I run a web hosting, programming, and design business. I use my skills in programming, and the skills of others, to design and build dynamic, cool websites and host them on a server, which I manage.
When comparing hosting plans, many people look at disk space and bandwidth, which is good. However, some people make the mistake of getting sucked into the unlimited storage and transfer trap.
Read the terms of service carefully. Here's one example.
There are no set limits on the disk space or data transfer (bandwidth) that we provide in plans marked "unlimited". We want you to have the resources you need to build a great online presence.
Still, we do need to be sure that we're providing all of our customers with optimum service. As such, we do require all customers to be fully compliant with our Terms of Service and utilize disk space and bandwidth related to the normal operation of a personal or small business website.
While it is rare, we may need to put constraints on accounts that are adversely affecting other customers or otherwise utilizing or abusing resources beyond what would be expected of a personal or small business website.
Normal usage means that you operate a personal or small business website that utilizes resources in a manner similar to most of our other customers. For example, the system requirements of large corporations are not equal to those of small businesses and their resource requirements would not be considered normal for our architecture. Another example would be the storage of large numbers of video or audio files that may be associated with a site, but require more resources to support than a normal personal or business website would.
This is very vague, and it's done intentionally. Of course I can't backup my 2 TB drive to their server. And of course I can't distribute the latest version of Ubuntu, or mirror very busy websites. And what happens when I go over their undeclared limit? I either pay the surcharges or get my web site shutoff.
The reason is they want to pack your account onto *one* server with thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of accounts. This is to, of course, make a profit. There's nothing wrong with that, and I too run multiple accounts on one server.
But I do not pack thousands on one server, and I do not mislead customers into thinking they have unlimited space and bandwidth, when you don't. My plans have limits, but you can use those limits for any legal purpose you want, except for torrents.
It's disturbing to see these misleading strategies being adopted by so many providers.