Unlimited Bandwidth Shopping for a New Web Host and Server

Dennis Faas's picture

Have you ever wondered where you are connected to when you're visiting a web site? Believe it or not, every web site in cyberspace resides on a computer which is physically located somewhere in the world.

Each server is "hosted" by a company which dictates the configuration of each server, such as: how many web sites reside on each web server, server-to-Internet connection speed, how much information can be transferred per site per month (also known as bandwidth limitations), and the like. Different web-hosting packages are offered by different web-hosting companies and define the overall cost of the package.

Earlier this week, I came to the realization that infopackets.com has outgrown its current web host. That is -- I've outgrown my "server configuration" offered by my hosting company.

My old web host limited me to 15 gigabytes of information per month. Due to the popularity of infopackets.com, I predicted that transfers would exceed the quota by about double. The cost of going over the quota of 15 gigabytes per month is $5.00 dollars per gigabyte, which would bring my total monthly hosting bill to around $95 dollars a month.


I decided to go on a quest and find another web host that was big enough to handle the demands of infopackets.com and its knowledge hungry users! Before I was able to find such a host, I had to measure each company against four stringent criteria:

  1. The web server connection to the Internet
  2. Bandwidth limitations (per month)
  3. Tech support
  4. Overall price and features

The web server connection to the Internet

One can weed out the little-league host companies from the major-league by examining the connection(s) offered in a hosting package. A good host company should offer its customers multiple connections to the Internet from its servers (also known as a backbone connection). Most importantly, a good host company should always have this type of technical information listed on their web site in plain view!

What is a backbone connection?

An Internet "backbone" connection is basically a super-fast-ultra-wide pathway to the Internet. Think of it as an artery compared to a capillary or vein in your body. Obviously, an artery carries more blood than does a vein or capillary. If a host company is connected to a major backbone, that means less limitations and restrictions for the people who are visiting your web site: faster transfers and quicker access to web pages.

Bandwidth limit

I knew I needed unlimited bandwidth because I offer free downloadable video tutorials to my visitors. Personally, I think streaming media is the wave of the future and it would be sinister to restrict what my visitors can and cannot download because of a hosting limitation.

I was very surprised to see that some host companies were offering unlimited bandwidth for $2.99 a month (remember, I would have been charged over $95 a month if I was to transfer 30 gigabytes, which is pretty reasonable for bandwidth cost). The low price of $2.99 for unlimited bandwidth just didn't add up.

So, how is this possible?

In a nutshell, it's not. Two things to remember here: read the fine print, and read the fine print. If the fine print does not explicitly state that there will not be any extra charges for bandwidth, you are most likely dealing with a host company that does not truly offer unlimited bandwidth! Don't forget that you can always email tech support and ask them if any bandwidth limitations apply to a certain host package.

Case and point: I was seriously considering whether or not to host my web site at a place called C.I. Host which says that they offer unlimited bandwidth. The cost of hosting my site on their server seemed to be reasonable when weighing in just how much unlimited bandwidth costs -- I mean, it wasn't cheap, and I knew it wasn't going to be.

I contacted the tech support and asked them if I'd really truly get unlimited bandwidth if I signed up. According to their tech support guy, unlimited bandwidth meant that I could transfer as much information that I wanted, but there was a limitation of 20 gigabytes per month. I double-checked their web site and could not find where it said there was a 20 gig limit! I later found and read their definition of unlimited bandwidth:

" Bandwidth / Transfer / Hits: You have unlimited bandwidth on your shared hosting package. Any outbound traffic from your web site is considered data transfer. FTP uploads do not count as data transfer. Each time a html file, graphic file or any other element on your web page is loaded, data transfer is generated." (Source: cihost.com)

To make it even more confusing, there was no definition of "data transfer" listed on this page. Wouldn't it just be easier to say that there is a "20 gig limit on bandwidth per month" in the first place?

Tech Support

Probably the best way to test a whether or not a host company is any good is to email their tech support; see how long it takes to get a response. If you ask a series of questions, ensure that all questions are answered unambiguously. If they don't answer all of your questions and they don't answer fast enough for you, then why would you want to give them your hard earned cash every month?

What about 1-800 tech support versus email tech support?

A host company which offers a 1-800 tech support phone number doesn't necessarily imply that they are better than those who offer email-only tech support. My previous host company has a 24 hour "tech support" phone number, and all they ever did was say "we'll page the technician and he'll call you back". Most of the time, the tech never returned my call.

Overall Price and Features

I knew I definitely needed unlimited bandwidth for my web site because I honestly don't know what kind of growth infopackets.com will experience 365 days from now. If I base my predictions on current growth, infopackets.com is going to skyrocket to the moon -- and so is my bandwidth usage!

As such, I was faced with the following questions: How much was I willing to spend per month to have my site hosted with unlimited bandwidth? Does the host company offer discounts if I pay quarterly? What extra features do they offer, and how much will it cost? Will I ever need any of these extra features?

While some of you who are interested in opening up a web site may not need unlimited bandwidth right away, this article should serve as a guide for selecting the host that is right for you.

On the other hand, If you are in need of a host with true unlimited bandwidth, read my solution below.

The best solution to my dilemma: share an expensive host package that offers unlimited bandwidth

Since I'm tech savvy, I decided to rent a Unix server with administration rights: one that allowed me unlimited bandwidth (truly, utterly, in the most respect of the word), plus the ability to share my server with other web sites in order to cut the monthly hosting cost for unlimited bandwidth.

This was definitely the right choice for me.

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