A Complete Guide on Video Hosting (2023)

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It’s no secret that video is the most popular form of content on the internet. Need proof? Look no further than Sandvine’s Global Internet Phenomena Report. This roundup of 2022’s internet activity found that data usage from video sites increased by 24% year-over-year, and video now accounts for 65% of all internet traffic. If you’re hoping to build the brand of your global eCommerce business or just boost traffic to your blog, by ignoring video content you’re doing it wrong

Whether you’re trying to advertise a slick new pair of sneakers, host a webinar to build brand awareness, or provide instructions on how to build a model railway, video is, arguably, the best way to do it. However, recording your content is just the first step in the process; the next is uploading it to the internet. This is where video hosting platforms come in, and that’s exactly what we’ll be covering in this article. Fancy learning more? Read on!

girl recording a video

What is video hosting?

Just as websites require a web host, videos also require a host in order to be accessible to viewers. The most popular video hosting platforms (such as YouTube) offer their services completely free of charge, though paid services exist too, offering additional benefits (more on this later). Making use of a video hosting platform is a relatively simple affair, bearing little difference to the process of sharing content via Instagram or Twitter. Essentially, if you’ve ever uploaded a selfie to Facebook, you should have no issue uploading video to the web — the steps are practically identical.

Choosing a hosting platform — how do they differ?

So, you’ve produced your video content and you’re ready to share it with the world. Now you’ve got to choose how you’re going to host it. You’ve got two options: 

  • Video hosting platforms: The most popular choice — and with good reason! Using a third-party video hosting service is a breeze. Just upload your video through their website, and your content is stored remotely on their servers, ready to distribute to your audience. There’s no need to clog up your website’s server space with video content or optimize each video to ensure it will play on every type of web browser. Paid video hosting solutions may even provide extensive tools and additional features to help you promote and manage your uploads.
  • Self-hosting: An inadvisable choice for the vast majority of people. Self-hosting videos requires a high level of technical proficiency and can be time-consuming and costly. However, self-hosted videos are 100% owned by you, meaning there’s never any risk of your content being removed due to ‘broken guidelines’ or complaints from disgruntled viewers. For example, you can purchase cloud VPS hosting plan, create a website and share your videos there. 

Should I pay for video hosting?

Assuming you’ve chosen to go down the (far easier) route of hosting your video on a third-party platform, your next question might be “should I use a paid service?”. Unfortunately, we can’t answer this question for you, but we can provide you with some reasons not to immediately discard the idea of paying for something you could (at first glance at least) get for free.

One of the biggest advantages is reliability. Paid video hosting platforms typically offer high uptime and performance, ensuring that your videos are always available to viewers. By paying to host your videos, you’ll also free your viewers from the pain of advertisements, and on top of that, paid platforms typically offer robust security features to protect your videos from unauthorized access or downloading. Some premium video hosting providers, such as Wistia, are geared toward businesses and offer additional features that can be useful for business owners. These features can include integrations with software such as Hubspot, or the ability to run A/B tests on your video uploads to optimize their performance.

If you’re looking for a reliable and feature-rich platform (and you have the budget to support it), then a paid video hosting platform may be the best choice for you. However, if cost is a major concern (and you’re willing to forego all the extra benefits of a premium platform) then you may want to consider sticking to YouTube or Dailymotion.

What about self-hosting?

In short, we wouldn’t recommend it. No matter which way you spin it, self-hosting video content is difficult — even if you are a dab-hand in computer programming and technical maintenance. Don’t forget — you’ll still need to pay a premium for a server setup with enough storage and bandwidth to ensure a smooth viewing experience. 

While the allure of going independent is undeniably attractive, third-party hosting is a more efficient solution. The teams behind these platforms are grizzled veterans of the sector, and they’re armed with all the tools to ensure an error-free experience for your viewers. Why create extra work for yourself? Hosting videos on a third-party website reduces costs, minimizes stress, and saves heaps of time. There’s no need to worry about the video format, either; it’s a plug’n’play solution, so just upload the file and share the link (or embed it directly onto your website).

On the flip side, self-hosting demands a significant investment of time and a sizable chunk of your budget. Third-party video hosting companies minimize these requirements, allowing you to focus on other important aspects of your brand.

Third-party video hosting — benefits and drawbacks

It’s always a good idea to weigh up the pros and cons, so before we finish up, let’s assess the benefits and drawbacks of using a third-party video hosting platform.

Keep in mind, though; some of the drawbacks we’ve listed won’t apply to every platform out there. As always, it’s best to do your own, independent research (this blog on video hosting by Cloudways is a great place to start!)

The benefits of third-party video hosting

  • Reliability: Third-party video hosting platforms typically offer high uptime and reliability, ensuring that your videos are always available to viewers.
  • Scalability: Third-party platforms can handle a large volume of traffic and can easily scale to meet the needs of your growing audience.
  • Features: Many third-party video hosting platforms offer additional features such as video editing tools, monetization options, and analytics.
  • Security: Third-party video hosting platforms typically offer robust security features to protect your videos from unauthorized access or downloading.
  • Distribution: Third-party platforms can help you reach a wider audience by distributing your videos to multiple platforms, such as social media and other websites.
  • Technical support: Third-party platforms provide technical support and troubleshooting assistance to help you with any issues that may arise while using the platform.
  • Monetization options: Some third-party platforms offer monetization options such as ads, subscriptions, and pay-per-view.
  • Bandwidth savings: Third-party platforms take on the responsibility of delivering videos to viewers, which can save you money on bandwidth costs.
  • Professional look and feel: Third-party platforms often have customizable players and options for branding which can give a professional look to your videos.
  • Reduced maintenance and infrastructure costs: You don’t have to worry about maintaining servers and infrastructure since the platform provider will take care of that.
  • Access to a wider audience: Third-party hosting platforms can have a wider audience reach than self-hosting, and can also provide a better viewer experience.

The drawbacks of third-party video hosting

  • Cost: Many third-party video hosting platforms charge a fee for their services, which can be costly for some users.
  • Limited control over content: When you use a third-party hosting platform, you may not have complete control over your content and may be subject to the platform’s terms of service and policies.
  • Limited branding: Some third-party video hosting platforms have strict branding guidelines that may not allow you to fully customize the player or watermark your videos.
  • Privacy concerns: Some users may have concerns about privacy and the collection of viewer data by third-party hosting platforms.
  • Dependence on third-party: You are dependent on the third-party hosting platform and if they shut down or change their policies, it may affect your videos.
  • Limited ownership: You don’t have full ownership of your video content and you might have to take permission from the platform to use it somewhere else.

Wrapping up

Hopefully, we’ve demystified the world of video hosting! In short, it’s almost always better to choose a third-party hosting solution for your video content. If you can afford to invest in a paid service, even better (but this is far from a necessity). Of course, let’s not forget the most crucial factor of all when it comes to video content — what are you uploading?

It doesn’t matter how amazingly buttery smooth the load times are, or how pretty your custom player looks — if the content is sub-par, your efforts will have been all for nothing! Browse our wide range of videography courses if you’re keen to create polished, professional content.

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