Moving Beyond the Marketing Hype – What does “Unlimited” Web Hosting Really Mean?

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The internet is full of web hosts offering “unlimited” web hosting packages. Many people who sign up for such packages wrongfully assume that their services are actually unlimited. Some only realize when they exceed the limits and get penalized by the web host. To avoid falling into the trap, it is important to understand the true meaning of unlimited webhosting.

There are actually two meanings of “unlimited web hosting”. There is the implied meaning of “unlimited” and the actual meaning. Anyone who intends to sign up for a web hosting service needs to understand the difference, so that they can make a more informed decision and avoid web hosting problems.

First of all, let us examine the implied meaning of “unlimited web hosting”. When web hosts use this term, they almost always refer to three or four aspects i.e. domain names, disk space, bandwidth and FTP Accounts. In most cases the term “unlimited” rarely applies to FTP Accounts, so we’ll ignore it for now, and concentrate on the other three.

Unlimited domains

“Unlimited domains” means that an infinite number of domain names can he hosted using the web hosting service. This basically means that a person can have more than one website on the same web hosting service. Actually, it means that someone can have an infinite number of websites.

Unlimited space

hosting“Unlimited space” means that there is no limit to the space available for storing a website’s files. This means that however large the space occupied by the files, the space availed will be expanded to accommodate it. Similarly, “Unlimited bandwidth” means that there is no limit to the bandwidth available for a website. This means that the website can handle as much web traffic as possible.

Having examined the implied meaning of unlimited web hosting, let us consider the actual meaning of the term. Let us focus on two aspects i.e. disk space and bandwidth. The fact is that there is no such a thing as “unlimited disk space”. First of all, when a company offers a web hosting service, they store website’s files on a hard drive of some server. Anyone who has ever used a computer knows that every computer has a limited disk space.

Unlimited bandwidth

Secondly, most “unlimited web hosting” services operate on shared servers. This basically means that numerous websites are hosted on the same server. It is safe to assume that each website has a specific amount of space which is allocated to it. The same applies to bandwidth, there is no such a thing as “unlimited bandwidth”.

To illustrate the point that “unlimited web hosting” actually has certain limits, let us examine two packages offered by WMD hosting – one of the most popular web hosts in Europe. WMD has a number of shared webhosting plans. The one we will focus is the Business Plan. This one is advertised as having “unlimited domains, unlimited space and unlimited bandwidth”.

WMD also has a number of VPS hosting plans. The one we will focus on is the Semi-Managed VPS. This one is advertized as “unlimited domains, 25GB disk space and 500GB bandwidth”.

When we compare the two plans, we notice that although the VPS is more expensive, it has set limits on disk space and bandwidth. So, can the shared plan really have unlimited disk space and bandwidth? Of course not! In fact from the comparison, we can assume that the “unlimited” disk space is less than 25GB and the “unlimited” bandwidth is less than 500GB!

Does this mean that companies which advertise “unlimited web hosting” are being dishonest? Not really. They are just carrying out their marketing. And any clear thinking person knows that exaggeration is part of marketing. The important thing is to think critically before signing up for any web hosting plan.

In some cases, it is possible to determine the limits on any “unlimited” hosting plan. The first way is to critically examine the Terms and Conditions. In most cases, the limits are embedded somewhere among the terms. When the limits are exceeded, most web hosts take down the website. To avoid a legal backlash, they usually insert the limits somewhere in the Terms and Conditions, knowing well that most people read them. The second way is by contacting web host’s customer care with an innocent sounding question like “to give my visitors the best web experience, what is the maximum space that my files should occupy?” The response will reveal the real space limits.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, the term “unlimited web hosting” is simply a marketing phrase which is used to attract potential clients. Anyone who intends to sign up for a service needs to understand that.

Before signing up for the service, they need to get a proper estimate of the hosting service’s limits. Exceeding the limit’s can lead to the suspension of the webhosting service without warning, thus causing unnecessary inconvenience to a website’s visitors. There are two ways to avoid this inconvenience. The first (and more expensive) is to use a VPS which comes will clear cut limits. The second is to approach a webhost with the websites specs and ask them to recommend the best hosting plan. Either way, it is important to remember that there is no such a thing as an unlimited web hosting plan.

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