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Beware of low cost hosting - unlimited bandwidth

Screen shot - bandwidth limit in cpanelThis screenshot shows the cpanel bandwidth for my "Unmetered" account with Compila for firstaidquiz.com. The site was down again briefly last week due to exceeding the so called "unmetered bandwidth". Fortunately on this occasion I saw this soon after the site stopped working and was therefore able to get them to rectify the problem. Unfortunately this is shortly after another outage which was caused by my hosting company (Compila) forgetting to renew the DNS entry which lasted a few days.

The reason for this outage is the despite selling the bargain account as unmetered bandwidth the account is setup with a fairly restrictive bandwidth setting. Note that the bandwidth allowance now shown on the site is the increased bandwidth allowance after two such bandwidth related outages - it was much lower previously. This appears to be a deliberate step by the company and they have done the same on all three of the accounts that I have hosted with them, although I now only have two accounts with them after I moved my PenguinTutor website to another hosting provider as a result of these type of issues with the account.

Compila puts a hard limit on the account and then when the bandwidth limit is reached they lock the account and prevent anyone from viewing the website. Then when the site owner realises and contacts their technical support site they check the site against all the fine print before either reactivating or forcing the owner to fix any issues. The one issue that they have pulled me up for before is exceeding the 1Mb maximum file size which is very restrictive these days. The unmetered aspect of the account is based on more strict rules than if the domain remains below this (includes restrictions on forums being hosted etc). On this domain I didn't have any files over the maximum size and have always been in full compliance of the rules, on my other domains I only had a few files over that size on my previous (one of which was my google sitemap), but that was enough to make me move hosting provider to one without the 1mb file size restriction.

The problem with the way that they do this is that it can result in a site being down for several days before the owner notices the site is down and for technical support to then increase the bandwidth. My sites are public information sites so it's not a huge issue, but for an e-commerce site during the last online shopping week before Christmas this could have resulted in a significant financial loss as well as loss of reputation for the company.

The better way for this to be handled would be that instead of locking the site when the bandwidth is reached, to just notify technical support for them to validate the site is in full compliance with the terms and conditions. If not then they could resolve the issues directly with the administrative contact for the domain without having an outage for the website.

The one thing about this hosting provider is that it is very cheap. Despite a few adverts on the site the First aid quiz website does not cover the costs of this cheap hosting provider and would certainly not cover the costs of going to a more expensive provider that provides a better unmetered service. For now I'm keeping this account on this provider, but I will be keeping my options open during future renewals.

If you are running a business or more importantly an e-commerce site on a cheap hosting provider then be sure to check the terms and conditions and how they are applied. Cost alone should not be the deciding factor if you are planning a business around your website.

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