As a website owner, there are two essential things to keep in mind when comparing hosting plans. These are the bandwidth and the storage. These two factors are important to help manage the data in every website. Nowadays, most hosting providers claim to offer unlimited bandwidth and storage in the hopes of attracting more customers. They are extremely popular because who wouldn’t be interested in something that is supposedly unlimited? However, you cannot help but to wonder “How unlimited are these so-called unlimited plans?”

What is bandwidth?

Before we unfold the truth behind this, let us first explain what bandwidth is. Bandwidth is the rate in which an amount of data can be transferred from the hosting server to the user’s Internet-connected device. Bandwidth is measured in bytes per second or bps. It is important for every website because it dictates the success of every user activity on the site. One of the most common user activities on the sites is uploading and downloading videos and pictures. In this case, the higher the bandwidth, the faster the download speed and the more satisfied the users are. However, this should not be confused with ISP Bandwidth.

ISP Bandwidth

ISP bandwidth, or the bandwidth provided to you by your Internet Service Provider, is exclusive to the ISP’s clients only. It only affects the client’s activities online. On the other hand, the bandwidth that you can get from web host providers can extensively affect the website administrator’s online activity as well as the users who are visiting the site.

In a Nutshell

To summarize it all, web hosting bandwidth is the flow of data on every website. A higher bandwidth would be able to cater to heavier data going in and out of the site. It is the reason why bandwidth is an important thing to look for in a web hosting plan.

How unlimited are these so-called unlimited plans?

So going back to the web hosting plans, there are quite a number of website owners that are fascinated with these unlimited offers. However, are these plans really unlimited? We all know for a fact that nothing is unlimited, especially if it comes with a price. This has become a rule of thumb in every business. And in most cases, these too good to be true offers come with a catch that’s hiding in the terms of service (TOS).

A Marketing Ploy

The truth is that these unlimited offers are not really unlimited. The term “unlimited bandwidth” is just used as a marketing strategy to attract potential clients. Usually, unlimited bandwidth means that you can freely consume the bandwidth, but it should not go beyond what the provider can offer.

The All-You-Can-Eat Concept

It would be easier to grasp this concept if we think of it as an “all you can eat” buffet. Normally, in an all-you-can-eat restaurant, you can eat as many dishes as you like, but you can never eat more than enough. In most cases, people tend to get full after two or three servings.

Using this strategy, the hosting company allocates a certain amount of bandwidth allowance on a shared server and operates under the assumption that their clients will not entirely consume their allocated bandwidth. Given that, they think it’s safe to advertise it as an unlimited plan. However, if you read their terms of service, you’ll quickly realize that using more than the allotted bandwidth will result in your website suddenly becoming unavailable.

How do web host providers allocate bandwidth for their unlimited plans?

As mentioned earlier, these web host providers will make sure that they allocate more than enough bandwidth. For example, let’s say that the terabyte is the new measurement for unlimited bandwidth offered by web hosting services. For normal websites, this amount is already difficult to exceed. With the unused resources in their servers, the web hosting companies resell them to other potential clients. This process is called overselling. The providers are betting on their assumption that the allocated bandwidth will not be entirely consumed, so they resell the excess bandwidth.

What are the risks of unlimited bandwidth?

Due to the concept of overselling, there’s always a tendency that the performance of your site will downgrade. Imagine that you are sharing an entire pizza with your friends. Then, one friend took up the largest portion of the pizza. Now, all the others will have to share the remaining piece of pizza. This is the same concept with web hosts that are offering unlimited bandwidth. Since more people are sharing the allocated bandwidth, there’s always the possibility that the performance of the sites will be affected.

If these unlimited plans are impossible, how come there are still website owners who fall into these false advertising claims? Here are the reasons why:

  • It’s a waste of time and effort moving out to another web host provider, knowing that all the other providers are also offering faux unlimited plans.
  • These websites do not require extensive bandwidth, so they are just fine with it as long as the quality of service does not deteriorate.

In Closing

As you have seen, unlimited bandwidth does not really mean unlimited. The hosting companies are using the term as a marketing strategy to bring in new customers for their services. Be aware of this limitation and make sure to read Terms of Service carefully as well as contact their support team to know what you can really expect when it comes to bandwidth.