Unlimited Hosting Is Limited. Practical Recommendations On Choosing A Host

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Unlimited hosting is limited

If you choose between unlimited and limited hosting, you will likely prefer unlimited if the price is no big difference. And if the price differs significantly you will likely realistically estimate whether you need the “unlimited” word in your hosting plan title. Are you sure that an unlimited plan is what you really need? And what is really behind “unlimited” plans?



By the way, here’s a disclosure: There are affiliate links to some of the hosts that I recommend on this page. In other words, I get paid if you click on the links and make a purchase. All such links open in new window/tab; no software/program will be installed to your computer. (This is a standard notice required by hosting companies.)
Please note that in this article I mention just a part of the hosts which I recommend. You can find all my recommended hosts with reviews here.

 

What people prefer more – limited or unlimited hosting plans and why: my statistics

If you are my subscriber, you already know that I’m an affiliate of several hosting companies that I have deliberately picked out. Several hosts have both limited and unlimited plans. So I can easily learn the preferences of the buyers by looking at my affiliate sales statistics.

For instance, HawkHost has a very affordable shared hosting plan with a limited disk space (whereas everything is unlimited) and a comparatively more expensive plan with everything unlimited. Since the price difference in plans is considerable, only 23% of buyers prefer the unlimited (and more expensive) plan. 77% of the buyers go with a cheaper plan with a limited disk space.

The reason why much more people prefer HawkHost’s cheaper limited plan is because this smallest plan is super affordable and truly a bargain considering the quality of services offered by HawkHost. Whereas its unlimited (and more expensive) plan is not ultimately attractive considering pricing if compared to other hosts.

Another example is A2Hosting which also has more or less similar prices for both limited plan (Lite) and unlimited one (Swift). This host has one more unlimited plan which is supercharged with additional server resources (Turbo), but this one is significantly more expensive compared to the previous two shared plans at A2. Here on A2 website you can find the more details to compare the plans.

So, only 3% of the buyers prefer limited (and a bit cheaper, Lite) plan, whereas 54% prefer affordable unlimited (Swift) plan and 43% of the shared hosting buyers prefer the supercharged unlimited (Turbo) plan.

Thus, 97% of the A2 clients referred from me prefer unlimited plans. From my point of view, A2 Swift plan (unlimited with double server resources) is really a good deal. Whereas Turbo plan (unlimited, supercharged with server resources) is a bit expensive if renewal prices are taken into account.

quote einstein accept hosting limits

Such huge popularity of unlimited A2 plans compared to a limited plan is obviously thanks to two factors. They are additional server resources for both unlimited plans (Swift and Turbo) and of course affordable pricing of Swift (unlimited) plan.

By the way, here are some researches and thousands of the speed tests of A2 and HawkHost (it’s useful if you consider buying the hosting services):

The last example is GeekStorage. This host has both limited and unlimited shared hosting plans with similar prices. In this kind of choice people choose unlimited plans much more often (75% prefer unlimited plans). The reason behind it is the same – prices for unlimited plans are quite similar to limited plans. And people just want more for the same money, even if they will never need “more”.

 

How limited the “unlimited” plans are

quote einstein unlimited hosting stupidity

As I mentioned in the beginning of this article unlimited hosting is technically impossible. Moreover, from a business point of view you will not be allowed to use more resources than you are reasonably allowed. Although you may have no strict limits if you use so-called unlimited hosting plan.

Thus, unlimited hosting plan is a sort of a marketing trick, but with some solid reasoning behind it. And I have to admit that it’s quite successful move for hosts to use unlimited hosting offers. Even if unlimited hosting offers imply some limits. And let’s speak about the limits now.

Before all, if you see the word “unlimited” in the hosting plan title, have a look at more details of this plan. There are good chances, that only some parameters are “unlimited” whereas others are not. For example, only disk space may be unlimited, whereas number of website (or add-on domains) is limited.

It’s not a big deal, but you need to know what you buy. Everything-unlimited plans are usually some more expensive.

Now as regards the real limits implied by the term “unlimited”.

If you read hosting’s terms of service you may find that under “unlimited” it’s meant reasonably sufficient resources to supply your needs in most cases. And at the same time the terms state that in some cases including abusing the server resources your account may be limited.

Sometimes the limits are not as explicit as you may expect it. For example, the disk space is unlimited, but the maximum number of files and folders is limited.

Besides, hosts usually do not allow using its hosting services as a file storage.

Also, you are not allowed to abuse excessive amount of resources for a long period of time. It makes sense because otherwise the shared hosting clients would be suffering poor performance.

So, as you can see there are nuances in what unlimited is in practice. After all, if you are not going to abuse “unlimited” option while using the hosting services, you may consider that your plan is indeed unlimited for your needs.

For instance, here’s what you may expect regarding unlimited hosting plans.

HawkHost

This is one of the examples which outlines the “unlimited” plans. You can read it in HawkHost’s terms of services:

  • System Resources
    You're not allowed to use an excessive amount of system resources for an extended period of time. If your account is found to be utilizing a large amount of resources we will contact you and give you further information. Under extreme cases suspension may be necessary until the issue can be resolved.
  • Inode Limits
    All shared hosting plans are limited to 500,000 inodes.
    (The total number of files and folders that are stored on your account. Individual files (and e-mails) count as one inode).
  • Disk Space Usage (Unlimited Plans)
    Your account may not be used as a storage and/or backup space for files/archives. Regular backups of databases, websites, etc, are permitted within reason. Any account found to be using an excessive and/or unreasonable amount of disk space may be asked to reduce their usage or face suspension/termination. Hawk Host reserves the right to suspend/terminate any service for resource abuse at their discretion.

