Revisiting “Unlimited” Web Hosts

unlimited hosting

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Not long ago I wrote a post here in defense of unlimited Web hosting companies. I wrote that post while I was a relatively happy customer with an “unlimited” shared hosting provider for a few of my blogs. Wow, how quickly things can change.

I’ve since decided to leave that host for other reasons related to shoddy tech support. I went through the process of changing Web hosting companies only to end up with even worse support from another unlimited host. And this new host has changed my views on “unlimited” hosting plans quite a bit.

Why My Views on “Unlimited” Hosts Are Changing

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My initial shared hosting account didn’t lead to problems with resource usage with twice the sites on the account that the new one has. Fortunately service hasn’t been cancelled, but I was told within my first week that CPU usage was high and I could see the absurd throttling going on. Tech support couldn’t tell me what was really causing the CPU problem. They just told me to decrease the size of my database. As I mentioned in the recent tech support post here, I did that — decreased it by 60%. And the throttling issues got worse (after that and other optimization).

In my previous post my biggest defense of the “unlimited” marketing tactic was that it isn’t technically false advertising if it’s in the fine print, and it’s every customer’s responsibility to read that. I do read it. But here’s the thing. Knowing the limits is rather useless when the “unlimited” hosting company doesn’t give you an easy way to track the usage and how it’s calculated (if they give you any way at all).

That’s what happened in this case. I could view the throttling, but I couldn’t get information on the actual supposed CPU usage issue. Nothing was showing up as strange in my logs. And tech support was beyond useless at figuring it out on their end.

The Host’s Target Market Issue

target market

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I also mentioned something else in my previous defense of “unlimited” hosts — that they target a specific market, and many webmasters simply aren’t in it. For the sites I was hosting there, I was though. The site was far too small still to justify dedicated hosting for it. And the blog platform tech support was trying to blame (which was already heavily-optimized for the record) is one that they specifically advertise their ability to host. Now that’s when I cross the line from looking at occasional consumer ignorance and start questioning the ethics of a company’s advertising.

So I’m sorry to anyone who read my last post on unlimited hosting who might have felt the blame was wrongly placed to some degree. It was. While those views were my own and I stand by much of what I said about consumer responsibility, they were also based on an unlimited host that didn’t go out of their way to cause customers grief (at least not in my first five years with them). Apparently, as I’ve learned the hard way, there are others that do make consumer education difficult whether intentional or not, and in the end there is absolutely no excuse for that. At this point I’m comparing new dedicated servers to get my last few shared sites away from shared hosting. While I can’t say everyone should do the same, and I’m sure it will have its own problems, I hope you’ll consider all sides of the “unlimited” hosting debate before jumping into an offer that looks too good to be true.


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2 Comments

  1. I have a number of websites, I have discovered the best strategy is typically to put static sites with no database or dynamic content on a cheap unlimited host and then put blogs and sites with databases and dynamic content on a pricier host that may have limits but at least they are clearly defined and you know what you are getting.

    Basically the unlimited hosting companies are a lot more flexible when it comes to bandwidth than they are on CPU.

  2. Exactly Scott. And CPU is, of course, something they don’t talk about in their ads. That’s where they’ll get you. Unfortunately it’s not something many brand new site owners looking for shared hosting know about, so they don’t research those limits first.

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