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It is a common practice among web hosting providers, to adopt the so-called "overselling" marketing policy. In some cases that policy is quite beneficial, not only to the web hosting provider, but to the user as well. However, there are certain types of web hosting services, where overselling is simply not an option. Indeed, most people rarely pay attention to how a web hosting company arranges their offers and only care about the amount of features that they offer. However, putting your trust in a company, web hosting or otherwise, is a very delicate matter. Therefore, let's take a look at what overselling actually is.


Web hosting overselling

One thing has to be made clear, before further examining the practice of overselling web hosting- there is no such thing as "Unlimited" amount of disk space, or monthly traffic. Web hosting, is all in all, space on a web server. The server has an actual hard drive and since technology is not yet in the position of producing hard drives that can store an unlimited amount of data, it is not possible for a server to store unlimited amounts of data, as well. Therefore, on the other hand, web hosting companies who offer hosting plans with unlimited disk space features are clearly overselling their web servers, or to put it otherwise, they sell more than they actually have, thus the term "overselling". As I mentioned, this policy is good in some cases and the user may actually benefit from having no limitation on the amounts of disk space that he can use, on the purchased web hosting service.


What are the cases, where overselling is acceptable?

The most widely spread web hosting service is the shared web hosting. Shared hosting basically means that the web server is divided into multiple web hosting accounts with each of those accounts having its own control panel and fixed share of the web hosting server's features. Those accounts cannot interfere with one another and none of them is able to make any changes to the server's configuration settings. In order to attract more clients, most web hosting providers have boosted the features of the shared web hosting packages to a point, where each account practically can use an unlimited amount of disk space and monthly traffic. This, however, is a very delicate policy, which has to be controlled and monitored all the time, in order to assure that none of the accounts are threatening its peers, which are hosted within the same web server. How then, is overselling possible, on shared hosting accounts? The truth is that only the most experienced hosting providers have the resources and the ability to provide a stable shared hosting service, with boosted features. It demands a lot of servers and a capable staff, which has to monitor each account, in order to make sure that no account can escalate to being a threat to the others. When an account starts generating too much CPU load, due to high traffic, the company suspends the account and suggests to the user to move to a higher web hosting service, such as a semi-dedicated server, a VPS, or even a dedicated server. Another trick that web hosting companies use when overselling, and which makes overselling possible, is to select the users which will be using the same server. For instance, if half the users are from the United States and the other half are from England, then only one half of the users will actually use the server at a given point, mainly because of the time difference between the Americas and Europe. Thus, if the users account is right, and if the time difference is sufficient, then the server will be able to support all the clients, without being constantly overloaded. Another service that can support accounts with "oversold" hosting features is the Semi-Dedicated web hosting. The semi-dedicated servers work on the same principle as the shared hosting accounts, except for the fact that there are far less hosting accounts on one physical machine. This makes overselling even easier, since there are far less users that demand monitoring. On the other hand, however, there are types of hosting services where overselling is absolutely unacceptable. Such hosting service is the Virtual Private Servers.


Overselling on Virtual Private Servers

The virtual servers, are closed systems and each of them has its own operating system and its own, completely dedicated and private, web hosting features. In other words, there may be multiple VPS hosting accounts on the same physical server, but none of the virtual machines may actually go beyond its limitations and by that, interfere with the other virtual servers. Therefore, each VPS must be assigned with an actual amount, or percentage, from the attributes of the physical web server. It is practically impossible, to oversell a VPS account, since as mentioned, the web servers themselves have are limited by the progress of the world's technological advancement. Moreover, each VPS user has root access to the virtual server's configuration files, meaning that he can see at any given point, the actual specifications of his virtual hosting machine. The same is valid for the dedicated hosting servers and co-located servers, which work on similar principle, as the VPS web hosting servers.


In conclusion

There cannot be a VPS plan with unlimited disk space, monthly traffic, database storage, e-mail storage, or basically any other hosting feature, except for the number of hosted domains that the user may add to it, simple because hosted domain names do not require any disk space whatsoever. The most experienced web hosting providers realize that, therefore, their VPS offers have realistic web hosting features, which quite often are in contracts with the features of their shared hosting accounts. For instance, the shared hosting services of ExclusiveHosting.net, all offer unlimited disk space, even the most cheapest plan for 2,95 USD/month, while their cheapest VPS offer, comes with only 8GB of data storage and its price is 16 USD/month. Such is the case with all the serious and experienced web hosting providers. Therefore, if you ever come about a company that offers virtual hosting servers with unlimited disk space, then you can simply claim them as scammers, close their web site and continue searching for a more realistic offer.