What’s the Difference Between “Unmetered” and “Unlimited” Bandwidth?
Before you launch a new website, there are a lot of decisions you’ll have to make. In addition to things like the site’s content and design, you’ll also have to choose the type of bandwidth you want. You already know that you don’t want a metered plan that tracks your data usage and charges you based on how much you use, so now the decision is between unmetered and unlimited bandwidth.
But across the web, the difference between these two types of bandwidths is up for debate. Different sources give a variety of answers, and no one can seem to agree. Some say that the unmetered vs unlimited discussion is pointless because they’re the same thing—others argue that they’re like night and day.
So, is there really even a difference between unlimited and unmetered bandwidth? And if there is, which is better for your website, and why? The only way to put this debate to rest is to examine and analyze the facts.
What Is Bandwidth?
While you probably already know that more bandwidth is better than less, why is that, and how does it affect the quality of your website?
To put it simply, bandwidth is the amount of data (site content and visitor traffic) that a server can transfer in a certain amount of time. Data is measured in bits and bytes (megabits, megabytes, etc.), and time is measured in seconds. So, a bandwidth of 60Mbps means that 60 megabits of information can be transferred over the server in the span of a single second.
The amount of bandwidth your website needs will depend on the amount of daily site traffic (the number of people who visit your site) you expect to receive and, to a lesser degree, the amount of content you want to host.
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Why Does Bandwidth Matter?
Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a very “techy” person, bandwidth is not something you should ignore when choosing a hosting plan. Poor bandwidth slows your website down, especially when site traffic is heavy. This not only makes it more difficult for you to share content—it’s also more frustrating for visitors to use. After all, no one likes waiting for pages to load.
On the flipside, good bandwidth allows more people to visit your site at once and still enjoy the best possible site experience.
What Is Unmetered Bandwidth?
If a hosting company offers unmetered bandwidth, it means that they’re offering a set amount of bandwidth (for example, 1Gbps) that you can use as much as you’d like. The maximum server speed is limited, but the amount of data you can transfer is not.
Unlike the unmetered vs unlimited debate, the difference between unmetered bandwidth and metered bandwidth is easy to see. With metered hosting, the amount of data you use is monitored by the host, and you’re charged according to that amount each month—the more site visitors you have, the more you’ll be charged.
Unmetered hosting, on the other hand, is not monitored—there is no limit to the amount of data you can transfer, only the speed at which you can transfer it. Instead of being charged for how much data you use, you’re always charged one predictable flat rate.
What Is Unlimited Bandwidth?
A lot of hosting companies claim to offer “unlimited” bandwidth, and at first glance, that might sound like the best option. Besides, we all love things like unlimited movie streaming and unlimited food buffets, so when it comes to unlimited bandwidth, you would expect something just as unrestricted.
But is this really the case?
The truth is, it’s just not possible to have completely “unlimited” bandwidth. That’s because, as mentioned earlier, bandwidth is a measure of speed. Data transfer speeds cannot be limitless—there will always be a maximum. In most cases, the word “unlimited” is used solely as a marketing device to make a hosting plan seem better than it actually is. But just because they use attractive words like “unlimited” to describe their offers does not automatically mean that the service is good.
Does this mean that all unlimited hosting plans are terrible? Not necessarily, but they are often very misleading. That’s why it’s a good idea to be wary of hosting companies that claim to offer unlimited bandwidth and always read their terms of service.
The Dangers of Unlimited Hosting
Unlimited hosting offers aren’t just misleading—they can also spell disaster for your website or application. There’s almost always a catch hidden in the fine print, and it can be as small as a data transfer restriction (how much content you can add or how much traffic you can have at one time) or as huge as the host terminating your website for “excessive use of resources”. If they were really “unlimited”, you’d be able to use as many resources as you wanted!
However, this is not to say that the word “unlimited” itself is always a red flag. While you may not be able to have unlimited bandwidth, there are some things that can truly be limitless, including things like the amount of web traffic your site can receive and the number of email accounts you can create.
Unmetered vs Unlimited: Which One Should You Use?
While there are some perfectly fine so-called “unlimited” hosting plans out there, it’s usually best to go with an unmetered hosting plan instead. But no matter what type of hosting plan you end up choosing, it’s important to do your research beforehand.
When it comes to bandwidth, it’s best to think realistically—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It’s better to host your website with an unmetered hosting provider that’s transparent about what they offer than with an “unlimited” plan that hides fine print behind flashy marketing language. For example, JavaPipe’s unmetered VPS hosting plans disclose the exact amount of bandwidth (1 or 10Gbps), RAM, and storage we offer. No guessing, no confusion, and no surprises to worry about later on—just fast and affordable hosting on a secure VPS.