What Does Unlimited Hosting Really Mean?

We'll give you the inside scoop on what Unlimited Hosting really means and the pros and cons

Almost every shared web host now offers Unlimited Hosting.  I’ll be breaking down exactly what ‘unlimited hosting’ truly means.  In general unlimited hosting refers to the disk space and bandwidth on any given plan.  Unlimited disk space and unlimited bandwidth are listed as features on hosting plans but let’s try to understand what these unlimited references really mean to you, the end-user.

What is Unlimited Disk Space?

Disk space in general refers to the amount of space on a server your account is allocated.  The hosting industry is more competitive then ever and you’ll notice that web hosts now market their disk space as unlimited.  In reality this is actually impossible given that there is no such thing as an unlimited hard drive.  When you buy a hard drive for your computer you can buy different disk sizes but never a disk that is unlimited so how are web hosts able to market unlimited disk space?

It all comes down to actual usage and probability.  Most websites use on average anywhere from 5GB (5000mb) to 25GB (25000mb).  Taking these values, we hosts can determine what users actually use and offer ‘unlimited’ as a marketing technique.  This idea is similar to going to a restaurant that gives bottomless drink refills.  Sure you can have 2-3 or even 4 refills but in reality you cannot drink 100 glasses of coke.  The same concept applies to unlimited hosting.  You are allowed to use as much space as you need for your website but in reality most people won’t exceed the 5GB to 25GB values.

As a general consumer we know that nothing is truly unlimited so when you see unlimited disk space you can take it with a grain of salt.  If you dig in to the terms of service you’ll always find clauses on how much disk space you can actually use or what you can store on your hosting account.  For example, some people think that since a web host offers unlimited disk space they can store all of their pictures and videos and it won’t be a problem.  This is simply not the case!  If you’re one of these people don’t even consider a hosting plan that offers unlimited disk space as your host will likely suspend your account.  I’ve heard so many stories where people think that ‘unlimited disk space’ gives them the freedom to store whatever they want which is just not going to fly with your web host.

After being exposed to the hosting industry for so long I’ve learned a lot and as a consumer you have to understand that nothing is truly unlimited.  This is not to say that hosts that offer unlimited disk space are a scam but it’s just a marketing technique and works well as long as the end-users understand what their really getting in to.

What is Unlimited Bandwidth and Transfer?

The same concept applies here.  Bandwidth is the amount of inbound and outbound traffic going from the hosting server to the outside world.  The best analogy would be to think of a highway as the bandwidth and the cars on the highway as the traffic.  Just like disk space almost all hosts offer unlimited bandwidth transfer.  Most web hosting providers have multiple bandwidth providers they connect to which means they have more ‘highway lanes’.  For example when you upload a 4mb .mp3 to the server that counts as 4mb of inbound traffic.  When someones downloads the 4mb .mp3 from your website it counts as 4mb of outbound traffic.

Generally speaking web hosts are likely to be a little more lenient on bandwidth than on disk space because they buy large connections so they can handle the traffic of all of their customers.  For the average user bandwidth should not be a concern as you are unlikely to cause a problem.  Let’s say you have a media website and you have 1000 people downloading or watching videos.  The bandwidth can add up very quickly.  Personally most shared web hosts can handle 1000 connections but once this number starts to climb your web host may take action and you’ll want to be prepared.  If your site is growing at a fast pace you’ll probably want to move to a VPS or dedicated server so that you have more resources for your website.

Should I choose a web host that offers unlimited space and bandwidth?

The term “you get what you pay for” really applies to unlimited hosting.  For the average user unlimited hosting is more than suitable.  Unlimited hosting plans are budget hosting plans ranging from $3.95 to $9.95 per month.  If you’re on a budget then there is nothing wrong with choosing a web host that offers unlimited disk space and bandwidth.  You’ll be able to upload your website and likely won’t have any problems unless you start uploading tons of videos, music or pictures OR if your site becomes very busy.

I always recommend a shared web host that offers unlimited disk space and bandwidth as almost every website starts on a shared server.  You’ll get a great package at an affordable price and as your site grows you can upgrade to a larger server.  Scripts like WordPress and Joomla are perfectly fine to run on am unlimited hosting plan and most web hosts offer a one-click install for them as well.

Benefits of Unlimited Hosting

  • Very affordable, generally $3.95/month and up.
  • Enough disk space for the average user
  • Enough bandwidth for the average website
  • No set disk space limits

Downside of Unlimited Hosting

  • Shared server with no dedicated resources
  • Not truly unlimited
  • Not as secure as having your own server

How do you choose which unlimited host to go with?

The idea here is to not only look at the unlimited features but at other features the plan offers.  Does it come with addon domains, parked domains, email accounts, one-click script installs, databases, website statistics?  Think about what your website needs aside from disk space and bandwidth and make sure the plan you choose has them.  Hosts that offer unlimited space and bandwidth are a dime a dozen but not all hosts offer some other key features and that is where you need to focus.

Our Web Hosting Review page is designed for this sole purpose.  To help you find the best web host for your website.  We outline what each web host offers and what they are known for so you can make a wise decison.

Here is a check list to go by when choosing an Unlimited Web Hosting plan:

  • How many addon domains are you allowed?
  • How many parked domains are you allowed?
  • How many databases can you have?
  • How many email accounts can you create?
  • Do they offer a one-click script installer?
  • Do you get a free domain on any plans?
  • Do they offer a free website builder?
  • What hours of support do they offer?
  • Do they offer a money back guarantee?

The above are some key questions you should ask your potential host since you now know what the ‘unlimited’ really means when it comes to disk space and bandwidth transfer.  At HostReviewSite we literally review unlimited web hosting plans every week so we can give our readers the latest info.  Check out our Unlimited Hosting Plan Comparisons here

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