We understand the need for wanting affordable hosting – it is one of those expenses in running a business that people just hate spending more than they need to. But in the long run – this choice can hurt you tremendously!
There is so much to think about when you are deciding on what hosting you need and who you want to host with – and there is no shortage of not so great hosting companies, so definitely use the “buyer beware” sentiment when making your decision.
Many people get sucked into the “Unlimited Hosting for only $4.99 per month” marketing angle and think – yay, I can get all the hosting I need for just a few dollars a month – sign me up!
But the reality is – unlimited hosting is just a marketing gimmick. There is NO SUCH THING AS TRULY UNLIMITED HOSTING.
Why Do Hosting Companies Do This – Isn’t It Scammy?
Well, in their defense there is virtually no way a host can give anyone truly unlimited hosting at the low costs they offer. There are servers to run, electric bills to pay, employees that do not work for free – they just cannot give away bandwidth and storage for free or for pennies a month. Hosting is a labor intensive and hardware expensive industry – to be able to keep websites secure, running fast and with the most uptime possible – you have to expect to pay a fair value.
If you are hosting an image heavy or video website – these will drain resources quickly, there is no way you can expect any company to host resource heavy websites for $5 a month! Hosting companies are a business – just like we all want to make money, well so do they.
Realistically most hosts account for a certain type of website when they offer these unlimited plans and most of their clients will have no problem staying within those guidelines.
If you are a new website owner, a blogger with a small following or a business that may only see several thousand visits a month, unlimited hosting will probably work for you with no issues and you may never go over what the host is estimating you will use.
If that is the case you will never see an issue – and for you your hosting will be “unlimited”.
So Is An Unlimited Hosting Package OK For Me?
It depends on a few factors including how your website was built, your current website traffic statistics, the type of content you are delivering to your users and what your plans are for growth.
Because most unlimited plans DO have limitations – they are just higher than most small websites need – it is important to understand the current usage of your website as well as what your future usage may be so you do not have service issues.
Most unlimited plans do have terms that account for too many emails, too much bandwidth being used as well as storage overages which can result in your website being taken down with no notice!
It is IMPORTANT that you KNOW your website – how many files you have, how many visitors you have – the amount of RAM you are using. The more you understand, the better you can be at managing your hosting and choosing the right provider for your needs!
So What Does An Unlimited Hosting Deal Really Look Like
Below are two popular hosting companies that offer “unlimited” plans and what they really mean.
Hostgator shows on their shared pricing plan page that their shared hosting include “unmetered” Disk Space and Bandwidth for a price of $3.95 per month. So to a newbie this may seem like a great deal – it sounds like you get everything you need for that low price.
But – if you dig and read further you will find that although “unmetered” means you are not charged according to the disk space or bandwidth you use – customers who are using 25% or more of system resources for longer than 90 seconds would be in violation of their terms of service.
Also, they note that if you are on shared hosting you cannot use more than 250K inodes or your account may be suspended. After the use of 100K inodes your website will no longer be backed up on the server at all.
You can learn more about this on their Acceptable Use Policy – it is under Unacceptable Resource Usage.
WebHostingHub offers packages starting at $4.99 a month and also state they offer “Unlimited Disk Space, Bandwidth and Email” – but if you look at their Terms of Service page there a few restrictions that are in place to limit your usage – below are just a couple of examples.
- Web Hosting Hub reserves the right to limit incoming or outgoing email at any time. In the event you reach a limitation, we may, at our sole discretion, adjust your limit at your request.
- CPU, RAM, and Disk I/O – Company’s shared systems allow for significant bursts in activity, but resources must be shared among all clients.
- Bandwidth Usage – Company will attempt to provide sufficient bandwidth for its customer’s sites as far as is commercially viable. Excessive bandwidth usage from national media traffic or DOS attacks may result in the account being disabled without warning. Company’s bandwidth is meant for delivering websites to end-users – high-bandwidth transfers between other servers is not permitted.
Number 2 above is a little scary because if another website on your server has a huge press hit or DDOS attack or issues – it WILL affect your resources meaning your site can run slow or go down all together.
Number 3 is even scarier if YOU get a burst in traffic – say you get a great hit on Reddit or a super bit of press coverage – they can just remove your site without even letting you know.
What is an Inode?
An inode is a basically a structure of data that is used to keep information about a file on your hosting account. The number of inodes indicates the number of files and folders you have which can include everything on your account such as emails, files, folders, anything you store on the server.
So Why Do Hosting Companies Do This?
The web hosting world is huge – and competitive. They know that the magic in getting customers to move to them is to use “creative marketing” and sadly the word “unlimited” to most people is a magnet. Since many website owners are not technically savvy and really have no idea how much resources their website even uses – it is seemingly easier to get a host that can accommodate anything – or so it seems.
Truth is, hosting companies know they are giving you a “generous” amount of space on a server and hope you will never really use it – and most probably won’t. But if you grow and become successful that space will shrink – and fast – which means you are then putting yourself at risk for a website outage or at the least a slow loading website since the host doesn’t think you would ever use as much that has been allocated on the sever.
How Do I Know If An Unlimited Hosting Plan Is Right For Me?
For a large segment of website owners – unlimited hosting may be a perfect option. Personally, we make recommendations on a case by case basis since no 2 websites are alike and each has unique needs that will determine what type of hosting company will work best for them.
If you are in any of the below situations you should be fine on an unlimited hosting plan:
- A new blogger
- Website has low traffic
- Do not offer downloadable products
- You are not self-hosting lots of images or videos (embedding from YouTube is fine)
- Business website that is just informational
- Do not expect to do mass mailings or receive tons of mail through your server
But it is important to understand your website usage and when you may need to move up to a bigger plan to ensure your service is not interrupted.
Is There Anything Else I Should Consider Before Using Unlimited Hosting?
One big issue that is not often addressed is your website code. Especially on WordPress or other CMS systems you need to ensure that your website is WELL coded – because you can run the risk of bad code affecting your resource usage.
Bad plugins – conflicts with plugins and bad core coding can all result in too many calls to the database which in turn can wreak havoc on your usage with a host. Cleaning up your website files, database and code will give both your host and your end use a much better experience!
A CDN (content delivery network) is also a great way to avoid having too many issues with an unlimited hosting platform. By storing your images, videos and large files on a CDN you are saving space and bandwidth.
Have You Ever Had A Problem With Unlimited Hosting?
We would love to hear your stories! If you have ever had an experience with your unlimited shared hosting plan – whether it good or bad – let us know!