The Limit of Unlimited Plans

I have been thinking about the topic of unlimited plans lately drawn on the recent publicity of AT&T being sued in small claims court…and losing over throttling the unlimited data plan of a customer in California.  Of course that was related to cell phone use, not web hosting, but I wanted to draw some parallels and give an apologetic for Murhost using limited hosting plans in the world where most hosting companies offer unlimited plans.

Of course if you check out most hosting companies, they are all advertising unlimited space and data transfer, but how unlimited is it really?  It is not.  First and foremost, data is held on hard drives in computers.  Hard drives are actually finite in space, and a CPU can only deliver so much data!  In fact, a quick search on this topic render many articles such this one.  An unlimited hosting account is more of a ploy than anything else.

Web hosting is a very competitive field as I well know, and it is hard for Murhost to compete against GoDaddy, Bluehost, or other larger companies.  They have more marketing dollars, offer everything as ‘unlimited’.  My question is, will this AT&T case have any implications in the advertising and competition of web hosting companies?  Of course the fine print of the hosting plans will always say what the limits really are:

BlueHost, HostMonster – 200,000 inodes limit. In their words: “Bluehost’s offering of “unlimited” services is not intended to allow the actions of a single or few subscribers to unfairly or adversely impact the experience of other Subscribers.”

HostGator – 250,000 inodes limit. Cannot use 25% or more of system resources for longer then 90 seconds. Cannot run any MySQL queries longer than 15 seconds. Account using more than 20 gigs of disk space will be removed from off site weekly backup. etc.

iPage, Fatcow – “Normal” usage. Normal usage means that you operate a personal or small business website that utilizes resources in a manner similar to most of our other customers. (Means, don’t look like an alien!)

JustHost – “The Services are intended for normal use only, and any activity that results in excessive usage that is inconsistent with normal usage patterns is strictly prohibited.”

(Source from Why “Unlimited Hosting” is Actually Limited! Understanding Your Limitations and Know How You Will be Affected linked above)

These are some of the reasons that Murhost has defined limits on plans, and these limits do come with lower prices on many hosting accounts that we offer.  Our plans were set by what businesses actually need, not to woo them in with feature and limits that they will never even come close to needing.  For example, a standard WordPress install is 13MB out of the box (or install file), a fully working blog will be around 20 MB.  If that is all that your business uses, you can afford to pay a lot less for less usage.  Even our smallest plan is way more than you would need for this website strategy.

So what happens when you reach the limits to your hosting resources?  In most cases, your site is shut down until you contact the web hosting company to get your site in compliance with the usage requirements.  If you can not, you will need to switch to a VPS (Virtual Private Server) where you are the only person using that site, but you are limited only by the computer that you are renting.  These servers are expensive, but in reality, if you have enough site traffic to cause your site to need it, you can probably afford the extra cost.  Murhost does not offer VPS servers.

What are your thoughts?  Will this AT&T case have any bearing on the ‘Unlimited’ web hosting plans?


About Tom

Tom has been building websites and interacting online with blogs, forums, and social media since 2005. In 2010 he launched out full time in web design with the company Western Mountain Web Design. In his first year of business he completed projects in over 15 states in the US. In 2011, he launched the web hosting company Murhost and the blog Murhost Success with the goal of equipping small business owners to succeed with their online strategy.
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