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Frequently Asked Questions

Video compression & hosting FAQ

Do my videos have to be hosted by special video servers or can I just put them on my existing web server?

If your videos are NOT being watched by hundreds of people at the same time, you can typically load videos onto your existing web server. This method saves money (it doesn’t cost anything extra to put video on your web server), and usually works as well as paying for a separate video host.

The only time using separate video hosting is necessary is when your videos might be accessed by a lot of people at the same time. This method allows the video host to serve video, freeing your web server to deliver the rest of your web content. YouTube offers a good, free choice, but in most cases, a separate video host is not necessary.

Will my videos stream or have to be downloaded?

Your videos will usually play using progressive download. which allows a file to begin playing while it downloads. The advantages are it’s easier to setup and only requires HTTP programming, which every web designer and programmer understands. True streaming often requires special server side hardware and software and can be relatively expensive. The main difference is the video is delivered in near real-time without having to be downloaded to a computer’s cache. There are also server-side software options that offer something called pseudo streaming, which downloads chunks of the video and allows viewers to seek ahead much like you can with true streaming.

A benefit of streaming is the server examines your web connection speed and delivers file sizes to match. True video streaming is ideally suited for live events or if your videos need to be available to hundreds or thousands of people at the same time. So if your videos don’t fit either of those categories, true streaming isn’t necessary, practical or cost effective.

Another advantage to true streaming is that viewers can scrub or seek to any location in a video and it will continue playing from that point (except for live events of course). With progressive download, this is only possible using pseudo streaming scripting and only if you’re using a specific type of server to host your content. The good news is that pseudo streaming is becoming more and more commonplace.

Why not just host my videos on YouTube or Vimeo, after all, they do the compression, setup the player controls and give me the links and embed codes?

You can certainly do that, and while you can get wide exposure on these sites, there are some potential drawbacks. They all either watermark the video or force you to use their logo-marked player controls. To get the best quality you have to upload very high-quality (and large) video files. There are also limits on the duration of videos, typically 15 minutes or less, and longer videos must be approved before they’re uploaded. They also monitor copyrighted elements like music, so even if you use licensed production music, your uploads will get flagged and require proof that you’ve licensed the music’s use. Last, they all put advertising on their pages (unless you pay a fee). So if a church puts video on YouTube, it could end up with an ad for Viagra (or worse) its YouTube page. Of course you can always embed YouTube videos on your pages. And there are ways to add scripting that removes things like title overlays, the mosaic of “related videos” that shows up at the end of videos, and can simplify the annoying YouTube or Vimeo branding elements. You can also add scripting that lets you put YouTube playlists on your site, so when you change a playlist on your YouTube channel, it automatically updates on your website.

Another option is that many companies host video on their web servers AND create a YouTube video page. That way, you control the viewing experience for website visitors, but you also get the added exposure from YouTube’s site. In fact, we have quite a few videos samples on YouTube ourselves. Click here to see.

I use YouTube but I’m not happy about the video quality or losing control of our branding. How much will it cost to host my own videos?

If you only have a few videos and are able to host them on your current web server, the only costs are for video compression, setting up the player controls, and providing the web links or embed code. Videos under 10 minutes are just $35 to compress, and setting it all up costs only $50 for each group of 10 videos. So if you wanted to host 10 videos on your existing website that are each under 10 minutes in length, you’d have a one-time fee of $400 to get it up and working, with no additional monthly fee. Spread that cost over a full year and it’s only $13/month to gain complete control over the quality, look and performance of your videos. After that first year, there are no additional costs since you’ve paid for the compression and they’re hosted on your own web server. So if 1000 people watch your videos during that year, it would only cost you 40 cents to reach each one of them. For a real-world example, we host a website for Tiebreaker Water Park in Hopkinsville, and a single video on their site gets well over 5000 plays each summer. So the cost per viewer is mere pennies.

I keep reading about bandwidth. What exactly is it and how is it determined?

Most web hosts charge a monthly hosting fee and you have a certain amount of storage space on their server. Bandwidth on the other hand is the amount of data that is accessed from your site each month. Most basic web-hosting plans provide about 20GB of storage and a couple of GB of bandwidth, which is plenty for most small businesses. But if you have videos that get played a lot, it can be easy to exceed the bandwidth limits, which means added cost.

So if you have a lot of videos, and/or thousands of daily viewers, you might need to use a dedicated video host. YouTube can be a great choice for this as it’s free, but you’ll have to live with YouTube’s logo branding on your videos. Vimeo is another great choice and is only about $200/year (about $17/month) and includes 20GB of storage with no bandwidth limits.

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