What is "unmetered bandwidth"?

Each time someone views one of your Web pages, a certain amount of data is sent over our network connections. Bandwidth is the amount of data sent for your account.

“Unmetered bandwidth” means we never charge extra fees for high bandwidth use (although the bandwidth may be capped in extreme situations, as described below).

It’s similar to “unlimited miles” in a rental car contract. You get peace of mind knowing that you’ll never be hit with unexpected bandwidth fees that some hosting companies charge.

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Is “unmetered bandwidth” the same thing as “unlimited bandwidth”?

What we call “unmetered bandwidth” is exactly what some other companies call “unlimited bandwidth”. We just try to avoid the word “unlimited” to minimize confusion.

All hosting companies have some sort of limits on bandwidth. When others advertise “unlimited bandwidth”, they mean that only in a billing sense, in the same way that a car rental with “unlimited miles” means they won’t charge you anything for a lot of driving. Their “unlimited bandwidth” doesn’t mean “infinite bandwidth is available” any more than “unlimited miles” means “we’ll rent you a supercar that can travel an infinite distance — enjoy your tour of Pluto and the outer planets!”).

With a rental car, it’s obvious what it means. With computer networks, things are less obvious. We want to make sure our customers know what they’re getting, so we try to avoid ambiguous terms.

Does “unmetered” mean “infinite”?

Like all Web hosting companies, we do have restrictions on how fast your site can send data at any moment in time, and that does impose a physical limit on how many bytes you could send per month. The limit is very high, but it does exist.

Most companies are very vague about what these restrictions are — they’ll say something like “we don’t limit the speed as long as the server can handle it and your site doesn’t negatively impact other sites”, making it difficult to know whether (or when) you’ll have problems. We don’t think that’s fair, and we tell you exactly what our policy is up front.

Bandwidth speed policy

We allow normal sites to “burst” up to 100 Mbps for up to 12 hours per month (that’s 100 megabits per second, the speed of a “Fast Ethernet” connection). All our servers have 1000 Mbps connections (gigabit Ethernet), so even a large temporary spike like this doesn’t cause problems for other customers on the same server.

The combined bandwidth of all your sites shouldn’t exceed 10 Mbps for the rest of the month. If that happens, we’ll restrict them to 10 Mbps to lower the future average.

We should emphasize that we almost never actually restrict anyone. Even if a site becomes extremely popular due to a listing on a site like Digg.com, it rarely uses more than 10 Mbps even at the peak — and the ability to burst to far higher speeds for several hours means you shouldn’t have trouble anyway (a Digg listing usually increases the bandwidth for about two hours).

If you did send data at these rates for an entire month, that would add up to about 3700 GB (3.7 terabytes), so that’s the physical limit. But for comparison, the average site we host uses less than 1 GB, and 99.98% of the sites we host use less than 1000 GB.

The bottom line is that all our hosting plans offer far more bandwidth than any normal site should ever need — and you don’t need to worry about being charged extra fees, no matter what happens.

What’s a “normal site”?

You may have noticed that we say “normal sites” are eligible for the speeds mentioned above.

A “normal site” is one that uses bandwidth as a routine side-effect of its operation. Almost every site qualifies.

The only sites that don’t meet this definition are sites where consuming bandwidth is the main reason for the site to exist. For example, a file download mirror site designed to minimize bandwidth usage elsewhere wouldn’t qualify.

What if I really need more bandwidth?

If you need more bandwidth than the capacity we offer (described above), that’s probably because you’re distributing a small number of large static files. You can usually use a content delivery network (CDN) to distribute those kinds of files instead.

For example, a simple CDN like Amazon CloudFront can distribute up to 1000 Mbps of data. There are many similar services available.