Arbitrary Limitations: Unlimited email, unlimited traffic, and unlimited websites

What are arbitrary limitations: Unlimited Bandwidth, Unlimited Emails and Unlimited Traffic

Much of the hosting industry for the most part uses arbitrary limitations as their bread and butter. It enables them to pad their profit margins while forcing superficial limitations on what you can do with your servers. Instead of offering unlimited email, unlimited traffic, and unlimited websites within the restrictions of the hardware, they force unnecessary limits.

More often than not, these arbitrary limitations are used to force you to upgrade to a more expensive plan. Even though you may not need it. This enables them to oversell resources, squeezing every bit of profit from you, while not delivering on what they promise.

Arbitrary limitations and overselling are two shady practices that we refuse to implement, as at their core they’re anti-consumer policies.

So, what are arbitrary limitations anyway?

In a nutshell, arbitrary limitations are unnecessary restrictions on what your server can and cannot do. The sole reason they exist is to push you in the direction of paying for a higher-tier plan. The reason these restrictions are arbitrary is because they’re not needed. As such, unethical hosting providers add made-up restrictions and later tweak those unnecessary numbers to force you to pay more.

A 1GB RAM VPS might not be able to run certain control panels because it simply doesn’t have sufficient memory. This is like renting a typical taxi car and trying to transport 40 people. It’s not possible as it’s simply a physical limitation. Now, if you rent a 40-seat bus, but the driver allows only 10 people at a time and drove only up to two blocks unless you paid more, those would be arbitrary limitations.

A common example of arbitrary limitations is when you see hosting plans that allow you to host a single website. Worse still are limitations on a certain number of pageviews per month. This can make sense in a shared hosting environment, but on a VPS or dedicated hosting it’s an arbitrary number.

Why do hosting providers use arbitrary limitations?

Simply put, higher profits. By restricting the cheapest $2.99 plan to just one website, and 10,000 monthly visits, they’ve put a double arbitrary limitation. If you need more than one website or have a sudden traffic spike, your only choice is to pay more. What’s more, that $2.99 plan is often promotional going up to $17.99 at renewal while retaining 10,000 visits per month. The plan you’re upgrading to won’t offer discounts, as you’re no longer a new customer and you’ll suddenly pay $29.99. That’s a sharp spike from the advertised $2.99 to an eyewatering $29.99, using an actual competitor.

So now you’re paying $29.99 per month for a shared, self-managed, and heavily oversold hosting plan. You have more visits per month but are still limited to 100,000 visits now. Worse still, you’ll likely barely cross 10,000 visits at any other point in time that year. So if it wasn’t for that viral traffic spike, you could have only paid $17.99 per month.

That’s a pretty nasty trick pulled by some of the worst hosting providers.

Limitations Types: Unlimited Websites, Unlimited Email, Unlimited Traffic, and Hostage Sites

Unlimited Websites

Website limitations are typically in place with shared hosting for a reason. To say that there’s variance between the sizes of different sites is an understatement. A $7.99 shared plan might offer sufficient space for one average-sized WordPress website, or several micro-sites. Due to hosting costs however and such low entry price points, it’s understandable to have some limitations, to stop abuse. This is key with shared hosting because any client on that server will directly impact every other customer. These limitations therefore can protect you from abusers.

When it comes to VPS hosting or premium dedicated servers, not offering unlimited websites is an arbitrary limitation.

We decided to test this and used 1 CPU Core, 1GB RAM, and 20GB of storage server. We managed to fit a total of 179 basic websites before it ran out of storage space. That’s a WordPress site with all the default settings, no additional plugins, one main homepage, and one blog post. What’s more, we didn’t hit the 1 CPU Core or 1GB RAM capacity, but simply ran out of storage!

A fairly entry-level VPS with at least 2 CPU Cores, 2GB of RAM, and 50 GB of storage should have no issues running hobby sites, or any small to medium-level sites. It shouldn’t have any issues running such a site with hundreds or even thousands of pages, and several more micro-sites. These come in especially useful if you’re a franchise needing many basic sites that offer information about your locations. Similarly, they are a perfect fit for agencies or businesses running seasonal campaigns and micro-sites. Having the capacity for unlimited websites under these circumstances allows you to freely test campaigns to your heart’s content.

Unlimited Email

Similarly, unlimited email is something that should be readily available on every VPS or dedicated server. So long as there are no technical limitations, having a single email and inbox or ten thousand should be unlimited. Physical hard drive limitations, which has a cost that the hosting company has to cover are the sole exception. If you ever see a hosting provider with a VPS plan that doesn’t include unlimited email, run the other way.

Unlimited Traffic

Not having unlimited traffic is by far the most common arbitrary limitation offender. Whether they phrase it as limited traffic, limited visits or limited page views, the result is the same. They’re limiting the number of people visiting your website in a month and it isn’t related to their bandwidth limitations.

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This can be especially frustrating if you have a seasonal business website and in particular a seasonal eCommerce site. If half of your annual revenue comes in the last quarter of the year due to all holiday sales, you need to make sure your customers can reach you at the busiest of times when they’re most likely to convert. When your hosting provider offers unlimited traffic, this isn’t an issue. Unnecessary restricting visitors or pages they can view, can bring down your website at the most inopportune time. This forces you to waste time on hosting when you should be focusing on promotion, sales, and delivery.

Holding Your Website Hostage

An additional and far worse arbitrary limitation, and by far the ugliest practice in our eyes, is holding your website and your data hostage. Sadly the biggest practitioners of this tactic are also some of the biggest self-hosted services such as Shopify, Wix, Squarespace, and Webflow.  They offer the convenience of a simplified builder and hosting rolled into a single platform. They also offer extremely low sign-up rates for their base product. The series of catches come in that their renewal prices jump up significantly. To compound the pricing problem, almost all necessary add-ons which are typically included for free with other platforms have their own recurring cost. The tally these can add up to can be astronomically high.

However, the worst part in all of this is that your data and your website aren’t yours, despite what their FAQs might tell you. If you can’t move your website wherever and whenever you want, it doesn’t belong to you.

Simply put, you’re stuck with these sites where they are, and the only way to move away is to transfer to a different platform such as WordPress, WooCommerce, or Magento and start from scratch. Page by page. Image by image. Paragraph by paragraph. Product by product. This can be tedious with the smallest of sites, let alone several thousand-page monster migrations. What’s worst, is that this will undoubtedly make your SEO take a hit.

Due to this and many other reasons, companies decided to stay with providers like this despite understanding how much they’re being ripped off, or that there are simply services and features that they won’t be able to implement because the alternative is simply too complex, time-consuming and expensive to start. Despite it ultimately being a better and more cost-effective long-term solution.

So, how do I get around arbitrary limitations?

There only is one way to bypass arbitrary limitations and that is to look for hosting providers that refuse to implement them. The only limitations you should be seeing on a VPS or dedicated server should ever be the number of CPU cores, RAM size, storage, and in specific cases, bandwidth, though this too can be considered arbitrary in 2024. If the hosting provider doesn’t offer unlimited email, unlimited traffic, and unlimited websites, immediately look elsewhere.

Only get hosting that doesn’t burden you with these unnecessary limitations. If you’re stuck with a provider that’s holding your website hostage, consider if it’s worth moving now, or in the future, and if so, how you can most painlessly recreate your website and system on a new, superior platform hosted by a standalone hosting provider.

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