Don’t Fence Me In – Resource Usage Limits And Your Web Host

Understanding any resource usage limitations that your web host may place is crucial before you sign up. Article also discusses solutions for saving resources.

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A lot of work goes in to making a web site. If you’ve created your site from the ground up, seeing it live on the web and waiting for your customers or visitors to arrive can be an exciting process. But one thing can stand in the way of your success as a web site owner. Even if you carefully reviewed your host’s policies and terms before you signed up for service, you may still become the victim of a very common, yet unlisted feature: resource usage limits.

A Vague Classification

Resource usage is not usually itemized on the feature lists published by most web hosts. You may have seen terms like ‘disk space’ and ‘bandwidth’ mentioned in the terms before you signed up, but these are not the only items that should be considered. In addition to bandwidth and disk space, there are three other items that fall under resource usage: RAM usage, CPU usage and Database/MySQL connections.

RAM Usage

RAM usage applies to most web sites, but can be difficult for web hosts to determine. However, it can be considered a definite resource limit. This is because RAM, which is temporary memory, is not expandable. RAM is what is used when your site executes any data or scripts. This means anything on your web site which needs a lot of RAM will be competing with other programs and sites on your host’s web server. RAM usage is monitored by web hosts.

CPU Usage

CPU usage will also apply to most web sites. The CPU is what grabs and delivers your web pages to your visitors. The more scripts your site’s pages have, the more CPU resources will be used. This is because more work is required in order to reconstruct your web page for visitors. CPU, like RAM is also not an expandable resource, and as such, will result in increased overall load on your web host’s server. In addition, the loading of all of your web pages will be slow if one page is using too much CPU.

Database/MySQL Connections

The database or MySQL connection resource is managed by a database server, which provides web site scripts as they are needed. However, they can only accept so many connections at once. If there are too many data requests made, resources quickly run out and visitors to your site receive an error message. Resources can be exceeded when too much traffic is received or inefficient scripts are used.

Solutions for Saving Resources

Using some kind of caching system can help you to conserve resources. Your CMS vendor may offer tools for caching. One such example is Joomla, which offers four cache optimizers. Another is Drupal, which offers several options.

It’s also advisable not to use the webmail provided by your host, as this can also result in excess resource usage. An alternative is to use Google Apps or a similar provider which offers several free email accounts per domain.

Emptying any spam content on a regular basis is another way to save resources. Things like blog comments, emails and files can quickly cause you to go over quota. Cleaning out of spam content should be completed at least once per week. This will allow you to avoid any memory issues.

Knowing Your Limits Is Crucial

The reason why every web site owner should be aware of their usage limits goes beyond visitors not being able to gain access to their sites. When one or more sites on a web host’s server are using a lot of resources, the stability and security of the entire server can be compromised. Prolonged resource usage can leave a server vulnerable to attack by hackers, which means that every site on that host’s server can be vulnerable to attack as well. But when you understand the full resource usage picture, you can understand how many resources your web site is likely to be using, and be better equipped to avoid overuse.

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Author: Jesse Schwarz

Guest author Jesse Schwarz writes on a variety of topics, particularly related to technology. He is a frequent contributor at, a site dedicated to helping prospective webmasters understand the hosting side of the equation. You can also find .

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 10th, 2013 at 11:07 pm and modified by WebMaster View on Friday, March 21st, 2014 at 4:03 pm. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.