instead of just focusing on the “bigger is better” in terms of raw numbers.

How much disk space do you really need?
Wednesday, November 27th, 2019

Summary: How much disk space do you really need for a web hosting account? This is a common question and isn’t always obvious to a casual observer. As with any question, seeking out information is the best way to answer these questions. You might see a web hosting offer with a boatload of disk space, but if you’re never going to use that much disk space does it make better sense to spend money on smaller amounts with a reputable and support-oriented company? Does it make sense to focus more on the speed of the disk space and web hosting than to throw money at disk space you’re never going to use? We found that the average disk space used by our clients is only 1.8GB and 77% of our client base falls under this amount. So chances are really good that you’re never going to use over 1.8GB of disk space on a web hosting account. Interesting in how we calculated this? Keep reading.

To take a closer look at this – we used statistics to get an idea of how much disk space is being used and how it is being used.

To start – we have a small confession to make – the actual average disk space used per account is 2.9GB, but this figure incorporates some really large accounts. This tends to happen when you’ve been in the web hosting business for more than 20 years. So why the difference between 1.8GB and 2.9GB? The answer… statistical favorite – standard deviation.

Standard deviation tells you how close together a group of numbers are. If all the numbers in your group are the same – that’s going to yield a standard deviation of 0. The closer your numbers are to each other, the closer the standard deviation is going to be to 0.

When we take the standard deviation of the full set of account disk space used – the group that averages 2.9GB of disk space used – we get a standard deviation of 12GB. That seems quite a bit high! When we cut off just the top 2% of our disk space users – leaving just the bottom 98% – we get an average disk space usage of 1.8GB and a standard deviation of 3.7GB. That standard deviation is still probably a little high – meaning that we could probably cut this some more to get an even better representation of the casual user – but you can see that by cutting just the top 2% off, the standard deviation of the remaining group drops down by over 8GB. What does all of this mean? Well, for the purpose of this exercise we’re going to consider the top 2% of our users as a special case – these are users that, for whatever reason, use a ton of disk space (they average about 57GB) and they don’t represent the vast majority of our users. Chances are, if you’re using this much disk space… you’re not a casual observer and you know that you are using a lot of disk space.

In statistics, measurements are made in terms of how many standard deviations a subset of values is over the average. For example, if our average disk usage is 1.8GB and the standard deviation is 3.7GB, then 5.5GB (1.8+3.7) would be +1 standard deviation over the average, 9.2GB (1.8+3.7+3.7) would be +2 standard deviations over the average. This breaks down as follows:

+1 Standard Deviations5.5GB
+2 Standard Deviations9.2GB
+3 Standard Deviations12.9GB
+4 Standard Deviations16.6GB

How does this break down in terms of percent of users using less than these amounts?

Less than 1.8GB77%
Less than 5,5GB90%
Less than 9.2GB95%
Less than 12.9GB97%
Less than 16.6GB98%

This means to the casual observer, there is a 90% chance you’re never going to use over 5.5GB of disk space on your web hosting account. Sure an offer of 50GB of disk space might look enticing, but what are you giving up for that deal? Is the web hosting company reputable? How long have they been in business? Can they answer your support related questions? Are they using SSD disks for blazing fast disk I/O? Are they just using a big number to try and hook you in? Knowing exactly how much disk space you need can help you make a better informed decision.

At BlazingHost we offer plans with disk space amounts of 3GB, 7GB, 10GB, and 15GB. These numbers were chosen specifically based on the data we have of current disk space usage. When you look at our disk space offerings and the percent of our client base that falls under each category:

Less than 3GB85%
Less than 7GB93%
Less than 10GB95%
Less than 15GB98%

We make an effort to give all of our clients an affordable option that fits their needs. Our 3GB offering – our least expensive plan – is good enough for 85% of our client base. A 10GB offering is good enough for 95% of our client base.

We hope that you find this post informative. The purpose of this post is to provide information so that individuals have a better idea of how much disk space they really need for a web hosting account.

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