Why ‘Unlimited’ Web Hosting Should Make You Run For The Hills
When searching for a web host, there are many things to consider. Some of these things undoubtedly include features and value for money. But are you always getting what it seems (and is claimed)? The answer is sadly, not always.
Many web hosts tempt people, rather successfully, into purchasing ‘unlimited’ plans that have a either ‘unlimited’ disk space or ‘unlimited’ bandwidth. Now although this might seem tempting, at this point you should run for the hills and never look back. Big and small companies alike are guilty of this practice, which is, quite simply, dishonest.
Image : Widjaya Ivan
1. Unlimited Disk Space.
Imagine I’m a computer salesman in your favourite computing shop and you come in looking for a new computer. I show your our best deal, £599 for a brand new PC with unlimited disk space! Great, you’ll never run out of space for those all important files.
But hang on a second, there’s no such thing as a hard drive with ‘unlimited’ disk space, otherwise we’d all have them! You decide to leave this shop and go to another one where they’re offering more open and honest advice.
Remember, a server is just essentially a computer. There is no such thing as an unlimited hard drive. Yes, the company can add more hard drives, but from experience, they’re not going to do this.
There’s likely a nice policy somewhere on the website called, Terms and Conditions, Fair Use Policy, Traffic Management Policy or something similar. These normally limit your ‘unlimited’ disk space to something along the lines of ‘an average amount of disk space for a personal or business website’. Right well that’s as clear as mud. Your disk space might be limited by such policies to 10MB, 100MB, 1GB. By using policies with ‘weasel words’ it basically means that the web host can impose any limit they like on disk space usage by an account by setting their ‘average amount’.
It’s much safer to go with a web host that actually states a figure for their disk space, rather than ‘unlimited’. The terms are clearly defined in your order and there can be no dispute or arbitrary changing of the figures after you have paid.
2. Unlimited Bandwidth
As with disk space, bandwidth is another thing that is finite in this universe. Each server has a connection to the Internet and each of these connections has a finite bandwidth limit.
Even ignoring that point, a ‘unlimited’ web host is not going to let you transfer massive amounts of data every hour.
There’s usually some terms and conditions relating to ‘unlimited’ bandwidth as well – that impose actual limits on the ‘unlimited’ bandwidth or impose file size limits for individual files (usually a few MB or less) or impose what types of file you can have on your website.
Bandwidth costs money. Somebody has to pay for it. A web host isn’t going to make massive losses so that you can have a £5/month account with them while transferring gigabytes of data per hour.
3. Some examples to think about
Say for example, I sell strawberries. And, in this example, you absolutely love strawberries. I offer you unlimited strawberries for £3.99 / month! Fantastic….. or so you think. In our contracts small print (terms and conditions) I’ve placed a clause stating ‘unlimited’ strawberries based on the average consumption of 10 strawberries a month.
So basically, you’ve just gone from unlimited strawberries, to 10 strawberries a month. So why didn’t I just say 10 strawberries a month for £3.99?
The reason why, in this example, I didn’t say 10 rather than unlimited is because unlimited sounds better. It sounds like I’m giving you more, when in reality, the reason I’m probably advertising my ‘unlimited strawberries for £3.99 / month’ in that format is likely because I’m offering you less than the man with the stall next to me advertising 50 strawberries a month for £3.99.
Web hosting is a service, it costs money. Think of it as your ‘home’ on the Internet and think of it in terms of a real physical home. Do you go with the estate agent that offers you a house with ‘unlimited* rooms for £300,000′ or the one that offers you ’10 rooms for £300,000’?
*unlimited subject to a maximum of 2.
Unlimited sounds great. But, as with most things in life, is a complete fallacy in regards to web hosting. Unlimited web hosting deals may look the most attractive, but likely provide you with the least and in most cases provide you with less than you would get with a web host that states disk space and bandwidth limits.
At DPS Computing, we are so confident that no web host can provide an ‘unlimited’ hosting package that we are willing to set a challenge.
Any web host which would like us to test out their ‘unlimited’ package is more than welcome to get in contact with us and if it is, indeed, completely unlimited, we will be more than willing to crown you the first genuinely unlimited web hosting provider in the world…. EVER!
To give our members and visitors an approximate time frame when this announcement is likely to happen, it is at the same time that we announce pigs are flying, hell has frozen over and dinosaurs have started roaming the Earth again.
Finally do not be fooled. ‘Unlimited’ web hosting is a myth!
>>As with disk space, bandwidth is another thing that is finite in this universe. Each server has a connection to the Internet and each of these connections has a finite bandwidth limit.
Yup, with everything there are limits. There are theoretical limits on how much data can be transferred over a USB 2.0 cable, for example. Unlimited web hosting is merely just marketing because it sounds great. I’d likely not find a web hosting provider that does not have an AUP especiallly if they offer unlimited disk space and/or bandwidth.
Pretty logical to conclude “unlimited web hosting” doesn’t exist, even if there is a lot of infrastructure available; there are still THEORETICAL LIMITS. As with everything in life.
Yeah, you’re right Ben. It amazes me how even some of the big companies are still doing this! It just takes advantage of people who may not be so technically minded and may not be able to see what, in my opinion, is a blatant lie!
I mean, I’m sure I remember while back Virgin Media getting in trouble from Ofcom for claiming ‘unlimited’ usage. They said although the terms and conditions explain the limits of the ‘unlimited’ usage, that the way they were advertising it was misleading, if I remember correctly.
The funny thing is, these services not only aren’t unlimited, they also tend to have fairly strict limits!!
I did have to laugh at a AUP I read for a ‘unlimited’ disk space and bandwidth host the other day – “If we believe that your website is using more than the average personal website or more than the average of one of our customers….”. Right, well they could be hosting a load of holding pages, and so if you go over 1MB disk space and 10MB bandwidth a month you get your account suspended! ;).
Obviously that example is extreme, but it highlights that they can decide and change their minds at will at what is “reasonable”.
Your much better off with a stated limit, there is absolutely no misunderstanding or ambiguity then! 🙂