Everything You Need to Know About Cloud Hosting

InterServer Web Hosting and VPS

Cloud hosting employs a virtual server to host websites. In comparison, traditional web hosting services usually house one or multiple sites on one physical server.

If you’re wondering whether cloud web hosting fits your needs better, this guide will help answer that question.

We’ll explore all the cloud hosting essentials – from how it works to what types of websites can benefit from it. Then, we’ll compare cloud hosting to other types of web hosting.

Everything You Need to Know About Cloud Hosting

How Does Cloud Hosting Work?

Cloud hosting works through virtualization. It’s a technology that splits a physical server into multiple virtual machines called cloud servers. Then, these connect to create a single network for hosting a website.

Due to its interconnected cloud structure, this type of hosting is also called cluster server hosting.

Cloud hosting’s underlying infrastructure makes it different from traditional web hosting. The latter typically uses a centralized approach, where a single server stores several sites at once.

The main benefits of using cloud hosting solutions include:

  • High availability. When one server fails, the rest will cover for it and keep the website running. This makes cloud hosting more reliable than traditional web hosting, where a site has to rely on its server being up at all times.
  • Traffic load balancing. When the website experiences traffic, the infrastructure will spread it across the cloud servers. This helps maintain the site performance as it sees more visitors.
  • Scalability. With cloud hosting, webmasters aren’t limited to the bandwidth, storage, or computing power available from a single server. They can use additional resources in the virtual environment to support their site’s growth.
  • Greater security. Cloud hosting is generally less prone to disasters and physical malfunctions since it uses multiple servers in a virtual environment. Moreover, the load balancing feature can help prevent DDoS attacks.

What Types of Websites Use Cloud Hosting?

The usual types of websites that use cloud hosting are eCommerce stores, news publications, search engines or aggregators, social networks, and other high-traffic projects.

Basically, it’s perfect for all websites that need plenty of processing power, bandwidth, and disk space to accommodate many visitors and the high amount of files and data they store.

The cloud hosting architecture makes it easy to anticipate traffic surges – which usually happen during big sales or when a blog post goes viral. The load balancing will ensure that the traffic doesn’t overwhelm the resources of any virtual server.

Furthermore, some of these websites may require tighter security to handle sensitive data, like customer information and payment details.

In this case, they may opt for a private cloud as opposed to a public cloud. It usually comes with a dedicated cloud infrastructure, hosted on a private network to prevent unauthorized parties from accessing it.

For these reasons, web hosts generally charge more for cloud hosting services than shared or VPS, which are usually more suitable for small to medium-sized sites.

Differences Between Cloud Hosting and Other Types of Web Hosting

Before building a website, it’s essential to understand which type of web hosting you should use for it. The service you pick should provide ample resources and optimal performance to support the site without overblowing the budget.

This section will compare cloud hosting with two traditional hosting services, shared and VPS, to help you make the right decision.

Cloud Hosting vs Shared Hosting

Traditional shared hosting isn’t as powerful as its cloud counterpart. Even so, it is a suitable solution for those looking to build a personal website or a small online store.

In this type of hosting, one server will hold multiple websites, all of which share its resources.

Because of the shared nature of the server, it can handle only a limited amount of traffic – between 10 to one hundred thousand monthly visitors. The exact amount depends on the bandwidth, storage capacity, and processing power available.

Avoid hitting the resource usage limit to prevent any performance or security issues.

Here are the pros and cons of shared hosting:

Pros

  • Affordable. The price for shared hosting typically costs between $1/month and $10/month. Cloud hosting, on the other hand, has a wider price range – from $10/month to $70+/month. For more details, read how much web hosting costs.
  • Beginner-friendly. Webmasters don’t need any technical knowledge to be able to manage their hosting. Moreover, the setup process from payment to registration generally takes a few clicks.
  • Easy maintenance. With shared hosting, the web hosts will usually handle the back-end aspects to optimize performance and security.

Cons

  • Lacks reliability. The website performance will depend on the traffic, site size, and security measures of other users that share the space. If one site gets compromised, it’s likely that others will too.
  • Lacks scalability. Unlike cloud hosting, webmasters can only use the allocated amount of processing power, bandwidth, and disk space given by the hosting provider. Should they need more resources, they will need to upgrade to a more comprehensive plan.

Cloud Hosting vs VPS Hosting

VPS is short for virtual private server. It’s similar to shared hosting as multiple users share a single server.

