Whether you’re building your hundredth client website, or you’ve just finished up Responsive Web Development and are looking for a host for your first portfolio site, you’re hunting for the best hosting provider. Because you’re probably looking for both the best and the cheapest, you may run into the mythical “Unlimited Everything” hosting plans offered by some hosts. You’ve probably seen them before. “Unlimited Storage Space” or “Unlimited Bandwidth” or perhaps even “Unlimited Server Resource Usage” (Memory, CPU power). Have you ever wondered how providers of shared hosting can provide those unlimited resources?
Technically, they can’t.
Unlimited Everything vs Practically Unlimited
There are two separate terms to consider here — “unlimited” and “practically unlimited”. Unlimited simply means without a limit. Of course, the issue with unlimited storage space is that you are aware of the fact that it’s not possible to give storage space, with no limits at all, to every customer. Or to any customer. Eventually you’d run out of space on the drives, on the server. Eventually that user will be requiring a data center to be created on their behalf, which of course would be preposterous for most use cases.
However, some hosting companies offer it anyway. They put a big “Unlimited Storage” or “Unlimited Disk Space” sign up and people flock to it only to find out later that there are some hidden limits, some masked lines that cannot be crossed, because of course there are. And therein lies the issue – if there are limits, don’t the users deserve to know about them? Unlimited is a good marketing buzzword, but when it isn’t true, it may just cause problems down the road.
If something is practically unlimited – the phrasing is mine, but the gist is the same – then they’re going to essentially be unlimited, with asterisks. They’re unlimited if one considers normal use case scenarios. There are no practical, reasonable limits – but if one goes beyond what the company considers reasonable, one will run into a wall. Instead of dumbing this down and calling it “unlimited” in order to make the customer (and the company’s) life easier, the best plan would be to make practical limitations available (easily) to the customer, so that they can assess the service with as much honestly delivered information as possible.
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