In our recent article we showed you that shared web hosting is still a thing in 2023. It is the most widely used type of hosting as it is affordable, and includes a lot of tools as a part of most hosting plans. There are hundreds of hosting providers out there - some of them are resellers, while others own their servers. You will come across lots of offers and at first glance, all packages look the same. Often the only difference seems to be the disk space, monthly traffic or hosted domains quotas. Many people choose a hosting plan based on these features, and do not check anything else.
In this article, we will show you five hidden limitations that we have come across in accounts from different providers. These are things you should check in advance as they can affect your websites or emails in a negative way. Shared hosting is affordable because a number of users share the system resources of a single server. The limitations you will see below, however, are usually hidden in the Terms of service or in some Help article, so you may not know about them until it is too late. As you will see, some of them are things you wouldn’t think could be limited for paying customers.
Many hosting providers limit the physical memory per account, and this is normal – it is not limitless, so there should be a way to ensure that all customers have their share. Sometimes the default limit set for new accounts is lower than the actual limit that customers can use. If the default value is not enough for a script to be executed properly, you can simply increase it through the account PHP settings or by using a php.ini file.
The problem here is that some providers set a low limit and disable the memory setting in the account. Such a thing can easily limit the functionality of your website. If some scripts cannot be executed due to insufficient memory, your website may not load at all, or it will display warnings/errors. Such a thing can easily discourage potential customers from ordering.
We see two issues with this limit. The first one is that some providers set a very low limit and it may be difficult for novices to increase it. The second one is the inability to change the default account limit. We have resolved these issues on our end by setting a default limit of 3000 MB for shared hosting accounts. In fact, we don’t really limit the memory per account. We had to set a limit because some content management systems were misreading the “-1” value we had set – this is the way unlimited memory is designated on a server. We can afford to do that because we use new and powerful hardware, and we maintain a very good balance between the number of accounts accommodated on a single server, and its performance.
Emails are usually a part of the shared hosting plans that you will find on the market. You can sign up for a plan and create a mailbox right away. Since multiple users create mailboxes on the same server, it is normal to have a certain limit for the size of each individual mailbox. This way, the hosting provider guarantees that each client will be able to use the email service.
There are different limits that can be applied to the email storage on a hosting account. At ICDSoft, the only limit is the total size of the mailbox, which is clearly listed on our site and is dependent on the hosting plan of your choice.
Some providers have a limit for the total size that your emails can take. In other words, you can have several mailboxes of a certain maximum size, but their total size should not exceed a certain limit, which is mentioned somewhere in the provider’s Terms of service.
Unlike other providers, we do not limit the total size that your mailboxes can take. While individual mailboxes have a certain limit depending on the hosting plan you use, you can use even your entire account only for emails. If your mailbox is full, for example, you can create a backup one and move some (or all) emails to it to free up space in your primary mailbox without deleting messages. We will not ask you to add any upgrades and pay a second time for the same disk space that is already a part of your hosting plan.
Number of Outgoing Emails
If you create a mailbox with your domain name, you probably don’t think about any limits apart from the disk space. The latter is usually mentioned either when you sign up for a hosting plan, or when you create the mailbox. What you don’t see almost anywhere, however, is a limit of the emails you can send per hour or per day. Unless you dig deep into the provider’s terms, you will find out about such a limit only after you reach it. At this point, the provider has probably disabled the outgoing emails for your account.
The reason behind setting such limits is to make sure that a compromised mailbox or a potential spammer will not get the mail server blacklisted for spam. If such a thing happens, everybody using that server will be affected. The problem is that the limits are usually so low that they can affect the daily work of even a small company with only a handful of mailboxes. This can happen if there is a limit for the entire hosting account – in such a case, if one user sends a certain number of emails, everybody else using a mailbox in that hosting account will be affected.
While we do not tolerate spam, we believe that setting such limits is not fair for customers who send legitimate emails. It is natural for any business to send a Welcome email or a regular newsletter. Any website will stop growing if certain emails are delayed for an hour or even a day. After all, how many customers would continue using a website if their login details or a forgotten password link take hours to arrive? This is why we do not have strict hourly or daily limits for the number of outgoing emails. We look individually at any case of mass emails we notice. This way, we ensure a trouble-free email service for all our customers, and we assist the ones that are sending mass emails due to a website/password breach.
You have a new project that requires a lot of disk space, so you go for a plan with a high disk space quota, or even better – for a plan with unlimited disk space. The latter is something you can see quite often on the market these days. Your hosting control panel says “unlimited disk space” as well, but once you upload some content, the provider contacts you to remove non-website files as your plan actually allows you to host only a few gigabytes of binary (non-website) files. If you already have a website, you may have already been in such a situation. Of course, this limit is mentioned only in the provider’s Terms of Service, and not in a single other place.
The issue here is that some websites have a lot of images, videos, documents, or archives as a part of their actual content, and their overall size is technically in breach of the Terms. These files are needed for the proper operation of the sites and the good user experience. If you are a photographer, for example, your website will have a few pages with lots of image galleries. Bear in mind that such a site will be in breach of the Terms of many providers, as almost all of your content will be binary files. They will probably tolerate this situation only if the site does not generate a lot of traffic from these files and/or if there is enough free disk space on the server.
Our web hosting plans come with a disk space quota for a reason. We believe that being honest is important for any business relationship. This is why we offer limited hosting plans. Unlike other companies, we will not tell you how much non-website content you can store as long as it is legal. No matter what hosting plan you have, you can use its full quota to store any type of files you would like, including personal backups and non-website files.
You should always have a backup of your website in case something goes wrong. An update may not go as planned, or a security vulnerability may lead to your site getting hacked. Many companies offer daily and/or weekly backups and often advertise them as one of the main features of the hosting plans they offer. Do they really provide the service, though?
If you read the fine print or look closely at your account, you may find a lot of ifs and buts. A common practice for many providers is to back up the content only if the total number of files is below a certain limit. If you pass that limit, which is not hard considering how many files a CMS with a lot of plugins can have, their system will simply not generate backups. Other companies do not look at the number of files but keep backups only if the total content does not exceed a certain size. Naturally, the limit is usually low. Yet another conditionality we have seen is that backups include only the website files, but do not include emails or large files that are being stored in the account.
Where does ICDSoft stand? We keep full backups of the entire account of every customer. This includes website files and emails regardless of their number or size. Even if you have a high-end plan with a very high disk space quota and you have a lot of content, you can always count on our system to generate regular backups that include everything. An optional upgrade will give you additional backups that will be available for 12 months. For your convenience, you can browse all automatic and on-demand backups. Unlike other platforms that allow you to restore only the entire account (i.e. everything or nothing), our system allows you to restore a specific folder or a single mailbox.
Without a doubt, shared web hosting is still the most preferred type of hosting for many types of websites. There are hundreds of providers on the market, and they host millions of websites. Not all providers offer the same level of service, though. The competition on the market is fierce and some providers make it really hard to check in advance what restrictions their plans have. This is why you should use the services of a provider that is honest and informs you about its limits in advance, or simply has loose limits.
Limiting the features we have listed above can affect your website and/or emails directly – the site may not function properly, or you may not be able to send or receive new messages. While it is expected for shared hosting plans to have certain limits, you should pay attention to features that you wouldn’t expect to be limited. Doing some research in advance or confirming if there are certain limits with the customer support team of the provider you have selected can save you the trouble of discovering these limits when it is too late, and your website or emails no longer work.