In the past not much was said about video hosting, but recent trends have made this not only a huge topic, but a profitable one as well. This is due largely in part to services like youtube and googlevideo who provide remote hosting of streaming video with a cookie cutter website integration formula.
Years ago, including video in a website came with high costs from development to server hosting. This was due largely in part to the fact that the technology available at that time wasn’t very accommodating with dial-up connections and hard drive sizes that are comparable to our now many portable devices.
Today the technological infrastructure to support video has arrived, and when adding video is as simple as copy and paste, it’s no wonder video has become one of the hottest trends on the web today.
Everyone from hosting companies to personal websites now have an interest, albeit for different reasons. In the world of personal or business websites, people are often times looking for an efficient means of incorporating video. It’s even become popular enough to drive web hosting providers into selling dedicated server space solely for video hosting, which makes sense given the size and bandwidth constraints video presents. With this, the hosting and website integration of such technology is not something to be taken lightly. In fact, do it wrong and your website could be severely impacted, with your users taking the brunt of it.
This is precisely why several options must be deeply considered before making the decision whether to host videos locally, or remotely, with each having a number of advantages and disadvantages.
When considering hosting videos locally, the following points should be taken into account.
- User volume – users eat up bandwidth, adding videos into the mix on your local server could push your bandwidth to the max in seconds. If your server is shared as opposed to dedicated, the chance of this happening is inevitable with a moderate volume of users.
- Video size – if you choose to host videos locally, size will definitely matter. It comes into play when a user visits your page. Part of the process the server goes through in loading the page is to load the entire video as well. If the video is more than a few megabytes, the user could lose interest and leave your site rather than wait around 5-10 seconds for the page to load. On the bright side, most browsers will cache video (depending on the video size) which dramatically speeds up subsequent visits. Problem is, if they leave before the first visit is official, they most likely will never come back.
- Video format – local videos will have to be converted into various formats to accommodate the variety of users who visit your site (though flash is a pretty safe bet). This is hugely time consuming and error prone. On the other hand, dismissing it could force your visitors to download obscure video plugins when using certain browsers. This is just another way to distract them from getting into your site, and could result in them going elsewhere.
Hosting the files remotely also has disadvantages; however, they are mostly outweighed by the pros.
- User volume – users will continue to eat up bandwidth, however, if those videos are hosted on a remote server, the bandwidth being consumed will be that of the host and not yours. A good example of this is google videos. Hosting with google uses their bandwidth and not yours. Gotta love that…
- Video size – when a user visits your page there’s little to no video load dependency as there is with local hosting. Since the video is streaming it loads in pieces rather than one big chunk. Remote hosting comes with some concrete size limitations. Google videos and youtube both have 10 minute limits. While it may seem logical to host larger files locally, the load time of something this size would take ages to load and render your site practically unusable; another reason to host remotely.
- Video format – here you wouldn’t have to worry about any sort of manual conversion. By hosting with remote providers they offer automatic conversion tools. This conversion can take some time, but the process itself is virtually effortless. In doing so you won’t have to worry as much about video plugin compatibility since there aren’t any browsers that I know of which don’t support flash. And, chances are that the visitor has already downloaded this plugin at some point, thereby making the visit to your site an easy win.
- Video player features – many video hosts provide different feature sets with their custom video players. The ability to select a playlist as opposed to a single video for one is a welcome advantage and one of my personal favorites. Before the video starts, I’d like to display a snapshot of some random point in the video, I can do that too. These are some features that I’ve yet to see available through other players. There are even components on the market that will wrap these video players in a unique video box to allow your own customizations to achieve a desired look.
Overall these points offer a side by side comparison between hosting videos locally or remotely, and should provide some knowledge in helping you make an informed decision.
In the end it seems the publics’ wide adoption of integrated streaming video hosted remotely has driven the advances in technology, thereby giving us more and more options to the point where there’s no longer much of an argument in choosing between remote and local hosting. Yes, you guessed it, remote hosting is the choice for me.