Keeping Fat Content Off Your Site

To make sure your blog works as efficiently as possible, it is a good idea to keep fat content off you site and to host and stream that content from a more robust platform.

What is fat content

Fat content is content from your blog which takes up a large amount of bandwidth to serve up.  Multiply this large bandwidth requirement with a large number of blog readers and you could be in trouble.

Examples of fat content are:

  • Video
  • Audio files e.g. podcasts
  • large documents such as PDF files
  • Large images

These are usually very large files and steaming/downloading them to your audience takes substantial amounts of resource compared to a static blog post or page.

Why Keep It Off Your Site

These types of files take up huge amounts of bandwidth, if you hosting account is not of a high quality (that’s my way of saying you are cheap and bought the least expensive hosting product) your bandwidth allocation will be throttled and access to your site will slow or even, in extreme cases, crash because there is not enough band width to serve up your content

Another reason to host content off-site is that your server will have a finite number of users sessions allocated to it, serving up a web page takes a session, sends the static content then releases the session back to the pool, a video will hold open that session for much longer increasing the chance that you will run out of sessions and your server will start to reject new users.

Where to keep it

If you are not going to host it on your blog, where else can you host this fat content?   There are a number of options, you can host it on one of the many free web 2.0 type services or you can take advantage of more robust hosting solutions which charge a fee, let’s look at these options in depth.

Free services

The free services at your  disposal are sites such as Youtube, Vimeo, Flickr and Google docs, these systems allow you to upload your fat content to their services,make them to take the hit to serve up the work you have produced and then to embed this on your blog.

There are plugins to embed content from the more popular systems on your blog.  This means that the content will appear on your system as if you are hosting it, but the third party takes all the pain of serving it up.

Paid Services

To create a more robust hosting solution, you may want to invest in a more expensive hosting program from your hosting provider. Look at virtual private servers or for hosting solutions offering unlimited bandwidth.

Another system to consider it Amazon S3.  Amazon have create an incredibly robust infrastructure to host their e-commerce platform.  They have now opened up this infrastructure for people outside of their organisation to use, one component of their service called Amazon Web Services is S3.

S3 allows you to create your own bucket or internet facing container where you can store your fat files. These are then served up from their infrastructure.

The beauty of S3 over the free services is that you can secure your files as well.  For example if your fat content is for a premium audience, you can use pre-signed URLS and access control lists to control access.

The  cost of S3 is very low, you pay by the amount downloaded, current pricing can be seen at  http://aws.amazon.com/s3/#pricing

I will be writing more about s3 in the near future.  Please subscribe to my RSS feed to be notified when I do this.

Examples Of Where to Host Your Content

Over and above S3 which can host any type of content, here are some examples of the sites you could use to host your fat content.

Video – Youtube, Viddler, Vimeo

Images – Flickr, Picassa

Documents – Google docs

Further Reading

If you are having performance problems, you may want to read my blog post on performance tuning WordPress.

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