To host or not to host (your videos), that is the question

Video content can add great benefits to any website but how do you handle it on your site? Well, the simple (and not so helpful) answer is, it depends. I am asked regularly about the best way to deal with video content and while i normally advocate for having copies of all files integral to your site hosted with the rest of your content (on your web server), in the case of video, you have other options.

In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya…Let Me ‘Splain…no, it’s too much..let me sum up..

Video and other media takes up a lot of bandwidth to distribute to your audience.

Ok, too simple? All right here is a little more detail on that..sorry, Inigo.

Warning, technical babble approaching…

There are two types of data associated with any web hosting account, the storage space and the data transfer. The storage space is as you expect, the amount of physical space you have in your web server to store files. The Data Transfer however is a little trickier. The data transfer is basically the amount of data transferred from your website across the net to the different users, etc accessing your site.As an example, let’s say you have a video file is that stored on your server taking up 10MB, no big deal, right? I mean, have tons of storage space so no problem, right? Wrong. The thing with data transfer is it occurs with every user that comes to your site. You could have 10 people accessing that video file at the same time and each one of them will be costing you 10MB of transfer (not including and other graphics or files that they are viewing while they are there). Not much in this microcosm we are looking at, but now think about how many viewers you have per month x the number of videos on your site. It can easily add up to some major transfer overage charges all for a few videos you have plenty of room to store.

You are now leaving the technical babble portion of the posting..I think…

Ok, ok, i know, half way through that your eyes glazed over and you found yourself wiping drool from the corner of your mouth. So in layman’s terms, what does all of this technical babble mean to you and your site? Let me bottom line it for you: When it comes to media content (especially video) more often than not, you are better off pulling it in from a third-party source. Now there is one caveat to the content that follows, if you are offering the media in question as “premium” content (meaning that people are paying to see it), hosting the content yourself is still the best option but you may want to look into third-party storage like Amazons S3 services.

Now, for the rest of you, there are several ways to stream as much content to your site as you like without incurring exorbitant monthly costs. The most obvious choice is YouTube. I know what you are thinking, “but i want the content to display in my website and I don’t want to advertise other people’s videos”. Worry not, there’s an Ap for that…ok, maybe not an Ap per se but a way to make it work.

  1. First things first, go to YouTube and set up and account for yourself. Once that is done you will have your own “Channel” that contains only your videos and you can direct people to watch them. And i know you are not seeing it yet, but watch closely as the 3D image of the space shuttle materializes before your eyes…
  2. Upload your video(s)
  3. Marvel at the brilliance of your channel and tell your friends to go and look at what you have accomplished.

    Still not seeing it, huh? Keep watching. And see the magic happen…

  4. Once you are loaded up with at least one video, click-through to the video page like you are going to watch, then scroll down and see a GIANT button that says “embed”. This has nothing to do with sleeping, it is all about getting y our video from YouTube to you site. When you click the button a whole host of controls will be displayed allowing you to choose the size of the video, the colors of the player and more.
  5. Once you have selected the options you want you will notice the field filled with technobabble code..These ARE the droids you’re looking for. With this gobbledygook (it’s a technical term) you will be able to bring your videos right into your site with all e power of YouTube behind them.

Ok, now you are feeling it, I can tell so let’s move on.

All that is left is to take this lovely code back to your site and paste it into your page where you want it to go and VIOLA, you are set.

Now you are getting the best of both worlds, you have your video content where you want it on your site while at the same time making use of the streaming technology and bandwidth brought to you by your friends at YouTube. And YouTube is not your only resource for this, there are a number of other sites out there, like Vimeo, that work equally as well.

So what are you still waiting around for? Get out there and start loading those videos.