16 Sep

Simplifying our plans…

I stumbled across something the other day that kind of made me giggle, it was a piece of marketing copy that we were using in the spring of 2002 to advertise our newly released to the public services.  Within the copy was an overview of our “Linux Bronze” Plan…

Linux Bronze Plan – $5.95/month
– 100 Megs Storage
– 3 GB Transfer
– 5 SubDomains
– 20 Email Accounts
– 5 FTP accounts
– 5 mySQL Databases
– 1 Mailman Mailing List

Now, our pricing hasn’t changed, and our plan names haven’t gotten any more imaginative, but our plans themselves, they’ve grown of the years  (And honestly, they’re about to do so again, but there is another project we need to finish before we can talk about that, so I’ll leave that for another update) as technology has continued to improve and costs have gone down.

To put things in perspective, at the time we launched this service, our original shared hosting servers were, if I recall properly, Pentium3 (600mhz or thereabouts?  single core) boxes sporting a lofty 1GB of RAM and if I recall, 40GB drives.

So at the time, storage and transfer, while important, were not the only resources we needed to balance and manage.  Adding a subdomain to a website?  There was a few kilobytes of RAM there.  Email accounts?  A few kb more for each of those.  So our plans also established a limit of things such as that, as shown in the list above.  And over the years, those quotas have increased as well, but to be honest, they’re really only there today because of a very deep seated dislike of the term “unlimited” around here.  Early on we watched so many “Unlimited <X>!” hosting firms crash and burn that it left a very bitter taste in our mouths for the word.  So much so that I simply refuse to tick the ‘Unlimited FTP accounts’ button in cPanel.

It’s not just the tainted history of the word, there are a very real, tangible issue that comes to mind.  The rule here is “If we offer something, we have to be able to actually provide it”.  So if we say “Unlimited Email Accounts!” it needs to be doable, in real, unlimited form.  Now, the fact is, if there was no quota on email accounts, and someone were to script a “log into cpanel and create random email accounts for my site” routine, it would eventually crash, and it might even impact performance for other people on the server.   Sure, it’d probably hit a couple million mailboxes before a problem occurred, and I cant think of a reason anyone would do it to other than to see if they could, but eventually a process would run out of RAM, or inodes, or.. something, and the server, along with all the other clients on it, would suffer.

Offering anything in “unlimited” form just doesn’t work when actually put to the test.

But at the same time, it’s now 2018, and defining account plans by the number of domains or email accounts just feels… dated.

So we’re not going to do it anymore.

Going forward, all of our shared hosting linux plans are purely built around the amount of Disk Space and Data Transfer.    Nothing else.   Now, this does not mean “unlimited” domains, email accounts, etc.  There’s still a limit built into all of our plans for these things.  It’s just…  well, it’s set high enough that we don’t think anyone is actually going to encounter, or probably even get close to, the limit.  And if you do start to find yourself getting close, open a support ticket, and we’ll look at the situation and see what we can do to accommodate your needs.

I’m internally calling it  “reasonable limits”.  In my mind it’s a bit of “if you use them for any reasonable use, you’ll be fine” and a bit of “if you come up with a way to use them that we didn’t think of, we’ll reasonably review the situation with you”.

But whatever we call it internally, externally, it means our plans just got a lot simpler.