It is beyond any doubt that multimedia content enriches the publications on your website, especially because it is proven that it is the format preferred by most users when it comes to consuming learning or entertainment content.
In addition, including video on your website increases the time spent on it, which in turn improves search engine positioning.
Including a video in a publication with WordPress is also very simple, you just have to insert a video block and upload your own video, or an embedded block and serve the video from one of the most common video platforms, and here comes the big question:
Is it better to upload my own video or host it on a platform and use an embedded player?
Which is better for the user? which is more compatible? which will look better? how does one or the other decision affect page speed? which is better for SEO?
In this article I want to expose you the main reasons why it is ALWAYS worse to upload a video and host it on your server, and why it is better to embed your video player hosted on a specialized platform.
Is there any advantage to hosting videos on your website?
Well, although we will see all the disadvantages later, there are some individual advantages to hosting your videos on your server.
- Faster process: Uploading a video directly to your website, hosting it on your server, is a fast and intuitive process, you just have to drag and drop or use a video block to upload it and it will be available. By contrast, hosting it on an external service always involves more steps, more waiting times for processing.
- A greater degree of control over how your content is used: Depending on the hosting configuration you choose, your video content, and how that content is used, can become the property of the platform you use. Self-hosting videos allows you to maintain complete control over your videos and how they are shared.
- More control over the look and branding of your videos: Some third-party hosting platforms, such as YouTube or Facebook, do not offer the option to remove their branding. Companies that want to be able to fully brand their own video content can opt for self-hosting.
- Caching: Any content hosted on your server can be cached in your own or a CDN’s cache, reducing load times for these usually very heavy video files.
- Generate more direct traffic to your website: When you host your own videos and embed that content on your website, you ensure that anyone viewing your content stays on your website rather than being sent to a different site.
While these benefits, for some companies, are reason enough to address the problems, difficulties and huge costs of hosting videos, most find that the advantages do not sufficiently outweigh the negatives.
Disadvantages of hosting videos on your website
But now we come to the drawbacks and problems of hosting videos directly on your website instead of embedding a player and using external third-party services.
Bandwidth is the maximum data transfer rate allowed by your web hosting service to view your website.
Video files can easily be large in size, usually over 100 MB, and that’s without looking for special quality. In such a scenario, you can expect your web visitors to feel frustrated while watching the video due to excessive buffering.
If you host several large videos and a few dozen people try to watch the same video at the same time, you may be consuming a huge amount of the bandwidth assigned from your provider.
Your provider gives each server a specific amount of bandwidth and resources, using average traffic rates that do not include large media files to multiple viewers at the same time when calculating that number.
If your video servers are sent too many requests for a single large file, you will quickly exceed the limits of the server on which your site is hosted and your provider will most likely shut down your site immediately.
File size and server space limits
To keep demand on shared servers low, web hosting providers limit the maximum size of uploaded files to 50 MB or less, which will prevent you from uploading video files that are longer than a few seconds.
In addition, large media files may violate the terms of your hosting provider’s acceptable use policy and result in the termination of your hosting account.
If you are able to upload large video files to their server frequently, you could eventually exceed the amount of storage space provided by your hosting account, especially if you back up your site regularly.
In addition to the amount of disk space your video files will take up, backups will start to take much longer to run. More data requires more disk space and backups take longer.
Excessive hosting and bandwidth costs
Even if you want to take on the above two problems, higher bandwidth usage and increased demand for space, performance and speed will inevitably lead to skyrocketing server costs.
If you need to continue to maintain your self-hosted video library online, you will soon need to migrate to a resource-intensive dedicated hosting service.
In most cases, a website costs around $9 per month or less for a basic WordPress site. For a site with a library of hosted videos, the costs can increase to at least 50 times this amount, and all that with no guarantee that the server won’t get saturated if there are concurrent views of your videos.
And you will still have the problem of bandwidth, as most services limit their bandwidth on a range of your IP addresses when they detect any unusual activity.
You could think about hosting your videos on your own high-performance cloud servers such as Google or Amazon WS but, again, the less successful your videos are, the costs can go through the roof.
Video file format conversion and compatibility issues
The current HTML5 specification does not specify which video formats browsers should support. As a result, the major web browsers have each gone their own way, and each supports a different format.
Safari will play H.264 (MP4) videos, but not WebM or Ogg. Firefox will play Ogg or WebM videos, but not H.264. Fortunately, Chrome will play all major video formats, but if you want to make sure your video plays in all major web browsers, you’ll need to convert your video into several formats: .mp4, .ogv and .webm at least.
You now have, at the very least, three different video files to upload, each potentially hundreds of megabytes in size.
In addition, quality can be lost in these conversion processes, and you will have users viewing your video in its expected quality, while those using other browsers may see it with low quality, creating a poor viewing experience.
Problems with file sizes for different devices
The file format is not the only factor that varies between different browsers and devices for videos. The size, dimensions, of a video is also very important.
The size of your video file directly affects its resolution. Resolution is determined by the number of pixels or dots per linear inch.
If your video is being streamed on a mobile device, you will need it to have a resolution of approximately 480p for a quality experience. On the other hand, if your video is to be played on a PC, it must have the ability to stream at 1080p HD.
Not only do you need to adjust the size (and therefore the resolution) of your video for different viewing devices, you also need to adjust it for different user preferences.
All this requires the creation of different versions of your video file, which will again generate more server space requirements and bandwidth consumption.
But you will also need to create a smaller, lower-resolution version for mobile devices such as phones and tablets, as well as delivery to users with slower Internet connections.
That means that for every video you add to your website, you’ll need half a dozen or more video files of various sizes and formats to ensure that your video can be viewed on all major browsers and web devices. But also, how will your site know which of those files to serve to which person?
As you’ll see, this is a huge problem.
