How can webhosting companies offer unlimited resources?

You have all seen webhosting sites offer unlimited everything for about $5 a month – GB’s of disk space and transfer; number of domains hosted, e-mail accounts and databases. Why would anyone in their right mind pay for the expensive options? Well, there can be other costs that the webhosts can charge you or services they can offer – for example, I pay $12 a year for the promise of using green energy for my website – that seems a small price, but adds an extra $1 a month and wouldn’t have been so attractive to me as an entry fee, so they got their human psychology correct there! They also bombarded me with other offers to extract extra money in my first year for various upgrades and services, but it was easy to just delete those annoying emails. They got the message.

However, they also cut off my website for about three days this month. Why? For exceeding their limits in the Terms of Service (ToS) I had signed. Huh? I doubt I have more than 3 Gb of files, including maybe 450 MB of email space. My traffic is negligible. I originally set it up to display family photos and now I also use it occasionally for some classes I teach so they can access some files if they missed a class, plus this blog. Also, I have experimented with setting up Moodle, Joomla and Xoops sites. No advertising, no large files being regularly downloaded.

Turns out there is a limit to the number of files they allow – this is in the small print of the ToS. The limit is 50,000. Not a small amount and one I wouldn’t have flinched at if I had read it. But somehow, I had over 600,000 files (or inodes as they are called) when they cut me off!. How did that happen? I suspect it was linked to my site being hacked a few months ago – my webhost alerted me to the hacking and informed me they had removed some files that had been placed there. I can only presume they missed a major stash of files in one directory because when I tried to check all of my directories I couldn’t get access to one – and this directory had about 600,000 inodes!

Once my webhost cleaned it out I was back down within allowable limits. But not by much – 39018 inodes still there. So now my task is to see how many inodes a typical Moodle or Joomla site uses up even before I add any content.


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