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“Unmetered” or “unlimited hosting”? How to select optimal hosting rate for server

Renting a server or hosting hardware in a data center involves purchasing a hosting package from a service provider. Service providers offer a variety of hosting options to select from, and the terms and conditions usually specify the amount of traffic and data transfer speed. You need to know these parameters regardless of whether you are talking about a dedicated server, virtual machine or hosting a server in the public cloud.

According to the technical specifications you can roughly assess the terms of hosting provision, but service companies often use terminology that is not always clear to the client. Someone offers limited traffic, someone promises “unmetered hosting”, and someone – “unlimited hosting”. The terms bandwidth and throughput may also be used in the commercial offer. How to understand the details hidden behind marketing slogans and not to make a mistake when selecting a hosting service? You can find out more about it in our article.

Setting up and running a new server is a technically complex procedure that requires experience and specific skills from the technical support specialists. Not every IT administrator is capable of handling this task. Some service providers in Europe offer server setup and startup services free of charge. If you want to learn how to take advantage of such assistance, sign up for a free online consultation.

Traffic, bandwidth and throughput

The hosting package offered by the provider usually includes the amount of traffic per month for the server and bandwidth. In order not to be confused by the characteristics and make the right choice, you need to clearly understand the technical terms.


Traffic is the data transmitted and received. Traffic is measured in bytes. Since in contractual obligations terms are most often defined in months, the amount of traffic is also specified in months for convenience. A high-performance server is capable of transmitting and receiving terabytes of information in 30 days, so the most commonly used unit of measurement is “Terabyte per month”.

The contract may provide for a limit on the amount of traffic. In this case, the documents will specify a certain number of terabytes, for example, 50 terabytes per month. In limited hosting packages, this is the amount of data that the client pays for at the regular rate. Exceeding the volume does not mean instant disconnection, just the traffic over the limit will have to be paid for at a higher cost.

Current competition in the hosting market is increasingly forcing service providers to remove limit restrictions and offer hosting with unmetered traffic. Such an offer means that the client will pay for all traffic for a month (regardless of the amount) at the same cost.

Traffic most often refers to the exchange of data between the client’s servers and the public Internet. If a company has two or more servers, direct data exchange between them is most often not included in the agreement (unless the use of an intermediary server is provided for). However, when entering into a contract, it is better to clarify this information with the provider.

Unfortunately, the term “traffic” is quite often confused with the term “bandwidth”. For example, if a sentence says “throughput of 50 TB per month”, the mere fact that it is measured per month indicates that we are talking specifically about traffic, not bandwidth.

Traffic, bandwidth and throughput


Bandwidth is the limit of the speed at which a server can transmit and receive traffic. Bandwidth is measured in megabits per second, and sometimes in gigabits per second. For a high-performance server, the bandwidth can range from 10 megabits (Mbps) to 1 gigabit (Gbps). If the project specification does not imply the transfer of very large amounts of data, then in most cases 100 to 200 Mbps is sufficient for correct operation. Bandwidth is most often determined by the size of the allocated port.


Throughput is the data transfer rate that is actually achieved. It will almost always be less than bandwidth, because bandwidth is the maximum speed limit.

To understand why throughput is usually less than bandwidth, we can consider an example when several virtual machines are running on one physical server. Each of the virtual servers uses a dedicated port on the physical server to communicate with each other.

In this case, the virtual machines are running simultaneously. Due to load balancing settings, one of the virtual servers simply will not be able to use the entire bandwidth of the dedicated port.

Even in the case when a company orders a dedicated server from a service provider for its project, throughput will still be less than bandwidth. The organization of data reception and transmission is always associated with network costs, the nature of data exchange at one time or another, the number of simultaneous users and other parameters that affect the speed of data exchange.

Throughput, as well as bandwidth, is measured in megabits per second (Mbps).

Why unmetered does not equal unlimited

When you order an unmetered hosting package from a service provider, you never get unlimited traffic. The fact is that the amount of traffic your server can handle in a month is always directly limited by the actual throughput and the number of days in a calendar month.

Why unmetered does not equal unlimited

Some providers in the descriptions of dedicated server hosting packages often specify “unlimited traffic”, arguing that the client gets at his disposal the entire bandwidth of the port, and the amount of traffic received and transmitted per month is not limited by the price limit. In most cases, the client’s server simply does not utilize the full technical potential of the dedicated port, so providers sometimes use such wording to increase the attractiveness of their services.

In order not to make a mistake when selecting a hosting package for your project, you need to focus on the maximum amount of traffic per month and the actual throughput of the server. For each of these indicators, you need to take into account the growth potential and compare the figures with what the service provider can offer.

When launching a new server, it is not always easy to predict future traffic volumes and the data exchange rate necessary for correct operation. Consultants at our portal can help you with such calculations. If you want to get useful information about renting and running servers, sign up for a free online consultation.

Olga Boujanova

Consultant on hosting solutions, network and cloud technologies

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Unmetered does not mean fast

Marketing slogans such as “unmetered hosting” or “unlimited hosting” always look attractive, but do not always mean that the client will receive guaranteed high data transfer speeds. There is actually a limit, it’s just a limit in speed and in the amount of traffic per month, not in price.

For example, when starting a virtual server with an “unmetered hosting” package, it is important not only to consider bandwidth indicator, but also to ask what actual throughput for your project can be roughly expected. Sometimes service providers guarantee a certain data exchange rate, but this is not always the case.

Some European service providers are ready to offer hosting with bandwidth up to 10 gigabits per second. This speed is sufficient for almost any industrial solution or business project.

Article author

Olga Boujanova

Consultant on hosting solutions, network and cloud technologies

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