It is true, on the other hand, that both WordPress with its player, as well as the main themes, will try to adapt your uploaded videos to the device, but in a process of resizing the window, never changing the size and/or resolution, and of course not the weight of the file.
Whether you use a plugin or the built-in WordPress player, you’ll need to create some code to tell the video player what formats you’ve created, as well as their location on the server. It could be something like this…
Code language: HTML, XML (xml)
<video poster="movie.jpg" controls> <source src="movie.webm" type='video/webm; codecs="vp8.0, vorbis"'/> <source src="movie.ogg" type='video/ogg; codecs="theora, vorbis"'/> <source src="movie.mp4" type='video/mp4; codecs="avc1.4D401E, mp4a.40.2"'/> <p>This is some content</p> </video>
Even with the built-in support for video in WordPress, you will have to create a shortcode like this …
Code language: JSON / JSON with Comments (json)
[ video width="960" height="540" mp4="movie.mp4" ogv="movie.ogv" webm="movie.webm" ]
And, after all this effort, your video still won’t look the same in all browsers, due to the problems we’ve seen above.
Loss of visibility, traffic and outreach opportunities
Additional visibility and traffic will always be a missed opportunity when hosting your own videos on your own.
When you host your videos on an external platform like YouTube or Vimeo you benefit from their inherent popularity. Not only will you get viewers of your website, but users of these platforms are also highly likely to find your videos and end up visiting your website.
Even better, hosting your videos on a platform like YouTube can be good for SEO considering that Google’s algorithm considers YouTube to be one of its 200 ranking factors.
When you host your videos you lose all these opportunities for additional visibility and traffic, and you will rely on your organic marketing efforts and paid advertising to generate traffic and improve your visibility.
Piracy and content theft
Be prepared for your videos to be stolen if you host them on your own, this is always the case. You can add watermarks to them, but you won’t be able to prevent someone from downloading them and reusing, reselling or whatever they want to do with them.
In hosted videos it is always much easier to access the URLs where they are hosted from the source code, no matter how many protection measures you apply.
Not to mention the problem that this can generate if your videos are part of a membership system, and anyone who accesses them once can download and resell them as their own material, or the third party unethically.
On the contrary, platforms such as Vimeo Pro allow you to discriminate even playback to be possible only on the domains you specify, thus preventing cybercriminals from taking advantage of your content, even if they eventually manage to download or capture it in some way.
Slow web loading
In addition to all of the above, even if you can cache or copy your video content to a CDN, you will still be uploading several megabytes of files for each video you have on your site.
If your video is hosted on a single server, that means that all queries for your content are sent to the same place. So if you have a dozen users trying to watch the same video, that’s 12 individual queries sent to the same server.
To this you have to add the already overloaded server, both in performance and bandwidth, not to mention if several users view the same video, which will generate a bottleneck that will always slow down the loading of the entire site, and sometimes bring down the entire website due to lack of resources.
And all this without even thinking about the users of mobile devices, with limited Internet connections, consumption costs per “megabytes”, processors, memory, features and players of all types and qualities.
Any user who visits your site with a mobile device will have a limited experience viewing your videos, in addition to generating a higher memory consumption, heating of the device and battery consumption, having to process the video directly.
On the contrary, by hosting your videos on specialized platforms there is no risk of slowing down the loading of the video or of these super servers where they are usually hosted. The weight of your pages will be minimal, as you will only add a few bytes of embed code and mobile device users will also enjoy the integration that these services usually come with by default in most platforms and operating systems.
Where should I host my videos?
Given the above, I don’t think you have any doubt that it is ALWAYS better to host your videos on specialized platforms such as YouTube or Vimeo.
If what you are looking for is diffusion and SEO your clear choice will be YouTube, and if your priority is brand protection and your content then you should host your videos on Vimeo Pro or similar professional platforms.
WordPress is fully compatible with all major professional video hosting platforms and embedding your player is as simple as copying and pasting the URL of the video you want to display.
What about Core Web Vitals and WPO?
If you are obsessed with Google’s main web metrics, known as Core Web Vitals, it is possible that these show you some warning regarding videos hosted on external platforms, absolutely true.
These warnings usually warn you that since they are external resources you cannot cache them, something unnecessary because they are already served directly from the high-performance caches of the fastest and most powerful cloud servers on the planet: Google and Amazon.
And they can also tell you that you are generating calls to external resources that can slow down the display of elements of your pages until they are not loaded, but this has technical solutions that with WordPress are very easy to apply:
- Preload the DNS of the resources – You can do this with all the good optimization plugins, such as Autoptimize, SG Optimizer or WP Rocket.
- Preload the specific resource – You can prefetch, preload or preconnect any resource to speed up its display on your website.
- Video lazy loading – Similarly, you can do lazy loading of your own or external videos using the native property of WordPress or optimization plugins.
But, above all, the overall user experience, going over all the drawbacks we have seen of self-hosted video hosting, will always be much better using externally hosted video players than with videos uploaded to our server, which can be summarized as …
- Full compatibility with all devices, sizes and resolutions.
- No excessive consumption of mobile device resources (processor, battery, memory).
- Consistent playback on all operating systems, platforms and devices.
- No customization codes.
- Zero hosting costs.
- Zero bandwidth consumption problems.
- Eliminate dozens of megabytes of weight from your pages.
- Better loading times and resource consumption by not requiring huge server and bandwidth consumption.
- Greater possibilities of visibility and diffusion.
Remember that the goal of web optimization and Core Web Vitals is to improve the experience of the user who visits your website, and that is a set of efficient resource consumption and fast and adequate visualization of your content in all types of situations and devices.
Still have doubts?
If you still have any doubts about whether you should host your videos on your server or on external professional platforms, well, just post them in the comments and we’ll discuss.