What Is Cloud Hosting? Pros and Cons and How to Get Started

Choosing the right type of hosting for your website can be a challenge. There are many types of plans to pick from, including cloud hosting. However, you might be wondering: what is cloud hosting, and is it the right solution for your website? 🤔

With this type of hosting plan, your data is stored on virtually isolated resources powered by a network of servers (the “cloud”). By utilizing a resilient network of servers instead of a single physical server, it offers benefits in terms of speed, reliability, and scalability.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look 🔍 at how cloud hosting works and what makes it different from other plans. We’ll also discuss its pros 👍 and cons 👎. Finally, we’ll explore some of the best providers of this service. Let’s get to it!

📚 Table of contents:

What is cloud hosting?

With a traditional web hosting plan, your account gets to use resources on a single physical server. This can be the entire physical device (in terms of dedicated hosting), a virtual private server (VPS), or even a setup where you share resources with other accounts on that server (shared hosting).

When web hosts talk about “the cloud,” they’re referring to networks of servers. These can be physical or virtual, depending on the provider.

This infrastructure gives you unparalleled freedom when it comes to choosing the resources that you need to host your website:

Examples of cloud hosting plans and prices

The primary advantages of this service are scalability and redundancy. Since you have access to a network of servers, your hosting provider can allocate more resources to your site if you need them.

That is, it’s very easy 🤩 to add or remove resources from your server depending on your current usage. Many cloud providers even offer hourly billing so that you’re only paying for the hours where you’re using those resources.

Moreover, cloud hosting offers near-perfect uptime. If one server goes down, other servers in the network can pick up the slack. The one exception is if the entire data center goes down, which can happen in some rare circumstances.

What makes cloud hosting different?

While you might know what cloud hosting is, it can be difficult to understand what makes it so different from other types of services. Let’s take a look at how it differs from other plans:

  • Dedicated hosting. With a dedicated plan, you “rent” a full server. This way, you don’t have to share resources with other customers. Cloud hosting offers dedicated resources as well, but with easier scalability because the provider can easily allocate more resources from the cloud network.
  • Shared hosting. If you use a shared hosting plan, you share a server with other users. This means you don’t get dedicated resources, which can negatively impact your website’s performance. Using cloud hosting, your websites are isolated from others, and you still get dedicated resources.
  • Managed hosting. With managed hosting, the provider takes care of optimizing your server to offer the best possible performance, security, and other perks (at a premium). Managed plans can use dedicated servers, VPSs, or cloud hosting, depending on the provider.
  • VPS hosting. A VPS plan gives you dedicated resources through a virtual server. You can choose the number of resources you need, and you get full control over the server. However, cloud hosting offers greater redundancy than VPS plans.

Cloud hosting can be a great option for most websites. It offers dedicated resources, often at a cheaper price than dedicated hosting. You also get more scalability and resources than you would with VPS plans.

One reason this service is not as popular among regular users is that it can be a little complicated to set up. We’ll talk more about this later in the post, when we discuss the pros and cons of cloud hosting.

Note ⚠ – some providers will still refer to their cloud hosting plans as a VPS or a cloud VPS. This is because both types of hosting use virtual isolation to give your account dedicated resources. For example, DigitalOcean still calls its cloud-based CPU droplets “VPS hosting.”

What to look for in a cloud hosting provider

Choosing a cloud hosting provider can be challenging. Some of them offer a wealth of options and features, which you might find a little overwhelming.

However, here’s what you need to look for when choosing a cloud hosting service for your site:

Multiple types of instances

By “instances,” we mean the level of resources that you get. Most providers enable you to choose the amount of RAM, CPU cores, storage, and bandwidth that you need for your site.

Scalability

Some providers will enable you to scale your cloud instance if you experience a spike in traffic. Ideally, the service should offer temporary scaling, so you don’t have to overpay after traffic dies down.

Multiple data center locations

The best cloud hosting providers offer data centers across the world. This enables you to host your website in a network that is physically close to your users’ locations.

Easy-start options or blueprints

Setting up a cloud server can be challenging if you don’t have network administration experience. Some providers offer automatic setup for applications like WordPress, so you can get to work immediately.

Flexible pricing

Perhaps the biggest upside of using cloud hosting is that you get to pay for what you use. Most providers offer by-the-hour or by-the-second pricing, and you might also get regular monthly hosting plans.

Uptime monitoring

With a cloud hosting provider, you should get perfect uptime. If the provider doesn’t offer information about uptime statistics, it can be a red flag.

