The bandwidth of your site is the amount of data transferred from your hosting server account to the visitors of your web site. The visitors include web surfers who stumble upon your web site, search engine bots, and you (when you upload files using FTP).
Each web hosting server is connected to the internet with a network line which may be a fiber optic line, a cable line or a simple electrical wire. The amount of data transferred by these lines is limited. So the issue of unlimited bandwidth is false! That said, let us understand why web hosting companies offer unlimited bandwidth in their packages and where you can get it.
Several web hosting firms offer unlimited bandwidth. Does this mean they are misleading prospects? Is unlimited bandwidth just a marketing gimmick?
The thing is no web hosting company can offer this feature even though they put it boldly in their advertisements because their net connection can carry only a limited amount of data.
So unlimited bandwidth is a myth!
Does this mean you can sue them for lying? Oh no… read the small print attached to the unlimited bandwidth phrase.
Each web hosting company has a fixed amount of bandwidth because the network lines they use can carry only a fixed amount of data. They know that most web sites hosted on their servers will consume only negligible part of the bandwidth. To put it in figures (even though these are very fuzzy), a smallish web site of a company getting 500 visitors per day will probably have about 5 to 20GB of data transfer per month. [This, as you might know, depends on the number of pages viewed by each visitor, the file sizes of the pages, the file size of images and multimedia elements on the web pages etc.].
Any way, web host companies know with reasonable surety that web sites hosted on their servers will take up only a small amount the bandwidth. It would be rare if a web site reaches the bandwidth levels they have set (which you can get in the small print). And, so companies offer unlimited bandwidth in their web hosting packages.
I like to think that unlimited bandwidth offered by different web hosting companies has more to do with helping new prospects than a marketing trick. It is easier for beginners to understand the concept of unlimited than trying to work out the numbers for their web sites. Experienced web developers know that unlimited bandwidth has more truth in it than someone walking over water – The good Lord above is excused from this.
If you are just starting a web site, an unlimited plan would be a good idea. Though we know by now that there is no such thing as unlimited bandwidth, you would soon be able to gauge how much of data transfer your web site gets each month. At least you would not have immediate problems with your web hosting company. As I mentioned above, a smallish business or company web site with about 50-100 pages would not reach significant bandwidth levels. Read “What is bandwidth and how much do I need for my web site?” if you want to know how to calculate bandwidth for your web site.
However, if you plan to put a lot of music or video files (or any other large files) for download, you might just run into problems if your web site suddenly becomes very popular. (We all wish that our web sites start getting tens of thousands of visitors in their first month, however, we must keep our vaulting ambition in check. All web sites take time to get properly indexed by search engines and then have decent rankings for search queries).
Web hosting industry is very competitive and several web hosting companies offer unlimited bandwidth in their packages. You might say – “Now that I know there is no such thing as unlimited bandwidth – should I trust companies offering it?”
As I mentioned before, if you are just starting off, there are no problems in putting your web site on a package with unlimited hosting. At least, you don’t have to worry about the amount of data transfer the next few months even if your web site suddenly starts hitting it high on visitor numbers. And if that happens you would realize that your web site has outgrown the features offered by the server and that would prompt you to shift to a new and better web server.
Final word: For most beginners, web hosting packages with unlimited bandwidth is as safe an option as one in which the bandwidth limit has been explicitly mentioned.