Unlimited doesn't mean unlimited
Pretty much every seedbox company advertises unlimited bandwidth. It seems to good too be true. If they truly offer unlimited traffic for $10 p/m, why do they cap their dedicated servers to 100TB traffic a month?
Just like your mobile phone or home internet connection, unlimited doesn’t mean unlimited. Just like the fair usage charges on your home internet, there are certain tricks seedboxes employ to limit your use. With mobile phones they offer unlimited data (but only if you don’t tether). Certain ISPs were known to frown on users with heavy use and shape the traffic so your speeds go right down during peak hours.
In this article I’ll describe the various different ways seedboxes use to limit your bandwidth use, while still offering “unlimited seedboxes”.
Limiting by slowing your speeds down to a drip
Imagine your water company gave you unlimited water for $10 a month, but the water flow was only a litre an hour. In a month there are 730 hours, so the monthly water usage limit would be 730L, because that’s the most you could ever use.
Even if there isn’t a limit per se, you wouldn’t be able to achieve beyond that amount with the restricted speeds in place.
This is what cheap seedboxes effectively do with their “unlimited” seedboxes. The speeds might be restricted to 5 MB/s so even if you’re hitting these speeds constantly throughout the month, the most you’ll be able to transfer is 13TB in a month.
You won't get the speeds advertised
You see it a lot, on the spec sheet of a shared seedbox, it states the connection is 10mbps or 1mbps. Firstly it takes 8 megabits to form a megaByte (denoted with uppercase/lowercase b/B). So a 1mpbs would have a theoretical maximum 125 MB/s. You might see see shared seedboxes advertising 1mbps connection. But you’re probably not going to experience even 10% of that speed.
Why is that you ask? Well the speed advertised is the line speed of the server in which your shared seedbox is installed on. The keyword beying shared. There could be 20-25 seedboxes installed on that shared seedbox, all sharing that single 1mbps line. So the line speed is throttled fairly between all the active users on the server.
We review shared seedboxes on this site. We take out actual seedboxes that are fully paid for and we test them just like an ordinary user. This is crucial in this industry where there are are many ways a vendor can cut corners, limit bandwidth, speed etc. While all of them do over-state their speeds and bandwidth – we can help find the best plan for you.
Limiting connections, limits your upload potential
This is barely discussed, but is a very clever way a vendor might reduce their overheads and short change you. Have you noticed that your speeds and uploads are the same no matter how many torrents you have access to? Whether you have 50 torrents or 500 torrents, you seem to achieve the same max speeds and same total uploads.
Seedboxes can do this by limiting your the number of connections your installation can have. Typical connection limit on a basic $10 seedbox can be around 100-150 connections. How can you tell if there are connection limits imposed?
The error status on the torrent state can indicate connection limits. On the image on the left you can see 0 torrents with an error state, where as on the right 111 torrents are in error state. When torrents aren’t able to connect to the tracker they have an error state.
If a torrent is able to connect to the tracker but there are no peers then the torrent would simply be in an inactive state.
The screenshot on the left is from seedit4.me and you can see that they haven’t imposed a connection limit. You can read their review here. Due to a lack of connection limits, the $10 seedbox from seedit4.me performed very well and I’ve uploaded more than 24TB in a month.
Not all mislead users with "unlimited" plans.
There are quite a few seedboxes who are open about the bandwidth limitations, they will have full speed download and upload up to a certain bandwidth and then the speeds get reduced down to a trickle, say 3-4 MB/s. Seedhost.eu are very transparent about this policy, other vendors are less open and do deploy these traffication.
In the end at $10 p/m, the price point is too low for a seedbox to provide you with all the bells and whistles and seedboxes will sacrifice one thing over the other. It’s a trade off between speed, storage and total bandwidth.