However, it is different because it uses virtualization, the same technology powering cloud hosting to create separate server partitions. That way, every user gets a dedicated resource pool to support their website rather than sharing one with other webmasters.

For this reason, VPS is often considered as the next step once a website has outgrown its shared hosting plan. It is also much more comparable to cloud hosting in terms of performance.

Other than that, users will get full root access to their own server, enabling them to configure the hosting environment to their exact needs. Usually, this is not available with managed cloud or shared hosting services.

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Below are the advantages and disadvantages of VPS web hosting:

Pros

  • Reliable performance. Having a dedicated server space ensures that the issues of one website won’t affect the other sites.
  • Full root access. This feature is useful for technologically-savvy users who need to install a custom operating system or software for their projects.
  • Dedicated IP address. Most web hosting providers include this with their VPS plans. Compared to a shared IP address, it’s a much safer option as it will protect your email reputation, preventing your website from being associated with spammy sites.

Cons

  • Technical skills required. Most VPS hosting services come unmanaged, so some server management knowledge will be necessary to get your project hosted properly. Because of this, VPS is usually less beginner-friendly than cloud hosting.

The Future of Cloud Hosting

Small businesses and big companies are constantly looking for the best solutions to optimize their workload and end-user experience.

Cloud hosting plays a significant role in that. Benefits like easy scalability, maximum availability, high traffic resilience, and resistance against hardware failure mean their online business can serve customers at any time.

So, it is no wonder that there has been a rise in cloud computing migration. 61% of companies have relocated their operations to the cloud network in the past year. 46% of businesses found they have reduced their expenses significantly after the migration, so this move is likely to continue in the future.

All you need to know about cloud computing

Cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—including servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence—over the Internet (“the cloud”) to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale.

How does cloud computing work?

Rather than owning their own computing infrastructure or data centres, companies can rent access to anything from applications to storage from a cloud service provider.

One benefit of using cloud-computing services is that firms can avoid the upfront cost and complexity of owning and maintaining their own IT infrastructure, and instead simply pay for what they use, when they use it.

In turn, providers of cloud-computing services can benefit from significant economies of scale by delivering the same services to a wide range of customers.

What cloud-computing services are available?

Cloud-computing services cover a vast range of options now, from the basics of storage, networking and processing power, through to natural language processing and artificial intelligence as well as standard office applications. Pretty much any service that doesn’t require you to be physically close to the computer hardware that you are using can now be delivered via the cloud – even quantum computing.

What are examples of cloud computing?

Cloud computing underpins a vast number of services. That includes consumer services like Gmail or the cloud backup of the photos on your smartphone, though to the services that allow large enterprises to host all their data and run all of their applications in the cloud. For example, Netflix relies on cloud-computing services to run its its video-streaming service and its other business systems, too.

Cloud computing is becoming the default option for many apps: software vendors are increasingly offering their applications as services over the internet rather than standalone products as they try to switch to a subscription model. However, there are potential downsides to cloud computing, in that it can also introduce new costs and new risks for companies using it.

Why is it called cloud computing?

A fundamental concept behind cloud computing is that the location of the service, and many of the details such as the hardware or operating system on which it is running, are largely irrelevant to the user. It’s with this in mind that the metaphor of the cloud was borrowed from old telecoms network schematics, in which the public telephone network (and later the internet) was often represented as a cloud to denote that the location didn’t matter – it was just a cloud of stuff. This is an over-simplification of course; for many customers, location of their services and data remains a key issue.

What is the history of cloud computing?

Cloud computing as a term has been around since the early 2000s, but the concept of computing as a service has been around for much, much longer – as far back as the 1960s, when computer bureaus would allow companies to rent time on a mainframe, rather than have to buy one themselves.

These ‘time-sharing’ services were largely overtaken by the rise of the PC, which made owning a computer much more affordable, and then in turn by the rise of corporate data centres where companies would store vast amounts of data.

But the concept of renting access to computing power has resurfaced again and again – in the application service providers, utility computing, and grid computing of the late 1990s and early 2000s. This was followed by cloud computing, which really took hold with the emergence of software as a service and hyperscale cloud-computing providers such as Amazon Web Services.

How important is the cloud?

Building the infrastructure to support cloud computing now accounts for a significant chunk of all IT spending, while spending on traditional, in-house IT slides as computing workloads continue to move to the cloud, whether that is public cloud services offered by vendors or private clouds built by enterprises themselves.

