Cloud hosting is growing in popularity as traditional hosting providers restructure their architecture for more powerful performance and scalability. Our team recently tested accounts with all the top VPS and cloud hosting... (read more)
Cloud hosting is growing in popularity as traditional hosting providers restructure their architecture for more powerful performance and scalability. Our team recently tested accounts with all the top VPS and cloud hosting providers — rating each on their usability, hardware, uptime, support, and pricing. See below for the top cloud hosting solutions recommended by our team:
The best cloud hosting providers bring scalability, reliability, and a hefty amount of resources to the table — so we compiled our own table that summarizes how the top cloud hosts compare to one another. Tips for finding the best cloud servers: Ask about uptime, weigh storage and bandwidth against cost, and read our cloud hosting reviews.
|Rank||Web Host||Setup Time||Storage||Expert Rating|
|1||InMotion||4 minutes||60 GB - 200 GB SSD||★★★★★ 4.9|
|2||Liquid Web||7 minutes||50 GB - 300 GB SSD||★★★★★ 4.9|
|3||iPage||6 minutes||40 GB - 120 GB||★★★★★ 4.6|
|4||FatCow||6 minutes||40 GB - 120 GB||★★★★★ 4.3|
|5||Network Solutions||6 minutes||10 GB - 50 GB||★★★★★ 3.8|
|6||Bluehost||5 minutes||30 GB - 240 GB SAN||★★★★★ 4.6|
|7||HostGator||7 minutes||25 GB - 3 TB||★★★★★ 4.5|
|8||JustHost||4 minutes||30 GB - 240 GB||★★★★★ 4.1|
The late Steve Jobs once said, “I don’t need a hard disk in my computer if I can get to the server faster.” The year was 1997, the Internet itself was only in its infancy, and here was the Apple Co-Founder and longtime web industry leader talking about our future in “the Cloud.”
That term and this idea of storing and hosting data on a connected network of virtual machines rather than hard disks has grown in popularity since, just as Steve predicted: “Carrying around these non-connected computers is byzantine by comparison.” Here we cover all the questions one could possibly have about the concept of cloud server hosting — from the cloud infrastructure to the cost and features to look for and beyond.
Alright, so first: What is a cloud server, and how does it differ from your run-of-the-mill physical servers?
Cloud servers are just virtual machines (VMs) that run on what’s called a cloud computing environment. Rather than having a physical hardware server, which is susceptible to hardware fail, cloud-hosted servers communicate over a network of connected servers — they’re all online, but none of your data is stored on your hard drive. Cloud-based servers are software-independent, making them a highly available alternative to on-premise servers, especially if you’re in need of resources on demand.
Your cloud host is just the service provider connecting you to this software-independent server network.
The Cloud is known for giving us the ability to send, store, and retrieve data in massive quantities, from anywhere in the world, at any given point in time. As such, there are several benefits of cloud hosting, but like anything else, those perks come at a cost.
Now, for the downsides: Most of these disadvantages can be offset by strategic use of public and private cloud environments (more on this further down).
To quote Steve again, “Managing a network like this is a pain in the butt,” but for those in need of on-demand resources — only when you need them and always where you are — this can be a solution with an awesome cost-to-stability ratio.
It’s important to realize that there are several cloud-based services out there apart from web hosting services. Backing up your files online (e.g., Dropbox, Google Cloud, etc.), web applications, and other as-a-Service offerings (SaaS, Paas, IaaS) make up what we call cloud computing. In short, cloud computing just means a bunch of computers are sharing processing power and data with multiple devices.
Cloud service providers are not necessarily the same as your cloud hosts, like the folks listed on this page. This can seem convoluted at first because those computing jobs are done on cloud server networks, but think of it this way: You can can sign up for many various Internet-based resources and not have a website hosted on a server in the Cloud. Just because you need cloud-based storage, for example, doesn’t mean you are shopping for cloud hosting. Get it?
To recap, cloud computing providers might offer any or many of the following:
There are plenty other specific examples of services, but the ones listed above are some of the more well-known representations of the as-a-Service models of cloud computing. Much like the web hosting end of things, the benefits of cloud computing include fast access to tons of data whenever, wherever.
Yes — much like web hosting services can be broken down into shared, vps, and dedicated options, the Cloud is divided: public and private. Here, we’ll also get into what’s called hybrid hosting and how cloud hosting fits in with its commonly confused sidekick, VPS hosting.
The main difference between the public and private cloud sectors is the latter means the hardware, storage, and network are all allotted to a single tenant — one client or company. In contrast, a multi-tenant environment, or the public cloud, means that you can buy a “slice” of a cloud computing environment and share space with other customers.
The Google Cloud platform, Amazon EC2, and Rackspace are all examples of public clouds — and the perks include pay-as-you-go pricing, getting to set up and manage your own servers, and no contracts. Private clouds, on the other hand, offer the advantages of PCI/HIPAA compliance, high-level security, and hardware customization. You can also breed hybrid deployments via the private cloud, which can’t be done in the public cloud.
Put simply, hybrid hosting is using a mix of public and private hosting environments — i.e., ideal for those who want to harness the security of the private cloud while capitalizing on the economical benefits of public cloud resources.
For more on this, check out our guide to getting started with hybrid hosting.
Finally, virtual private server (VPS) hosting versus virtual machine (cloud) hosting — know the difference. While a VPS is a physical server that’s been partitioned into multiple hardware slices each acting as independent server environments, a cloud server is running on a network of connected machines. A VPS is still subject to hardware failure, whereas a cloud web server will just transfer data to another machine without the owner experiencing downtime or data loss.
To be clear: A VPS can be hosted in the Cloud, making it a cloud VPS, but not all cloud servers are VPSs. To see the top VPS hosting plans, including many leading cloud options, check out our VPS reviews.
The best cloud hosting providers are going to help you capitalize on all the advantages of cloud hosting — instant provisioning; scalable, on-demand resources; and flexible hardware options — for a reasonable cost.
Some of the top features we look for in determining the best hosting services for cloud customers:
When it comes to premiere customer support, SSD speed boosting, and managed servers, InMotion is particularly great at all of the above.
You can pay anywhere from $15 to more than $50 a month on a reputable cloud host’s server.
Let’s review: With hosts like InMotion or Bluehost, you’re getting immediate provisioning and deployment of super scalable cloud resources, a bunch of processing power, and industry-leading expert support in the pricing ballpark of $15 a month. This is as cheap (and as highly valued) as cheap cloud hosting gets, folks. You get your money’s worth.
Yes, free cloud hosting is a thing, but it mostly comes in the form of a free trial. You have to sign up with a credit card, you get a taste of the awesome resources for 60 days or so, and then you have to pay for anything you use thereafter.
“I can’t communicate to you how awesome this is unless you use it” — final words from Steve, and truer words could not have been said of cloud platforms. For those whose businesses need highly available, on-demand cloud computing power, those who can’t afford hardware failure, and those who like the idea of paying for a service by the hour, the Cloud is awesome. What’s more, the top cloud hosts can have you launched and live in minutes — may the force of the Cloud be with you.