HostGator, Unlimited Hosting, and Overselling

HostGator, like nearly every other large shared hosting business, advertises “unlimited hosting” for shared plans. Unlimited hosting is not really unlimited–to prevent users from taking up to much server space, HostGator has several limitations. These limitations are explained in the TOS and in several other spots on their website. If your curious, I have a brief article here that explains the limits.

The limits HostGator imposes makes users incapable of truly using unlimited bandwidth or unlimited disk space. At the same time, it should be realize that the limits are not simply hidden bandwidth and disk space restrictions. The limits are designed to keep the server running smoothly; someone who uses 20GB of bandwidth in a month, but uses it very quickly may infringe on the limits, while someone else may be able to slowly use 80GB of bandwidth in a month with no trouble.

So some people may wonder if this means HostGator is overselling. It depends how you define “overselling.” Overselling could mean the company is allowing people to use more resources than possible, causing the sever to be slow and unreliable. If this definition is used, HostGator is certainly not overselling–its servers are fast and very stable (again, this is made possible through the limitations). If overselling means that people cannot use all the server resources they might have thought was included in their plan (in this case unlimited bandwidth and unlimited diskspace), then yes, HostGator is indeed overselling.

I found an intesting response in HostGator’s FAQ section. To a question about reseller plans, “Why don’t you allow overselling,” HostGator answers,

Overselling means offering more resources than possible to allocate. A common example of this is selling hosting with Unlimited diskspace and Unlimited bandwidth.

Almost all reseller’s offering overselling start out the same. Clients have great uptime, servers are fast etc. As more time goes by the server becomes more and more filled from resellers using what they purchased and downtime gradually gets worse. People who purchase reseller plans with overselling enabled are going to use all of their disk space and bandwidth given enough time. The host has no control over future growth.

If you want to enable overselling, you need a VPS or dedicated server, but remember you can only fill the server with so many sites before the CPU and RAM become overloaded.

A post made on HostGator’s blog also agrees that unlimited hosting is not a real concept, but the result of competition and market pressure.

HostGator’s a great host, but don’t be fooled into believing that HostGator, or any other host, can offer unlimited hosting. Also, realize that this is a good thing–a host offering unlimited server resources would be monstrously unreliable.


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