Businesses and other media houses are moving from text and visual content to video content for their websites. This is because it's easier for the consumer to grasp what you're trying to say when you present it in a video format rather than text or picture. Moreover, it creates a great website experience and helps you in terms of SEO because your customers stay on your website longer.
When you've decided to add video material to your website, where do you host them? From a website owner's perspective, that's the most important concern. In this post, we'll explore some video hosting strategies and then discuss why it isn't a great idea to host your own videos.
Hosting a Video on a Shared Host vs. Embedding a Video
There are two basic ways to upload a video to your website. You can either choose to upload it via a video hosting service such as YouTube or Vimeo or you can choose to host it independently, in which case you upload the file directly onto your website using the inbuilt file uploader facility in WordPress. This would be similar to the way you would normally upload an image file.
However, when trying to upload your video directly onto your website, there are potential pitfalls that you may need to maneuver around. Some of these include –
- Videos that are not compatible with mobile devices for playback
- The videos are slow because of your limited bandwidth
- Users only view a black box in the space where your video is positioned
- Your video stops playing intermittently, or
- The undue length of time taken for your video to load
That said, before we go deeper on whether we should be self-hosting videos or using pre-existing video hosting platforms, let us quickly go over the main difference between self-hosted and embedded videos.
Self-hosting a video essentially means that the video is stored on your own website. This can also include a host of thumbnail images and perhaps a few audio clips as well. To upload these files onto your website, you can use FTP, or, if you’re using WordPress, it can be done using the WordPress uploader function. The video gets uploaded to your shared host. So, whenever someone visits your website, your host’s bandwidth gets used.
On the other hand, embedding a video essentially means that you paste the video’s link onto your website. The link points to the platform where you might have already uploaded your videos – such as YouTube, Vimeo or a similar video playback platform. You can then embed the video or use a standard HTML5 player of your choice to stream that video on your website.
Here are our top reasons why hosting your own videos might be a bad choice.
Higher Bandwidth Utilization
When the user starts to watch a video hosted on a shared host plan, the amount of bandwidth that your website uses starts to increase. This, in turn, leads to a number of adverse effects, such as slower server speed and higher hosting charges.
The root cause behind higher bandwidth utilization is that most video files tend to be large ranging from 100MBs to gigabytes. Standard and low definition video clips might be smaller and lighter in size, but they are less impressive when compared to the high-def. videos that are common today. You shouldn’t sacrifice quality for the sake of reducing the file size.
Another possible alternative is to upload your videos to a cloud service solution like Amazon S3. However, video playback can still be negatively affected. Also, if you plan to use S3 services, you might just as well consider using a service like YouTube. The primary reason being, any YouTube performance problems can be fixed comparatively quicker.
Video Format and Compatibility
With video sharing platforms like YouTube or Vimeo, etc, the platform converts your video to a format that is compatible with most popular web browsers. This allows your videos to be used on almost any browser and across devices.
However, when you upload your videos using your own video host, you are limited by the number of formats it can be converted to. Though YouTube and similar service providers make use of HTML5, it does not necessarily specify which format is supported by browsers.
While Chrome supports almost all popular video formats, other browsers like Mozilla Firefox, Edge and Safari do not. The best solution here is to convert your videos yourself. You will need to ensure your video covers the popular video formats – MP4, OGV, and WebM.
Performance and Speed
While the network bandwidth issue pointed out earlier might be one part of the problem, you’ll also have to consider the performance limitations of your server. When your videos receive a large number of real-time views, it can have an adverse effect on your server’s performance.
Having your website’s response time slowed down by your host is not optimal. However, this is exactly what may happen as you continue to upload and serve videos to your site’s visitors. In most cases, your website would be hosted with a bunch of other websites on the same server on a shared hosting package.
Therefore, if one of the websites in that group starts consuming too much of the host server’s bandwidth, the host may reduce the available resources to that site or take it offline completely.
Increased Server Costs
Higher bandwidth usage and increased demand for performance and speed will inevitably lead to soaring server costs. If you need to continue maintaining your increased library of self-hosted videos online, you will eventually need to migrate to a dedicated hosting service.
In most cases, a website costs approximately $5 per month or less for a basic WordPress website. For a website with a library of self-hosted videos, the costs can escalate to about 10x this amount.
Similarly, having a self-hosted home server is mostly impractical. Especially given that most Internet Service Providers limit their bandwidth across a range of their IP addresses as and when they detect any unusual activity.
Piracy and Limited Traffic
The downside to self-hosted videos is that their source code can be easily accessed compared to embedded videos. Hence, self-hosted videos are susceptible to be copied or reproduced without your permission and might get uploaded on YouTube as original material. Self-hosted videos may also face serious competition against more popular video platforms like YouTube, Dailymotion, Vimeo, etc. These platforms are more popular amongst users and generally, have a larger volume of traffic related to the material on a subject that your video addresses.
Cumbersome and Complicated Codes
Irrespective of the fact if you use a secondary plugin or a WordPress built in video capability, you will anyway need to a write some lines of code to instruct the video player as to the video format you have created and uploaded as well as where in the server it is located. A sample code is below –
<video poster="movie.jpg" controls> <source src="movie.webm" type='video/webm; codecs="vp8.0, vorbis"'/> <source src="movie.ogg" type='video/ogg; codecs="theora, vorbis"'/> <source src="movie.mp4" type='video/mp4; codecs="avc1.4D401E, mp4a.40.2"'/> <p>This is fallback content</p> </video>
Given this built-in support in WordPress for video playback, you will still have to construct a shortcut that looks something like this:
[video width="960" height="540" mp4="movie.mp4" ogv="movie.ogv" webm="movie.webm"]
To conclude, a better option is to upload your videos on YouTube, Dailymotion, or similar, popular media playback platforms. The major benefit here is that you get a dedicated video URL and codes that you can then embed on your website. In addition to that, when a visitor or user plays a video on your website, it will play directly via the server where you have uploaded the video. Therefore, this does not affect your web design or the quality of your video.