The Truth About Unlimited Hosting

In general, the term “Unlimited Hosting” refers to web hosting offers that provide unlimited disk storage, data transfer, as well as addon domain name capacity. But, nothing is unlimited in our world, right? Read on to find out the truth behind unlimited hosting.

Generally, the term “Unlimited Hosting” refers to web hosting offers that provide unlimited disk storage, data transfer, as well as addon domain name capacity. In a way, unlimited hosting providers are actually offering the freedom to host as many websites as you can at an affordable price (normally below $10/mo)!

“WOW!” there goes the screaming.

Okay, I know. This sounds awesome at first. But wait, not so fast. Don’t just scrap that expensive dedicated hosting plan from your to-do list yet.

Is unlimited disk storage and unlimited bandwidth possible?

We will dig into the details in this article.

As a smart consumer, you should recognize that hosting companies are in a world with its own terminology. I knew ‘unlimited’ sounds like having no ends or limits in English; but that’s not the case when it comes to unlimited hosting plan.

In reality, unlimited hosting is, always, limited.

Wake up, people!

I am so tired of getting emails from readers who want to store all your 500GB movies/photos collection on your web host. (seriously, are you guys nuts?)

Think logically. Nothing is unlimited in this world. Think about the limitation in our physical world – it is simply impossible to have unlimited semiconductor to build unlimited RAM and CPU; it is impossible to offer unlimited bandwidth when we have limited cables transmitting data around the globe; and heck, it is impossible to hire unlimited man power to maintain the servers and networks.

Unlimited is nothing but an imaginary industrial term, believed by only bunch of uninformed webmasters.

Hosting companies want their piece of cake too

Above all, do not forget that web hosting companies are in the business to make money. Do you really think they will provide you unlimited computer resources (even if that is possible) with just the price of $3.95/mo? Certainly NO!

The term unlimited can be a bit disconcerting when talking about web hosting, as everyone knows nothing is really unlimited in this world. But to reach the amount of disk or bandwidth usage that will be deemed ‘too much’ by so called unlimited providers, it may be time to move from shared hosting to something more powerful, like a VPS or Dedicated Server. – Web hosting advice from Will Thomas.

Unlimited Hosting vs All-You-Can-Eat Buffet

Unlimited Hosting vs All-you-Can-Eat buffet

It’s like going to an all-you-can-eat buffet. You can eat “all-you-can-eat” as long as you are not eating too much.

The same applies to these unlimited hosting plans – you are welcomed to host unlimited websites and take up unlimited hosting resources as long as you are not ‘overusing’ it. Unlimited hosting users are restricted by various limitations and house rules – for instance BlueHost and Hostmonster will start throttle your account CPU usage once you hit the house’s limit (which is extremely low) and Hostgator will shut you down as soon as you exceed certain number of inodes.

And, these are just two quick examples I can think of when I am writing this article and believe me, every single unlimited hosting provider out there will have its own house rules and server limitations to control their users.  It could be CPU queries, RAM, inodes, number of MySQL databases, number of MySQL database connections, or even FTP uploads – as soon as your websites hit the red zone; the hosting company will pull the plug or impose additional charges on you.

That is how “unlimited hosting” work.

The bright side of unlimited web hosting

“This doesn’t sound fair! I thought I am signing up on an unlimited hosting. These guys are probably just dishonest and I am quitting on my host!”

Again, do not jump into conclusion too soon. Before you get mad and scream scammers, there is a logic explanation behind these unlimited hosting offers.

The reason why hosting providers are able to offer unlimited hosting plans is simple.

How unlimited hosting is “possible”?

Large hosting companies normally own (almost) incomprehensible hosting capacity (bandwidth pipes, computer servers, manpower… etc) that would never be exceeded by a single website; in the same time, most websites need only very little resources to run its daily operation. Seeing that most resources in their servers remain unused, the hosting companies (that offer unlimited hosting) therefore have the ability to just re-sell those unused hosting capacities (such practice is known as overselling).

You can argue that selling unlimited hosting plans is unethical, but it does not indicate that the said hosting company is bad. Take Hostgator for example, the company spent more than a year to prepare (including hiring new employee and investing in supporting hardware) for the launching of unlimited hosting. Although they are now offering unlimited hosting service, their servers remained reliable and efficient; and the customer supports is never lack of quality.

Brent Oxley view on overselling and unlimited hosting

For your reference, here’s a little more detail on how Hostgator’s preparation works. Check out what Brent (ex-Hostgator’s founder and CEO) said about going unlimited:

“I wanted to call the plans unlimited last time around. However, due to staffing constraints, we wouldn’t have been able to keep up with the expected growth. A year later, we are finally OVERSTAFFED and ready to change the plan. Up until now, I’ve been slowing sales down on purpose in order for our support to catch up. If history repeats itself, renaming the plan from essentially unlimited to actually “unlimited” will increase our sales by at least 30%.”

“In the last year, we have been spending more money on recruiting employees than we have on advertising! It has taken us years of hiring and training to get us to the point where we are now. We’ve gone from begging employees to work overtime to asking who wants to go home. HostGator will always have the occasional scheduling gap, but for now, we’re sending over a dozen employees home a day. “

– Brent Oxley, Ex-Hostgator Founder & CEO

Should you pick an unlimited hosting?

Web hosting shopping choices

Is unlimited hosting a good deal? I would say maybe.

Maybe yes, maybe no.

Web hosting is more than just bandwidth and disk storage

Truth is, the quality of a hosting deal relies on a number of factors. And the last thing we need to compare nowadays is the basic hosting features, such as data transfer, disk storage, and so on.

Almost every shared hosting company is giving this same unlimited shit to the users these days. How do we compare between WebHostingHub’s unlimited hosting plan with BlueHost unlimited hosting plan? We get more or less the same thing in both deals: unlimited bandwidth, unlimited storage, unlimited databases, unlimited addon domain, etc. How do we decide between the two?

It’s just too difficult to distinguish a good web hosting provider from substandard ones from outside nowadays.

So how do you pick an unlimited web host that does not suck?

To pick up a good host, what you need to do is obvious. Stop looking from outside and compare the hosting service quality from inside. You can:

One, Spend some money, signup a host on trial, track everything you need, and if you don’t like what you see, cancel before trial period ends; or,  

Two, Rely on real hosting reviews that do the testing job for you (for example, WHSR! We signup and test almost all hosting services we review here).

So, are we clear on the topic unlimited hosting?

A quick recap on what you have just read:

  • Unlimited hosting is impossible; everything is limited in our world.
  • Unlimited, is just a marketing tactic used by hosting companies to win customers.
  • Overselling is how we can get cheap hosting deals today.
  • The unlimited hosting features, such as disk storage and bandwidth, do not determine the quality of a hosting deal.
  • Instead, look into details such as site uptime, after sales service, software support, and so on.

In case you need help, I have written quite a number of comprehensive web host shopping guide on this site. Read them at here, here, and here – I believe they are very helpful for first timers.

Alternatively, you can always check out my web hosting reviews here.