Video hosting has been around for years and online video is usually associated with big streaming platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo or Dailymotion.
However, there is more to online video than huge streaming services.
There will always be a need for video hosting independent of these big streaming services.
Streaming is not the only option, either — as some users may require downloads.
Some companies could also require an internal content sharing platform, or a customized, branded video player that matches their corporate identity and design language.
Who Uses Video Hosting?
What’s more, video, marketing, and other creative professionals could use hosted video in uncompressed form for previews or collaboration.
For example, an ad filmed in the Caymans could be uploaded in raw form, impossible to stream, then edited in Britain, post-processed in California and dubbed in Japan.
With the plethora of options available, the video host you end up with will be the one that most effectively addresses your needs.
A site that simply contains a dozen tutorial videos will have different requirements than a site that’s attempting to be a niche-specific YouTube.
Luckily, there is no shortage of options and you’ll be able to choose between dedicated streaming services, content-driven video sites, traditional hosts that offer video support, and video-specific hosting solutions.
Video is resource intensive on more fronts than one. The average bandwidth requirements and resolutions for online video have gone through the roof in recent years.
Just a decade ago 240p and 360p resolutions were quite common, but nowadays they are ancient history — replaced by 720p and 1080p resolutions.
Most standard hosting plans are simply not designed to cope with video content.
They lack the hardware resources and support for the latest industry standards, relegating you to ancient technologies.
Cloud hosting can help, but there is no silver bullet — good cloud plans cost good money, too, yet they don’t address support issues.
What to Look for in a Video Host
These are the most obvious video hosting considerations to keep in mind:
Bandwidth sufficient to meet your needs
Ample storage capacity, but speed may be important too
Support for different industry standards and codecs
Content policies and restrictions
Support for commercial content and monetization model
Flexibility and scalability
Reasons for Starting a Hosted Video Site
But why would you bother setting up your own video site with so much competition in the space, not to mention hardware requirements that are bound to raise an eyebrow or two at the next company meeting?
There are a number of reasons for taking this approach — building your own brand, avoiding certain restrictions imposed by big video sites, restricting access to sensitive content (e.g. in video production example outlined earlier), or to simply try to create and monetize a new niche.
These reasons include the following:
Avoiding content restrictions
Use of different codecs
Remote video production
Self-Hosted Video Hosting Options to Consider
If your goal is to host your videos with a typical hosting provider, then chances are using a simple shared hosting plan won’t be enough, as your bandwidth and store options will be limited. Below we look at the types of hosting plans you should consider if you want to self-host your own videos:
Cloud Hosting for Video
A cloud host will help to handle the issues surrounding traditional server limits. Since you’ll be using multiple server clusters to serve your video content it can help to offset issues surrounding video performance and downtime.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting for Video
Using a VPS will be a much better decision than making the attempt to use a cloud host. If you’re only storing and hosting a handful of videos this can work, but if your site receives a serious amount of traffic, or you have a lot of videos, then using a dedicated host might be in your future.
Dedicated Hosting for Video
If you go with a dedicated host you’ll want to ensure the server will be equipped to handle both the size of your videos, as well as traffic, so make sure you purchase a large enough plan.
Requirements for Video Hosting Depend on Project Type
The type of video host you end up using will depend upon the type of video site you’re building.
For example, if you want to create a site that’s similar to YouTube, then you’ll want to use a video share script to create a site with the same level of features for your viewers.
In terms of cost and hardware requirements, both depend on a number of factors, ranging from the volume of content, regular and peak traffic and other technical issues such as resolution.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution — if you are planning to build a video service to cover biweekly or quarterly events, your requirements are much different than those for a daily video blog service.
A small or experimental service can get away with a VPS and mechanical storage, but for anything serious, you will need a dedicated server with a lot of storage, but simply adding more drives won’t solve the problem entirely.
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is an attractive option, along with cloud storage. If you expect to deal with peak traffic scenarios, you will also need more RAM and fast, solid-state storage.
