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How to Save on Bandwidth Costs

Reading many ISV (Internet Software Vendor), uISV (Micro ISV) blogs, etc. you often hear how bandwidth costs can sometimes quickly escalate with success. Jeff Atwood of CodingHorror.com posted an article (with a nice follow-up) on this very subject describing many things you can do to minimze your bandwidth costs. These are:

  1. Switch to an external image provider.
  2. Turn on HTTP compression.
  3. Outsource Your RSS feeds.
  4. Optimize the size of your JavaScript and CSS

All great options, no doubt about it. But another option that is very often overlooked by software companies is the size of their software installers. It’s very easy to forget, never mind completely miss, the size of the installer. For us here at LandlordMax it was always an issue because we also install a local JVM which is considerably large. With each new version the size of the installer steadily increased until it was about 36Mb. This might not seem so big compared to some of the other larger software applications in the market, but when you’re looking at thousands of downloads a month this quickly adds up to a lot of bandwidth.

Late last year we changed the software we used to create our installer to Install4j (you can read my review on this great installer here) and it was able to drastically reduce our installer size by about 50%! Yes, that’s a full 50%! What does that mean? Well if you consider that the majority of our bandwidth is used for downloading LandlordMax, then we were able to reduce our bandwidth by about 50%.

None of the suggestions above could have reduced our bandwidth nearly as much as this one change to the installer. On this blog (FollowSteph.com), the above four suggestions do indeed have a very significant impact, but on LandlordMax because of the nature of the website, the change in the installer completely overwhelmed any of the impact these changes would have had. This is not to say that I don’t strongly believe you should do them, but that in this particular instance another tactic to reduce bandwidth was much more crucial.

So the lesson of the day, other than to do the above great suggestions by Jeff (especially for blog type websites), is to look at your software installer and see if you can’t reduce its size (assuming you’re a software company). The impact may be more significant than you might realize.

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