Unlimited Hosting Plans are Just a Myth

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I am constanctly amazed how many times I come across web host providers providing unlimited disk space, unlimited bandwidth etc.  I have yet to discover a hard drive that never runs out of space.yet many hosting companies offer "unlimited hosting plans" which lets face it in real life we know is impossible.

How Much Bandwidth / Monthly Transfer Do You Need
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Bandwidth is the measurement of the amount of data transmitted over an internet connection in a given time. The majority of web hosting companies will set monthly limits. Some of these hosts will allow overselling which means your site will remain up but you receive a bill for the extra amount used others will simply pull the plug until next month.

Bandwidth explained:
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Bandwidth is the amount of data transfer that you are allowed to have for a hosting package i.e. Let's say you have a web page that is 48KB in size, now each time a user opens your site and goes to that page S/he downloads 48 KB of information on to their computer. If a 100 users view that page one time each then there has been a total of 4800 KB of data transferred from the server on which your files are stored for the computer of users.

Size of web Page: 48 KB
Number of users who viewed the web page: 100
Total amount of data transferred: 48KB * 100 = 4800 KB

Bandwidth is the term that is used to denote the amount of data that has been transferred from your web space.

The amount of bandwidth that you require while choosing a host depends on two factors:

  • The size of your site.
  • The popularity of your site.
    If your site is not very huge and you do not have any audio/video downloads and it's not very popular i.e. not a lot of people visit your site then you do not really require a lot of bandwidth, on a average a web site uses up only 500 MB of bandwidth per month. Or if your site is small but extremely popular then you might have to go for a web hosting package that offers high bandwidth.

On the other hand if your web site is huge, providing audio/video downloads, as well as being very popular then you would certainly require a huge amount of bandwidth. Let's say you have a video file that is 150 MB in size and in a single day a 100 visitors download the file. This means that 15 GB of bandwidth will have been used. If you multiply that by 30 days for the month it comes to 450 GB.

Unlimited Bandwidth
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Many website hosting companies offer "unlimited bandwidth" as part of their web hosting packages.

It's absolutely true, you can have unlimited bandwidth. However, you will need an unlimited amount of money by your side! Jokes apart, if you ever come across such a host it would be best to turn around and run back the way you came from.

Any web hosting company claiming "Unlimited Bandwidth" is simply lying. There's no such thing as "Unlimited Bandwidth".

In the real world, we've never seen any broadband company offering an internet connection as "Unlimited Megabytes Per Second." So, how could a web hosting company, which normally doesn't even own its own access lines, claims to customers that it will give them "Unlimited Bandwidth"? I have yet to come across a hard disk with unlimited disk space either.

Just think, if you can get unlimited bandwidth for $25-30 a month then why aren't big companies like Sun, Microsoft etc. not hosted there? In fact, why isn't everyone hosted there? For that matter, if unlimited is a standard feature then why don't all website hosting companies offer it? Is it because the hardware is expensive? No, it's because some hosts are honest and don't give in to such gimmicks.

There are a lot of ways you can be duped by these ' unlimited' hosts; here are just a few of them:

The secret of 'unlimited' is actually buried in the Terms of Service by the host. Do not be surprised to find that unlimited only equals 900mb or so

The host may restrict the sort of files that you can host on their server. Generally image galleries and audio/video files attract a lot more downloads thereby resulting in higher bandwidth consumption. So if there are no files of this type, your site won't really require a lot of bandwidth.

Some newly opened hosts use it as a scam. They take your money and after a few months when their server starts to become slow or reaches its limit, they run. with your money!

Some hosts outline in their Terms of Service that you can have unlimited bandwidth as long as you qualify for it. i.e. Your site must use less then, let's say 2 GB of bandwidth in order to qualify for the unlimited bandwidth feature. As soon as your site goes over that limit they either start charging you for it or cut off your downloads altogether.

In life it's absolutely true that you you always get what you pay for, and it's no different for web hosting.

If a host is using a cheap advertising gimmick like 'unlimited bandwidth' they maybe lying about a few other things too.

In short: Website Hosting Companies offering "Unlimited Bandwidth" to attract customers need to be avoided. Most of the time, high bandwidth sites on these "Unlimited" plans will be disconnected, and no refund given or will end up with a large bill at the end of the month that they had not counted on. Normally, the web hosting company will simply say that the site violated its Acceptable Use Policy or Terms of Service.

So Why Do Unlimited Bandwidth Plans Exist?
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Most websites only consume a very small amount of bandwidth and disk space. Web hosting companies that provide unlimited anything as a plan feature are banking on the fact that you won't use very much. Unlimited is a marketing trick to get your business. The web hosting market is very competitive. Although selling plans that pretend to be unlimited can seem dishonest, it does not mean that the hosting company will not provide good service. Check in the hosting company's Terms of Service: there will probably be a note about what "unlimited" really means.

When Are Unlimited Plans Ok?
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If you have a small website and know that it will not consume too much space or bandwidth, then unlimited plans make your choices a bit easier to understand. Most plans that offer unlimited will have some restrictions such as no audio or video downloads. The reason audio or video downloads are typically not allowed in unlimited hosting plans is because these types of files consume significant bandwidth and disk space which exposes the host to the risk of having to add more hard drive space and bandwidth, which costs them more money. If you choose an unlimited plan and you know your needs won't be very intensive then you won't run into any problems.

When Are Unlimited Plans Not Ok?
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If you intend to have a lot of visitors to your site, lots of downloads, including audio or video files, do not choose an unlimited plan hoping to get unrestricted bandwidth. You will find yourself with problems. Your web host is not going to run at a loss for long - they could shut down your website or even charge you extra (read the terms of service).

So What Is The Best Thing To Do?
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The best course of action is to plan ahead. Remember, you can always buy more bandwidth or disk space if you need - often for just a few extra pounds

Only consider an unlimited hosting plan if you know your disk space and bandwidth requirements are very low. If, on the other hand, you have an ecommerce site or a site that you expect to grow in size and bandwidth in future, avoid any plans that offer unlimited bandwidth or disk space.
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