There is no bottom line — preparing to host video for sports venues does not have much in common with hosting how-to guides and tutorials for students. The underlying technology is the same, but that’s where the similarities end.
Video Hosting Features
If you know that you’ll want to use a video host, then there are certain features you’ll want to look for.
Choose the wrong kind of video host and your videos will load slowly, or not at all, and you’ll be pushing the bandwidth and storage limits of your host rather quickly.
Rock Solid Uptime
Large and Scalable Server Resources
A High-Performing Server Environment
Built-In Video Customization Options
Rock Solid Uptime
If you’re going to be streaming a lot of videos, then your site needs to be online.
If your site goes down halfway through watching a video, chances are your visitor won’t come back to finish.
Even 99% uptime promises mean that your site will be offline for a significant amount of time.
Your best bet is to look for web hosts that boast 100% uptime.
These are harder to find and will be higher priced, but the investment will be well worth it.
Large and Scalable Server Resources
Almost every shared hosting plan says it’s unlimited. But, once you dig into the terms and conditions the unlimited claim isn’t so limitless after all.
Most hosts that offer unlimited bandwidth will scale down your server resources if you’re using a disproportionate amount of server resources.
This scaling down can happen with video-rich sites.
Your best bet is to find a host that actually offers unlimited bandwidth, or has the ability to scale server resources without impacting your site’s performance and video streaming abilities.
It’s no secret, but videos are big. The last thing you want is to hit the file size limit of your server after your first video.
You don’t have to search for the biggest server possible, because there are ways around it, like using a CDN.
But, you do want to find a host that will provide your site with sufficient storage. Most basic shared hosting packages won’t be enough.
A High-Performing Server Environment
One of the most frustrating things in existence is to have a video stop mid-way to buffer forever, or for a video to constantly stop and start.
This is a surefire way to have visitors leaving your site in droves.
The only way to avoid this is to choose a high-performing host or a host that’s optimized for hosting video.
You can also utilize a CDN to improve your website’s performance and improve your site’s video streaming abilities.
Built-In Video Customization Options
Some hosts are better equipped for video than others.
For example, does your host allow you to make some videos private for subscribers? Are there numerous video player options you can choose from?
Does your host support multiple different video files, or only a single format?
Before you make the jump to a video host make sure it can support the video format you upload in and has additional video support features.
If you do decide to go with flash videos on your site, then you might want to use a tool like the Moyea Web Player Pro, which will allow you to create a customized player for your website.
How to Future-Proof Video Hosting
Video is going through a bit of a renaissance.
Just as users were becoming accustomed to 1080p video, the industry kicked into high gear, transitioning to 4K/UHD.
UHD hardware is coming fast, delivering a crisp 3840×2160, 8.3-megapixel resolution.
YouTube is the only major service to support 4K-class resolutions today.
UHD TV sets are no longer immensely priced gadgets for enthusiasts with deep pockets.
Affordable UHD monitors are shipping, while companies like Nvidia, AMD, and Intel already support the new ultra-high definition standard even on entry-level hardware. Even the latest smartphones can record 4K video.
This quantum leap in resolution has to be matched by video hosting services, including your own.
While advanced compression codecs such as High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC or H.265) can to some extent compensate for the inevitable increase in bandwidth, they cannot solve the problem entirely.
For example, Netflix started experimenting with 15.6Mbps UHD streaming in April 2014, only to receive complaints about the poor quality of the stream.
Many viewers found the heavily compressed video looked no better than a 1080p Blu-ray, which employs Advanced Video Coding (AVC or H.264).
Mobile Video Usage
For better or for worse, lack of UHD content is bound to keep the transition gradual.
Not everyone will start producing 4K/UHD video overnight and few people will rush to buy new TVs and monitors until the new standard takes off.
However, mobile users are consuming video content by the petabyte and the numbers are going up.
