Web Hosting 101 – Part II: Unlimited web hosting
Unlimited bandwidth and unlimited storage for my website you said?, where do i sign!?…hold your horses my dear friend, there are some things you should know before going with this unlimited web hosting thing..
When we talk about unlimited web hosting, the most important aspects are: unlimited bandwidth and unlimited storage, there are other unlimited offers but these are the two that really catch people attention and usually get them to sign the deal.
For quite some time now, popular web hosting providers have been using the marketing gimmick unlimited web hosting to attract customers, so effective is this practice that more honest companies are already using it too!, and I don’t blame them, after all what can you do when every single potential customer is asking questions about your unlimited web hosting plans. But how does the whole scheme works?, how can a company offer you unlimited web hosting and get away with it?, after all, we know that there is no such thing like unlimited bandwidth or unlimited storage, so where is the catch?.
Nowadays unlimited bandwidth is the norm ( bear in mind that we are talking about shared hosting here ) and is not really surprising considering how your hosting provider will be restricting your account: CPU usage, entry process, ram and concurrent connections. You see, you will always hit the limits on CPU usage or concurrent connections before ever dreaming of using all that bandwidth. Yes your web hosting put limits on these, and believe me you will hit them sooner than later if you have a busy website. Think about this, a lot of people are visiting your site, soon some of them will be requesting the same resources, meaning that you will need more process running, more queries to the databases and more CPU time to handle those tasks along with more ram. One of these will hit the wall and then your website will become less and less responsive, not only that, every other website on the shared server will start suffering because of it, and that’s the moment when your host will suspend you account temporarily so that the other websites can keep functioning and also to avoid the collapse of the whole server. All this happen due to the hosting company overselling the server and for deceiving you into taking a hosting plan that was not right for you in the first place, but hey at least you get unlimited bandwidth!.
This is another sales tactics, also very effective, after all no matter how little you know about web hosting, you do know your fair share about storage and hard drives because you are always running out of space everywhere: your computer, your tablet, the cellphone… and now they are giving you unlimited storage?!. Where is the catch?, because there is a catch right?, yup there is more than one actually, just like in the case of unlimited bandwidth.
Hosting companies won’t allow you to use their servers like your personal backup depository or your virtual drive, you cannot use it for storage like you normally do, so forget about storing those mp3s there or your pretty collection of videos, ain’t happening. But wait, what if you are really using those files for your website?, if you do you will likely run into one of the limits discussed in the unlimited bandwidth section and even if you don’t, there is a safe guard protection for your web hosting: they will limit your i-nodes and once you hit that limit is bye bye for you, most of the time your account will be banned. My i-what?, for simplicity think about an i-node like a file on your server, each file will count for one i-node and you my friend cannot have unlimited i-nodes.
Should I avoid companies offering unlimited web hosting?
You certainly not. Remember what I said in the beginning?, even serious hosting providers are doing that now. What you should do is to understand the features that really matter when choosing a web hosting, here are some things to take into consideration:
- go read their Terms of Services, you will found the real limits there, look for: CPU limits, i-nodes, concurrency, ram, process, etc.
- check different forums and take a look into the problems of their customers.
- go chat with the sales department, ask specifically for things that are relevant like: will my WordPress website be OK with 4,000 daily visitors on this hosting plan?.
- check their support, do they have support 24/7?, do they have a phone number?, does your plan have premium support?
- what is their policy if you exceed the limits, do they offer scalability plans?.
- what is their uptime?, is it less than 99.9?.
There are many things that you need to check before choosing an unlimited web hosting provider but those above are the ones directly related to unlimited web hosting, knowing about them will help you to understand if that hosting plan is right for you or not. As you can see unlimited web hosting is just a marketing thing and it clearly is a shady practice, still that doesn’t mean that you should reject a hosting provider because of that, most of them are doing it anyway. Understand what features will really play a role on your website and then think carefully the needs of your site, only then you will know for sure what is the right plan for you, even if is an unlimited one 🙂