The Truth About Unlimited Web Hosting: What You Should Know Before Subscribing

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Let’s face it, unlimited web hosting packages at bargain basement prices are tempting, especially if you are on a tight budget! Although, you would be wise to be skeptical about any offer that sounds too good to be true.

The truth about unlimited web hosting packages is that they do have limitations. These include storage space, databases, bandwidth, and other necessary resources to maintain shared-hosted sites. Shared hardware and software resource limitations are aligned with the host’s fair use policy.

Indeed, unlimited web hosting companies are only sometimes clear about what they offer and often hide limited resources in their fine print. However, knowing what you are paying for can work for you. So, if you want a great web hosting deal – read on!

1. Unlimited and Unmetered Web Hosting is a Myth

Unlimited web hosting plans might sound tempting on paper. Unfortunately, the reality is that unlimited data transfers and storage is a complete myth, as there are always limitations of some kind. Unfortunately, these may not be abundantly clear.

Most unlimited data storage and transfer offerings are typically coupled with WordPress hosting plans. These are perfectly fine if you have a blog attracting a reasonable amount of traffic daily.

Web hosts are often bandy about the terms unlimited and unmetered. However, this is not entirely honest, as it simply means that you won’t have to pay more if you use 3GB bandwidth per month instead of 2GB. Most importantly, it does not mean that you will have access to using an unlimited amount of bandwidth. However, these limits are not always made abundantly clear upfront.

2. Fair Use Web Hosting Policies are not Always that Fair

You might notice that most unmetered or unlimited web hosting packages include the caveat that their “generous” offer is subject to the fine print. This includes their acceptance, or fair use policy terms and conditions, which differ widely.

To illustrate this point, companies like HostGator limit shared data storage space to active emails, web files, images, or content (CCS and HTML files). Therefore, it may not be an off-site storage space to back up media or electronic files.

While other companies like Namecheap make allowances for roughly 10GB of video or media storage and 10GB of storage for archives, including a 10GB allowance for executable files. In stark contrast, web hosts who limit bandwidth and storage amounts do not stipulate what types of files you can store if it is not illegal.

3. Bandwidth and Data Transfers are not the Same Things

While most people interchange bandwidth with data transfers and assume they have the same meaning, that is not the case. Although, it's easy to see why most laypeople would make that mistake.

Simply put, the term “bandwidth” indicates the quantity of data you can transfer at a time, whereas a “data transfer” limit represents the entire amount of data that can be used in a certain period – generally in a month.

So, while your web host might give you a 5GB bandwidth allowance, which sounds excellent on paper, your hosting plan might limit your data transfers to a mere 1GB per month.

Many companies also offer unlimited domain hosting services, which sounds promising. However, suppose they believe that your websites are using too much bandwidth at the expense of other clients. In that case, they may start throttling your domains ‘processing speeds and bandwidth.

In stark contrast, hosts offering limited bandwidth amounts will run your sites at optimal processing speeds. This is because they don't have to employ extreme measures to curtail your unlimited amount of bandwidth.

Therefore, suppose you are considering an unlimited domain hosting package to manage several sites and want to ensure they run at optimal speeds. In that case, check out their Terms of Service, Acceptable Usage Policy (AUP), or Fair Use pages.

4. Web Inode Restrictions can Limit your Hosted Data Storage

Another easy way to review a web hosting package with unlimited or unmetered storage is to look at its inode limitations (index noted). Inodes are stored files or data structures containing their metadata but not their names or content.

Even though web hosting companies may offer unlimited storage, they limit the number of files or inodes you may store in most instances. While the standard inode amount of 250,000 should be acceptable, some web hosting companies have severe inode restrictions ranging from 150 000 to 50 000.

An email can be equated to an inode. So, suppose you have 50 mailboxes with thousands of emails in each IMAP inbox or thousands of backups. In that case, they can quickly exceed even the most generous inode allocations.

5. Scalable Web Hosting Options can Cost you in the Long Run

Scalable bandwidth is another web hosting marketing tool that implies that the company can adequately manage and grow increased traffic on your website. Again, this can be true even if it is a cost-effective shared hosting platform. (Related: Shared Website Hosting: The Pros and Cons You Need to Consider)

The web host will partner with you to find a more “scalable” hosting platform like a Virtual Private Server. This is with the caveat that should your site's traffic outgrow a shared hosting scenario.

So, suppose the traffic on your site reaches an undisclosed limit. In that case, the web hosting company will insist on upgrading your shared hosting package to a more expensive or scalable solution. That's why precisely knowing what a scalable web hosting offering entails is essential. The most efficient way to find out is to look for qualifiers and definitions on their site or review their T&Cs page.

6. Hosted Web Pages and Email Accounts are not Unlimited

Many web hosting companies offer unlimited email accounts on their business hosting plans. Still, they often don't tell you that you will only have 1GB of storage space per mailbox. This is because your overall storage for all the mail accounts is 10GB.

If you are considering using a web host's drag-and-drop option to build your new site as part of an unlimited web hosting option. Then, you might be limited regarding the number of pages or the total size of your website.

You might be forced to upgrade your package, which can be costly in the long run.

Final Thoughts

So, you might be wondering whether there are any decent unlimited web hosting companies out there. The answer is a wholehearted yes!

Companies like HostGator are entirely transparent about what they offer. However, although they use phrases like “unmetered," they include links that explain what that means. However, it is always wise to be cautious and read the fine print when any offer sounds too good to be true. This is especially so with buzzwords like unlimited or unmetered. And while the idea of having a lot of email accounts might sound tempting, do you really need it?

Unlimited web hosting options might sound like too much of a hassle. But, then, opting for a hosting plan with limited resources may be better, as it might be easier to manage, and your site might operate much faster.

The truth about unlimited web hosting packages is that they might work for a select few. However, you must be aware that there are often severe limitations in terms of storage, bandwidth, and operating speeds. So, before you subscribe, ask a ton of questions!

About the Author

I have been in the 'online business' space since 2009 when I started an eCommerce business selling motorcycle parts (sold in 2012). Since then I have owned and operated several successful online business (and had a fair share of failures), along with owning offline home services businesses. Currently my focus is online businesses that are profitable with paid traffic. As a 'self employed individual' I do not use Linkedin, but you can connect with my on my personal instagram and youtube which largely revolve around my mountain biking passion!