The introduction of high-resolution phones and tablets, backed by high-bandwidth 4G/LTE networks.
While traffic on more traditional platforms is stagnating, mobile video traffic is booming and Cisco expects it to double between the end of 2014 and late 2016.
This increase will roughly coincide with the rise of UHD video, placing even more strain on video hosting services.
Therefore scalability and flexibility must be high on your list of priorities.
Your video host needs to not only allow for high-quality video streaming and performance, but this needs to extend to a user’s mobile device as well.
So, ensure you can offer videos in a compatible format.
Types of Video Hosting
Self Hosted Video Hosting
User Must Take Care of Hosting
Take Care Of Hosting
No Content Restrictions or Codecs
May Enforce Content Restrictions or Codecs
Users Must Setup Video Optimization, Tagging, and Other Features
Service Provider Will Usually Handle Video Optimization, Tagging and Other Features
Is it Better to Host Your Own Videos or Use YouTube?
With sites like YouTube and Vimeo becoming so mainstream as both a resource for marketing and information, it may seem like there is no purpose to hosting your own videos on a shared hosting platform.
However, many website owners don’t understand that they could gain some major benefits to their search engine optimization by creating a video sitemap, submitting it to search engines, and avoiding the urge to host a clip on YouTube and then embed it on their site.
Video sitemaps are not the easiest sitemaps to create, but it can be done.
After you have uploaded your videos to a specific file on your website, review resources on sites like Google to learn what steps you need to take to create a video sitemap.
Often times, if you can integrate videos into your optimization strategy, you can gain a lot of fans, followers, and views of your content.
Alternatives to YouTube hosting
If you want to use a site like YouTube to host your videos and then place on your site with a separate embed code, then you’ll have many different options to choose from.
Since YouTube video hosting might not be the best choice for every website owner we’ve compiled a few of our favorites below.
Wistia offers a wide range of plans that cater to users who just want to host a few videos up to those who need space for 50 TB of monthly bandwidth.
Beyond just offering a place to host your videos Wistia offers many beneficial analytics tools that’ll help you improve your videos, like heatmaps, viewer trends, and viewer engagement graphs. You can also order clickable interactive transcripts.
It should be noted though that Wistia generates video sitemaps for you automatically. Indeed, the platform has very strong SEO features.
Dailymotion offers you a similar video hosting environment to YouTube. It has a smaller viewership community than YouTube, but it excels in its ease of use, speed of uploading videos, and account management features.
Plus, if you upgrade your account you’ll gain access to more in-depth data and analytics features.
Vimeo offers you a unique mix between a YouTube-style site and a professional video hosting platform. The basic plan lets you upload a small collection of videos, but where it truly shines is in its higher level plans. It’s higher level plans have immense storage capabilities and offer you privacy options, better support, enhanced customization options and video statistics.
Sproutvideo is a feature-packed video host with plenty of paid plans to suit your video hosting needs. You’ll find features that range from video security to detailed analytics, to engagement and viewer tracking, to video player customization, as well as additional built-in video marketing tools.
Note that there aren’t any free plan options available, but the service is incredibly fast, both with uploading and video performance, and is quite feature-rich.
5. 23 Video
23 Video is a video hosting platform that aims to be the all-in-one solution for managing your video content. It’s more geared towards people who push out a ton of video content and are overwhelmed with using multiple platforms and social channels.
Plus, you’ll have the ability to completely customize your video player, embed videos on your own site, check out your video analytics, and automatically post videos to existing social media platforms.
Embedding videos into your own site might be an easier option for some users. All you have to do is upload your video to a video sharing site, get the embed code, and copy and paste the code into your site. Done.
The process is quite straightforward and will probably suit most users fine. So, yes overall the process can be simpler and will help you avoid the lengthy process of choosing the right video host.
However, this option might not be best for every kind of user. Uploading to sharing site can be simpler, but there are certain sacrifices, like outsourcing the storage and display of your videos to a third-party platform you don’t have complete control over.
