The Truth Behind “Unlimited Disk Space”

Unlimited Disk Space

Just a quick glance at the sales page of most web hosting services can lead anyone to conclude that the service being offered is “too good to be true”. Nonetheless, most web hosts are known for providing valuable services to their customers at nominal prices with new specials and promotions constantly appearing in this ever-expanding, competitive industry. Perhaps two of the most important aspects of a web hosting plan are the bandwidth and disk space that can be utilized by each user. These two attributes determine the overall performance of your website, and are therefore crucial advertising points for web hosting companies. However, is it really possible for a web host to promise their customers unlimited disk space without being dishonest?

How Can They Advertise “Unlimited” Disk Space?

Although there are indeed limitations to every web hosting plan (as hosting plans are powered by servers, which in themselves are technological devices that are limited in their capabilities), the majority of web hosting users never encounter these limitations because they do not utilize all of the server resources that are allocated to them. Nonetheless, technically speaking the host should not be able to promise any single customer unlimited disk space, because one person could hypothetically upload enough files to consume every gigabyte of space that the web host has available.

Shouldn’t Unlimited Disk Space Be Labeled False Advertising?

Many customers have complained that promises of unlimited disk space should be labeled as false advertising, however there are several loopholes that allow web hosting companies to offer “unlimited” disk space. First, as long as a company provides a product or service that is true to their advertisements for the majority of their customers, it is not false advertising. Since most webmasters never encounter the hidden limitations, it seems as if they have access to unlimited disk space. Second, web hosts are allowed to promise unlimited disk space but limit how much can be uploaded based on the amount of files. For example, HostGator offers plans that have unlimited disk space, but which are limited by measurements called inodes, with each inode representing a file that was uploaded. Thus, a user that is limited to 250,000 inodes may think that they have unlimited disk space, but in reality they can only upload 250,000 files.

Why do They Advertise “Unlimited” Disk Space

While a shared hosting plan that costs five dollars per month would probably have the strictest limitations, the web host still promises unlimited bandwidth and disk space, primarily because they know that the majority of shared hosting users will not be using an extensive amount of server resources. The promise of unlimited disk space is simply a marketing tactic known as “overselling,” in which an advertiser guarantees an abundance of a specific aspect of their service because they know that the majority of their customers will not exceed the profitable limitations. A prime example of overselling would be a buffet, in which you are allowed to eat all that you like, yet each customer is only able to consume so much before they are satisfied.

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