Traditionally, there have always been three main types of web hosting.
- Shared hosting
- VPS (virtual private server) hosting
- Dedicated server hosting
But cloud hosting is a newer type of web hosting that’s very appealing and rapidly growing in popularity.
Your hosting plan and provider is the lifeblood of your website. So when you’re evaluating the best web hosting providers, you need to consider every possible option.
Just because something is new or unfamiliar, it doesn’t mean that you should take it out of the running for your decision. That was my inspiration for writing this guide.
In many cases, cloud hosting is an ideal option for the majority of websites out there. So if you’re interested in learning more about this alternative type of hosting, you’ve come to the right place.
I’ll explain exactly what cloud hosting is, how it works, and show you some of the best cloud web hosting providers on the market today.
You can use this information to help you pick a cloud hosting plan that fits the needs of your website.
What is Cloud Hosting?
Broadly speaking, “the cloud” typically refers to remote storage solutions. For example, you can store pictures from your smartphone or documents on your computer to a cloud storage space like Google Drive.
This is different than storing files locally on something like an external hard drive. I’m sure you’re familiar with both of these scenarios, and you probably even use cloud storage for something in your digital life.
When it comes to web hosting, the cloud is a little bit more in-depth, but the same principles still apply.
With cloud hosting, your web host isn’t connected to one physical location. Your website resources are maintained across multiple virtual servers in the cloud.
Each cloud server is responsible for specific sets of tasks. If one of the servers in the cloud fails or goes down, the others will automatically pick up the slack to render those required resources.
As you can see from this visual representation, your website will continue to run smoothly with cloud hosting, even if there is a problem with one of the servers.
Your website will benefit from increased uptime rates and won’t be as susceptible to unplanned downtime.
With a singular server, you’re essentially putting all of your eggs in one basket. This is a huge risk when you’re dealing with something as important as your website.
In addition to fixing potential problems with one server, cloud hosting will keep your site stable, even as your traffic increases.
Cloud hosting is also extremely easy to set up. For those of you who want to start hosting on the cloud right away, it can be a faster deployment option than something like a dedicated server or shared server.
Who is Cloud Hosting For?
Cloud web hosting is ideal for medium to larger-sized businesses and websites that are growing rapidly. One of the major benefits of cloud hosting is the ability to scale resources on-demand, which is crucial for growing websites.
Most cloud hosting plans have flexible pricing options, meaning you’ll only pay for the resources that you’re actually using.
If you’re anticipating random traffic surges or a steady increase in website traffic in the coming years, then cloud hosting is the perfect option for you.
Cloud hosting isn’t for everyone.
For those of you who have a small personal website, small blog, or a micro-business, you probably don’t need to use cloud hosting if there is no growth coming in the future. A shared hosting plan is fine for those types of websites.
When you’re ready to grow your website, you should consider upgrading to a cloud hosting plan as opposed to a VPS. While a virtual private server will be able to deliver enough server resources, a cloud plan is usually more cost-effective.
Enterprise-level websites with the need to customize their server settings would benefit from a dedicated hosting plan rather than a cloud solution.
Any website with more than 50,000 monthly visitors is a viable candidate for cloud hosting. It’s the perfect option for larger websites that can’t afford to have any downtime.
Cloud Web Hosting Reviews
There are lots of hosting providers out there right now that offer cloud web hosting services. But not every plan is the same.
I’ve taken the time to research all of the factors that determine a great cloud web hosting plan. As a result, I was able to identify the top cloud hosting providers:
Check out the detailed reviews of each one below so you can determine which hosting provider has the best plan for your website.
SiteGround cloud hosting is perfect for websites that have outgrown their shared plans.
These plans are fully managed, meaning that their DevOps configure your entire cloud account for you. With SiteGround handling the IT aspect of your hosting, you can focus on other areas of your business and website.
You can add resources like RAM and CPU at any time with just one click in your admin settings. One of my favorite features is the ability to turn on auto-scaling, which will automatically render appropriate resources during times of unexpected traffic spikes.
