Two key elements of any web hosting service are disk space and bandwidth:
- Disk space is the amount of space you are given to host your website.
- Bandwidth relates the amount of information (or web pages) that you are permitted to transfer from the hosting server to your visitors’ browsers.
A common trend in web hosting today is to offer unlimited disk space and unlimited bandwidth. While this sounds like an attractive offer, you should be aware that no company can truly offer an unlimited amount of either of these resources – as there are physical limitations and substantial costs associated with both. The amount of information a network carrier’s lines can transfer at one time has a limited capacity. Likewise, the amount of disk space a company can offer is limited to the physical size of its hard drive.
So why the claim of “unlimited” resources? As the majority of web sites out there consume a minimal amount of disk space and bandwidth, many web hosting companies will make such claims based on the assumption that your requirements for both will rarely exceed the average amount. And truth be told, they’re probably right. Unless your website does not require a ton of audio, graphic, or video files – and you aren’t accruing a ton of traffic (viva la Facebook) you probably won’t run into any problems.
If on the other hand you do have a lot of visitors on your site or do offer a substantial amount of audio and visual downloads, you may want to take a look at the fine print some of these “unlimited” options offer.
For example, one well-known web hosting company offering “unlimited disk space” caveats this claim with legalese that essentially states that while you can add as much content as you want, you may not be able to add it all at once. In other words, your “unlimited disk space” may be limited in terms of availability. Ultimately your web hosting company will determine much web content you can add at once and how much of your “unlimited” disk space you can use each time.
Another common practice of web host companies who provide “unlimited” space is to restrict what you can use the disk space for. One web hosting company requires that 90% of your website be HTML and images. If this is not the case, you may be susceptible to additional charges. They do this because let’s face it, if every user were to really use their “unlimited” disk space, the hosting company would be spending copious amounts of money to buy unlimited numbers of hard disks to accommodate them.
Our conclusion? It is impossible for a web hosting company to offer unlimited bandwidth and disk space because it is physically impossible to do so. However, as unsubstantial as these claims may be, it doesn’t necessarily equate to poor service or bad hosting. In fact, if you have a basic website (some examples are listed on our About Us page) there are plenty of affordable web hosts that will suit you just fine – especially since most offer a money-back guarantee. But always check the terms of service and be aware of any limitations that are included in the fine print.
Want to learn more? Here’s a recent conversation on the topic at Web Hosting Talk