The world of web hosting is unchartered territory for even the most savvy of business owners, You’ve got the perfect business idea and have a robust plan of action, now what? You need a website. If you’re lucky you’ve already found yourself a web designer who has put together a quality website to represent your new business. Now you need to find a reliable company to host it, together with your e-mail.
Like everyone else the natural next step is to visit google where, merely typing in the search term “web hosting” generates a vast number of companies willing to do just that for a nominal monthly fee.
Everyone wants more for their money right? Instantly we’re drawn to offers of unlimited resources costing just a little more than the above mentioned nominal fee and start to pat ourselves on the back as we’ve found something that the likes of Facebook or Amazon who require vast amounts of resources to keep these websites online, must have missed.
Myth number 1 – Unlimited Storage space
Hard disks which provide an unlimited storage capacity have yet to reach the market therefore anyone selling unlimited storage space has clearly founded their business on the hope that in reality, you’ll never use it.
If we take one of the more popular server hardware providers as an example:
A 1TB Enterprise Solid state disk is more than likely going to have cost the provider (unless they are buying at significant scale) around £500 and they’ll at least need 2 for some semblance of redundancy in RAID1. If you are paying them £5/month for unlimited space, they simply are not going to let you fill up £1000’s worth of disk space and if they’re backing it up (which they should be) you can easily double that figure.
To prevent you doing this most hosts offering unlimited storage will in fact place an arbitrary limit on the number of inodes (essentially metadata, such as the last modified date) you can utilize within your account therefore placing an artificial limit on your unlimited storage.
Myth number 2 – Unlimited Bandwidth
Bandwidth costs money, unless you’re buying it at scale. At low levels bandwidth can be purchased at around £10 per Mbit/sec per month, this sustained equates to around 324GB/month of data transfer. Unfortunately, web hosting doesn’t lean itself to predictable sustained transfer as human nature is to visit a site on impulse, not sit in a queue waiting for the previous visitor to finish.
Web hosts are usually billed using a method called 95%ile, essentially an average is taken of their maximum usage per month and the top 5% is shaved off to allow for some wiggle room. The worst case scenario is your web host has their server(s) connected at a port speed of 100Mbit/sec (Though in this day and age its more common to see 1Gbit/sec or even 10Gbit/sec).
Here we need to ask a question, does it make good business sense to allow a client to run up a £1000+/month bill in exchange for the nominal fee paid for an account which they have advertised unlimited bandwidth on? The answer to this is a resounding no and any attempt to use the advertised bandwidth will result in a service suspension.
Myth number 3 – Unlimited websites
This one, in your authors opinion only ends up in tears when combined with either unlimited bandwidth or storage. Having each individual customer load vast amounts of different websites onto the same server your web site resides on results in finite resources (processing power, disk I/O) being oversubscribed and therefore a general slowdown (if not complete unavailability) of your web site.
As a get out of jail free card for these misleading advertising practises you’ll undoubtedly find a clause buried in a terms of service document. But in your eagerness to setup the next Netflix you read those, right?
Independent research shows that potential clients will wait 3 seconds for a web site to load before going elsewhere and at a guess, hosting your new business’ web site somewhere that results in lost custom, was not part of your business plan.