Yi Xiang

A Young Writer in Search of His Voice

The Lie of Unlimited Hosting Plans

ServerUnlimited web hosting plan is a marketing scam.

It’s used to lure you to buy. After you buy it, you’ll find out there are a whole bunch of stuffs you cannot do.

Two or three years ago I fell for this trap, and I just googled it and turns out, unlimited hosting plans are still around.

So I think I should write about the limitations of the so called “unlimited” plans.

Limitation One: You Shall Not Have Two Visitors at The Same Time

Unlimited plan gives you the impression that you can have millions of visitors a day, and still pay for just $10 a month.

You can’t.

But I have unlimited traffic?

There are limitations on CPU and memory. Every company provides unlimited hosting plan will state in their terms of service that you cannot use too much system resource. Some will tell you exactly how much resource you can use, like HostGator, others won’t.

But that’s all technical and dry. Let me explain it in another way.

Buying a hosting plan is like hiring a worker to serve your visitors. When hiring, the worker promises he will serve unlimited number of visitors a month. Satisfied with the deal, you begin sending a legion of visitors, only to get many complains that they are not served. Angered, you go to the worker, but he points out in your agreement that he “shall not break a sweat”.

Then you just watch him drink a cup of wine, play with his mobile phone before he gets up to serve the next visitor. After the next visitor is served, he sits down for another cup of wine.

Lazy Cat

I Will Not Overwork!

Your hosting plan is a lot like that worker, it promises unlimited everything, but it won’t work hard enough to serve millions of visitors.

If you are unfortunate, your website won’t even be able to serve two visitors at the same time.

Realistically, it’s not that bad but still bad. Back in 2012 when I was hosting my eshop to sell my book with an unlimited plan from IXWebHosting, it crashed during launch when 50 people came to preorder my book.

I had only 50 people because my niche and audience were too small, but it may not be so for you. You may have hundreds and thousands of people eager to buy your product, now imagine when most of them cannot visit your website. What kind of disaster would that be, both for you and your audience.

What to do instead if you need to do that kind of launch? You could host your product on someone else’s platform, like publish your book to amazon or buy some eShop hosting plan. Or you can find some professionals to get you a better hosting. Often you will need to pay more than $10 a month. But like most things in life, you get what you pay for.

Limitation Two: No Spam, No Adult Content, No Proxy, No Email Server, No P2P, No Spider

All of these things will take up valuable server resources, that is, let your web hosting worker work very hard, so they are all no no.

I’m not saying these should be allowed. Many are banned for legitimate reasons. If you and a spammer use the same hosting plan, it may be bad for your website. So is adult sites. Web hosting plans are mostly shared hosting. It’s like two company hiring the same worker, if the worker does dirty things, both companies’ reputation will be damaged.

My point is, with so many limitations, how could these companies call it an unlimited hosting plan?

It’s still limited, but instead of being honest and tell you what the limitations are, they decide to bury the limitations in their TOS and put up flashy promises.

My Hosting Advice

Usually, this is the part that I tell you I have a wonderful hosting company with a great hosting plan, but I’m not in the hosting business. I won’t even recommend products I haven’t used myself. I’ll just give you my honest opinions.

If you are not a nerd and only need to host your personal blog:

Go to your favorite blogs that are fast enough and ask them what they use, then choose a hosting plan from the suggestions. There still are good web hosting companies out there and they still have the advantage of being easy to setup (compared to VPS).

If you are a nerd or don’t mind becoming one and only need to host your personal blog:

Go for a low end Linux VPS. I currently use 128MB OpenVZ from Hostigation (Affiliate Link) at $20 a year and I am very satisfied with it.

About the setup, you can begin with this post on LowEndBox.

You can also buy a better VPS if you need it or are just not as broke as me.

If you need to host something way more than just a personal blog:

Get a professional company to do it, or hire a system administrator.

They’re more expensive, yes. But if you are building the next superstar web app with millions of users, you don’t want to ruin it because your server setup can’t handle that much load and you can’t figure out what to do. Much better to delegate to someone else and scream “Get it fixed or get fired”.