Many of the big players in website hosting claim to offer unlimited website hosting storage for most of their shared hosting accounts. Those are the cheapest hosting accounts, usually ranging from about $2 per month to $9 per month.
Fortunately for most people running a personal website or a small business website, you’ll never have to worry about unlimited anything.
It’s good to know what you may be up against as your website grows, though. When hosting companies talk about unlimited, it’s usually unlimited in the sense that if you receive a sudden burst of traffic (front page of Reddit?) then your website will still work.
There are still limitations, though, so here are some of the quotes from two of the biggest (and most popular) hosting companies:
Bluehost Unlimited Storage
Bluehost does NOT provide unlimited space for online storage, backups, or archiving of electronic files, documents, log files, etc., and any such prohibited use of the Services will result in the termination of Subscriber’s account, with or without notice. Accounts with a large number of files (inode count in excess of 200,000) can have an adverse affect on server performance. Similarly, accounts with an excessive number of MySQL/PostgreSQL tables (i.e., in excess of 1000 database tables ) or of database size (i.e., in excess of 3GB total MySQL/PostgreSQL usage or 2GB MySQL/PostgreSQL usage in a single database) negatively affect the performance of the server. Bluehost may request that the number of files/inodes, database tables, or total database usage be reduced to ensure proper performance or may terminate the Subscriber’s account, with or without notice.
As you can see Bluehost (affiliate link) does not give unlimited resources and if you go over they can shut your account down without notice (but they probably wouldn’t).
So, if your account has 200,000 inodes (aka files) it can and will be shut down until you clean things up. The chance you’ll hit this limit is unlikely, though.
GoDaddy Unlimited Storage
All Web Hosting and WordPress Hosting plans, including the unlimited plans, are subject to a limit of no more than 250,000 inodes per account for Linux® hosting accounts or 500,000 files and folders per account for Windows® hosting accounts. The plans are also limited to no more than 1,000 tables per database and no more than one gigabyte of storage per database.
Similar to Bluehost, GoDaddy has limits but slightly higher on the inode/file count.
DreamHost Unlimited Storage
DreamHost (affiliate link) is by far the most lenient when laying out their unlimited storage terms. The don’t lay it out in such technical terms but they do make it clear you’re not given free rein on the finite resources of a server. You can find the full text of their policy and see that it’s plain English so anybody can understand it.
To answer the question if unlimited website hosting storage really means unlimited, the answer in most cases is no. If you use excessive resources then your account can be terminated or shut down until it’s cleaned up.
This doesn’t mean you should worry, though, in fact, you shouldn’t worry that you’ll reach these limits unless you already have met them. If you ever come near any of the limits it’ll be a slow crawl to reach them. You’ll have plenty of time to research and find a new plan that’ll allow your website to grow steadily.
You should only be so lucky as to have to worry about these limits because that means you have a pretty successful website and are doing something right.
Who Should Worry About Unlimited
For those of you who need a large business website or are starting an eCommerce website. Even if you aren’t starting out with a large eCommerce website, there’s a good chance you’ll need a virtual private server, but that depends on the software you use for it.
If you have a large business you hopefully won’t be looking to shared hosting. Even if you don’t have a large IT department this should be an obvious choice you don’t make. Hopefully, I don’t need to say much more about that one.
No matter the size of your eCommerce website, you’ll want to stay away from a shared hosting account. If you’re doing serious business and need a fast website, a shared account isn’t a good idea and an eCommerce site definitely needs to be speedy.
No matter what software you use to host your store, it needs to be on at least a virtual private server (VPS). I run a store using WordPress and Woocommerce which requires a lot of other plugins. Woocommerce alone adds a ton of overhead onto WordPress so a VPS is a must. I was originally running the store on a maxed out shared account and that still didn’t cut it.
Work Your Way Up
My final advice for choosing the best host when you’re just starting is, don’t worry about going big. Start small and work your way up to a bigger server. It’s highly unlikely you’ll go from small to large very quickly and even in that case, you can usually upgrade pretty rapidly.
We’re always available to help you choose a good website host for your website.
If you already have a website and want to move, take a look at what you’re using now. Make sure you don’t have more than 200,000 to 250,000 files and you should be just fine as long as it’s fast, dependable, and secure.