There are many things to consider when choosing the best website host for your Canadian business. One of the most important concerns is how limited each hosting package is. If it’s too restrictive, doesn’t provide you with the amount of storage you need or can’t handle your traffic volume, your website functionality and growth could be seriously stunted.
Unlimited packages are common in the hosting world, but less so with Canadian hosting companies. I only deal with web hosting companies that offer unlimited storage and traffic, so I’m familiar with the concept and options. Currently, that’s on GreenGeeks Canadian servers.
Why Use ‘Unlimited’ Hosting?
The restrictions and constant nagging to upgrade that comes with limited packages, is a headache nobody wants when they’re trying to build an online business. We certainly don’t want visitors to land on our website to find it offline, just because we’ve had more traffic than our hosting package allows. Nobody can afford to lose visitors, and it’s even worse if you’re paying for traffic.
If you go with ‘unlimited’ hosting, you don’t have to be concerned about it. That said, ‘unlimited’ hosting is actually limited, but in most cases the limits are based on a generous average of normal users. They’re in place to prevent abuse, which is actually good, especially if you’re using shared hosting like most Canadian small businesses do. When everyone is powered by the same resource, it only takes one greedy person to slow down everyone else.
What Exactly is ‘Unlimited’ Website Hosting?
When you go to a web host’s site, you may see something like this:
But what does it mean?
There are a few important terms to familiarize yourself with to ensure you make good decisions about purchasing & managing website hosting. Luckily, only a basic understanding of how each applies to hosting is required. Therefore, I’ve kept the definitions as simple as possible.
Disk Space, as it applies to web hosting, is basically the same as your computer’s disk space. You have a certain amount of storage space for your website’s files and media, such as each page file, databases, images, and so on. Once it’s full, you can’t add new new information or media.
What happens when you don’t have enough disk space? If you have a hosting plan that allots a certain amount of disk space to your website, you’ll have to worry more about optimization, how many pictures you use and how big they are, and any other files you use. You’ll have to restrict your content and its illustrations, and you won’t be able to offer multiple images that are optimized for each social media network. Ecommerce sites will run into problems with a high number of product photos or demo videos.
Additionally, the host will nag you to use less space or upgrade or charge hefty overage fees. Unlimited storage lets you build without worrying about how much space you have left.
Bandwidth is what powers up your website and shows its content to visitors, including text, photos and videos. Optimizing content for speed helps to conserve bandwidth.
What happens when you don’t have enough bandwidth? Visitors will arrive to find an error page or your website won’t load at all.
If you don’t have unlimited bandwidth, you have to constantly estimate how much bandwidth you’ll need on an ongoing basis. That’s done with calculations based on current and past usage:
Monthly Website Visitors x Average Page Views x Average Page Size
“If you get 5,000 visitors a month, with the average visitor opening roughly 3 web pages, and each web page is approximately 2 MB in size, this means your bandwidth usage is 5000 x 3 x 2 = 25,000 MB, or 25 GB per month,” explains HostPapa.
If something goes viral or you advertise, resulting in a sudden spike in traffic, you run the risk of not having enough bandwidth to accommodate your visitors. When your hosting plan includes unlimited bandwidth (sometimes referred to as ‘unmetered’), you don’t have to worry about it until you have a significant volume of traffic that exceeds the ‘abuse’ limit designated by your host. That’s a lot of traffic, no matter what the actual limit is.
Databases (often referred to as SSD storage) are a specific combination of storage and management. They store data but also manage it using a Database Management System.
Content Management Software (CMS) like WordPress, discussion communities and product catalogues, for example, require a database to work for your website. Databases are hosted with your website, but are usually separate from your disk storage limits.
What happens when you don’t have enough databases? If your host limits the number of databases you can have, you may not be able to add a full array of functionality or services to your site.
Other ‘Unlimited’ Options
Unlimited Websites (or Domains) refers to the number of sites you can host within one web hosting package (for the same price). For example, we could have CanadiansInternet.com and CanadianFamily.net on the same account without paying to host an additional site. Many basic packages only allow one domain per account.
Unlimited Email Addresses (firstname.lastname@example.org) is largely self-explanatory. Some hosting packages offer no email addresses and refer you to an outside provider (like Google). Others offer a certain number of email addresses.
If you’re hosting more than one website on the same hosting plan, you’ll probably want addresses for each domain. Additional addresses might also be handy for different departments, such as customer service or sales.
Where Can I Find Unlimited Web Hosting in Canada?
Following are a few companies that offer ‘unlimited’ hosting packages, along with Canadian servers/data centres (learn why that’s important).
HostUpon (Based in Ontario, servers in Toronto) offers unlimited disk space and bandwidth with their Starter Plan. Their Business Plan adds unlimited websites and email accounts.
HostPapa (Based in Ontario, servers in Toronto) offers unlimited bandwidth with their Starter Plan. Their Business Plan adds unlimited disk space, websites and email accounts.
GreenGeeks (Offices & servers in Toronto, Montreal & Vancouver) offers unmetered data transfer and unlimited databases with their Lite Plan. Their Pro Plan adds unlimited websites, web space and e-mail accounts.
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Marie has an M.Sc. in Marketing and a certificate from the Ryerson Digital Media program. She's enrolled in one course or another most of the time and is always in the middle of a new business book (or three). Marie enjoys writing, traveling and volunteering at local events & trade shows.