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Media hosting packages

If you’re streaming media from your site, you can’t just buy any old package. Karl Hodge asks a hosting expert questions to ask before you buy

This article first appeared in issue 230 of .net magazine – the world's best-selling magazine for web designers and developers.

With faster broadband there’s a demand for richer website experiences. Audio and video integration are becoming standard. To an extent, you can meet that demand using third-party services. Vimeo and YouTube for Video, SoundCloud for audio. All these sites enable you to upload media and embed it into your own pages.

What they lack is the ability to customise the experience. Neither of these services offers live broadcast capability either. Platforms such as Ustream and Livestream can do that but, again, there are few customisation options. For a more professional and flexible finish, you need to host your own media.

We talked to Darren Lingham of Tsohost about what to look for in a hosting account you intend to use for media streaming. “Adobe Flash Media Server as a software platform is a good but expensive option for live streaming,” says Darren. “If you’re prepared to put the work in, something such as Red5 Media Server is an open source alternative with similar functionality.”

Shop around and you’ll find hosting providers with either Flash Media Server or Red5 installed and ready to go for you. Those are better options when you’re starting up.

Another issue is that media files gobble up bandwidth. “Most hosts should be able to provide a service for basic audio and video streaming of recorded content,” says Darren. “The complication comes when you need to support live streaming or a massive number of users...

“Make sure you’re connected at one gigabit, find out how much of that gig port you’re allowed to use – and if it’s not unmetered, check the overage fees before you go live!”

We second Darren’s wise words here. The last thing your fledgling business needs is a huge bill you can’t pay at launch, or a blackout because you’ve run out of data.

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