As I search reviews and advice for choosing a good host I only become more confused!
I have read that hostgator is well liked by people here.
However I have also read to beware of hosts offering unlimited packages, which host gator does.
I understand that because there IS a physical limit to server space- (unless they are banking on averaging statistics) that "unlimited" is just a marketing ploy. I HATE marketing ploys, so my judgment is clouded- how bad a thing is this- does it really point to a host being crooked. I'm really tired of dealing with these people- and if I ever find an honest, reasonable, host I will be loyal for life!
HostGator is good in terms of its a large brand, it oversells massively but it still maintains average support and service. Plus, it's terribly cheap. It's liked upon the fact that it's the best of the average, if you get my meaning. However, a better, medium to high-end host <<snipped>> will offer you far superior support and service. You're likely to receive better reliability, a higher grade of support and thus a much more pleasurable web hosting experience.
With regards to the unlimited disk space, you need to imagine it as "Unmetered". In terms of how their packages are setup, they don't monitor it (within reason). But there is, as you say, a physical limit so, if a/some clients were to actually get near the physical limit, then they'd have a problem.
HostGator has a lot of reviews, some good and some bad. I have seen many more good than bad though. Which is usually a good sign. If you found a host with all positive reviews all the time, it's possible something fishy is going on.
In general you do need to be aware of hosts that offer unlimited resources (aka storage and bandwidth) because there is always a limit and generally they define 'unlimited' in their TOS to whatever they want or limit you in other ways aka inodes.
From what I do remember was HostGator did not want to switch to an Unlimited marketing platform but only did so because they were losing their target market so they were forced to make the switch. At least this is what I remember hearing.
As far as I know HostGator is a pretty well run company.
Mostly the unlimited hosts to be weary of are the ones that offer unlimited everything for $1.99 a month. That is a good sign to run away. HostGator is generally well priced for it's features.
Your understanding is fairly good and from what I understand Brent Oxley (Owner: HostGator) didn't want to go unlimited but they were pretty much forced to - to keep from losing a huge portion of their market share.
It's marketing that attracts a huge amount of web hosting customers out there and they couldn't lose a huge portion of their client base because another provider is offering something they are not.
At the end of the day HostGator is good for their size just as Oliver says - the smaller companies are more likely to be more dedicated to providing high quality service and support and they usually have a lower customer-to-employee ratio tends to result in higher quality support.
From what I do remember was HostGator did not want to switch to an Unlimited marketing platform but only did so because they were losing their target market so they were forced to make the switch.
The offers race went on for years. Everybody knew where it was leading. The offers were, for all purposes and intent, already "unlimited", when they reached a few TBs of data transfer for $5-$10.
What it all comes down to is, if your usage (CPU, memory, I/O) allows the host to keep the 200,300,400 accounts that it needs per server, you can be happy with them. If not, you'll face account suspension.
Yeah, so long as you understand the true meaning of unlimited, and know that you still have to keep ram usage in check, you should be fine with hostgator. A lot of the "bad reviews" they get, I'd assume are from people trying to store a site that should be on a vps/dedicated box, on a $10 shared account. If your site uses more server "umph" than you'd imagine shared accounts can handle, it shouldn't be on a shared account, regardless of limits or lack of limits on space/bw.
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Unlimited is attractive to people who don't know how much their site will use, mainly beginners. Eventually the entire industry will move towards unlimited, and while there are many who refuse to do so, they will have to in order to compete with Hostgator et al's giant marketing budgets and ability to attract clueless customers. My personal advice with regards to large companies like hostgator has always been that you can easily find service and support to match or exceed them but at a lower cost.
That's pretty much it, a "ploy". Host Gator has a huge reputation and the only thing that would scare me is they don't own any of their equipment. Big shocker for such a huge company.
Hostrocket.com is another success story with the unlimited thing. They were basically limited on space and then got to the point where space was increasing so they upgarded everyone and poof unlimited by year two of my contract
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I understand that because there IS a physical limit to server space- (unless they are banking on averaging statistics) that "unlimited" is just a marketing ploy
All hosting plans are marketing ploys. Unlimited plans just remove the artifical quota. They can do that because 99% of websites are less than 250mb. So, for the typical site (one suitable for a shared server environment), there is no difference between a 1gb plan, a 10gb plan, a 100 gb plan or an unlimited plan. Hence they are all the same marketing ploys
The more devious ploy are the plans that give you a stingy allocation of diskspace and tell you you can have unlimited domains, unlimited email, unlimited database on the same space your limited web files are on.