With SiteGround, you can completely configure your own cloud and plan based on the resources you need. But here’s a look at their basic plans:
- Starting at $80 per month
- 2 CPUs
- 4 GB of memory
- 40 GB of SSD space
- 5 TB of data transfer
- Starting at $120 per month
- 3 CPUs
- 6 GB of memory
- 60 GB of SSD space
- 5 TB of data transfer
Business Plus Cloud
- Starting at $160 per month
- 4 CPUs
- 8 GB of memory
- 80 GB of SSD space
- 5 TB of data transfer
- Starting at $240 per month
- 8 CPUs
- 10 GB of memory
- 120 GB of SSD space
- 5 TB of data transfer
The Business or Business Plus plans should be more than enough resources for the majority of you, so that’s what I would recommend starting with. As I said before, you can always scale your resources to meet traffic demands.
SiteGround provides advanced priority support to its cloud hosting clients.
You’ll also benefit from webmaster tools like a dedicated IP, free CDN, free SSL, daily backups, and a private DNS.
HostGator is one of the most well-known names in the web hosting industry. Their cloud hosting plans are some of the most cost-effective options on the market today.
Let’s take a look at some the three basic cloud hosting plans offered by HostGator:
- Starting at $4.95 per month
- 2 CPUs
- 2 GB of memory
- Single domain
- Starting at $6.57 per month
- 4 CPUs
- 4 GB of memory
- Unlimited domains
- Starting at $9.95 per month
- 6 CPUs
- 6 GB of memory
- Unlimited domains
It’s worth noting that these prices are introductory rates for 36-month contracts. They are 45% cheaper than the actual price, which you’ll end up paying when you renew your contract.
All cloud hosting plans come with a free SSL certificate. The Business plan comes with a dedicated IP, free SEO tools, and free domain as well.
I like HostGator because the dashboard makes it easy for you to monitor the performance of your website. You can quickly view data related to page speed, uptime, reach, and more.
Scaling your server resources is simple as well. This can be done with just one click, without any downtime, reboots, or data migrations.
DreamHost has the easiest cloud setup in the industry. You can get your cloud servers live in less than 30 seconds. With that said, DreamHost cloud is best for developers.
They have server options that are made for databases, web apps, and running tests in addition to websites.
You can continue working the with DevOps tools that you’re already using. DreamHost also gives you full root access for complete control over your cloud servers.
The best part about DreamHost is that you only pay for what you actually use. You’ll get charged for resources on an hourly basis based on the size of your server.
- 512 MB of RAM Server — $0.0075 per hour (maximum $4.50 per month)
- 2 GB of RAM Server — $0.02 per hour (maximum $12 per month)
- 8 GB of RAM Server — $0.08 per hour (max $48 per month)
The 2 GB server is the recommended option for websites.
You will not be billed anything when you sign up. Instead, you’re billed based on your monthly usage.
The only area where DreamHost falls short is their customer support. You can only contact customer service via email or live chat, which is only available for 16 hours daily. So if you prefer phone support or need help in the middle of the night, you’re out of luck until the morning.
A2 Hosting has a reputation for being one of the fastest web hosting providers on the market. Their cloud plans are just as fast and reliable.
I like the A2 cloud options because the plans are fully customizable based on your needs.
Plans start at $5, $10, and $15 per month, respectively. But you only pay for the resources that you use based on how you configure your cloud servers.
If you want to have cPanel, it’s an extra $19.95 per month and not available with the lowest-tier pricing plan.
A2 offers a 99.9% uptime promise as well as an anytime money-back guarantee. Although there are some contingencies to both, so make sure you read the fine print of your contract.
If customer support is important to you, then you’ll definitely be satisfied with A2’s 24/7/365 guru support team.
This cloud hosting provider is ideal for those of you who want unmanaged cloud hosting with lightning fast page loading speed.
InMotion may not be the most well-known hosting provider in the industry, but its cloud hosting plans are certainly some of the best.
They have cloud hosting solutions for everyone.
- Small business cloud hosting starting at $29.19 per month
- Agency cloud hosting starting at $41.64 per month
- Application cloud hosting starting at $21.04 per month
- Custom pricing for enterprise cloud hosting plans
Altogether, InMotion has 10 different plans and pricing tiers for cloud hosting, which is the most I’ve seen offered by any provider.
For website owners, you’ll want to focus on the small business plans. InMotion makes it easy for you to scale your resources as your site grows.
You’ll also get a resource monitoring dashboard, free auto backups, rapid provisioning, and full snapshots of your servers. InMotion offers a free SSL and free cPanel license with all of its cloud business plans.