Depending on the platform you use you might also be limited by video display options and other customization features.
Overall, using a video sharing site to embed videos on your site will be easier, but those demanding complete control over their video content might still want to consider the self-hosted option.
Additional Video Host Features
When you’re searching for the perfect video hosting provider for your needs there are a few additional features that will make your life a lot easier. This is doubly true if you’re going to use a traditional web host to host your videos.
Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A CDN can greatly improve the performance of your website and video content, no matter where your visitors are located. When choosing a host look for one that includes a CDN. Check to see that your CDN actually allows for streaming media.
If your hosting provider doesn’t include a CDN or CDN integration, you can still use a third-party service, but having it part of your hosting package will make the setup a lot easier.
Streaming video on your site will use up a lot of bandwidth. So, make sure you choose a hosting package that is either equipped with plenty of bandwidth or can be scaled up depending upon the needs of your site.
Remember, it’s better to budget for a higher-bandwidth host than to serve your visitors with underperforming and slow-loading videos.
FFmpeg is another feature to look out for. FFmpeg is a free and open source software that allows you to create, manage, convert, and stream video content. With its conversion features, you can convert your video into different file types, in order to reduce overall size without sacrificing quality.
If you’re trying to keep bandwidth and storage down, then this will be an invaluable piece of software.
Pros and Cons of Video Hosting
Hosting your own video is a process that you’ll need to spend time considering. It isn’t as simple as choosing a host and uploading videos to your heart’s desire. This is mostly due to hosting bandwidth constraints and the storage space that most videos require.
Uploading too many videos to your site will cause your site’s performance to decline, which won’t be very good for your user experience.
If you’re still on the fence about using a video host or streaming your own videos, then hopefully the list below will give you a little clarity.
Pros of video hosting:
You have complete control over the content in your videos and there are no rules or restrictions
You can offer your viewers various options to engage with your videos such as different formats
If you want to make changes to your video you’re free to do so having to take the video down and re-upload it.
Cons of video hosting:
Video hosting can be expensive
If traffic increases you have to make sure your host can scale with you
You’ll be responsible for video quality optimization, tagging, and other features
My Top 3 Video hosts
Of course, there are dozens of other features you could want in a video host, but the three technologies above will help to make your life a lot easier, all while improving video performance and maximizing your storage space.
A2 Hosting offers you incredibly high-performance video hosting, on both VPS and flex server environments.
It’s on the cheaper end, plus offers you a variety of bundled video software like ClipBucket, CumulusClips, and phpMotion, which can make it much easier to stream and host your videos.
If you want a top-notch support team behind you, then Siteground is a solid choice. You’ll find a very helpful support team that can help you with any concerns and questions related to hosting your videos.
It’s dedicated server plans are fully equipped to handle video and offers you the flexibility to install whatever video streaming software you require.
If video uptime is a big concern, then consider hosting with LiquidWeb. It offers a 100% uptime guarantee, along with being incredibly high-performance. It offers both VPS and dedicated solutions that can cater to your video hosting needs.
Video hosting is the process of storing videos and then streaming or otherwise delivering them to users.
What are my options for displaying videos on my site?
There are basically two options. You can use a service that hosts the videos for you, or you can do it on your own machine.
What is the difference between hosting videos and embedding them?
Hosting videos on your site involves having the video files on your server and sending them out in appropriate formats to users from your server. With embedding, the video is stored at and served from another location. From the user’s perspective, it looks like your website is serving the video, but it isn’t. A way to think about this is to imagine an image tag in a web page. The tag just tells the web browser where to get the image to display on the page. If the image is local: you are serving it yourself. If the image is on another website, that website is serving it. The page doesn’t appear any different to the user either way.
Why shouldn’t I just host my own videos?
