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Is Unlimited Hosting Really Unlimited, Or Just Intended To Get Customers Hooked?

Dec 21, 2007
As shared Web hosting becomes more and more competitive, more providers are offering what are called "unlimited" hosting plans. Usually, you're offered unlimited e-mail accounts, add-on domains, bandwidth, disk space, MySQL databases, and other features.

However, is this really true, or just something intended to hook you in and then make you pay more? Indeed, many hosting experts say that unlimited plans are just a hoax and that no hosting package will truly be unlimited. Let's take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of unlimited hosting.

Among the most contentious elements of unlimited hosting are disk space and bandwidth. There is no such thing as unlimited hard disk space, right? Yes, that's true, but most provide unlimited disk base by using a number of servers, so that when one disk becomes full, they just add another server or hard disk. Theoretically, they can simply keep adding hard disks as the need to and thus provide truly unlimited disk space. This is, in fact, the way every hosting provider does it, whether they are "unlimited" or not. The same is true of bandwidth. When a particular hosting company's bandwidth allowance is almost full, they buy more from the provider they use.

In theory, then, yes, it's true. Hosting providers truly can provide unlimited bandwidth and disk space, assuming they keep adding resources as they need to. However, many critics of unlimited hosting say that no hosting company can keep acquiring more resources without end because it's just not economically feasible. Now, this is certainly true if a hosting company's customer base were invariably using literally hundreds of gigabytes of disk space and bandwidth. However, most customers only use a few megabytes. This, then, is why hosting companies can function. In effect, they risk the assumption that all but 1% of their customers will use just a small amount of their server's capacity.

The next question to ask is how the hosting company will handle that 1% of customers who do use a huge amount of resources in bandwidth and disk space. This is entirely at their discretion and depends on what their own "fair use" policies are. In fact, they will likely suspend customers who greatly strain their system's resources. Therefore, if you happen to be among that 1% of customers who truly would use "unlimited" resources, then yes, it's a myth. You simply cannot get "unlimited" resources from a particular hosting company. However, if, again, you're among the 99% of customers who don't use a huge amount of resources, then it's true that the hosting company can provide "unlimited" resources, meaning that you will never exceed the capacity they have to provide you the services you need.

If, you are someone who has vast capacity needs in bandwidth and disk space, then it's probably best that you use a dedicated server. However, if you are among the vast majority who will not strain the hosting company's ability to provide resources, an unlimited package may be for you, not least because there are also many additional features offered you that you may find useful.

As an example, let's say that you have a lot of domains and that each needs its own web site. Each individual web site is not going to take up a lot of disk space, so this will not place a strain on your hosting service and you will not be in danger of being suspended. In addition, you'll be able to take advantage of the unlimited features offered, such as MySQL databases, autoresponders, e-mail boxes, and add-on domains. If each domain has a web site of average size, your account will not be in danger of being suspended.

So although it's true that for a very few people, "unlimited" Web hosting packages do not really exist and are a myth, for the vast majority of customers, they are, indeed, a real offering. If you are among the 1% who would likely strain a hosting company's resources and put yourself in danger of getting your account suspended, then it's probably best that you opt for a dedicated server instead.
About the Author
Kevin Sinclair is the publisher and editor of Be Successful News , a site that provides information and articles on how to succeed in your own home or small business.
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