Chances are very likely that you have come across a host advertising unlimited web hosting. In fact, you have most likely come across plenty. Yes, there are far too many hosts out there who offer shared hosting and one common trait in most of them is that they claim to offer Unlimited web hosting.

Unlimited Disk space, Unlimited Bandwidth and Unlimited everything!!!

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Yes, it does and it’s too good to be true. How about we take a look at the key aspects behind the myth claim.

It’s not rocket science to figure out that a server cannot actually be capable of hosting unlimited anything. Even your hard disk has its limits. A web host that claims to offer unlimited disk space and unlimited bandwidth is clearly overselling. If you do your research you will notice that each host that claims to offer unlimited hosting has specific terms added in their fair use policy.

This Fair Use Policy simply states that you are free to host your website only as long as you use a given subset of resources (bandwidth and disk space, etc.) available to you. If your website crosses its bandwidth limits, you will violate the Fair Use Policy and your website will be penalized. Not so unlimited now, is it?

100 + Website on a host

And how and why do web hosts oversell their servers this way? The answer is quite simple… If there are a hundred users on a shared server, not all will use the resources available to them, but what are the chances? So, in all likelihood, 90 out of the 100 users will consume a small fraction of the traffic and space, and this allows the host to oversell servers – claiming that hosting is unlimited and stacking 200 or even 300 users on a server that is otherwise, capable of handling only say, 75 websites. This is more like a game of averages.

Unlimited really is severely limited

What happens when you actually use the resources available to you? More importantly, what if 15 out of the abovementioned 100 users manage to really drive traffic their way, one way or another, and start eating up a lot of bandwidth?

This is where the limits of unlimited shared web hosting come into play – the exact outcome varies from one web host to another – but common results include the server becoming super slow to respond, or the ‘defaulting’ websites being taken down (temporarily, most of the time).

If this happens too often, users with popular websites will be asked to migrate to a VPS, even though their websites may be able to survive reasonably well in a not-so-oversold shared environment.

Server resource management

Another technical aspect of this fact is that your website will probably consume more memory and CPU than bandwidth or disk space. Suppose, for a moment, that your site is running 100 processes in a minute, with each process using 0.2 CPU seconds. Want to know what will happen here? Your website will get suspended by the “Unlimited HOST”, that’s what!

However, if each process took something like 2 minutes, everything will be fine and you will not even notice it. Thus, if your website gets a lot of visitors, it will most likely consume more CPU resources, and hog it up, thereby making all the websites on that server slow to respond).

Most web hosts try to avoid this CPU processes and RAM detail. Instead, they just give you a number of domains you can host in one shared hosting package, and then blame the slow-down on the number of domains you might have hosted.

So, What now?

Is Unlimited web hosting really bad? If you are serious about your business and its success, YES. You should not fall for marketing gimmicks that advertise unlimited everything. Your focus should be on web hosts who offer good support and reliability. A web host who offers you 25 GB of disk space and 500 GB of bandwidth for $20 a month is often better than a host who gives you unlimited disk space for $3 per month.