Decoding The Fair Usage Policy Of Hosting Plans

 Ultimate Guide To Hosting Plans – Part III

This is the Third and last Part of the Ultimate Guide to Hosting Plans wherein I’m sharing with you deep insights into Hosting Plans by some of the Top Web Hosting providers. In this part of the post, we will dig deeper into the Fair Usage Policies or Acceptable Usage Policies that govern web hosting plans and the dreaded Fine print that remains obscured in the flashes of marketing gimmicks.

Web Hosting Companies Used For Comparing Plans and Services


 The Fair Usage Policy

While there is lot of sweet sloganeering in the Sales pages of Web Hosting plans the real aspects are hidden in the Terms of Usage, Fair Usage Policy and Acceptable Usage Policy pages. The names of these documents change from company to company but the inherent purpose is to bring reality to the dreams sold in the sales pages.

While the initial clauses of these Fair Usage Policies (FUP) are very general in nature and serve restrictions on using the Hosting space for malicious and pornographic content. But as you dig deeper through the clauses you can find the exact words that limit the everything’s on the house story. So before you buy a Hosting plan, read the Polic document and clear all those vague marketing tricks from your mind.

Here’s a sample of what a Fair Usage Policy or an Acceptable Usage Policy looks like –

Acceptable Usage Policy at NameCheap

Acceptable Usage Policy at A Small Orange

Having all these limits doesn’t make a Web Hosting company bad, these are designed to protect everybody on the server including you. Having these limit is logical in a shared server environment. The hosting Company cannot afford to crash an entire Server with 1000’s of websites for one rogue account.

These restrictions are for the greater good of everyone having a website on a Shared server. If you feel you’ll be needing more resource, please go for a VPS Hosting or Dedicated Server plan.

Unlimited Bandwidth

VPS Hosting and Dedicated servers come with specific bandwidth and you can use that Bandwidth at full for your websites. But when it comes to shared hosting plans most Web Hosting companies will offer you Unlimited Bandwith plans. While the sales page may say the plan offers Unlimited Bandwidth there is nothing unlimited about it.

Bandwidth usage on shared servers is limited by the Fair Usage Policy, allowing the Hosting provider to limit how much Bandwidth you can use the actual pipeline. Most Fair Usage Policies will contain clauses like not more than 20% of the bandwidth resources available on a shared server. So if you’re dreaming about streaming videos from your website hosted on shared hosting plan, do not dare doing that – your Hosting provider will take down your entire website.

PHP Execution Limit

PHP execution limit is one of the important aspects often ignored while selecting Web Hosting plans. A PHP execution limit is the amount of memory available for executing PHP files. Hosting companies normally keep the limit at 32MB which works fine if you’re running a simple Blog. But if you plan to use any of the premium themes, plugins, or scripts then the PHP execution limit has to be above 256MB. Content Management Systems like WordPress run entirely on PHP execution for serving pages, so if you expect heavy traffic this has to be sufficient.

Unlimited Disk Space and File Usage

Some Web Hosting companies have plans with clear Disk Usage limits like 20GB, 50GB etc. some advertise Unlimited Storge plans. While you might be thinking of uploading hard disk full of Data on this storage, the Hosting Company limits this storage using three different ways.

  1. The Fair Usage Policy specifies that you cannot store anything that’s unrelated to your website and you cannot run a file sharing network like rapid share using the Hosting space.
  2. The Hosting company has a number of files limit. Which specifies that you cannot store more than number of files in the Hosting space provided on the server. Generally, this is set to 300.000 to 500.000
  3. The Hosting provider sets a maximum upload limit. This means you cannot upload a file bigger than MB. Generally, this limit is set at 2MB and is increased to 32MB-64MB upon request. So if you were planning to upload that movie on your website..forget it – go to youtube.

Database Limits

While your Hosting provider may have promised you unlimited websites, do check the number of SQL Databases allowed. Every website you create requires a database to store the content you create and the number of Databases limits the number of websites you can create. Also, do not confuse Domains and Sub Domains – I’ve explained the difference in part II of this article series.

 Processor and CPU Cores Limit

Your Hosting plan may be Hosted on a Intel Xeon Dual Hex Core processor which is really fast, but that doesn’t mean you get to use it at whole. Your processor usage on the shared web server is limited by the number of process you’re allowed at every instance. This setting is normally at 16 processes eventually restricting your processor usage. The number of processes limit is mostly not changed to accommodate your website’s preferences.

 I/O Limits

Are you planning to host something like twitter or create your own Facebook style social network. Then this limit is for you. Web Hosting companies limit the usage of shared resources by placing a limit on the number of simutaneous read and write requests on your website.

 What Happens When These Limits Are Reached

Every Web Hosting provider has a different way of dealing with breaches in FUP and Limits. Some like NameCheap, DreamHost, InMotion and GoDaddy will notify you of the breaches and limit the resources for your website for a certain period of time. On the other hand, there have been instances of entire sites being pulled offline for violation by Hosting Companies like BlueHost and Hostgator.

These limits also could get triggered due to malicious code in your website or unreliable plugins. In 2013 many websites were pulled Offline by Hostgator when a script in the  Yoast  SEO plugin combined with a caching plugin caused multiple cache copies eventually eating up the available memory.

 Closing Off

That’s all for in this article as of now. I hope I’ve helped you in making an informed decision before buying a Web Hosting plan for your Hosting your Website or Blog. If you’ve any queries do post them in the comment section and I will surely try to answer them at the latest possible.

Also, If you’ve any experiences or information that can help others in making a wise decision do post it in the comments. I will surely try to incorporate it in the article too.

Have A Good Day …..

  • Matteo

    Great article, thanks a lot… the best one and almost the only one really helpful.

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