It’s a simple question. Can I use my web hosting (basic plan, typically about $5 a month) to host my podcast files?
The answer however, as you might expect, is much more difficult. In search of that answer I approached a couple different web hosts (Bluehost and Lunarpages) and asked them this very question in an attempt to get the most accurate answer possible. What I received was an interesting mix somewhere between “yes” and “it depends.” Let’s start at the beginning and think about why you might and might not want to consider this an acceptable option for your podcast.
When starting a podcast, most producers want to get things done as cheaply as possible. If you have never thought of yourself as a producer, you can now. If you produce audio or video content and publish it to the web, congrats, I consider you a producer and you can now add it to your title;)
Because most of us are producing content in our spare time (those hours following our paying jobs) we typically don’t receive money for our productions. Because of this, the need to produce a podcast as cheaply as possible is usually a necessity based on the amount of income we have to put towards our hobby.
In many cases you may already be paying for your own space on a shared server for the purpose of hosting your website. You can find web hosting services for approximately five to six dollars a month and in most cases this includes lots of unlimited features such as storage, bandwidth, sub-domains, etc.
The question then becomes, can I host my audio and/or video files on this cheap web hosting that has unlimited bandwidth and storage and avoid paying for another service such as Libsyn.com? And that’s where my inquiry began.
I approached two different web hosts (Bluehost and Lunarpages) and asked them if I was allowed to use my basic plan to host and deliver a podcast? Below are the results of those conversations and then I elaborate on my thoughts regarding this question and provide you with advice on how to proceed when it comes to the question of file hosting for your podcast. (click the image to enlarge and use your browsers back button to return).
This second conversation is much longer and is with my personal web host Lunarpages. I have been using them to host all my websites for the last 4 years with no issues. The price is great and the service and options are one of the best I’ve seen. You’ll notice that I didn’t let the person I was speaking with here know that I was a current customer until after I was done asking my questions.
The conversation with the Lunarpages representive went on much longer than I could fit into this screen capture. Here is the remainder of the conversation in plain text:
- 13. Dragos Gabriel Fedorovici5:21:14 PM
- 5:21:21 PM
on the nature of your website
- 5:21:25 PM
is it live already?
- Client5:23:46 PM
I do a show about podcasting and I advise people about this often. My goal in asking is just to provide the correct answer so that I can recommend your hosting to someone or not. Typically I advise that they don’t host their show on their basic web hosting plan but I’ve also heard that you could. I’m not interested at this time in actually doing this myself.
- 5:24:39 PM
A typical podcast gets a few thousands downloads a month and I’m curious if those people who host their audio on sites like yours are OK in doing so.
- Dragos Gabriel Fedorovici5:25:03 PM
we are fine with that indeed
- 5:25:30 PM
even though several of our customers that have a similar website are using a dedicated plan
- 5:25:38 PM
but this should also feet on a basic plan
- Client5:26:44 PM
but this should also feet on a basic plan??
- Dragos Gabriel Fedorovici5:27:16 PM
- 5:27:21 PM
- 5:27:31 PM
you see the big problem on such a website is the large traffic
- 5:28:00 PM
a few thousands of downloads / month can’t cause a large traffic
- Client5:28:31 PM
Yes that’s why I usually advise using a basic plan in this way because if a podcast gets popular, you could run into issues and “unlimited” probably doesn’t always truly mean unlimited.
- Dragos Gabriel Fedorovici5:29:08 PM
- 5:29:39 PM
but when the podcast becomes popular you may look at upgrading to another solution ( a dedicated plan)
- Client5:30:05 PM
so a show that got a couple thousand downloads would actually be a problem for the server more than it would be a problem for your TOS?
- Dragos Gabriel Fedorovici5:31:01 PM
- 5:31:10 PM
a high traffic would result in a large memory usage
- Client5:31:29 PM
effectively shutting your show down?
- 5:31:36 PM
or just slow downloads?
