Last updated: December 23, 2020
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What is Video Hosting?
Video hosting has been around for years and online video is usually associated with big streaming platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo or Dailymotion.
However, streaming is not the only option — as some users may require downloads.
Some companies could also require an internal content sharing platform or a customized video player that matches a brand or service.
Creative professionals and enthusiasts can 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.
You'll be able to choose between:
- Dedicated streaming services
- Content-driven video sites
- Traditional hosts with video support
- Video-specific hosting solutions
Video Hosting Requirements
Video is resource-intensive on more fronts than one. With the likes of 4k quality becoming a norm, average bandwidth requirements and resolutions for online video have gone through the roof in recent years.
Note: Most standard hosting plans lack the resources to cope with video content.
What to Look for in a Video Host
These are the most obvious video hosting considerations to keep in mind:
- Sufficient bandwidth
- Ample storage capacity
- 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?
These reasons include the following:
- Brand building
- Avoiding content restrictions
- Advertising revenues
- 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: multiple server clusters help transcend traditional server limits around performance and reliability.
- VPS hosting for video: an adequate choice if you don't have tons of video content.
- Dedicated hosting for video: your own secure server, usually customizable to suit your bandwidth and storage needs.
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. Factors to consider are:
- Desired features: if you want features similar to YouTube, you'll need a video share script. The same goes for custom features you may want, like regular streaming events.
- Cost and hardware: these will depend on the likes of content volume, quality, and traffic.
- Extras: cloud storage and a content delivery network (CDN) may prove useful, not to mention extra RAM to handle the waves of traffic.
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.
You'll most likely want:
- Rock-solid uptime: you don't want downtime when an audience relies on your content.
- Abundant and scalable server resources: decent SSD storage and ample RAM go a long way. Videos are big, and the last thing you want is to hit the file size limit of your server.
- High-performing server: ideally a host with optimized servers for video content and other data-heavy media.
- Video customization options: this will save you having to code, or worse, pay for a developer to create custom features like video streaming or the option to pre-download videos to watch offline.
- Content delivery network (CDN): If your hosting provider doesn't include a CDN or CDN integration, you can still use a third-party service. Ensure your CDN service allows video content and streaming.
- FFmpeg: a free and open-source software that allows you to create, manage, convert, and stream video content.
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 at an affordable price, for which hardware from companies like Nvidia, AMD, and Intel is ready for.
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. It's now only available on specific devices.
Mobile Video Usage
For better or for worse, lack of UHD content is bound to keep the transition gradual as:
Traffic on more traditional platforms is stagnating while mobile video traffic is booming.
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.
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 the best for every kind of user. Uploading to sharing sites can be simpler, but there are sacrifices like outsourcing the storage and display of your videos to a third-party platform you have little control over.
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Video Frequently Asked Questions
- What is video hosting?
Video hosting is the process of storing videos on robust and resource-rich high-performance hosting servers, often with the intent to deliver those videos to audiences. Video hosting is used to present streamable or downloadable video material, as well as live streams.
- Where can I host videos besides YouTube?
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. Dailymotion is also popular and offers 4k video quality. Other services are limited in terms of video file support and bandwidth constraints. But like YouTube, most have similar disadvantages like advertising.
- What is live video 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 stream a birthday party to far-flung family members. Most video hosting companies offer this service. It is a great way to engage with a larger live audience.
- What is the best file format for streaming video?
The most popular video file formats include MP4, AVI, MOV, MKV, AVCHD, FLV, and SWF. As to which format is the best to stream your videos, it will depend entirely on your set up and requirements. Choosing the best format will depend on different factors like your video hosting service or streaming platform.
- How much does video hosting cost?
If you want to self-host your videos, your options are cloud, VPS, or dedicated hosting, which tend to be more expensive. Cheaper options like shared hosting do not have the resources needed for video hosting.
However, there are affordable plans available that will still give you the speed and storage you need to successfully host your videos. The plans we recommend start as low as $4 per month, and can go as high as $59 per month.
- What is video 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 by sending selected image frames and filling the missing frames with some parts of the image that changed, basically recycling repetitive data.
- What are the most popular video sharing platforms?
As of 2020, the most popular video platforms include YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion, Hulu, Twitch, and Metacafe. There are many other video sharing platforms that specialize in live-streams, ones like Twitch. Many organizations are now hosting their own videos, one of these being TED.
- What are my options for displaying videos on my site?
You can display videos on your website by using a third-party service who hosts your videos, alternatively, you can host your own videos with a video hosting solution. There are specialist third-party services for video hosting, just as there are specialist hosting solutions with generous resource allowances designed for purposes like video hosting.
- What is the difference between hosting videos and embedding videos?
Hosting videos on your site involves having the video files on your server and distributing them to users in appropriate formats. When you embed a video, the content is stored on another server, and not your own.
Irrespective of hosting or embedding your videos, the user's perspective of your website serving the video doesn't change.
- Why shouldn't I 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. If you do have a dedicated server, you are still going to have to deal with bandwidth, which may require purchasing more than you planned. There can be countless logistical problems with serving videos in various formats. It can be done, but it requires major physical and human resources.
- Why wouldn't I host my videos on YouTube?
One of the biggest downsides to hosting with YouTube 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 since YouTube's advertisement of a competing company's might overtake your video. Other potential problems include lack of branding, SEO limits, and the tendency to distract users away from your website.
- Should I host my videos on YouTube?
There are many advantages to hosting with YouTube. According to Hootsuite, people upload 500 hours of video to YouTube every minute, while each visitor spends more than 11 minutes watching videos each day. It is easy to use. It is well resourced, rarely has streaming problems and its 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 are the benefits of paid video hosting?
Having a paid service allows you much greater control and eliminates pre-roll 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. Paid video hosting also removes many mass restrictions on what you can and can't upload.
- 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.
- 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 is the difference between a video and a video stream?
A 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 (compress and decompress) 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. This minimizes the size of the data being transferred.
- What are H.265 and H.264?
These are the names of different video coding formats. Different codecs use these standards to know how to encrypt and decrypt video files they are streaming. H.265 is also known as HEVC (High-efficiency video coding), while H.264 is known as AVC (Advanced video coding).
- What is the difference between H.265 and H.264?
H.265 is far more efficient than H.264, hence it's name HEVC (High-efficiency video coding). It reduces the file size more than H.264 and therefore requires less bandwidth for data transfer. H.265 processes information via Coding Tree Units (CTU) that allows the greater compression to take place.
- Can I host videos on WordPress?
Yes, you can host videos on WordPress. Since it is a CMS, it allows you to store content, and that includes videos. WordPress also allows you to stream videos by installing and configuring the right plugins. However, the WordPress CMS is not designed for video-heavy content, in which case a CDN is a useful supporting feature.