What are the best options for video hosting?

Date: 11.11.12

A Comprehensive guide to existing web video hosting services, shared according to my own experience.

I am a web business owner. My site is dedicated to distance teaching English. Some of my lessons are plain text versions, and some require video learning materials.

Needless to say I have Members Only areas in my site.

All these features narrowed a list of elements my perfect video hosting should have.

First of all, I did not need my videos to be broadcasted and promoted. Actually, what I needed was the opposite thing – to store my videos in a way protecting them from unauthorized downloading.

Other thing – I was on a strict budget.

Keeping these concerns in mind, I started researching for a perfect option of secure video hosting, which shall allow my clients to play my videos flawlessly, and shall not be out of sight for the price.

In this review I am sharing my experience. Probably, your own knowledge is different. Please never hesitate to comment.

Before you start your search, I suggest defining your needs to yourself.

1. Accessibility of Your Videos – Public or Private?

This issue shall underline the list of possibilities for you. If you need promotion for your videos, than you have plethora of choice.

To start with, you can publish your videos on YouTube for free and get quite a lot promotion options there.

Or, if you are interested in analysis of views, you can go to such services, as Wistia.

In my case I had to dig deeper, though.

2. Budget Concerns

Some people would call them a curse, but other would consider them a challenge. Why not to think about them as about a reason for being especially inventive? If your budget is rather small, as was mine, you need to weigh all your needs and to understand, how essential they are just now.

In my case I had to choose between sustainable hosting and perfect statistical analysis options.

Even though statistics give you great possibilities to improve your service, I decided to put them to my wish list for the time being.

3. Have You Got Clients in Different Countries?

I was surprised after I made an analysis of my client base. I had clients in 65 countries! Of course, I needed my content to be served according to different countries’ limitations.

4. How Important Are Statistics for You?

Today you can receive answers on such questions, as

• How many men vs women watched your videos?

• In which moment they stopped watching and switched to some other channel?

When you know such things, you can amend your videos to make them more attractive to your customers. Sadly, such options are costly yet. I believe, though, they can be reduced soon.

5. How Technically Savvy Are You?

In my case, I have had some experience with serving videos; therefore I was able to install a proper video player on my site by my own. If you are not sure you can do it, you’ll have to opt for web hosts offering such service. They’ll charge you in addition for that, unfortunately.

Well, after those considerations I narrowed to the following video hosts.

Wistia (http://wistia.com)

I rank them 1st without any doubts. There you get the best speed of playing and the best quality of buffering. Other perfect options they offer are statistics and analytics.

Frankly speaking, you know what you are paying for.

Regrettably, I had to deny myself in this service due to my budget limitations.

Amazon S3 (http://aws.amazon.com)

It is an Amazon service for cloud storage. They have an option of replication cross different countries. They also give you an opportunity of serving your videos for members only.

On the other hand, their prices are really democratic. What is good for a starter, you pay only for the storage and replication you are actually using.

Still, you need to consider your technical skills, as they don’t offer any additional service rather than simply storing your products.

Per example, if your video is in MP4, you’ll have to bother converting it into OGG, so that your clients can watch via Firefox. Some third format would not harm, too. I usually opt for WebM.

HDDN (http://www.hddn.com)

This service is much like Amazon’s. They merely store your video files on very affordable prices.

On the other hand, their channel is a greatly accelerated CDN. In fact, the owning company is NetDNA, a CDN network provider.

You’ll need to use your own video player and think of choosing right video formats, though.

YouTube (http://youtube.com)

In this hosting you can publish your videos absolutely free. You receive such groceries, as statistics of views, a possibility of launching a brand channel, and various promotion options.

But what made it inappropriate for me was impossibility to hide my videos from general viewing. Therefore I had to deny.

Vimeo + Vimeo Plus/Pro (http://vimeo.com)

Vimeo is a similar service to YouTube. There you can publish your videos for free and promote them for the widest audience.

What make it different are their private accounts. If you pay for Plus or Pro service, you can serve your videos to your clients directly.

A Pro account gives you as much as 50GB of storage and 250,000 plays. On Plus you are somewhat less stuffed. But consider your real needs before choosing.

For technical newbies it would be nice using their built in video player, which works well with different video formats, saving you much headache. Other nice feature of the player is that it can be installed to a mobile or a tablet device, thus being really comfortable for your customers.

If you are interested, I finally stuck to Amazon S3.

My considerations were as fol:

  1. My small budget. Amazon attracted me with their policy of charging for actually used GB of storage and serving of videos.
  2. Cross-countries replication. Even though the pricing is reasonable, they offer duplication into various countries; this option was important for me.
  3. Possibility of update to Amazon CloudFront I received with very little change in my technical features. This CDN channel allows for the swifter content transfer.
  4. After long thoughts, I decided I can put analytics options on hold.

In the future I think I’ll opt for some other service with more customer service, though. As far as it is seen now, I’ll subscribe to Vimeo Pro or Wista.