Indeed, it’s increasingly clear that when it comes to enterprise computing platforms, like it or not, the cloud has won.

Tech analyst Gartner predicts that as much as half of spending across application software, infrastructure software, business process services and system infrastructure markets will have shifted to the cloud by 2025, up from 41% in 2022. It estimates that almost two-thirds of spending on application software will be via cloud computing, up from 57.7% in 2022.

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Everything you need to know about web hosting

What is web hosting?

Web hosting is how you share your website on the internet for people to visit. A web hosting service or provider (a.k.a. a web host) allows you to do this.

How does all of this happen? Good question.

How does web hosting work?

Websites are hosted on web servers. Servers are powerful computers that store and process data, and web servers are those which store the files that make up websites and process requests to view these files.

When a visitor clicks a link to your website or plugs your site’s URL into their browser, they’re making a request to connect to your web server. Once this request is approved, the web server sends back the specific web page file that was requested and any associated files. This is what makes your website appear in the visitor’s browser.

Note: Some web hosting services require you to obtain a domain name before choosing your hosting your plan. Determine if you’ll purchase your domain via a domain registrar prior to picking your hosting service, or if you’ll purchase one from the hosting service you choose to work with (assuming they offer that option). You might also want to consider your URL structure, like whether you want a subdomain or subfolder.

In addition to housing your website on the internet, web hosting services typically offer various levels of support, security, and the benefits of high performance and uptime. Uptime is how often your website is operational — 99.9% uptime means your website can be accessed 99.9% of the time.

There are literally thousands of web hosts out there, and the key is finding the right service for your website and small business. So, before we review some popular services available today, let’s talk about how you should go about choosing one.

How to Choose a Web Hosting Provider

1. Choose the type of hosting you want for your website.

As the owner of a retail store, you’ll have to choose the right space to support your store’s infrastructure. Similarly, you’d need to choose the right web hosting service to effectively run your website for your visitors and customers.

There are several different hosting options for small, medium, and large businesses to consider — let’s take a look at some of the most common.

Types of Web Hosting

  • Shared hosting stores your website on the same server as multiple other websites. As a result, it’s the least expensive hosting option. Although shared hosting is cost-effective, it’s only ideal if your site has consistently low levels of traffic, since you’re sharing that server’s resources with dozens or possibly hundreds of other businesses and individuals.
  • Virtual private server (VPS) hosting is a bit more expensive than shared hosting and is ideal if you have a bit more traffic coming to your site regularly. VPS hosting mimics having a dedicated server just for your website, even though it’s technically still a type of shared hosting. VPS offers more customization and better performance than shared hosting while still being cost-effective, making it a common first hosting choice for small businesses.
  • Dedicated server hosting is a more expensive hosting option — it’s meant for websites that see large amounts of traffic over extended periods. With dedicated hosting, your website has its own server. This means your business has full control over your systems, security, and everything else related to your server. However, this option requires a high level of expertise — you need personnel who can manage your server appropriately.
  • Managed hosting means the web host will manage your server (including operation, security, maintenance, and more) so you don’t have to. This is ideal for small businesses that don’t have or want to hire a team member who understands the technical side of a web server. Managed WordPress hosting is popular within this category since these servers are specifically optimized to run WordPress websites.
  • Cloud hosting is a newer option in the world of web hosting. It allows many separate servers to work together to behave like one large server. This type of web hosting works well for growing businesses — as websites increase traffic and volume, the cloud space can also expand. Because of this setup, cloud hosting is typically pay-by-use: You pay for the amount of cloud space you need at any given time.

2. Identify which type of website you’re creating.

Decide on the type of website you want to create. By doing so, you’ll be able to better follow the steps in this process as well as narrow down your hosting service choices.

For example, the type of website you create will be a lot different if you’re publishing a blog versus selling products. The most common types of websites people create are:

  • Blog websites
  • Online stores
  • Online portfolios
  • Individual websites (startup or small business)
  • Business websites (small-to-mid-sized or large business)

When determining the type of website you want to create, also ask yourself:

  • Why am I creating this website?
  • What type of business do I have?
  • How large is my business and how much traffic can I expect?
  • Who is this website for?

3. Determine which features you want in a web hosting service.

Once you identify your website type, determine which features you need from your web hosting service.

