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Lesson 9 – Part 4 – Video Hosting Scorecard, Self Hosted Solutions

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Now that we have gone through my video assessment of the various hosted options, we are going to talk about self-hosted options. So in terms of self-hosted options the first one is what I have demonstrated in the past on the videos using FV WordPress Flowplayer.

Video Hosting on Shared Hosting

That option is essentially storing the videos on your shared hosting account. Your shared hosting account is your Bluehost account, or InMotion Hosting, or your HostGator, or whatever account it is you have that costs you about $4-$8 a month that is an inexpensive hosting system and theoretically offers you unlimited bandwidth.

In terms of quality, as long as the delivery of the video is fast enough then the quality is excellent because the quality will be exactly what you upload. When you are delivering a self-hosted video, that video comes across exactly as you uploaded it. So if you made it at 1280×720 HD version of the video, again you can reduce its apparent size on the screen, the full-size video is being delivered to the web browser and the quality is not degraded in any way from your original video.

In terms of functionality, it is pretty easy to put videos on your site. Generally speaking you are not going to be able to use the media uploader, you are going to have to use an FTP to upload a video from your computer to your site, but using FTP to make the upload is the most complicated part of it. Otherwise it is quite simple.

There is no adjustable bandwidth, so depending on how big the video is and how slow the connection is, the video can be nice and quick or it can be slow. This option will definitely slow your site down, first because of JavaScript. It is going to require some kind of JavaScript in order to run your player, so you have some kind of JavaScript player as a plugin.

It could slow down because of server resources. In a shared environment you are sharing the server’s resources and if there are a lot of server requests at the same time your video is being shared then your server request may sit on the backburner or may be interrupted as it balances the server requests from all of the different people coming in. In fact, sometimes you may experience bandwidth throttling where your bandwidth will be reduced to a certain amount and if you have two or three connections going out at the same time and your bandwidth isn’t equal to that then it can prevent further access to your site and can slow down the delivery of the videos.

Really, the moral of that story is that shared servers are not intended to serve video. When there aren’t great demands on the resources it will work just fine, but when there are any kinds of significant demands on the resources it won’t work. So it is not a good choice in terms of functionality of serving the video.

In terms of visibility, you can create a sitemap. Again, next week we will talk about how to create a sitemap. But you can easily create a sitemap to make the video visible. There is no chance for security. None of the players that will play a video being hosted on your site can deliver secure videos.

They can be easily accessed, easily downloaded, easily shared. There is no security whatsoever. Chances are, unless you have incorporated HTML 5, which you undoubtedly have not yet because it is very, very new technology, there is not going to be any mobility either. Self-hosted videos are usually displayed using some form of Flash player and therefore because of the Flash and because of the video sizes and because of the screen sizes involved, there is really no chance of those videos being viewed on a mobile device.

However, the cost is also none, essentially, because you are using your shared account which generally has unlimited bandwidth so it is not going to cost you anything to deliver those videos. So that is one option; storing the videos on a shared hosting.

Video Hosting – Virtual Private Server Hosting (VPS)

The next thing you can do is what I do with some of my videos and that is storing them on VPS hosting.  What I mean by that is a Virtual Private Server hosting.  I pay $90 a month to host byobwebsite on a virtual private server and I do that because of the high number of visits and the high amount of bandwidth we need in order to do our job.

So if you have your site hosted with a VPS the quality can be very high, because again the video is not edited or encoded in any way so it is as good as you made it. The functionality is essentially the same as what I just described in terms of hosting them in a shared hosting environment, except it is less likely that your server resources are going to be quite a bit higher so the delivery will not necessarily be slow. Again, I don’t ever get to within 70% of my server’s resources and so hosting these videos on my site doesn’t actually slow my site down.

Visibility is again the same as above. That is, it is very easy to create a sitemap and the sitemap works well. However, there is no security. Again, just as with a shared hosting environment, any video I host on my own domain is going to be automatically available to someone to download or access or share a link to.