- Dragos Gabriel Fedorovici5:31:53 PM
in some of the situations only a high load on the server
- 5:32:23 PM
only a poor codding could cause a server to go unresponsive
- 5:33:09 PM
a basic plan involves a shared server so all the hardware resources (memory, processor etc) are used by the accounts that are hosted on that machine
- 5:33:25 PM
it may come to the situation when even if you website is not causing issues on the server, another one is
- Client5:33:52 PM
what is the cost of your entry level dedicated hosting plan?
- Dragos Gabriel Fedorovici5:34:11 PM
we have different dedicated hosting plans that you may opt for
- 5:34:32 PM
and if you are looking for a solution based on Linux, those are available here: http://www.lpdedicated.com/servers/linux.php
- 5:34:45 PM
for a Windows solution, you can check this area: http://www.lpdedicated.com/servers/windows.php
- Client5:35:49 PM
Well the good news is that I have actually been using your hosting for the last 5 years for all of my sites and have always been happy with the service though I don’t use it to host my audio/podcast files. But I am happy to be able to give people another reason to go with Lunarpages;)
- Dragos Gabriel Fedorovici5:36:35 PM
I’m glad to hear that you are happy with our services
- Client5:37:31 PM
Thanks for your time and information. I think I can better inform people about how they can and can’t use basic hosting plans to host their podcast files.
- Dragos Gabriel Fedorovici5:38:32 PM
I’m glad to hear that my answers allowed you to take this conclusion
- 5:38:50 PM
if there is anything else I can do for you or if you have any other questions please let me know
- Client5:40:18 PM
that’s it for today, thanks again, bye
- Dragos Gabriel Fedorovici5:40:27 PM
have a lovely day
After contacting two separate hosting providers, I was able to obtain enough information to come to a conclusion about whether or not hosting your podcast on a shared server (basic hosting plan) is a good idea or not. To cut to the chase, no.
Of course if you read these conversations you’ll notice that it’s clearly OK to host your audio on each of these two services and from what I’ve heard about other hosts, the same holds true (ask your particular host before trying to host your podcast with them).
However, it’s also clear that if your show becomes very popular, you are likely to run into problems. One of two things is likely to happen. The first, you might be asked to move to a dedicated server which will cost you much more than the price of your basic plan or much more than using a service like Libsyn. The second thing that is likely to happen is that the download speed of your files will become exceptionally slow or just won’t work at all.
In the end, both of these problems will probably lead to you transferring over all your files to another hosting service such as Libsyn or Raw Voice. The process of transferring your files to a new service is not only time prohibitive but can be very costly based on the number of episodes you need to transfer. This is because you will have to pay an upfront fee (Libsyn charges .10 cents a megabyte) to move all your files at once.
So can you do it? Can you host and serve your podcast from your basic hosting plan? Well, if you’re using either of these two services, definitely yes. And it’s likely that whatever service you are using, if different from the ones listed here, will also allow you to to do the same make sure to check with them before doing so. I’m not responsible for the charges you may incur or the terms of service you might be violating if you don’t check with your hosting provider first.
In my case, I host all my audio on Libsyn.com for many reasons and they don’t pay me to say that. First and foremost, you have unlimited bandwidth so no matter how popular your podcast may get, you’ll never have to worry about being charged any more than you already pay. Your show can get 10 downloads or 10,000+ and your monthly fee will remain the same. With a service such as Amazon S3, you could wake up with a Hefty bill if your podcast happened to get linked to by Leo Laporte or Oprah overnight.
But I also like the fact that Libsyn.com exists for one primary reason, podcasting! It’s what they do and because of that, they do it better than anyone else. You can great statistics and a blog if you need one. You can also tweak your RSS feed to fit your specific needs by inserting additional tags if need be and the support is excellent. There are many reasons to go with a host who specializes in podcasting and these are just a few.
In the end, I like to tell people to plan for success. Expect your show to be popular and never stop working towards that goal. And when it happens, you’ll be ready and perhaps more importantly, you won’t be shut down or worse yet, broke.