Video hosting refers to storing and serving video files on a server or a network of servers.
Video hosting can be done in several ways. You can either self-host it — the DIY version of things; or opt for a cloud or go with a video hosting platform.
- Self-hosting: Requires hosting your video files on your own server or a third-party server that can be rented or bought. Self-hosting gives complete control over your video assets storage and how they get delivered to your audience.
The downside is that you have to meddle with the technical, operational, financial, and legal aspects of hosting and maintaining the video infrastructure, which can be an uphill task for the most tech-savvy people.
- Cloud hosting: The second option would be to go with cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), or Microsoft Azure. There is scalability, security, and ease of working. However, it comes with a hefty price tag.
- Video hosting platform: Video hosting platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, or Wistia have allowed anyone to host their videos online. You can choose t keep them in private channels to prevent public visibility. However, they may not be the ideal choice if your video operations are of an enterprise scale.
All said, there is no perfect video hosting platform. However, in this blog, we will focus specifically on the perils of self-hosting video, which is the first choice of most businesses starting their video journey.
The challenges of self-hosting videos
Although self-hosting video might appear to be the easiest and financially affordable option for a growing business, it comes with many challenges and limitations. Unfortunately, these challenges and limitations will come to light only when you start using them at scale. By then, it could be too late or difficult to get out of it.
For ease of understanding, we can broadly classify the challenges into technical and operational.
Technical challenges of self-hosting videos
Self-hosting and delivering videos involve a lot of technical weight pulling like video encoding, transcoding, streaming, file size or format optimization, platform/device compatibility, storage scalability, security, etc.
Complex server setup and maintenance
Like any storage requirement, self-hosting also requires a server or a network of servers to host your video files.
Setting up any server and maintaining it regularly is not a DIY project. It is a serious technical operation that needs expert hands and lots of time; which for most businesses are in short supply.
High bandwidth consumption leads to high storage costs
Self-hosting is similar to renting offline storage space. The more space your files occupy, the more money you have to pay. We know for a fact that video files are also typically large and require a lot of storage space to keep them accessible and secure.
The more video files and the higher the video quality, the more storage space you will need and the more money you will have to shell out.
Complicates video encoding and delivery
If you want to deliver video content to a diverse audience scattered globally and consume the video through various platforms and devices, you will have to convert and optimize the videos to multiple video formats. This complicates the video delivery process.
If not done correctly, it would compromise the video quality, cause slow loading times, buffering issues, and ultimately, unhappy viewers.
Limits infrastructure scalability
As your video library grows in volume and variety, you need a storage system that can grow in size without any limitations. Or there could be instances when you want to downsize your library to maintain a lean operation. Either way, scalability is a must-have for video hosting.
Unfortunately, in self-hosting, your own bandwidth and storage limits will become a bottleneck to your ability to scale video streaming. If you have a sudden spike or drop in your viewership, you cannot adjust your server capacity and bandwidth accordingly.
Minimized server Security
In self-hosting, the onus of securing your video files is upon you. And it will not be a quick fix like installing antivirus software. Self-hosting videos require extensive security measures like encryption, authentication, authorization, firewall, antivirus, backup, and recovery.
These are but only the technical challenges of self-hosting videos. There are still operational challenges that will plague regularly. Let’s take a look at them.
Operational challenges of self-hosting videos
We can describe operational challenges as those minor but significant inconveniences, the sum of which could put your video operations in danger.
Video quality could be affected
Self-hosting results in limited server capacity, bandwidth, encoding, transcoding, streaming, and optimization, all of which affects the quality of video you render to your audience. Quality degradation like pixelation, distortion, blurriness, or lag would be rampant putting your user’s video experience in jeopardy.
Page loading speed suffers
A healthy page speed requires the media (images and videos combined) to be optimized for faster delivery. However, self-hosting videos give little room for optimization. As a result, you could be serving bulky files on your website, which will slow down the page loading speed.
This can affect the user experience and the SEO ranking of the web page. If your website takes more than 3 seconds to load, 53% of the users will abandon the site, says a Google study.
Video accessibility becomes difficult
The video format you deliver on YouTube may not be compatible with Facebook. Likewise, for several other platforms. Add to the mix the need to serve videos to various devices with varying screen sizes and resolutions.
According to a report by StatCounter, there are over 10 different operating systems, 20 different browsers, and hundreds of different screen resolutions in use worldwide. With self-hosting, you may not be able to reach a majority of them, thus limiting your video performance.
Adhering to regulatory compliance
Video platforms have been in the spotlight for several reasons, mainly for infringing user data privacy and security. Several global compliances have been enforced to improve privacy, data protection, intellectual property rights, content moderation, age restrictions, and accessibility standards. Self-hosting videos make it challenging to comply with all necessary compliances.
Piracy of content
Along with compromised data security, you can set up minimal security measures to protect your videos from unauthorized copying, downloading, sharing, or streaming.
The case for using a video asset management system
A video asset management system is a cloud-based platform that can help businesses overcome the challenges of self-hosting videos. It can store, encode, transcode, stream, optimize, and deliver video files to the end-users across different devices and platforms.
When compared to self-hosting, a video asset management platform offers countless benefits. Take, for example, ImageKit — a modern media stack for businesses that want to host their images or videos on the cloud and also transform or optimize them for smooth delivery.
Using a video asset management system like ImageKit can offer many benefits for businesses that use video at scale, such as:
- Cost efficiency
ImageKit can help you reduce bandwidth consumption and storage costs by optimizing your video file sizes and converting them to the right format for efficient delivery. With ImageKit, you can compress, resize, crop, format, and transcode your video files to suit your viewers' bandwidth and screen size.
Further, as a cloud-based video asset management system, ImageKit can also help you store your video files on a cloud-based platform that can provide secure, reliable, and scalable storage. All said you will see tangible cost savings in video management and delivery.
- Improved video delivery and accessibility
Efficient video delivery on the internet requires an extensive network of servers. Mostly they come in the form of a global CDN distributed strategically. ImageKit’s video CDN will help you deliver videos swiftly without any buffering issues to your audience by leveraging servers that are located closer to their physical location.
- Video encoding and transcoding
ImageKit can help you encode or transcode your video files into different formats, resolutions, and bit rates to suit your viewers' bandwidth and screen size and make them compatible with different devices, platforms, browsers, and formats.
- Streamlined video asset management
ImageKit can help you manage, organize, edit, share, and analyze your video files on a cloud-based platform that can provide various features and services. You can also get a detailed look into bandwidth consumption and take corrective measures to check unnecessary usage.
- URL-based video transformation
ImageKit can also help you edit your video files by providing tools that can help you trim, crop, rotate, watermark, or add effects to your video files from the URl itself. There is no need to upload or manage multiple files. Also, the master file would be maintained intact without any modifications.
- ABS video streaming
With ImageKit’s ABS streaming, you can deliver the best video experience to your viewers that is bespoke to their device and network capabilities. Adaptive bitrate streaming adapts the video delivery to the user’s device capabilities and network bandwidth availability and delivers the optimal video quality that is free of any kind of buffering, glitches, or pixelation.
These are some benefits of using a video asset management system like ImageKit for businesses that use video at scale. Using ImageKit, you can overcome the challenges of self-hosting videos and enhance your video production workflow.
ImageKit’s forever-free plan comes with 20 GB bandwidth; you can upgrade to a paid plan whenever you’re ready.
Sign up today and start using ImageKit for your video needs!