Web hosting provider AIT uses misleading info to sell its business plan

Fri, 13th September 2013, 00:57

Anyone shopping for a new web host has come across those 'unlimited everything' web hosting plans, and too often, many found out the hard way that someone was not quite truthful. One website, populated by the owners of various web hosting companies (editor’s note: and the audacity to claim it’s the only place to get unbiased web hosting reviews on the web.. imagine that, unbiased web hosts. ...yeah you know who you are!).... Anyway, point is these purveyors of unbiased reviews just brush ‘unlimited’ off like the client should have known better. I guess a cell phone with unlimited calling is unlimited, but the definition changes with web hosting!

Recently a disgruntled user contacted HostJury and articulated his opinion of misleading business practices by a certain web hosting company stating:

"I'd consider ~300gigs of transfer a month 'liberal', if they're offering 1tb a month of transfer and only allowing 1mbps of usage, it's impossible to use what they're selling and is in essence -- fraud." 

  • Inode limit: The account is limited to 50,000 files. If you have an ecommerce store with a few thousand products, you’ll exceed this limit in no time
  • Bandwidth restrictions: Although they state it’s unlimited, the fine print includes statements that “bandwidth has a monthly allowance”.
  • CPU restrictions: The amount of CPU resources is severely restricted (percentage, cycles, impact, etc…). Any modest amount of traffic to your blog or online store could result in your site being down or limited to the point of it being unusable.
  • File type restrictions: Rules about what type of files you can have, how they can be used, etc… all designed to limit disk space
  • Unlimited disk space, very low bandwidth limits: This is the new trend for remotely hosted e-commerce applications. They say unlimited space, but then only provide 5 GB of monthly bandwidth. You can exceed this just uploading your images. And the overages can be $10 or more per GB per month! 


Fraud or Reasonable Limits

All unlimited hosting companies have stipulations that limit how much data users can actually store or transfer with their hosting account. Usually in the form of carefully worded restrictions in the terms of service (ToS) that every client agrees to when signing up. (editor's note: the exception is companies offering 'unmetered'). Often you’ll find terms such as:
  • A large percentage of your files must be viewable on the web.
  • Files cannot exceed ### MB in size
  • Any video/audio must be created by the site owner
  • All files must be linked from webpages in your site
  • Limits on the time cron jobs can run
  • Resource usage can not exceed a percentage of the server capacity
Indeed all these denote a limitation. But some limits ensure a hosting plan is being utilized for its intended purpose and are not necessarily deceptive. Don’t rent a studio apartment in a residential neighborhood if you intend to run a industrial warehouse.

When reasonable limits become deceptive

Using the same analogy, what if you are using that unlimited hosting plan in the manner it was marketed. The following sections of ToS are edited for brevity.


AIT - Advanced Internet Technologies

Screenshot of AIT web hosting plans 

Quoting from the AIT Terms of Service:

AIT reserves the right to monitor and allocate network and machine resources. IP addresses are allocated per server and according to virtual server specifications. Cgi resources are allocated one per domain (a virtual host is required for each cgi-bin and is considered a virtual host). AIT in its sole discretion and upon reasonable notice to customer reserves the right to discontinue any hosting account and/or any script which causes excessive server load and/or uses excessive server and network resources. 

To protect Internet, network, and machine resources on behalf of the entire AIT customer base, no individual customer may do the following:
 1) Offer adult content of any kind, as determined in AIT’s sole discretion
2) Utilize CGI/PERL chat, JAVA chat, or any other chat scripts in a manner that adversely affects the operations or performance of other AIT customers, or of the AIT system(s) or network(s). The adverse effect of such use shall be determined by AIT in its sole discretion.
3) Use more than 1 MPBS throughput during peak network hours (9AM to 6PM ET). Such usage could result in penalty fees. In the event of any dispute regarding penalty fees, AIT may determine violations and fees applicable in its sole discretion. 

Some Final thoughts on AIT Plans 

AIT lowest plan start at 150 Gigs of diskspace and has unlimited transfer… The stipulation in the ToS limiting bandwidth usage during office hours ensures AIT clients will come nowhere close to any account limit without incurring financial ruin.
Although I can't be certain, it does sound like an industry first, and possibly sets a new low! Regardless, it sure sound like deceptive marketing.

Hostway Global Internet Solutions

Hostway offers unlimited transfer and a generous data allowance. Hostway smallest plan Website Starter, is said to be ideal for anyone with limited technical expertise who wants a basic website with easy-to-use tools to build and grow their online presence.

  • 50GB Diskspace
  • Unlimited Monthly Traffic
  • 200 Email Accounts
  • from $6.95/mo 

Hostway Web Hosting & Ecommerce Customer Restrictions

The following Terms of Use apply only to Hostway's Web Hosting and Ecommerce customers, and supplement the terms in sections C and D that apply to all Hostway customers:

Server Resources

Any website that uses a high amount of server resources (such as, but not limited to, CPU time, memory usage, and network resources) will be given the option to either pay additional fees (which will depend on the resources required), reduce the resources used to an acceptable level, or upgrade its service to a Managed Server plan. Hostway will be the sole arbiter of what is considered to be a high server usage level. All Web Hosting and Ecommerce accounts come with a limit of 5,000 files per account. Each block of 5,000 files after the initial 5,000 will incur an additional charge of US$9.95/month. Any Web Hosting and Ecommerce account deemed to be adversely affecting server performance or network integrity will be shut down without prior notice.

Last Modified—April 29, 2013

50 gigs in 5000 files… Each block costs $9.95 per month. Hostway’s second tier plan offers 300 gigs. Both are deceptively low and again would cause financial ruin to reach!


Final thought 

Is it really possible for these two web hosting companies to set the bar so low that even a snake couldn't crawl under it. It will be hard to beat!

Media Temple Hosting