10 Jan 2011,
by Haim Gelfenbeyn

Unlimited network traffic and bandwidth monitoring

I’ve learned my lesson about “unlimited network traffic” accounts long ago: In 1998, DU Meter was mentioned in the Microsoft & WUGNET Shareware Pick of the Week newsletter. This was a big deal back then, and we were quite excited about it. Several hours after their newsletter went out (with a download link to our web site), our site went down. We had a shared hosting account with a small web hosting company that shall remain anonymous in this post. Repeated attempts to reach them via email or phone were unsuccessful, and a short time after that their own web site went down too.

I think you can already guess what happened. Traffic from the Microsoft’s newsletter managed to bring down our server first, then completely saturate their uplink. First words that we heared from them when we did manage to contact them were that our account had been terminated and they don’t want to hear from us again.

We paid $25/month for hosting, and had an “unlimited network traffic” account. I thought it was a good deal. I was very wrong.

Some people are disappointed that more and more ISPs change their policies and add caps and limits to their “unlimited” Internet plans. Please understand, these plans never were truly unlimited. If you try to use (or abuse) your Internet connection more than what your ISP considers normal, they will impose sanctions: terminate your account, throttle you down, etc. If your account is “unlimited”, this only means that you don’t know the limit and your service provider can change it at any time without your knowledge.

Actually, I think that disappearance of “unlimited traffic” plans is a positive trend. When you know your limit, you can install bandwidth monitoring software, configure monthly alert and be sure that your Internet connection will not be terminated one day because you downloaded a couple of movies more than you should.