As professional website developers, people often ask us for help posting a video to their website. Thus begins a long conversation about embedding video vs hosting video. In an effort to explain the tradeoffs as clearly as possible, we present the following article.
What is the difference between embedding a video on a webpage and hosting a video on your website’s server?
Most videos on web pages have been embedded. To start, the original video is uploaded to a third-party hosting service. Once that is complete, your developer will copy the sharing link or embed code of the video from the third party site and paste it into a post or page on your own website. The video appears on your website, but the third-party service is actually hosting and streaming it.
Self-hosting video means that the video has been uploaded to the same server where you website is hosted.
Why we don’t recommend self-hosting video.
- BANDWIDTH RESTRICTIONS. Many hosting companies allocate a certain amount of bandwidth per server. Hosting your own video on a server intended for light-duty websites can overload the system, slowing down the rest of your site, and, if you’re on shared hosting, on the sites sharing the server with you.
- POOR PERFORMANCE. Your server’s limited bandwidth will likely result in playback pauses and unreliable performance.
- STORAGE LIMITS. As with bandwidth, many hosting companies allocate a certain amount of storage per customer or per website. Video takes up far more storage space than any other type of content, so you’re more likely to exceed any storage limit.
- EXTRA WORK. Site visitors will use a variety of devices to watch your video. Small devices such as smart phones and tablets will want a low res version. Larger devices will require higher resolution. Third-party services such as YouTube and Vimeo automatically deliver the right format. If you’re hosting the videos on your own server, you will need multiple versions of your video to satisfy the needs of a diverse audience.
- LARGER SLOWER BACKUPS. For the sake of this conversation, we are going to assume that you are backing up your website. (If you’re not, you should be!) Videos will bloat your backups and make them take longer. In some cases, this can even lead to failed backups.