Is unlimited web hosting really unlimited?

Jan 6, 2017

Its a question that has passed through most peoples minds?

When you’re looking for website hosting you will come across companies (ourselves included) offering unlimited website hosting. This can take a number of forms, normally Cloud Hosting is used to offer unlimited bandwidth and disk space.

Cloud hosting is really useful as it allows you to add extra hardware to expand the processing or storage limits on the infrastructure with no downtime, all sounds pretty positive right?

It’s really dependant on how the Cloud Hosting setup is being ran, it’s true that cloud is easy to expand, however also be aware that it could be oversubscribed (too many customers) or hardware not up to the task.

You also need to take something else into consideration cost, there is no doubt you get what you pay for here. Also we can also be sure that you can pay too much, but the devil is in the detail.

Before we look too much into specifications let’s look at a scenario here.

The BBC have server farms in the London and New York with banks of servers in each to manage the 3.5 million hits a day including streaming. We have to ask one question why did they buy all these servers across different data centres when they could have gone on an unlimited plan for £2.50 per month and saved possibly millions?

By now I imagine the penny is dropping,

it’s because it’s not unlimited, in fact there isn’t a single unlimited hosting account out there.

What makes the biggest impact is resource usage on the server from such sites, so although there isn’t a cap on say bandwidth, it’s the way your site runs on the server that makes all the difference.

So if you have a bloated WordPress site which is database driven can struggle on these unlimited accounts., so always remember to optimise your site in every way possible.

Another scenario: –

You have a number of sites on a hosting account and you need 4 – 6 cores to run it properly with the traffic you’re getting, will a hosting company allow you to use this amount based on the average server being between 8 – 20 cores, of course not, you will be asked to upgrade to dedicated or VPS.

Questions to ask from your new host

  1. Do they carry out backups for you, so you don’t have to?
  2. How much CPU can you use? Ask for the amount of cores.
  3. How much I/O can you use
  4. How many simultaneous connections can you have?
  5. How much memory does your account have access to?
  6. What connection does their server have to the internet?

If you don’t ask these questions, then do so at your own peril.

Say for example if you only have access to say 256mb of memory and you put 5 sites on the account and they are all as busy as each other they all have to share the 256mb = 51mb each this isn’t going to end well, some cloud hosts only allow 128mb.

One other point is CloudLinux, I have to say this is one of the best additions to the hosting industry as it stops any one site bringing a server down and how does it do that? By imposing limits, so if you see a hosting company stating that their hosting is unlimited and they run CloudLinux then the questions above are more important than ever as you need to know what those limits are, because it’s not unlimited.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we can clarify what you need.

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