Unless you have a dedicated server, you simply won’t have the space to store your videos and you won’t have the bandwidth to stream them — even if you have very few users. If you do have a dedicated server, you are still going to have to deal with bandwidth, which may require purchasing a great deal more than you otherwise would have to. You might be able to deal with that problem. But there are countless logistical problems with serving the video in various formats. It can be done, but it requires major physical and human resources.
Why wouldn’t I just host my videos on YouTube?
From a business standpoint, there are many problems with YouTube. One of the biggest is that it puts advertisements both before and on top of your videos. This could be a problem if you are showing off the functionality of your application to potential customers, only to have YouTube advertising a competing company’s product before your customer even sees your video. There are other potential problems including lack of branding, SEO limits, and its tendency to distract users away from your website.
Why would I just host my videos on YouTube?
There are many advantages to YouTube. According to its own statistics, YouTube has over a billion users and 300 hours of video are uploaded to the site every minute. It is growing at an enormous rate — 50% growth each year. It is easy to use. It is well resourced and rarely has streaming problems. And, of course, YouTube is by far the most popular video hosting system. Having your videos on YouTube means they are much more likely to come up high on search engine results.
What about other free video hosting services?
They all have their own strengths and weaknesses. But most have many of the same disadvantages that YouTube has like advertising. A lot of people like Vimeo because it is thought to have a more pleasant interface. But if you plan to use it a lot, you will need to use their paid service. Other services are limited in terms of video file support, bandwidth constraints, and many, many other issues.
Should I get a paid service?
It depends upon what you want. Having a paid service allows you much greater control, eliminates pre- and popup-advertising. And generally, linking to your video gives your site more visibility rather than, for example, YouTube, which gets Google Page Rank boasts from the videos you post on it.
What about using videos to push traffic to my site?
This is probably the best reason to go with a paid video hosting service. The number of YouTube users who click from a video to the website the video represents is incredibly small: usually less than 1%. So if a user comes to your YouTube video via a search result, it is very unlikely to end with them visiting your website. Of course, since YouTube is extremely popular (currently the third most visited site on the internet), your videos are more likely to be viewed if hosted there.
Is video hosting only used to stream video to customers?
Not at all. Wistia, for example, was started specifically to allow filmmakers to collaborate on projects. Video hosting can also be used to facilitate the development of video related apps. There are also video hosting companies that stream audio, which can be very important to certain websites.
What about live streaming?
Live streaming allows you to send video straight from a camera (or mixing board) to online viewers in real time. It is used to present everything from streaming concerts to millions of people to streaming a birthday party to far-flung family members. Most video hosting companies offer this service.
Should I worry about file formats and the intricacies of video streaming?
If you are a video professional, you certainly should! And regardless, you should understand the basics of video streaming so you know what people are talking about when shopping for services.
What is the difference between video and a video stream?
Video is a series of images, each of which is displayed for a short period of time. But to send a video over the network like that would use far too much bandwidth. So a video codec is used to convert the original video into a video stream.
How does the video codec work?
The video codec is an encrypting and decrypting system. The codec encrypts the video to be streamed, and then the user’s system has its own codec that decrypts it into a lossy version of the original video.
What about compression?
There are roughly two types of compression that are used: individual frame and video frame compression. Individual frame compression works much as it does with individual image files like jpg.
Video frame compression is accomplished primarily by sending only some full image frames, and filling the images in between with only the parts of the image that changed. There is, of course, far more to the process than this, but these are the basics.
What is H.265 and H.264 and H.Whatever?
These are just the names of different video coding formats. Different codecs use these standards to know how to encrypt and decrypt video files they are streaming.
What about High Efficiency Video Coding?
High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) is what is going to replace H.264/MPEG-4 AVC. It is the future. However, currently H.264 is the standard — even on Blu-Ray.
Kevin got his start as a web developer. Now he spends his time as a technical writer and poet. His main interests are technology and human potential. When he's not diving headfirst into technical topics, you can find him scrawling lines of poetry and getting lost in the woods.