5 "Cloud Hosting vs. VPS" Differences 2017 — Top Cloud & Virtual Servers

Cloud vs. VPS Graphic

As you begin the adventure of creating your own website, you’re faced with a seemingly never-ending maze of choices. Every one of these decisions makes a difference in the performance and success of your site. Knowing this, it is easy to dwell on each crossroad, obsessing over which route to pursue and why.

Take cloud and virtual private server (VPS) hosting, for example. Each has specific implications for managing your website. As you read this article you will learn the advantages and features of these plans as well as any drawbacks, and you will be able to apply these to your own situation.

Overview: What is “Cloud / VPS” Hosting?

VPS hosting is a partition of a dedicated server machine. It acts like an autonomous server, but is actually a self-contained folder on a powerful physical host system that also hosts other virtual servers for other clients. Although you share space on the physical host, your virtual server is independent of the others.

Cloud vs VPS Hosting Server Comparison

A VPS can be rebooted without affecting the other VPSes on that machine. You have a server operating system (OS) with root access, and you can install software as you would migif you had a dedicated hosting plan with your own server. A portion of the physical host’s CPU and memory are dedicated to your VPS, but you also share additional resources with the other virtual servers.

Cloud hosting refers to a potentially unlimited number of machines that are connected in a network and act as one: They comprise a cloud. The virtual machines all use the same data stored on separate networked servers, also connected in a network that acts as one data storage center. You get an entire infrastructure of connected servers and data storage.

1. Customization

Customization with VPS hosting is very similar to that of a dedicated server. You have full root access with complete control over the OS as well as the website and all software. You can customize and configure as desired, as if you had a separate server. Each physical host system can run only one operating system, so your choice of OS mayth be limited if the hosting company only runs one type of virtual hosting machine. Linux systems are generally more common than Windows systems for this type of hosting.

Customization with cloud hosting expands to include the possibility to tweak network architecture, firewalls, load balancing, and IP addresses. However, the need to distribute functioning across many servers may leave less control over some hosting settings. Both Windows and Linux clouds are readily available, so you will get your choice of OS. Because a cloud environment is more complex, it may require more technical expertise to configure, especially to gain the full advantages of the cloud network.

2. Scalability

VPS hosting has a limit to scaling depending on the physical host machine. You have access to some extra memory and CPU power above and beyond the amount dedicated to your virtual machine, but the physical host has a fixed amount that it can deliver. If you need more, you will have to get a new plan and may experience downtime while you migrate to a new solution.

Cloud hosting is much more scalable, with the ability to add capacity in real time. Data storage is essentially unlimited. An entire network of servers and data storage servers is ready to be tapped when your website traffic surges. The seamless availability of almost endless processing power is the biggest advantage of cloud hosting plans.

3. Performance

VPS hosting assures a fixed level of performance because a guaranteed level of system resources is dedicated to your virtual server. However, high demand by your server or another virtual server on the same physical host may impact performance if you both need the extra resources at the same time, or if your server needs more than the physical host can provide.

A VPS is also potentially a single point of failure because if the physical host server fails, all VPSes on that machine fail. VPS hosting can be adapted to a cloud network and some providers offer plans that include failover to alternate servers.

Cloud hosting assures high availability and uptime because of the multiple servers in a redundant system. If a server fails, its files and functional responsibilities are instantly migrated to another server with no downtime. Memory capacity and CPU power also expand on demand to meet your needs or compensate for those of another customer without impacting other users in the network. It is ideal for sites that may experience wide fluctuations in traffic volume.

4. Security

The security of VPS hosting is almost on par with that of a dedicated physical server. The VPS is independent of any other VPSes on the same physical host, as if it were a separate machine, but poor security measures taken by the owner of one VPS couldli affect others on the same physical server. However, this possibility is much less likely than with shared hosting. The centralized location of the physical host offers added security to those operations with critical data whose location must be known and restricted to comply with data security regulations.

Collage Illustrating Cloud / VPS Security

On the web hosting security spectrum, both cloud and VPS hosting lie between shared and dedicated servers.

The security of cloud hosting is also quite high. Your server is completely separated from other clients, as with a VPS. However, the web-based nature of the infrastructure might make it vulnerable to attacks since it is physically distributed and thus harder to secure. In addition, since the data is housed in many locations, it may not be possible to comply with some regulations on data security.

5. Cost

VPS hosting offers savings over a dedicated physical server and is usually less expensive than a cloud server. The guaranteed server resources and limited scalability result in a predictable monthly cost. The level of cost will depend, in part, on the management and support plans that go with the hosting.

