Deciding where to host your media

With Seriously Simple Podcasting, you have the freedom to host your podcast media files anywhere you like, no matter whether you are using audio or video for your content. There are, however, some things to take into consideration when deciding where to host your content, and that decision will be different for everyone. So here are a few options that are available to you so you can make an informed decision and work out what the best platform is for you.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of your choices, but it does cover some of the more popular hosting options.

Your own server

Cost: Depends entirely on your host.

This is the easiest option as it means that you simply need to upload your media files in your WordPress dashboard, which you can do directly on the episode edit screen. The downside, however, is that your server may not be powerful enough to support this kind of hosting and media streaming. Most hosts will limit the amount of data that can stream and then charge you per MB that you go over that limit, so before you settle on this option make sure you contact your host and ask them about how they handle bandwidth usage for your hosting plan.

A dedicated media server

Cost: Depends entirely on your host.

This is similar to simply using your own server, except that it removes the heavy lifting from the same machine that your website is hosted on. The advantage of this is that if you start receiving a large number of downloads, it won’t affect the performance of your website itself. This is often achieved by using a subdomain such as media.example.com and uploading your media files there. Once again, the costs here depend on your host, so it might be a good idea to ask them about this kind of thing to see if they could offer you a server that has a much higher data transfer rate than usual.

Libsyn

Cost: $5 – $75 per month (depending on your storage needs)

Libsyn is a popular choice for podcast file hosting as they have been around for years and provide a number of useful add-on services (such as transcoding and stats). That being said, if you are using Libsyn along with Seriously Simple Podcasting, then you won’t actually have much use for any of the add-on services as they are (mostly) all provided for inside the plugin itself. The service is usually very reliable, so it is a generally safe option for your hosting needs, but Libsyn themselves do not recommend that you use them for video podcasting.

Amazon S3

Cost: You pay for the amount of space you use – details here.

Amazon S3 is a very flexible option for hosting your media files that allows you to have complete ownership over your content and pay for what you actually use instead of paying a flat rate no matter how much of the space you actually fill up. Bear in mind, however, that S3 is a service that is mostly catered towards developers and it is much more than a simple file storage server. This does make it seem a little more complex than necessary for many users, so it’s best to only use S3 if you understand the interface and are aware of how the pricing will affect you as your content library grows.

SoundCloud

Cost: Free, €5/month, or €9/month (depending on your storage needs)

SoundCloud is a hugely popular audio sharing service for good reason – it has a highly searchable collection of music from artists all over the world as well as other audio (like podcasts). You are also able to upload your own audio and get some basic analytics on your downloads for free. If you upgrade to one of the premium plans then you get more advanced analytics and greater storage space. Unlike most media hosting services, SoundCloud measures storage space by the length of your audio files – the free plan allows you to store up to 3 hours of audio across all your files, the Pro plan provides 6 hours, and the Pro Unlimited plan gives you unlimited hours. That’s useful to bear in mind as you start podcasting, because you may start small, but as your content library grows you will most likely have to move up through the premium plans before very long.

Google Drive

Cost: Free – $299.99 per month with plenty of price options in between (depending on your storage needs)

Google Drive is reliable, easy to use and generally very well-known. It is fairly straight forward to host your media with them and then link the files to your podcast. The main issues to take into account are your Google account security (the media files will need to be publicly accessible) and streaming bandwidth. While Google does not at this time have an official policy on how much data they allow you to stream, some users have discovered that their podcast files to not play reliably from Google Drive when they have a high listening rate. Note that when upload files to Google Drive, they do not generally supply you with an easy to find link to the raw file – they offer you a ‘sharing URL’ instead. To work around that, here’s a quick guide on how to get the actual file URLs for your media.

Dropbox

Cost: Free or $9.99 per month (depending on your storage needs)

Dropbox is similar to Google Drive and has the same pros and cons to consider – it is easy to use, but you will need to be aware of account security as well as streaming bandwidth limitations.

Internet Archive

Cost: Free

Internet Archive is a classic storage location, but it is not the easiest to use, with the interface being quite dated and tough to navigate at times. It is, however, free to host your media files with them. The hosting is generally very secure and reliable in terms of media availability, but the streaming speed can be quite slow and inconsistent, which could result in your users having to wait for buffering times while listening to your content.


There are plenty more options available to you than the ones listed here, but these are some of the more popular avenues for media hosting and these recommendations are simply intended as a guide to help you make an informed decision. None of the links in this article are affiliate links – this article is purely here to assist you, a Seriously Simple Podcasting user, to make the best decisions for managing your content.