For instance, if you’re the owner of an online-only store, you’ll have to make sure your host supports ecommerce. And if you’re a small or mid-sized business that’s growing quickly, you’ll need to ensure your hosting service can scale with you — this will save you the trouble of switching providers in the future.

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4. Think about the web hosting support you need.

Like our personal computers, servers need to be maintained and updated to keep performance optimal and contents safe. Consider how much work you want to invest in this upkeep.

As you learned above, different hosting services offer varying levels of technical support such as security, maintenance, installation, and optimization. To make the right hosting decision for your small business, determine whether or not you have a member of your team (or plan to hire one) to manage your server. If not, consider managed hosting.

Also, think about the size of your business and your expected typical amount of site traffic. Then ask yourself, “If there was an issue with our website that couldn’t be resolved immediately, are we at risk of losing customers and ruining any level of trust we’ve built between them and our brand?”

These conclusions will help you decide how much support you require from your service provider.

5. Take your website’s growth into consideration.

Do you plan to scale your business significantly, or do you plan to stay the same size long-term? Do you foresee a drastic change in your website traffic as you scale, or do you expect your follower base and number of visitors to remain steady over time?

The answers to these questions — as well as your business type and industry — will help you choose an appropriate hosting service for your planned and estimated growth.

If you know you’re going to experience significant traffic on your business site, it might be worth investing in a dedicated server. If your expected growth and traffic are somewhat unknown but have the potential to change drastically over time, cloud-based hosting is a viable option. And if you’re a blogger who wants to share travel stories with friends and family, a shared server is likely all you’ll ever need.

6. Set a budget for your web hosting service.

How much does web hosting cost? The answer isn’t a simple one — it depends on the provider you choose, the type of hosting you need, and which plan you invest in. Still, this is one of the most important factors in your decision, especially if you’re a small business.

This is why we recommend you take a deep dive into the information on each service’s pricing pages, like this shared hosting pricing table from Bluehost:

There are free web hosting services (which we’ll touch on below) as well as options that may cost anywhere from a few dollars per month up to several hundred dollars per month. Typically, shared hosting is the least expensive option and dedicated hosting is the most expensive.

In general, the more you pay for your hosting, the more bandwidth you’ll receive, the more security protections you’ll have in place, and the more features and perks you can access (e.g., SEO tools, backups, analytics, and site builders). Many providers will try to upsell you on these features, so it’s best to go into your search with a set budget in mind.

7. Consider free vs. paid web hosting.

As mentioned, there are several free hosting providers that won’t charge a dime to host your pages. We’ll list some options in the next section. However, if you’re interested in free hosting, there are several drawbacks.

First, free hosting providers impose far more limits than paid providers: limited pages, limited, storage, limited bandwidth, and limited uptime. Fewer pages and storage affect your site’s ability to grow. Low bandwidth and uptime mean slower (or nonfunctional) web pages, which mean fewer happy visitors and poor search engine performance.

Second, many free providers will insert their own branding or advertisements into your site. This could take the form of their name in your site’s URL (“example.wordpress.com”), the provider’s logo on your pages, and/or display advertisements. And no, you won’t be making money off these ads — all profits go to the host.

Finally, though perhaps most importantly, free hosting servers tend to be less secure and lack the proper security measures like encryption, firewall, and spam blocking. A successful attack on your server can impact your reputation far more than a temporarily inactive page or a banner ad. And, with security breaches on the rise, it’s not something to take lightly.

To sum up, we’d only recommend free hosting services for hobbyists who don’t plan to scale their website or store any private information. A small business, blogger, or any other website owner looking to grow their online presence should invest in a paid plan within their budget range.

8. Pick a web hosting provider.

Now that you have all of the information you need to narrow down your web hosting service options, it’s time to choose the right one for you. In the next section, we’ll review 11 of the most popular and top-rated web hosting services for your consideration. We’ll also throw in some free options too.

While choosing a provider, reference the conclusions you made throughout the above steps. You can also study reviews and testimonials real customers have shared via sites like Web Hosting Geeks.

Lastly, you can consult the individual websites of the services you’re considering — just know that they are, of course, biased.

Conclusion

The primary benefit of cloud hosting is reliability. When one cloud server is down, other servers can take its place to keep the website online. It is also less prone to hardware failure, and webmasters can scale their hosting resources as needed to anticipate traffic spikes.

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