Multiple operating system (OS) options

Some providers will offer multiple OS options with your preferred instance. This is perfect if you want full control over your hosting environment.

Moreover, your web host should be user-friendly. Many hosting providers have a reputation for offering complex plans that make it difficult for users to understand what they’re paying for.

Pros and cons of cloud hosting

The biggest disadvantage of cloud hosting is that it can be intimidating for new users. If you’ve only ever used shared hosting before, you’re likely to find the pricing structure a little confusing, and you might have issues configuring your server.

Fortunately, some providers offer calculators to help you figure out how much their services might cost you:

The AWS pricing calculator

Additionally, cloud hosting is more flexible than most other options on the market. Managing a cloud server works similarly to a virtual private server (VPS). If you already have experience with the latter, cloud hosting will be easy to acclimate to:

Setting up a new cloud hosting server

If you don’t feel comfortable managing your cloud hosting from the command line, you can use server control panel tools such as cPanel, CyberPanel, RunCloud, and so on. If you’re only building WordPress sites, you can also find WordPress-specific control panels such as GridPane or SpinupWP.

Cloudways is also an example of a cloud-based server management tool, though it offers a more “bundled” product than those other panels.

Another upside of cloud hosting is that some providers, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud, will throw hundreds of dollars in free credit at new users. For a small website, that can be more than enough to pay for a year or two of hosting.

Finally, this type of hosting service offers a lot of flexibility when it comes to launching new websites. Instead of being limited to a specific number of sites, you get to launch or “spin up” new instances whenever needed. This is perfect for quick testing, or if you require different levels of resources for each project.

The best cloud hosting providers in 2022

To make your life easier, we’ve put together a list of some of the best cloud ☁️ hosting providers on the market. There are plenty of other options, including Google Cloud. However, we wanted to focus on providers that are beginner-friendly and that offer great options for WordPress users.

  1. Amazon AWS
  2. Cloudways
  3. Kinsta
  4. InMotion Hosting

1. Amazon AWS

Amazon AWS offers a lot of cloud solutions. The best option for beginners is Amazon EC2:

Amazon EC2 homepage

This service enables you to spin up highly-customizable cloud instances. It also includes blueprints for WordPress and other web applications.

When it comes to prices, Amazon EC2 offers a limited free tier that supports up to 750 hours of usage per month. Pricing will depend on the type of instance that you set up.

2. Cloudways

Cloudways is not a cloud hosting provider per se, but a service that works on top of other platforms. With this company, you can add managed functionality to cloud hosting plans from AWS, Google Cloud, DigitalOcean, Vultr, and Linode:

Cloudways homepage

Prices include web hosting and an additional layer of services. For this reason, Cloudways plans tend to be a bit more expensive than other options on the market.

If you’re a WordPress user, Cloudways enables you to set up the platform with only a few clicks.

You can read our Cloudways review to learn more about this service and whether it’s the right option for you.

3. Kinsta

Kinsta offers cloud-powered managed WordPress hosting plans with no complicated pricing or setup. The platform is powered by Google Cloud, and you can choose from 10 different tiers of plans or custom solutions:

Kinsta homepage

Kinsta is among the best-reviewed WordPress web hosts in the market, but it can also be an expensive option for some users. With plans starting at $29.17 per month for a single website, it may not be the best choice if you have a small budget conscious.

You can check out our Kinsta review to learn more about its hosting plans.

4. InMotion Hosting

InMotion Hosting is a standard provider that offers almost every type of hosting plan available. Here you’ll find VPSs, managed WordPress plans, cloud options, and more:

InMotion Hosting homepage

When it comes to cloud hosting solutions, InMotion Hosting offers options geared towards agencies, applications, small businesses, and enterprise plans. Base cloud application plans start at around $5 per month, whereas managed options start at $17.99 per month.

Get started with cloud hosting today

Although the concept of cloud hosting can be intimidating, it’s more user-friendly than you might think. You get more flexibility in terms of pricing and resources than you would with other options. Plus, this type of plan tends to be incredibly scalable.

If you want to set up a WordPress site, we recommend 👍 using Cloudways. This company enables you to use cloud hosting plans from other providers and offers an added layer of managed services.

To learn 👨‍💻 about some other options for hosting WordPress sites, you can read our full guide to the different types of WordPress hosting.

Do you have any questions about cloud hosting? Let us know in the comments section below!

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