Cloud hosting costs more than a VPS because you are paying for a lot of hardware, complex networking, and the resulting uptime guarantee. With these plans, you pay for what you use, so costs could be unpredictable due to unknown traffic spikes. Think of it as you would your electric bill. Sure, there is plenty of power available for you to use when you need it, but your bill goes up at the end of the month.

10 Best Cloud & VPS Hosting Providers

Our hosting recommendations will help you in choosing a VPS or a cloud hosting solution. We highlight features, such as reliability, security, support, and affordability, that you can find in each plan to help you determine which one fitsan your particular requirements.

Top 3 VPS Hosts

A top consideration in choosing a VPS plan is whether you want the service to be managed or unmanaged. Unmanaged plans are less expensive, but they put the burden of server management on your shoulders. With a managed plan, experts take care of many security and performance concerns. In addition, when you choose the memory, CPU power, and hard drive capacity of your virtual machine, also inquire about the quality and specifics of the physical host it will run on to be sure that the physical host has the power to meet the demands of your virtual machine. Finally, check on the backup plan and redundancy for recovery from any disasters or malfunctions.

Look for other features that are essential to operating a website, including email allowances and bandwidth quotas. You may also need SSL if you are running an eCommerce operation, and if you run several websites, you may need to deploy additional IPs. Make sure these features are available if you need them.

1.
InMotionHosting.com

InMotion review

Monthly Starting Price $19.99

  • 50% off the first month with added discounts the first year
  • Real-time redundancy powered by a cloud infrastructure
  • FREE cPanel/WHM licenses with enterprise-grade CentOS
  • FREE server management for patches and updates
  • FREE SSDs and SSL certificate for faster, secure hosting
  • Get started on InMotion now.
VPS
RATING
4.9
★★★★★
InMotion: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 4 minutes
PJ Fancher (HostingAdvice.com): Boasting market-leading VPS hardware, slick management software, and free SSD drives and backups, InMotion offers the most attractive VPS plans you'll find anywhere.Each VPS plan comes with free SSD storage arranged in RAID 6, which is incredibly fast and... Go to full review »
Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name VPS Hosting Plans
90 days 75 GB - 260 GB SSD New or Transfer www.inmotionhosting.com/vps

2.
LiquidWeb.com

Liquid Web review

Monthly Starting Price $29.50

  • Only pay for resources you use with daily billing
  • 5TB of outgoing bandwidth and FREE incoming bandwidth
  • API access and cPanel available
  • Instant provisioning and SSD speed
  • FREE Storm® Firewall and real-time server monitoring
  • Get started on Liquid Web now.
VPS
RATING
4.9
★★★★★
Liquid Web: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 7 minutes
Alexandra Leslie (HostingAdvice.com): It's no secret by now that Liquid Web is known for best-in-class technology and reliability that exceeds expectations (from uptime to technical support). Their VPSs embody that reputation to its fullest — including a new Managed WordPress product (Hop one... Go to full review »
Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name VPS Hosting Plans
N/A 50 GB - 1.6 TB SSD FREE (1 year) www.liquidweb.com/vps

3.
Bluehost.com

Bluehost review

Monthly Starting Price $19.99

  • 2-4 cores and 4-16GB of RAM
  • Endorsed by the WordPress team
  • Redundant storage and optional SiteLock security
  • Seamless migration from Bluehost shared plans
  • Get 50% off your first month (was $29.99, now $14.99)
  • Get started on Bluehost now.
VPS
RATING
4.8
★★★★★
Bluehost: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 5 minutes
Ryan Frankel (HostingAdvice.com): When comparing the performance versus price of VPS plans, Bluehost brings supreme value to the table. In addition to competitive pricing, they offer premium support and excellent uptime compared to other VPS options in the industry. If you’ve outgrown shared... Go to full review »
Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name VPS Hosting Plans
30 days 30 GB - 240 GB SSD FREE (1 year) www.bluehost.com/vps

See more VPS hosts »

Top 3 Cloud Hosts

The common pricing model in cloud hosting is to pay as you go without large upfront costs. Be wary of any plan or hosting company that seems to buck this trend. Inquire about the security of the datacenters that house the servers. One study found that one third of data breaches involved some compromise of physical security. The decentralized nature of cloud hosting makes data security more complicated. Be sure that the network you will be using is compliant with regulations such as PCI DSS and HIPAA. Look for third-party audits to confirm this.

You also need to be protected against data loss due to errors or equipment failure. Scrutinize the backup and restore policies of any cloud hosting plan that you are considering. Will the hosting provider recover accidentally deleted files? Make sure you know before it happens. Check out our experts’ top-recommended cloud server plans below.