HawkHost has very comfortable terms of service regarding unlimited shared plans.

You can see full HawkHost TOS here.

A2Hosting

Another example is what A2Hosting says about its unlimited shared hosting plans:

For Shared Web Hosting and Reseller Hosting, the terms “unlimited” and “unmetered” are defined by our experience with similarly situated customers. This means that your use of our resources may not exceed that of similarly situated customers.

Shared and Reseller Web Hosting Use may not include:

  • (i) streaming content (other than that which is incidental to your website’s operation),
  • (ii) management of very large photo galleries,
  • (iii) storage of a large amount of uncompressed or full-size digital images,
  • (iv) online file (FTP) serving,
  • (v) distribution of large audio or video content such as MP3 files,
  • (vi) online backups (i.e. backup of desktop/laptop computer, files, or anything not directly related to the website).

You agree that we may remove impermissible materials from our servers at any time in our sole discretion without notice. We may also delete the following types of files if we find them to be using excessive amounts of disk space, especially if affecting other customers:

  • (i) cPanel or other backups stored locally,
  • (ii) Softaculous backups stored locally,
  • (iii) Softaculous backup temp files,
  • (iv) Common CMS backups stored locally,
  • (v) Common CMS backup temp files,
  • (vi) Common CMS backup logs,
  • (vii) excessively sized error logs, and
  • (viii) any other large files deemed unnecessary for core website functionality or not containing any valuable data.

Shared Web Hosting accounts are allowed to use a maximum of six hundred thousand (600,000) inodes and thirty-five (35) concurrent HTTP connections to the server. Backups should be downloaded and removed after creation.

Since A2Hosting is much larger company than HawkHost, A2’s terms of services are more detailed regarding such opaque term as “unlimited”. On the one hand, these terms seemingly have more restrictions. On the other hand, you know what to expect which adds clarity.

You can read more at A2Hosting TOS.

GeekStorage

The last example of outlining “unlimited” plans goes from GeekStorage.

Shared hosting space may only be used for web files, active email and content of User Websites. Shared hosting space may not be used for storage (whether of media, emails, or other data), including, as off-site storage of electronic files, email or FTP hosts.

GeekStorage expressly reserves the right to review every shared account for excessive usage of CPU, disk space and other resources that may be caused by a violation of this Agreement or the Acceptable Use Policy.

GeekStorage may, in our sole discretion, terminate access to the Services, apply additional fees, or remove or delete User Content for those accounts that are found to be in violation of GeekStorage’s terms and conditions.

Besides, there’s inode limit on GeekStorage shared unlimited plans (from 200,000 to 400,000 depending on a specific unlimited plan).
GeekStorage, like HawkHost, is a small company. And when dealing with “unlimited” stuff it takes an individual (less formal) approach as well. Some people like it less formal, some people like it more precise as in case with A2.

You can read full GeekStorage TOS here.

 

What kind of hosts I use

I’ve been using both kinds of hosts. But in most cases for rational purposes (better “price for value”) I prefer limited hosting. Because in most cases I don’t come close to the capacity of unlimited hosting can offer.

A limited hosting is a reasonable option to save money for websites as my server resources consumption is under control.

So, since I know what limits I need and if I don’t need more, why to pay more for “unlimited”?

quote dali on hosting limits

Besides, some hosts offer limited plans which in fact offer better performance compared to unlimited plans. E.g. GeekStorage’s plans: unlimited plans have unlimited disk space, whereas limited plans have more RAM.

At the same time, an unlimited hosting gives me more comfort in case I don’t know exactly how many websites I need. An unlimited plan is the choice for me when I need more websites (disk space etc) than limited plans allow.

quote Rowling what is life little disk

 

Conclusions: Practical recommendations on choosing limited or unlimited plans

By default people want everything unlimited. It sounds pleasing and feels like a comfortable freedom. In many cases an unlimited plan is the right choice as it gives you more (and you need this more) compared to limited plans. But sometimes you just overpay compared to limited plans.

So here are my points that you may want to consider when deciding whether choosing a limited or unlimited hosting plan.

  1. Do you really need more hosting resources than you actually need? Maybe a better option is to pay less for a limited plan (if you know how much resources you need)? For example, among my examples, HawkHost has a quite significant difference in pricing between limited and unlimited plans.
  2. Sometimes limited plans are better than unlimited ones (e.g. you can get more CPU power but limited disk space as GeekStorage offers). It can make sense for you if you get more speed, whereas a disk space (or a number of websites) is probably is not a priority for you.
  3. Choosing an unlimited plan, make sure that you get unlimited for what you need, since not everything may be unlimited as you may assume it. Don’t judge only by the word “unlimited” in the plan’s title. For example, disk space can be unlimited, whereas number of allowed websites is not unlimited. For example the cheapest unlimited GeekStorage plan offers unlimited disk space, but limited number of hosted domains.
  4. The spirit of a hosting company reflects in how formal or individual approach it takes when dealing with possible abuse of limits of “unlimited” plans. You need to take it into account when choosing a hosting. For example, smaller hosts (e.g. the hosts from my examples – HawkHost, GeekStorage) have less formal and more flexible approach to what should be considered “unlimited”. Whereas larger hosting companies (e.g. A2Hosting) in order to avoid possible legal issues determine “unlimited” in a stricter way.

P.S.: If you consider one of the hosts mentioned above for a limited or unlimited plan, I suggest reading my reviews on these hosts first: on HawkHost, on A2Hosting, on GeekStorage. And other hosts that I recommend (both with limited and unlimited plans) I have reviewed on this page.

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Comments

  1. I was searching for a hosting plan, it really helps.

  2. This is a helpful article. Thinking of buying from these.

  3. Hello Michael Bely,
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