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What is Overselling?

What is Overselling?

Overselling is a term used when a hosting provider sells more bandwidth and disk space than they physically have. Most websites will not use all the resources allocated by their provider, leaving the provider with leftover bandwidth and space each month. Providers sometimes take a risk by selling the leftover space to other customers to maximize profits. This is overselling.

Overselling in practice

To provide you with a better example of overselling, we will play out a typical scenario that’s quite common in the industry. Let’s assume that hosting provider X has 100GB of free disk space and 1500GB of bandwidth each month to sell. They offer only one package which includes 5GB of disk space and 75GB of bandwidth per customer; this means they can effectively take on a total of 20 customers.

Now, it’s fairly common that most of their customers will not use up the monthly allowance and have unused disk space and bandwidth. For argument sake, let’s assume that each client only uses 80% of their allocated resources each month, leaving a balance of 20GB of disk space and 300GB of bandwidth unused each month. The leftover amount is enough for the hosting provider to go and add four more clients to its server to create greater profits at no extra cost.

The problems with overselling

When overselling methods are used, there is only one winner, the hosting provider. They are essentially making an instant profit for each customer they gain above what they can handle, while the customer receives a less than optimal service. What many providers fail to realize is this: when a server is running at maximum capacity, the processing power, memory usage, and maximum transfer speeds are affected.

A server may be built to host 500 websites and transfer 5000GB of bandwidth, but when put to into practice it’s not always the case. Servers that manage extremely busy forums or websites containing a lot of content, databases or scripts using resource-demanding code, every other website on that server can face decreased performance and even possible security threats as a result.
These problems are usually illuminated during holiday seasons and peak Internet surfing hours (5-9pm), overselling will cause a website to timeout or increase page load speeds which is not good for business. For example, if you run an online retail store selling physical products, your busiest period will be around holidays such as Christmas when people buy gifts for one another. Choosing a hosting provider who practices overselling can dramatically slash your profits if your website is always timing out or pages are not loading fast enough for your users to browse.

Virtual private servers and shared hosting

Two other hosting options available are virtual private servers and shared hosting, although cheap they do come with their own set of problems.

Shared hosting – as the name suggests, shared hosting is when you share a server with other customers – sometimes called a web hotel, customers who may require more resources at certain times of the day affecting your service. These are known as bad neighbors in the industry, and hosting your site using a shared hosting plan can affect your website in the following ways:

overselling hosting

  • Slower response times
  • Affect SEO rankings (rank lower in Google)
  • Increase website bounce rate
  • Create more security threats
  • Increase timeouts (website being offline)




If you’re running an online business using a shared hosting plan, this method puts too many things outside your scope, giving you no influence or control when neighbors hog up resources.

VPS – has the advantage over shared hosting in the fact that it doesn’t share as many things with its neighbors, this is because it’s able to separate server resources and implement caps, but it still has a few issues. For one, the only thing separating one site from another is what’s known as a ‘software wall’, although offering some level of security it will usually not be as secure as the separation which you can find at Rackfish.

Most VPS hosting providers don’t implement ‘throttle limits’ during busy periods, a customer who abuses the server with heavy demands will affect your website performance. “CPU Steal” is such a metric showing how much of the CPU processing capacity that has been taken by noisy neighbors. Finally, disk space on a VPS is shared by all customers, if several users need to read and write at the same time, disk performance can severely affect site performance and is very problematic for databases apart from opening up other websites on the sever being open to possible backdoor security threats.

Does Rackfish oversell?

How dare you even ask that question! Just kidding, it’s a very important question to ask and a must when deciding which hosting provider to use. Rackfish doesn’t oversell and our hosting structure is designed in a way to maximize customer experience. Our computer processing power, memory usage as well as network capacity and disk space for each customer is isolated, meaning it’s impossible for other clients to access or hog your resources, resulting in no bad neighbor experiences and total security.

We recognize that overselling will not only cause short-term issues for our customers but also have long-term implications on performance and output. Running servers on full capacity can essentially ‘downgrade’ hardware performance over some time. Sometimes to a point where it’s unfixable causing huge problems for everyone else on the server. Unlike a VPS, apart from keeping ample of excess capacity, we utilize technologies such as DRS, that automatically moves sudden noisy clients to hardware with better capacity when needed – always making sure we deliver high and consistent performance.

With Rackfish your website will be running at optimal performance 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days of the year.

If you have any further questions about overselling, VPS, shared hosting or our services, send us an email, we are more than happy to help!

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