When trying to find the best web hosting service for your website, determining how much disk space you need is a factor to consider.
Disk space may also be referred to as: storage, web space, local storage, cloud storage space. In simpler terms, it is the amount of hard drive space you rent from your web host.
Many hosting companies feature “unlimited disk space”. This is a marketing ploy to make their web hosting plan sound better than the competitor. There is always fine print associated with this saying that resources are not infinite.
So how do I determine how much storage I need?
Like everything else, it depends on what your website needs. If you are going to be storing large volumes of content like video, photos, or other files, you obviously need a lot more space than a small business service website.
WordPress Disk Usage Example
Since WordPress is such a popular solution to build a website, I’m going to use it as an example to do some calculations.
Let’s work with a “measly” 1 GB of disk space. (equal to 1,000 MB)
A clean installation of WordPress – this means the core code to run, the default theme that is prepackaged (i.e. Twenty Twenty-One”), and no plugins takes up about 30MB storage.
Themes can vary in size – an estimate could be 1MB – 5MB range. This adds next to nothing.
Plugins are hard to gauge as the functionality ranges significantly (and proportionately the size of the plugin) along with the number of plugins you need. On average I may use about 10 plugins on a project. Some jobs that I have been hired to work on I’ve seen 50+ though so it just depends. ( Having too many plugins installed is bad on many levels.) Let’s aggressively estimate 10MB per plugin, that’s another 100MB.
These are all of the code requirements for a WordPress install with plugins you need a theme you choose.
Database usage will take up some space. Over time this can grow. (As this happens though, database maintenance should be performed to clean an optimized it.) A ballpark larger database could be in the 50MB range.
Code and Database Backups.
An item that is often overlooked, and will take up significant space is your WordPress code and database backups.
I’m amazed at how many clients have invested thousands of dollars into building a website to run their business or enhance it but have no backup plan in place in case of disaster. If your website crashed today, how would it affect your business? I know mine would be crippled.
Backup files are compressed to save space. You can include, exclude content, files, database in a backup. You can also save any number of backups. All of this has a huge effect on space needed. (Granted you should be storing backups OFF SITE in case the point of disaster is your hosting service)
I’m going to assume here that one code and database backup is kept on the host (excluding the uploads directory which I do not back up every time a backup is generated and do not stored it on the host)
Compress, it will be about half of our total usage, so I am adding another 10% of disk space used.
The Biggest Thing to Calculate
What’s left? Your content.
All text on your WordPress web pages is stored in the database. So this has already been calculated.
Your images and other files uploaded. pdf files, mp3s, videos… (I don’t recommend streaming video from your web hosting account.)
Let’s ballpark a small business website with a generous 50 pages. If there are 2 images per page and you did not properly size them, they may be 2MB-5MB a piece (This could be thousands of pixels wide and tall). You would not, should not include an image of this size on your webpage, but use a resized version that WordPress generated. Still, that original file is sitting on your hosting account taking up space.
To give you an example this image is 600px – 400px and 22 KB. That is only 2.2% of 1 MB or .0022% of our hypothetical 1 GB disk storage.
To be overly generous, let’s assume all files uploaded are inefficiently uploaded as 5MB. (My image example above is only 0.44% of 5MB.) On 50 pages, that’s 100, 5MB files. That’s 500MB. This number is a little crazy. Most small business websites I build don’t have 50 pages to begin with. They definitely don’t have 2 images on every page either.
For this hypothetical example, and a lot of unknowns in this area of calculating, I’m going overboard a bit.
Adding a whopping 500MB to our 1 GB allotment. It is significantly more than everything else combined. Even with this gross over estimation, we are only at 79% capacity on 1 GB hosting plan!
Based on these numbers, most small business websites don’t need more than 1GB of disk space to host the website code, content and images.
10GB storage (even 5 GB disk space) is more than enough for most websites to grow into and account for other things that may count against your storage quota. (i.e. log files, email storage…)
I provide small business web hosting services for over 100 clients. About 2% of them exceed 5GB of web space (This 2% is due to email saved on the server, not the website code). My web hosting plans include 5GB of storage. I do not inflate this number to make it appear you are getting something more. If you don’t need it, it doesn’t add value and should not be a factor when selecting a web hosting service.
If you have other questions about deciding which hosting plan is best for your website, get in touch.