by Jerry Low
You’ve read the claims of some of the popular web hosting companies out there.
“Unlimited hosting for mere dollars a month!”
Unfortunately, this isn’t and couldn’t possibly be the case. Quite frankly, it is a form of false advertising.
While most websites will never run into an issue with these so-called unlimited hosting accounts, because those sites will never come close to using enough disk or bandwidth space to overwhelm the server, you do run the risk of the server crashing if you suddenly have a spurt of traffic.
Learn what hosting companies mean by “unlimited”, when you should be concerned, and how to find a webhost that truly will take care of your needs as a site owner.
A closer look at unlimited hosting deals
Let’s take a look at couple of “unlimited” hosting plans and what they really bring to the table. Of course, there are many others out there, but these are some of the more popular ones.
GoDaddy Deluxe hosting offers unlimited bandwidth and disk space at the price of $4.49/mo at time of writing. However if you dig into the GoDaddy’s Hosting TOS, you’ll see that the company’s unlimited plans are subject to a limit of 500,000 inodes per accounts and 1,000 database tables. Any account that exceeds these limits will be issued a network violation warning and may be temporarily or permanently suspended.
iPage claims that you can get unlimited hosting space and data transfer along with a handful of other features for as low as $1.89/month.
Sounds good? Wait until you read the company’s User’s Agreement. iPage stated clearly that the company will put constraints on hosting accounts that are using more resources than the normal rate. In other words, your “unlimited hosting” account will be suspended for over-usage.
WebHostingHub is another hosting provider that claims to offer “unlimited” hosting for as low as $1.99/month.
However if you dig into WebHostingHub’s TOS, you will see that:
- Hosting accounts with more than more than 75,000 inodes or 10 GB storage are not backed up.
- Hosting accounts might get suspended due to excessive server usage.
The same ‘unlimited hosting practice’ is implemented at BlueHost. The company claims that you can get unlimited hosting space and data transfer along with a handful of other features for as low as $4.95/month.
Don’t believe it for a minute.
BlueHost will throttle your hosting account CPU usage once it is pulling too much resource from the server. At this particular time, your website will responds extremely slowly and your jailed website will only be released when the staffs think it is okay.
The naked truth
Unlimited hosting claims are crazy, because it is impossible to have unlimited disk storage and bandwidth.
Think about it this way… If you are on a server that has space for 15 normal sized and bandwidth using websites with a bit of flex room for the “unlimited” portion and just one of the people on that server with you overuses the space or bandwidth of a “normal” site, then every website on that particular server is going to suffer. You can rest assured there will be people who will take full advantage of the unlimited part of an offer and crash the server, slow it down, or otherwise interfere with the way you want to use the servers.
Unlimited hosting is like all-you-can-eat buffet, you are welcomed as long as you don’t eat too much. Strain the servers and you’ll find yourself hunting for a new web hosting company.
Why would a hosting company offer “unlimited” hosting?
There are so many web hosting companies out there that it is impossible to count them all, with more starting every day. To succeed in this business, hosting companies must have marketing gimmicks that pull in new customers and pull in new ones consistently. They may lose a few as these gimmicks do not pan out, but others will stay simply because it is too much of an aggravation to move their site to another server.
ShoutCheap describes the word “unlimited” as being an extremely powerful word with consumers. “With the unlimited word, you can almost sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo.”
Some of these hosting companies have untold amounts of space available for hosting. For the average website owner, “unlimited” may never become a problem for the hosting company, because you’ll never even come close to using the amount of space they’ve allocated for you.
Since they know you’ll never use the space they have set aside for your website, they “oversell” the space. They count on you not using it all. By offering the service inexpensively, the company becomes extremely competitive in the marketplace. They can sell “unlimited” space because they know you’ll never use all their space, or at least they are betting that you won’t. This is a good thing in that it cuts costs dramatically for the beginner or amateur web host.
However, if you become a problem because your site is getting massive traffic and slowing down the servers, taking up too much space, or otherwise impacting the quality of service they can offer the majority of users, they will throttle your site.
When are limited hosting plans okay?
There are numerous web hosting companies out there that offer “unlimited” plans. There are also occasions when it is fine to utilize these unlimited plans. Just be aware that they truly are not unlimited, because this may be an important consideration as your website grows in size and popularity.
In my opinion, you may want to use an inexpensive plan when:
- You’re a first-time blogger.
- Your site is still small and you don’t need a lot of processing power.
- When your site is small and do not need a lot of CPU power – if you are a first time blogger, 99% of you will be doing okay with a budget unlimited hosting.
- You do not have massive images and do not offer downloads.
The bottom line is that if you plan to run a family or a small business website, then these low-cost unlimited hosting may be all you need. If you plan to get large amount of traffic in your website’s existence, then buyer beware.
Keep in mind that you can avoid problems with these hosts with a proper designed and well optimized blog because it is less likely to overuse processing power.
Web hosting is more than disk storage and bandwidth
When you’re choosing a web host, storage and bandwidth shouldn’t be the first thing you look at. With today’s plans and additional storage space, these are less important factors than things like an easy-to-use control panel, after sales support, site backup features and add-ons like WordPress automated installation.
Even if you choose a host with lower storage space, you can easily store images online at Flickr, keep videos on YouTube and Vimeo, and store large data files on Box. In addition, you can speed up your blog and save space by using a content delivery network (CDN) service. This will help with bandwidth concerns as well, particularly if your blog is gaining popularity quickly.
To choose the perfect web hosting for your needs, it is best to look at all aspects of your needs as a website owner. This can help you choose the right webhost the first time, so you aren’t stuck searching for a new host and moving all your files after the fact. This 15-point checklist web host shopping guide can help you choose the perfect host for your needs.