In simple terms, overselling is the means to sell above the means of delivery. For example, let’s say a startup web hosting company owns a server with a 50 GB hard drive and 500 GB bandwidth. The company begins selling their packages with 1 GB storage and 10 GB transfer. After selling 50 packages, the amount of bandwidth allocated to those clients has reached its limit of 500 GB. At the same time, the web host notices that only 250 to 300 GB of bandwidth is consumed per month by those clients. As you can see, this is cutting it pretty close.
Thrilled by the growing number of clients, the web hosting company decides to exceed the bandwidth limit and sales another 10 packages. Being that the cost for maintaining the server is coming in consistently, every package can be viewed as pure profit. The problem arises when the sites of those clients began to grow. Once the capacity is exceeded, the web hosting company is forced to pay their provider a much higher rate for bandwidth and storage space. In a worst case scenario, the server experiences technical difficulties due to an overload and inevitably fails, causing downtime for their clients.
When a company decides how many sites they want to host on a server, the first thing they are limited to is processing power, which is combined with other elements such as memory and transfer speed. Even if a company wants to host just 500 sites, this may not always be possible. If all of their clients are occupied building sites, using databases and commanding scripts, the server may exceed its computing power before ever reaching the limit of bandwidth. This may also occur to a company who is not overselling. In some cases, a web host company folds and closes their accounts before reaching capacity limits because they have exceeded the limits of other resources.
Most of the time, a web hosting provider will not admit to overselling their service to you. This is typically something you will have to determine for yourself. Those companies who are not overselling are usually the ones warning others of the practice. They use this to their advantage in order to market their services.
On a positive note, overselling is not always a bad thing. Some companies have been able to use this system effectively and are still in business. They use powerful equipment such as dual Xeon servers and perform redundant backups to protect data. If you’re concerned about the bandwidth and storage offered by your provider, it would be a good idea to stay under your limits. Optimize your site by scaling down images and decreasing the amount of multimedia content. It’s always better to play it safe. If your website is script-based, ask the provider about the limitations on resources and a