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Unmetered is not unlimited

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Posted 30-01-2009 at 07:22 PM by Paul

During my normal daily read of forums I came across yet another web host offering unlimited bandwidth for some extremely low cost per month.

Their explanation of how they can offer unlimited bandwidth is that their servers are connected to 100mbps unmetered ports. They seem to have completely ignored the difference between unmetered and unlimited either through ignorance or in order to make their offering sound better than it is to the general public.

If you use Google to query the definition of unlimited, define:unlimited, you'll see the first definition "having no limits", well this simple isnít the case with a 100mbps port. A 100mbps port can transfer around 30TB per month, so there is in fact a limit and what the host meant was that transfer is unmetered, that is they donít track the bandwidth used by a site.

So now we've established that the host really offers unmetered rather than unlimited bandwidth, we need to look at what that means for your site.

From a quality dedicated server provider with a good mix of bandwidth providers a 100mbps unmetered port can add $2000 per month to the cost of a server therefore for a host charging $5 per month they would need to have 400 accounts on the server just to cover this costs. By the time you add on the server cost, support and profit itís not unrealistic to expect to have to put 1000 accounts or more on a server. That is your site is now competing with 999 other accounts for CPU, disk access and bandwidth.

If a reasonable portion of those sites are dynamic, WordPress, e-commerce, forums etc, then that will put a load on the server so in order to keep the server responsive, a host may put a limit on the amount of CPU an account can use. From experience this CPU limit can be set so low that light traffic cause the account to exceed this limit and become suspended.

If you are running a business then having visitors to your site see an account suspended page does nothing for the credibility of your business.

So while hosts claiming unlimited bandwidth are generally somewhat confused, it is possible to provide unmetered bandwidth and undoubtedly thereís a place for this type of service however consider:
  • How many other sites will be on the server competing for resources with you.
  • What other limits are imposed by the host?

If the answer is none then accounts are free to take whatever resources they want even to the detriment of other accounts on the server.

While I've focused on bandwidth here the same arguments can generally be applied to hosts claiming unlimited disk space.
Posted in Web Hosting
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