How to Find the Best Cloud Hosting Plan For You
Not every cloud hosting plan is the same. Some hosting providers offer different features and benefits compared to others.
When you’re evaluating a cloud web host, these are the factors that you should take into consideration.
You need to make sure that you get a web hosting plan with enough bandwidth, storage, and disc space. In order to make this decision, you need to have some idea of how much traffic you’re going to get. But new websites face a common dilemma when they’re looking for a hosting plan.
They have to decide if they want to get the highest possible bandwidth, even if they won’t come close to exceeding those limits. Or should they start with a lower bandwidth plan and upgrade as their traffic starts to increase?
Cloud hosting solves this dilemma.
Since your website is hosted on multiple servers, you won’t have to worry about exceeding bandwidth. If one server is maxed out, you can always pull resources from another.
Look for a cloud hosting plan that lets you easily manage and configure your server resources in-real time.
Here’s an example of what this looks like on HostGator Cloud, which is a provider that we reviewed earlier in this guide.
I’d recommend a cloud hosting plan that allows you to scale your server resources without needing any approval from the provider. This is something that can be managed from your admin dashboard.
Most traditional hosting plans require you to pay a fixed monthly rate. You’ll be charged this amount even if you don’t use all of the resources on the server.
But cloud hosting is much more flexible in terms of pricing. So I’d look for a hosting provider that charges you based on the resources that you actually use.
Here’s an analogy. Let’s say you go to an all you can eat buffet, where the food options can also be purchased à la carte. The buffet price is $20 per person, which is the most you’ll have to pay, regardless of how much food you eat.
But if you only eat $10 worth of food, then wouldn’t it be nice to get $10 back?
That’s how some of the best cloud hosting plans are structured.
This relates back to our previous point about being able to scale your resources on demand. For example, let’s say you just built a bunch of new backlinks and you’re expecting a particular blog post on your website to go viral.
Rather than upgrading your entire plan (which you’d have to do with other types of web hosting) you can just increase the resources needed during that traffic spike and put everything back to normal when your traffic levels out.
In this case, you’d only pay for the actual server usage during the surge. Here’s an example of this pricing structure from another one of the providers on our list, DreamHost.
As you can see, pricing is based on usage. Each plan has a maximum monthly rate. Even the fine print at the bottom of the page states that you’ll only be billed for what you use.
So look for a hosting provider that offers a similar pricing structure.
Speed and Performance
Uptime rates, speed, and performance need to be a priority for every website owner. If your hosting plan doesn’t deliver the best performance, then it doesn’t matter how cool, new, or high-tech the solution is.
The majority of cloud hosting servers will increase the capacity of your website, which boosts your page loading speed.
Cloud hosting doesn’t put as much strain on a singular server, the same way it would if you had a shared, dedicated, or VPS plan. If your website has lots of resource-intensive data such as videos, images, and other media content, then cloud hosting is something that you need to take advantage of.
Look for a cloud hosting plan that delivers content from the nearest remote server. This will ensure that all of your loading times are as fast as possible.
At the end of the day, your website visitors don’t care what type of hosting plan you’re using. They just want your site to be responsive and load quickly.
By prioritizing things like uptime and loading speed with cloud hosting, your website will ultimately perform better from the user end.
No matter what type of web hosting plan you have, security always needs to be a priority.
Fortunately, cloud hosting is known to be very safe. That’s because your website is isolated from any potential problems with a physical server. Everything is being handled remotely, which wouldn’t be the case if you were relying on a singular server that’s hosted locally.
If a local server was compromised, then your website would be at risk. Whereas if one server in your cloud network was hacked, failed, or had a system overload, your website would stay up and running without any downtime or delays.
Look for a web host that offers any additional security protection as an incentive with your cloud hosting plan.
Cloud web hosting is the perfect solution for growing websites. If your shared plan can no longer accommodate the needs of your site, then you should consider switching to a cloud solution.
So what’s the best cloud hosting provider? It depends on what you’re looking for.
Here’s a recap of the cloud hosting reviews above:
- SiteGround — Best cloud hosting for scaling resources.
- HostGator — Best cheap cloud web hosting.
- DreamHost — Best cloud hosting for developer projects.
- A2 Hosting — Fastest cloud web hosting.
- InMotion — Best cloud hosting for small businesses.
I’m confident that one of these options will fit the need for your website. So if you’re looking for a reliable cloud hosting provider, you should start here.