You see it everywhere. The “All-You-Can-Eat” buffet, “Unlimited” cell phone plans, “Unlimited” movie rentals, and just about every industry has in some way, shape, or form, “Unlimited”! The big benefit to this is the ease-of-use provided to the customer. No one wants to be bothered with the trouble of reaching the limits they are provided with, so unlimited provides an opportunity to create a sense of simplicity in products to allow the customer to focus on other things.
It’s a known fact that in web hosting, most customers never come close to reaching the resource limits they are allocated. Being in the web hosting business for 12 years I can tell you for sure, very few customers have ever reached their limits. So you ask, why not just provide unlimited plans to your customers then? Well, let’s first go into the specifics of Unlimited Web Hosting. For starters, it’s technically impossible to provide unlimited resources. The servers, network, and infrastructure can only support as many resources as they have available to them. There is no such thing as unlimited hardware. Servers used in the web hosting world have theoretical limits just like your computer at home and can only process so many requests, and store so much data. The exception to this rule is Cloud Technology. Therefore, we can scale to virtually limitless resources by spanning an application across many more servers than a traditional environment. This would mean for us that if we truly did unlimited hosting, a customer could in fact utilize a large cluster of servers for their one site easily costing us thousands of dollars per month. As nice as that sounds, we do have to be reasonable and if we expect to remain in business we have to be profitable.
Another problem with unlimited hosting is many customers do not realize that limits actually do exist, and they are defined in the Terms of Service (TOS) with the host. With the hosts that offer these plans you will surely see stipulations that limit things such as inodes, CPU, and RAM/memory usage. Therefore, the unlimited plan now has clear limits as to how many resources you can truly use.
If a viable host truly does not limit anything, then they will surely overload. The problem lies herein. The term overloading is commonly confused with overselling which is not the same thing. Overselling, quite honestly, is a very good and important, tactful and competitive step that most viable hosting companies do. The main difference between the two is overselling consists of an automated and intelligent system to pro-actively monitor, maintain, and ensure that all customers have a fair share of resources so they have the potential to use the full limits of their plan. So, if there are no limits, or overselling mechanisms in place, then there is no way to protect the customers, servers, and network, therefore leaving everything vulnerable to overload. As you can tell already, the nature of overselling and overloading is clearly different. Remember just like with unlimited, there are theoretical limits on the infrastructure so overloading is a guaranteed way to provide unreliable, and unfair hosting.