Also there is no mobility, again because I use a Flash player and the Flash player can’t be viewed on a mobile device and it is not practical for me to attempt to circumvent that. And that can have cost, that is in some cases your VPS hosting may have bandwidth limitations so for your $90 a month you are buying a certain amount of bandwidth and you may in fact exceed that bandwidth, otherwise this is likely covered in your cost of hosting.

Video Hosting on Amazon S3

Your third alternative here is to store your videos on Amazon S3 and this is the one I actually recommend and the one that we use. In the first place, the quality is excellent. The quality of the video is exactly as I created it, and the speed is superior. Amazon S3 is a very, very high speed content delivery network and there has never been any problem with my members viewing videos that were hosted on Amazon S3.

In terms of functionality, you still end up with a little bit of Javascript that gets added because of the player, but besides that there are no resources of my hosting server in use. That is, it doesn’t require anything from my website to have these videos hosted on Amazon S3. Amazon handles all of the processing and all of the delivery overhead. Everything associated with actually delivering the video to the webpage is handled by Amazon and is therefore not hindering or slowing my server at all. It also has no impact on the bandwidth of my web server. So in terms of functionality, it is a superior solution.

It is also relatively easy to upload videos to Amazon S3, and relatively easy to embed them. In terms of delivery, the speed of the delivery of the videos is only limited by the speed of the recipient’s connection. So if your viewer has a slow connection then that can affect how well they view the video, but if they have a high speed connection then Amazon S3 can keep up with the fastest possible connection for delivering the video.

In terms of visibility, it is quite easy to create sitemaps for videos which are hosted on Amazon S3. In terms of security, it is actually very high. It really has the highest level of security, as long as you are using a secure player. The secure player we are going to talk about, the one I use, and in fact the only secure player I know of, for that matter is S3FlowShield player. You can find a link to that player on the resources page for the site. I’ve got a link to the player here, S3FlowShield Player, and then down under Week 9 Resources there is another link to the S3FlowShield site.

So this is the player I use and recommend. It has unmatched, unparalleled, security. There is no way that a video delivered using S3FlowShield can be downloaded or shared or in any way accessed by unauthorized users. In terms of mobility, it again doesn’t have any mobility. The system that displays it, the S3FlowShield player, is a Flash based player and it simply doesn’t work on mobile devices.

But the cost is quite low. In fact you pay for storage and you pay for bandwidth, but it is still exceptionally cheap. I am going to show you how cheap it is, actually. I am going to show you my last month’s bill. Remember that when this bill came out, August 2, I had probably close to 500 videos stored there, all of my live answer videos were being delivered that way, and at some point of the month all of my Ecommerce videos were also being delivered from Amazon, and my bill for last month was $8.24. Before we got the Ecommerce videos on, the month before, it was $7.74. If you go the month before that, it was $5.69. So you can see that there is incrementally a cost as you add storage and people watch videos, but it is exceptionally inexpensive. So it does have a cost, but that cost is quite low.

Downloadable Video

Then, finally, I want to talk about how just having downloadable videos scores against all of these. The quality is obviously excellent, because the video will be delivered in exactly the same size and format as you created it in, so you have complete control over the quality.

The functionality is very simple; it is just a simple matter of uploading a video to your site, putting a link to that video, and allowing it to be downloaded. There is no visibility whatsoever because there isn’t anything to put on a sitemap and there isn’t any sharing associated with it.

It is possible to secure it using encrypted download links, and eMember and eStore both will create encrypted download links for members to download the videos. So it is possible for them to download the video and still not be able to share the link, and for you to protect the link and only allow members to download from the link. Of course, once they have the video they can share it any way they want.

There is no mobility because there is no onsite viewing, and if you use it on a shared hosting account then there is no cost to doing this. So having downloadable videos may be a useful solution for some folks.

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