4.
InMotionHosting.com

InMotion review

Monthly Starting Price $19.99

  • Ranked #1 for cloud (VPS) hosting
  • FREE SSD included and up to 8GB of RAM
  • FREE control panel with SSL certificate
  • Optional root access and managed servers available
  • Unlimited MySQL databases and FTP accounts
  • Get started on InMotion now.
CLOUD
RATING
4.9
★★★★★
InMotion: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 4 minutes
PJ Fancher (HostingAdvice.com): With leading-edge cloud technology, InMotion offers free site transfer, setup, and SSD drives for the ultimate cloud solution offerings. They include free data backups and offer fully managed servers to help you scale your site with cloud-based... Go to full review »
Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Cloud Hosting Plans
90 days 75 GB - 260 GB SSD New or Transfer www.inmotion.com/cloud

5.
HostGator.com

HostGator review

Monthly Starting Price $19.98

  • Customizable VPS solutions you can upgrade as needed
  • Tons of storage with the scalability of the Cloud
  • Fully or semi-managed servers with root access available
  • Unlimited domains and MySQL databases
  • FREE website builder with thousands of FREE templates
  • Get started on HostGator now.
CLOUD
RATING
4.9
★★★★★
HostGator: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 7 minutes
Ryan Frankel (HostingAdvice.com): For a custom VPS experience with tons of included features, HostGator is a great host to know. They offer fully managed services with cPanel control, free site-building software, and 52 free scripts to be instantly installed…Go to full review »
Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Cloud Hosting Plans
45 days 25 GB - 3 TB FREE (1 year) www.hostgator.com/cloud

6.
Bluehost.com

Bluehost review

Monthly Starting Price $19.99

  • Instant provisioning of VPS servers
  • Includes cPanel and VPS management tools
  • Options for 2-4 CPU Cores and up to 8GB of RAM
  • 24/7 premier customer support
  • Site Backup Pro and SiteLock security available
  • Get started on Bluehost now.
CLOUD
RATING
4.8
★★★★★
Bluehost: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 5 minutes
Ryan Frankel (HostingAdvice.com): If you’ve outgrown shared hosting, Bluehost’s VPS hosting is a great option, and they make transitions from their own shared plans seamless. While activation may take up to days with most VPS solutions, Bluehost provisions servers in seconds…Go to full review »
Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Cloud Hosting Plans
30 days 30 GB - 240 GB SSD FREE (1 year) www.bluehost.com/cloud

See more cloud hosts »

Best “Cheap” Cloud VPS Hosting

Many inexpensive plans provide good service at a great (low) price. However, there is also potential that the low price comes at the expense of important features and services. Check the reliability and track record of the provider: Will itb still be here in eight months? A hosting plan could be cheap because it is unmanaged, with no proactive monitoring or support for your server. Carefully examine the uptime, backup, and support options to be sure the company isn’t skimping on essentials to give you the low price.

If the plan looks good, check the experience and responsiveness of the support staff. The server could be cheap because the provider doesn’t hire enough support staff or pay well enough to attract top talent. Finally, check to be sure the plan is truly cloud or VPS hosting and not shared hosting disguised by marketing hype. The attributes we have described above should help you detect any impostors. The host below consistently delivers value to hosting customers, and its cloud VPS plans are no exception.

7.
HostGator.com

HostGator review

Monthly Starting Price $19.98

  • Full root access
  • Redundant network with multiple layers of network security
  • Fully or semi-managed options
  • FREE website, domain, MySQL, and script transfer
  • Use code HA30OFF for 30% off first month
  • Get started on HostGator now.
VPS
RATING
4.7
★★★★★
HostGator: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 7 minutes
Ryan Frankel (HostingAdvice.com): HostGator has built a great reputation in the industry for their shared hosting options. Their VPS solutions, with optional cPanel support, provide a nice and easy introduction to those that are new to VPS hosting and know their needs require more than a... Go to full review »
Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name VPS Hosting Plans
45 days 25 GB - 3 TB FREE (1 year) www.hostgator.com/vps

See more cheap VPS hosts »

Best “Managed” Cloud VPS Hosting

You should choose managed hosting if you do not have the technical skills or the time to administer a server. When comparing plans, be sure that you are comparing equal features. Are services offered in a complete bundle, or piecemeal like off a menu? Bundles may include services you will never need, while à la carte trplans may omit key features you can’t live without. Make a list of what tasks are managed and be sure that everything you need is on it.

