How can Hostgator Offer Unlimited Disk Space?

If you look at the major web hosting companies, you’ll see that except for Hostgator, they all have limitations on how much storage space they offer on their shared hosting plans. Hostgator is the only one to offer unlimited disk space. But how are they able to do this?

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Hostgator Unlimited Disk Space vs Others

Here’s a screenshot from Hostgator’s website where they advertise “unmetered” disk space:

Hostgator Unlimited Disk Space
Unlimited Disk Space with Hostgator

Whether or it’s truly unlimited, is something I’ll discuss below. But just for comparison, here’s the same thing from SiteGround:

SiteGround has Limits on its Disk Space
SiteGround Disk Space Limitations

SiteGround of course, is an outlier, in that they clearly specify their limitations more precisely than any other provider.

Similarly, other web hosts like Bluehost also have limits on the amount of storage space they allow on their shared hosting plans. So why this discrepancy? What allows Hostgator to offer unlimited storage, while the others are limited?

The Answer: SSD Drives vs HDD Drives

The big difference between Hostgator and the other web hosts, is that the former uses HDD drives instead of SSD for its shared hosting plans. It’s a complicated subject, and I’ve written earlier about why Hostgator doesn’t use SSDs, when all the others are doing so.

One of the major reasons, is that Hostgator uses HDD drives instead of SSDs is so that they can provide unlimited or unmetered disk space to their clients. It also allows them to keep the prices down, to reduce the overall cost of hosting. It seems that the web hosting industry is moving to a higher price point in general. I’d written earlier about how Bluehost’s rising prices, and I have no doubt that SSD drives are one component.

So far, Hostgator is still the cheapest of all the major hosting providers. And I suspect a big reason is due to their usage of HDD drives to keep costs down.

Won’t HDD Slow Down my Site?

Not necessarily – or at least not to any great degree. In the first place, Hostgator uses SSD drives for its MySQL database storage. Which means that the biggest impact of SSD drives is still valid for the vast majority of websites that are dynamically driven. Even without this, the benefits of SSD drives are often overrated, but that’s another story.

The bottom line is that since Hostgator uses SSDs for database operations, the only things that remain on HDD are your files. And those are far less important when rendering a site as compared to the database.

What does “Unmetered” Truly Mean?

Despite all this, you should know that Hostgator doesn’t literally allow you to store unlimited data on their shared hosting services. If you use too much, they will suspend your account and that’s that. Basically, any data that’s directly associated with the functioning of your site is fine. You can’t use it as a file dumb for terabytes of data.

This is actually one of the reasons some hosting providers specify a hard limit on their disk space allowances. It avoids the kind of judgment calls that Hostgator has to make when determining if a particular account is abusing the system.

In short, be sensible. If you’re trying to game the system, soon or later you’ll be ousted. If you ever need to ask yourself “Is this allowed?” the answer is probably no!

Will Hostgator Retain Unmetered Disk Space in the Future?

I think it will, yes. Hostgator’s unlimited marketing strategy seems to be a differentiator in a crowded industry, so I don’t see any reason why that will change. The overwhelming majority of their customers don’t have a problem with getting suspended or banned, so it seems to be working for them at the moment.

And as long as they use HDDs instead of SSD for file storage, it’ll allow them to keep costs low as well!

About Bhagwad Park

I've been writing about web hosting and WordPress tutorials since 2008. I also create tutorials on Linux server administration, and have a ton of experience with web hosting products. Contact me via e-mail!

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