Shared hosting allows multiple sites with different domain names to be hosted by a single service provider on the same server. Shared hosting is a package provided by almost all web hosting service providers. Hosting companies also offer unlimited web site hosting plans with a promise of such features as unlimited bandwidth and unlimited disk space.
Shared hosting plans are loved by many website owners for different reasons, and their cost-effective nature is one of them. Most sites on the web don’t enjoy the highest traffic volume or face serious security concerns to require other plans such as dedicated hosting. For instance, a typical blogger is excellently served by a shared hosting plan.
The reason hosting companies promise unlimited plans is largely because a single server can host hundreds to thousands of domain names at any given time. One website occupies very small disk space leaving a lot of free volume for a thousand more, allowing shared hosting to exist. It’s made available to multiple accounts at a very low cost, from as little as $1.99 and up. Multiplying the low cost of shared hosting with the thousands of accounts hosted in a single server the reason such plans exist is clearly seen. Hosting service providers have lots of servers and not one, each with thousands of accounts. Multiply that with the little cost of shared plans and you’ll understand why such a low price is charged in the first place.
“Unlimited” in Real Terms
But that’s where the “unlimited” nature of shared hosting comes into question. Considering the details in the Terms of Service most of people don’t care to read, the unlimited is simply a marketing term. Unlimited in shared hosting mean that the service is open to you as far as you don’t compromise it. It means hosting service providers claim to offer unlimited hosting but aren’t really transparent about it. With the slight compromise of the service through heavy usage of the server the hosting provider could terminate your hosting immediately, in most cases without warning. “Unlimited” sounds like a great deal, but what a website owner isn’t told is that he shouldn’t exceed a certain limit in disk space or bandwidth for instance.
If hosting providers were honest it would mean that every time a website owner uploads images, videos or music he would have to be very careful on the amount of space being used up and the space that’s left. The promise of unlimited space or bandwidth makes the website owner to relax and upload all the content they want without worrying about the space or bandwidth being consumed. Soon the website uses too much of the “unlimited” resources and the hosting plan provider either asks for more funds or have the site deleted from their server.
Naturally, they’ll be acting within their Terms of Service, which they indicate clearly though in small print. They just throw the term “unlimited” in the mix blinding everyone from paying attention to what is actually being offered. Essentially, the hosting provider offers their unlimited resources with the hope, assumption and faith that a typical website won’t use up much of the resources anyway.
What You Get with Most Hosting Plans
Virtually all hosting companies offer unlimited hosting. However, their caveat on “unlimited” is different and not uniform across the board. For instance, under the Terms of Service of GoDaddy, unlimited plans are limited to a thousand database tables and half a million inodes for each account. Exceeding the limit could lead to permanent or temporary suspension. BlueHost in their $5 monthly hosting plan promise unlimited resources, but CPU usage by your account will be throttled if found to be using more resources than allowed and your site will respond slowly until the provider has made up their mind on what to do. This is also true with other providers such as WebHostingHub who for $1.99 per month offer an unlimited plan-in their Terms of Service they’ve indicated that accounts requiring over 10GB or 75k inodes won’t be served and could be suspended for extreme server exploitation.
Why Such Offers and the Target
Unlimited hosting doesn’t exist. It’s simply a marketing gimmick hidden in the small print of Terms of Service. Such offers are made because virtually all the hosting providers have massive free space still unused. The hosting companies target average bloggers and website owners whose hosting needs will probably never reach the limit allocated to them. Since the actual usage of each account is a matter of probability, most hosting companies believe a typical website will take about 5GB-25GB disk space. Considering a typical website will never hit the limit, the hosting company offers the available space to thousands of other sites. The assumption here is that you’ll never use the space allocated to you or get anywhere close to the limit.
- Affordable-from $1.99 per month and up
- Great for an average blogger/website
- Sufficient bandwidth for a typical site
- Disk space isn’t set
- Convenience-hosting company does all technical work for you
- Resources provided are actually limited-Not really “unlimited”
- Server is insecure in a shared setting
- You’re not really in control due to stiff Terms of Service
- Limited site customization
How to Choose a Hosting Provider Wisely
As you search for the right unlimited host plan for your site, avoid the lure of the blinding offer of “unlimited features” and look deeper. Once you’ve checked the amount of bandwidth, disk space and etc. you need, go a bit further and check for:
- Additional add-on domains users are allowed
- Allowed parked domains for each user
- Databases allowed
- Email accounts that can be created per user
- Single click script installation if any
- Money back guarantees
- Free domains if any
- Free site builder feature
- Technical/customer support arrangements