Run Away & Hide! When A Hosting Company Offer You Unlimited Bandwidth And Disk Space.

Posted on 24 January 2009

These days “Unlimited packages” being offered by many web hosting companies and web hosting reseller. Be it dedicated server or virtual private server, people are just looking for cheap webhosting.  demand for unmetered bandwidth and unlimited ftp space have become increasingly common. Companies are claiming to provide unlimited disk space and bandwidth. This is just an advertising gimmick.

Bandwidth is the quantity of data that is transferred, from and to your server. Let me do some math. Let’s assume, you have an HTML file that is 60 kilobyte in size. If anybody accesses that file. he will use 60kb of bandwidth in that particular data transfer.

Let’s assume your website gets 100 hits a day. This means 6000kb of bandwidth utilization per day. If we expand it to monthly basis. the total bandwidth required would be 180MB

6000kb * 31 days = 186000kb (roughly 180 MB)

Using the method I mentioned above, anyone can determine their bandwidth requirement. Also you can decide if you need a dedicated server or a virtual private server called vps.  (by the way in webhosting linux is better than windows vps)

Size of your website and it’s popularity are the basic and most important factors that you should keep in mind when choosing a web hosting package. A little website with just a few static HTML pages containing some images can easily fit into a small hosting package that offer 200MB space and 1GB monthly bandwidth. On the other hand, if you have a website that is huge and contains audio and video files and it is visited by thousands of people every day – you must consider a package that is large enough to keep all you files and should allow at least 300GB of monthly bandwidth aka data transfers.

Beware! Never choose “Unlimited” packages… here are my reasons: There are many companies that try to sell unlimited hosting plans. But there are not many users who have tested their advertised bandwidth and disk space. If you ever get such an offer that promises unlimited web space or bandwidth. Stay clear of it. It is just a waste of your time and money. Look at real life. All things are finite. “Unlimited” does not exist. There is a limit to everything.

Energy is finite, water and oil supplies are good examples of it being limited. Even the sun would sooner or later shades away. Take the example of bandwidth for a minute. It can be compared to a water hose. the amount of water that can pass through it in a given time frame is limited. In one month period, you can’t push the whole ocean through that 6 inch pipe line. Same can be said about unlimited disk space. Has anyone ever seen a hard disk that has unlimited storage capacity?

Let me assure you, this is all a very ugly marketing trick that is played by web hosting providers. They call it “overselling”. Overselling is just a pretty name for the selling something you don’t have. Would you like to buy something that does not even exist. At least I will not. Think about this a little more. Unlimited bandwidth and Unlimited disk space are impossible.

As the Lawyers say: Devil lies in the detail. The truth about unlimited service is often hidden deep inside the small font of terms and conditions. These overselling liars that call themselves unlimited hosting providers just keeps theirs fingers crossed that no one tries to upload an enormous amount of data on their web space. They go to a great length to make sure that they get rid of all potential bandwidth and web space hogs as soon as possible. normally they do it by targeted bad service and outages. Here is some of the things they try to do.

If you sign up for a package and try to test the unlimited aspect of their disk space or bandwidth they will sooner or later suspend your account by stating one of the following reasons.

* According to them unlimited mean under 2GB of disk space and 5 GB data transfer per month.
* Their terms and conditions clearly stated that you are not allowed to upload any file larger than 1Mbyte.
* Most likely reason given for termination of your account is the clause in “Terms and conditions” that say “your account can be blocked anytime for any reason”

The word “Unlimited is abused by these companies to attract customers. These packages are very very cheap i.e. Blue Host’s offer of $6.95 per month for unlimited space and bandwidth with unlimited domains… on any given day just search twitter for blue host and see how people are crying and yelling at these offers. I stated blue host just as an example. host gator, 1&1 , easy cgi.. all big names in hosting offering unlimited for less than $20 are rotten tomatoes.

Like all good things in life. quality comes at price. Why do charge $600 per month for unlimited blog hosting? They too can’t serve CNN Blogs without crashing. Web space and bandwidth are expensive and you should be ready to pay for it. that’s as simple as that. if you look for free lunch, you are inviting people to scam you.

Best way to avoid scams is to calculate your bandwidth and disk space requirements and get a regular package from a reputable host that can do a Service level agreement with you. If you are like most of other people around and have a small website or blog that does not consume lot’s of resources. an unlimited package is great for you. hosting companies will love you and it is a win win deal for both of you as you don’t have to worry about your site being suspended due to a sudden Digg or Slashdot front page hit. Still there is no point in purchasing something that you don’t expect to use.

If you have a serious website and you decide to host it on a unlimited package. You are surely asking for great troubles. better get yourself a real regular package as soon as possible. This way you will get exactly what you have paid for and hold the hosting company accountable. Planning ahead and due dilligence is key to choosing a good webhost. Just keep in mind that it is not possible for anyone to provide unlimited amount of bandwidth and disk space. If you see anyone promissng that. be it google or even yahoo.. run for your life. they are out for a kill and you are marked… be safe and careful. have fun…don’t get scammed by hosting companies.

Just last word of advice. If you have lot’s of websites and blogs like me, you should signup for virtual private servers with unmetered bandwidth at a reliable hosting provider.  this way you can play safe. but you will then have to learn to manage your own dedicated server.

Here are some more cold hard facts about overselling in Hosting for Dreamhost blog

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How Should I describe me?... Well! I am a simple dude, who likes to indulge in intelligent conversation with an intelligent people, specially on technology topics hope you are one of them :p

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4 Responses to “Run Away & Hide! When A Hosting Company Offer You Unlimited Bandwidth And Disk Space.”

  1. wally says:

    Great post as I too have had my share of the cheap hosting plans over the last 10 years.

    May I ask which hosting service do you use for your sites?


    wally’s last blog post..Website Issues

  2. As you and others have pointed out, overselling is extremely common in the web hosting industry.

    Our feeling (which we’ve talked about publiclyhere and here) is that if it is managed properly, it isn’t going to lead to the demise of quality service or poor server performance.

    A lot of customers will choose a host that offers “unlimited” bandwidth over a host that offers “just” 800 or 900 gigabytes of bandwidth (which is essentially unlimited for 99.99% of sites). If every customer used 800 or 900 gigabytes of bandwidth, there are very few shared hosting companies would be in business with their current pricing.

    The difference between huge amounts of bandwidth and “unlimited” are negligible. The root (no pun intended) of good or bad server performance is CPU and other resource usage (which we and many other hosts continue to limit) and staffing (which we continue to ensure is sufficient given our support volume). At HostGator, we have the staff and technical resources to ensure that us offering unlimited shared hosting does not negatively affect our quality of service.

    If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to let me know. We’re happy to discuss this.


  3. Bob Frantz says:

    Being a small hosting and web design company, I found your article very interesting. I have wrestled with the idea of offering unlimited bandwith and disk space on our packages, knowing full well that most will never come close to our advertised package limits. It just sounds better to say unlimited bandwidth instead of 500gb. But I decided against it in favor of truthful advertising. We offer great hosting at very reasonable rates, and we don’t make claims we can’t keep. It would be nice if other hosting companies did the same.


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