Once you have the task list straight, look into the availability and response time of support, as well as the average resolution time for trouble tickets. If you eventually find that the support does not meet your needs, are there termination penalties and can you take your personalized apps with you when you go? Check now so that there are no surprises later. For a leading managed server host, click the links below.

8.
LiquidWeb.com

Liquid Web review

Monthly Starting Price $29.50

  • Only pay for resources you use with daily billing
  • 5TB of outgoing bandwidth and FREE incoming bandwidth
  • API access and cPanel available
  • Instant provisioning and SSD speed
  • FREE Storm® Firewall and real-time server monitoring
  • Get started on Liquid Web now.
VPS
RATING
4.9
★★★★★
Liquid Web: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 7 minutes
Alexandra Leslie (HostingAdvice.com): It's no secret by now that Liquid Web is known for best-in-class technology and reliability that exceeds expectations (from uptime to technical support). Their VPSs embody that reputation to its fullest — including a new Managed WordPress product (Hop one... Go to full review »
Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name VPS Hosting Plans
N/A 50 GB - 1.6 TB SSD FREE (1 year) www.liquidweb.com/vps

See more managed hosts »

Best “Linux” Cloud VPS Hosting

Since Linux is a free OS, most Linux hosting plans feature a lower cost. Many programs are also free. WordPress, Joomla, and other open-source programs were developed using Linux and are highly compatible with this operating system. Perl scripting is only available on Linux. Linux systems are renowned for their stability and get a lot of scrutiny for security from the open-source community.

On the minus side, Linux is much more geeky to administer. The GUI is not nearly as friendly as that of Windows and much administration is done via the command line. Nevertheless, pairing the popular operating system with a performant server from a reputable host is your ticket to success.

9.
InMotionHosting.com

InMotion review

Monthly Starting Price $19.99

  • CentOS 6: Enterprise-class Linux operating system
  • FREE OS security patches and updates for VPS
  • Root access, SSH access, and reseller access with WHM
  • FREE cPanel license, SSL, and speed-boosting SSDs
  • Unlimited FTP accounts and MySQL databases
  • Get started on InMotion Hosting now.
LINUX VPS
RATING
4.9
★★★★★
InMotion: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 4 minutes
PJ Fancher (HostingAdvice.com): InMotion is a powerhouse VPS provider, and their Linux offerings only affirm that fact. These scalable solutions include a Linux operating system with fully managed OS patches and updates, plus root and SSH access via the command line. Experience page loads... Go to full review »
Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Linux VPS Hosting Plans
90 days 75 GB - 260 GB SSD New or Transfer www.inmotionhosting.com/linux-vps

See more Linux VPS hosts »

Best “Windows” Cloud VPS Hosting

Windows servers feature an easy-to-use interface using remote desktop access. You will need Windows hosting if you use Microsoft technologies such as ASP, ASP.NET, FrontPage, or MSSQL. It is easier to manage multiple websites using Windows. However, since Windows is a proprietary system with licensing fees, the hosting plans tend to be more expensive. Windows virtual machines are also known to place heavier demand on the physical host system.

10.
LiquidWeb.com

Liquid Web review

Monthly Starting Price $29.50

  • Top-rated virtual servers with Windows OS option
  • Ideal for highly trafficked websites and apps
  • FREE site migration service and FREE SSDs
  • Get total peace of mind with Liquid Web managed servers
  • Up to 5,000GB of bandwidth
  • Get started on Liquid Web now.
WINDOWS VPS
RATING
4.9
★★★★★
Liquid Web: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 7 minutes
Alexandra Leslie (HostingAdvice.com): Liquid Web is trusted by millions of website owners, and the company’s premium fully managed VPS plan comes with the choice of Windows or Linux operating systems. Enjoy 100% network uptime and blazing-fast SSD speed for your fully customizable Windows... Go to full review »
Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Windows VPS Hosting Plans
N/A 50 GB - 1.6 TB SSD FREE (1 year) www.liquidweb.com/windows-vps

See more Windows VPS hosts »

Is VPS or Cloud Hosting for You?

By now we have given you enough tips to navigate the labyrinthine trail of hosting choices. Armed with this knowledge, at every step, you can ask the right questions and confidently take the correct turn toward your goals. Along the way, refresh your knowledge by reading our VPS and cloud hosting reviews, and here’s to hoping you don’t find a Minotaur when you beat that maze! Best of luck!

Alexandra Leslie

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Ask a question and Alexandra will respond to you. We strive to provide the best advice on the net and we are here to help you in any way we can.

  • Greg S

    How do Yahoo Sitebilder [Aabaco Small Business], and Godaddy webhosting sites copmpare?