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What is FFmpeg?

Does your website have a lot of images, audio, video, or other multimedia content:? A hosting plan that includes FFmpeg can keep your bandwidth and disk space usage down. FFmpeg is free, open-source software designed to facilitate the creation, management, conversion, and streaming of multimedia content.

If you think your multimedia-rich site will be fine with your unlimited bandwidth hosting, you might want to recheck your terms of service: “unlimited" isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.

For a website full of multimedia, those video, audio, image files could use up tons of bandwidth. If you go over your allotted bandwidth, you could find yourself in violation of your terms of service, and in danger of getting your site shut down. If you’re lucky, your host might allow you to download your files… but if they decide to deny you access, your website will just be gone.

Luckily, there’s a hosting feature called FFmpeg that will help keep your multimedia-rich site’s bandwidth usage down.

Created in 2000, FFmpeg is a free and open-source collection of tools and libraries that allows users to record, convert, and stream video and audio in a multitude of formats. These tools are extremely useful in optimizing files for online sharing and streaming.

Video and audio files in their original, uncompressed formats are often enormous in size. For example, a high-quality MPEG2 file captured right from your DVD would be a huge file, into the hundreds of megabytes for just a few minutes. By converting it to a much smaller, but still viewable, VOB format, you could save tons of space and bandwidth—two critical considerations for any website owner in an age where “unlimited bandwidth" doesn't always live up to its name.

Could Your Website Benefit From FFmpeg Hosting?

Depending on the type of website you're looking to create and the bandwidth you need for your multimedia, you may need more than the sometimes basic multimedia support included with many hosting packages. If you plan to stream multimedia content for your users, or provide tools for the conversion, sharing, and streaming of user-created content, then you may want to look into a comprehensive multimedia management tool such as FFmpeg.

Your website could benefit from FFmpeg software if it includes:

  • streaming video,
  • video uploading and sharing,
  • podcasts,
  • user-submitted images, such as for product reviews,
  • multimedia sharing and downloads,
  • image galleries,
  • …or other multimedia-rich features.

With FFmpeg hosting, you can rest assured your site won’t violate your host’s terms of service by exceeding your bandwidth, even if you let visitors to your site upload and convert their own content for sharing and streaming, or share content from around the Web.

How Does FFmpeg Work?

FFmpeg is a free open-source project, available to download from the FFmpeg official website. You can actually use it on your own computer, to play, stream, decode, encode, and manipulate all kinds of multimedia in other ways. In addition to conversions to and from almost any media type, FFmpeg also supports basic editing, so you (or your users) can resize, resample, or change the aspect ratio of content to fit the requirements of your site.

Many multimedia-rich websites across the web use FFmpeg software. If you’ve ever seen a YouTube video embedded on another website, you’re seen FFmpeg in action, detecting which file type to use to optimize the file to play on your browser.

When FFmpeg comes with your hosting plan, you can download it as a one-click install via the hosting control panel (cPanel) of many popular providers. Some web hosts already have FFmpeg scripts pre-installed with your hosting plan. If you don’t see an option to install FFmpeg and you’re not sure how to enable it, contact your host’s support and they’ll be able to guide you.

Once FFmpeg is installed and enabled, you’re good to go! You and your visitors can upload video, audio, and images to your website, and FFmpeg will work behind the scenes to optimize your files while minimizing your bandwidth and disk space usage.

Select the Right Hosting Plan

FFmpeg software itself is free and open-source, so it shouldn't add anything to your monthly hosting expenses, but keep in mind that streaming content and big file sizes can add up quickly—and some hosts charge overage fees or even shut down sites that exceed their usage limits.

Depending on your needs for your website, you might consider other hosting features for your multimedia website, such as uptime guarantees or video streaming.

Some hosts won’t enable FFmpeg unless you get a dedicated hosting plan, so be sure to check the details before you select your hosting plan. If you plan to host and stream a lot of multimedia content, select a plan with plenty of available storage space and bandwidth, and read the terms of service carefully so you don’t risk exceeding your limits.

FFmpeg Frequently Asked Questions

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