A few days after i moved this website over to Site5 they announced a special plan with 1750 mb of disk space and unmetered bandwidth. I have always been critical to web hosts offering unmetered or unlimited bandwidth so I was a little surprised. The people in charge of Site5 are obviously aware of the unmetered critics and they seem to have made a well considered decision when they decided on this plan. Their reasoning behind this boils down to the following (quoted from their website)

With bandwidth prices falling and websites becoming more complex, bandwidth quotas on shared hosting accounts are increasing to absurd levels. Rather than offer accounts with 200GB bandwidth allotments, we are simply choosing to stop placing bandwidth quotas on our accounts altogether, as bandwidth is no longer a primary limiting factor when it comes to choosing a shared hosting account. Far more important factors are disk space, number of domains/websites allowed hosted, and server resource usage.

So, what do I think of this? Site5 may be right in claiming that data transfer is not the limiting factor, but what is? For the surfer, the imaginary speed of a remote server will be decided by the time it needs to generate a page (CPU usage) and how fast it can transfer the page to the surfer (data transfer). There is no standard for "CPU quotas" and with unmetered data transfer there is no longer a hard limit on any server usage. When will your website need a dedicated server? It depends.

And if you want unmetered data transfer, go to Site5 now, because the unmetered plan offer is only guaranteed valid through Saturday, September 18th, 2004.

If unmetered data transfer is going to be the norm for the future shared hosting plans, be certain that plenty of web hosts will name it unlimited data transfer. If data transfer is no limiting factor you might as well put no limits on it, right?

One host offering unlimited data transfer is SelfWebHosting. Of course it is subject to some common sense rules as they explain on their unlimited page. Unlimited with exceptions is not unlimited but a server with dual 3ghz CPU's and a 100 mbps line takes a whole lot of crap before it chokes.