“UNLIMITED” – a well known term in web hosting industry now a days. Unlimited emails, unlimited databases, unlimited aliases etc were some of the features heard for a long time. Now competition has driven the companies to offer Unlimited web space and Unlimited Bandwidth.
I have spoken to many hosting provider support team and asked how could they provide “Unlimited” web space when this web space is actually Hard disk drives installed in the server and which has its capacity limit. The answers are always tricky. Most of the times the answers are: “we do not provide any limit on the web space as long as it complies with our Terms & Condition”. The tricky part is “Terms & Conditions” or “Terms of Service” or “Acceptable usage policy” etc. We need to understand a little technically in this issue.
When we host a website in a web server, it occupies a certain web space. When the website is running or are being browsed by the web site visitors – it consumes web server processor and RAM capacity. Besides many other restrictions (irc server, running bots) the web hosting service providers restricts the resource usage per website in shared servers. Okay – now since I stepped into the term “Shared Server” – let me tell a few things about it. Shared server means a server which is being shared by many users or websites perhaps. The websites share the total hard drive, Ram usage, Bandwidth port etc. Normally there are a lot of websites hosted in a shared server. Assume there is a one Terra Byte Hard Disk, 4 GB Ram installed in the web server and there is a 100 mbits/s port connected to the server. Again assume there are 200 websites hosted in that server. Those 200 websites will share the total capacity of the server.
Now as days progresses, the server components are getting cheaper and the bandwidth cost is also going down. But it hasn’t gone so down for which any one may offer unlimited webspace and bandwidth when there is nothing called unlimited. Now a days companies offer unlimited webspace even at a cost of $2 per month.
A Xeon server (average) in some big data centers costs atleast $200 per month. It may consists of 2 TB hard disk, 16 GB Ram and a 100 mbits/s uplink port. Now if some web hosting companies sell around 100 such unlimited hosting accounts they will be in the break even point. And to make profit they will require to sell even more accounts in that very server. Due to server virtual environment web hosting service providers can create web hosting accounts allotting unlimited space and bandwidth. This is actually called “Overselling”. The lower the price of hosting account is – the more the server will be oversold. But ultimately all such unlimited space accounts will be using that 2 TB Hard disk. How can 100 or more unlimited space accounts be fitted in 2 TB?? Well, when some one buy a web hosting account he/she is allotted unlimited space (although it is impossible), but some one may only upload a 100 MB or 1 GB website in the server. The server usage will depend upon the actual usage by all the websites, not what is allotted. Now if someone’s website starts using more space and more server resources – the real face of the webhosts are revealed. They will start matching the Acceptable usage policy and will start telling you your website is using more resources than it should and that it is no longer suitable for a Shared Server. You need to buy a dedicated server. Therefore this purchase turns out to be something like you purchased some services which you are not allowed to use with its full potential.
The situation is getting alarming as almost all the major webhosting service providers are also getting into such business. My suggestion will be to read the Terms & Conditions properly before you buy hosting and better if you can avoid unlimited space/bandwidth – because there is nothing called unlimited space/bandwidth and you’ll never be able to use it.
If you ever need a high volume/heavy duty website to run from a web server – think of your own Dedicated server or virtual dedicated server.