Selecting where you host your podcast media files is critical to the experience your audience will have with your podcast and your website.
WARNING: Do not host your media files (such as mp3 audio or mp4 video) on the same account as your website.
Web hosting is not designed to serve large files that will have sporadic downloading behavior. Podcasting by nature will cause download spikes that typically occur during the 1-3 days following the release of a new episode. These spikes also may occur when your podcast is featured on a website or iTunes.
The last thing you want is for your website to become unreachable. This happens all too often when podcasts are hosted directly on the website.
Think of your web server’s internet connection as a pipe that limits how much data can be transferred at any given point. The server’s internet connection, for the sake of example, may be 100Mbps. If you have a 60 minute mp3 file hosted on your server and 100 listeners try to download that podcast at the same time, your server will only be able to serve each media file at 1Mbps. With today’s internet speeds, the user downloading the podcast will perceive there is a problem due to the slow downloading. Furthermore, the other 99 downloads will choke your website from normal web traffic during the download spike. The end result is a negative impact on your media delivery and your website.
Blubrry Podcast Media Hosting to the rescue!
The solution is to use a content delivery network (CDN) designed specifically for podcasting, such as Blubrry’s Podast Media Hosting. Blubrry’s Podcast Hosting uses a world-class CDN configured to handle spikes in downloads. When podcasts are hosted by Blubrry, download spikes will not effect your website and your audience will be able to download your episodes as fast as their internet connection allows.
Blubrry Podcast Media Hosting also supports download streaming. Combined with a web-based player such as the players packaged with Blubrry PowerPress, episodes can be played nearly instantly on your website.
Other content delivery networks and podcast hosting providers
There are many other CDN and podcast hosting providers to pick from in addition to Blubrry Podcast Media Hosting. When picking a podcast media host, make sure they support the following features.
- HTTP/1.1 compliant – Required for most applications including iTunes
- Byte serving and byte range request – Required by iTunes and many other portable devices and smartphones
- World class content delivery network – Guarantees fast delivery of media to your audience
- Audio/video content types – Critical for serving media to portable devices such as iPhone and Android
- All valid HTTP methods supported – All types of HTTP requests (e.g. HEAD, GET, etc.) must be supported to guarantee media delivery to portable devices and software such as Tunes.
- Default HTTP protocol – FTP (ftp://) and other non-HTTP protocols limit what applications and devices can download your media. Media should be served using the default (http://) protocol.
Amazon S3 for podcast media hosting
Amazon provides a simple storage system (S3) that, if properly configured, can be used for your podcast hosting needs. The application you use to upload your media will need to set the appropriate media content type. The content type is already configured if you use the web upload provided by Amazon. To properly provide the content delivery discussed above, you should also setup the Amazon CloudFront service with S3.
Amazon Web Services including S3 and CloudFront, are billed based on the amount of bandwidth and storage used a month. Because of the unpredictability of the pricing, many podcasters opt for Blubrry Podcast Media Hosting‘s flat-rate plans.
Where NOT to host your podcast media
In general, you should NOT host your podcast media on the following:
- Archive.org – Though it is a good idea to upload your podcast media to archive.org as a backup, it is not ideal for hosting your podcast for distribution. Archive.org is not set up as a content delivery network and the delivery of your media files is not guaranteed to be served with the requirements noted above.
- CloudFlare or Incapsula – These are excellent services for enhancing the performance of your website, for security or DDoS (denial of service) attacks. Unfortunately, they are not intended to host large media files. Media files hosted through CloudFlare or Incapsula may end prematurely resulting in an incomplete download in applications such as iTunes.
- On your own website – Of the many reasons it is a bad idea, the primary reason is because of file size. Large media file downloads can cause your website to come to a crawl following the release of new episodes.
- Hosting services that are not fully HTTP/1.1 complaint – Believe it or not, there are services that are not completely HTTP/1.1 compliant. If you are technology savvy, you can use tools do determine if a web service is complaint by testing for byte serving and HEAD request support.
- Cloud Storage terms of service – Services such as DropBox, Cloud Drive and Microsoft OneDrive have specific terms of service that do not allow you to use the service for content distribution. These services may throttle download bandwidth, not fully support the HTTP/1.1 protocol and/or terminate your service for violating their terms of service. Furthermore, URLs these services provide are not permanent, requiring you to update your podcast every few days with the latest valid URLs.
- Document Sharing services – Services such as Google Docs, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Office online, Confluence, Box, and Igloo are designed for sharing documents and files within a web browser-based ecosystem. Such platforms are not designed to host podcast media files.
Need more help?
Visit our podcast consulting services page if you would like one-on-one assistance setting up Amazon S3 with CloudFront for hosting your podcast media or consider one of Blubrry’s Podcast Hosting plans billed on your monthly storage needs.