Lessons Learned: Decreasing Bandwidth Usage

I recently received a message that a site I manage for a library organization was about to exceed its bandwidth allotment. There is a small user group of webmasters within this organization and bandwidth limits on the wordpress .org sites occasionally make the email discussion lists.The typical suggestions are:

  • ensure you have a robots.txt file
  • install a wordpress plugin like WP Super Cache that caches pages
  • ask for more bandwidth

The first two suggestions were put in place ages ago and I did end up pursuing the third suggestion, an option I was grateful to have. However, I knew there had to be another way to reduce my sudden spike in usage since it was not attributed to more visitors.

In fact, my spike seemed to correlate to some pdf files that I put in a post.  I considered that action routine and almost trivial at the time, but, wordpress created a “preview” of each pdf that caused the entire file to download every time the page was opened. Considering some of these files displayed on the homepage, this greatly increased our bandwidth usage.

Lesson learned:

  • Host slides, large pdf’s, videos, and large photos elsewhere (the function is your friend)
  • Compress any file before uploading it to your site
  • Carefully consider whether to preview pdf files stored locally on your server

Here are some good explanations I found after coming to this realization:
Reduce Your Website’s Bandwidth and Storage Usage
10 Reasons why you should never host your own videos

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