What is Bandwidth?
Bandwidth is the amount of data allowed for transfer to and from your website. A certain amount of bandwidth is allocated for your store each month - essentially, the higher plan you have with 3dcart, the more bandwidth you are alloted. The bandwidth meter resets on the first of every month for your store.
What uses Bandwidth?
The key to understanding bandwidth is knowing what consists of bandwidth usage:
The most obvious consumer of bandwidth is the amount of visitors to your site. The more traffic you have, the more bandwidth will be consumed; as the server needs to transfer data to each visitor. However, you should also keep in mind that any activity taking place in the Store Manager (by you) will also use bandwidth.
Content on the website consists of images, downloadable files (PDFs, Video files, MP3s), and flash files. Each visitor to the site will use bandwidth to view your content, therefore, the larger the content files, the more bandwidth is used. A large image file will use up more bandwidth than a small image file.
Import/Export from the Store Manager
As you are setting up your store, you may not have any visitors to the site, yet you will notice that bandwidth is being used. Importing and Exporting of information, such as products, images, and customer information will use up bandwidth. The larger your export/import file, the more bandwidth the import/export will use.
While 3dcart's service is PCI compliant, certain payment gateway providers require that your store undergoes a Security/PCI scan to ensure that there aren't any vulnerabilities on the site. PCI scans are also used by some services to provide a PCI seal that you can place on your site to show to your shoppers that the site meets PCI requirements. However, each site scan can and does use a considerable amount of bandwidth. The more in-depth the scan, the more bandwidth is used - i.e. a quarterly PCI scan is larger than a weekly vulnerability scan.
Shopping Engine Spiders
Every so often a Search engine will spider your page for content - this uses bandwidth. Additionally, if you have directly submitted your site to a shopping engine, the shopping engine uses bandwidth to retrieve data from your site to display. While the data transfer amounts are small for the most part, there may be some search engines and crawlers that index the site far more often than others - adding to the amount of bandwidth consumption.
How Do I Reduce Bandwidth Usage?
The first tip to reducing bandwidth usage is to discover what variable is using the most bandwidth on your site. You can discover this by looking at the statistic reports in your Online Store Manager (Reports >Statistics), or viewing your Google Analytics reports (if you have it installed). The best indicator is the Website Statistics plugin 3dcart offers, which comes free with some of our plans. These reports enable you to filter your content to see what is using the most bandwidth, i.e. increase in traffic, a particular image, or a download file.
What Happens When I Go Over My Store's Bandwidth Limit?
As mentioned, each 3dcart plan comes with specific monthly alottments of bandwidth with the higher priced plans allowing for more bandwidth coverage.
If your store goes over your plan's monthly bandwidth alottment, you will be charged overage fees for each gigabyte that you go over for a given month. In some cases, the overage fees would be less than upgrading to the next higher plan, so if you don't usually go over your bandwidth, this may be a good option and would require no action from you other than to pay the overage fees.
However, if you find that you are going over bandwidth often, you can easily upgrade your account to the next higher plan right from the Online Store Manager. Simply click on the $ icon located at the bottom of the left hand navigation bar to go into your account's Billing Information page and upgrade from there.
How Does Bandwidth Relate to the "Monthly Visitor Quota" of My Store?
When viewing the Pricing Plans on the 3dcart Home Page, you may have noticed a feature labeled as "Monthly Visitor Quota" that also increases as the pricing plans go higher. This quota is really just an estimated visitor cap in the plans that is loosely based on the monthly bandwidth alottment for the accounts.
The number is based on an estimated average of 0.5 megabytes of data transfer usage per visitor. So a plan that allows for 2 gigabytes of data transfer could roughly accomodate 4,000 visits per month.
Again, this is merely an estimate on the number of visitors that you can accomodate on the store per month with its monthly bandwidth alottment. In many cases, you may have more visits in the store than the quota specifies while remaining under your bandwidth usage, so it's best to view this number as an example.