The best scalable hosting plans resemble the always adorable and instantly recognizable pufferfish. At the first sign of danger, the innocent-looking creatures fill their rather elastic stomachs with water to swell up several times bigger and almost spherical in shape. Once the threat is gone, the pufferfish shrinks to normal size and carries on without issue.
Believe it or not, the same idea holds true when it comes to scalable web hosting. Instead of sharks or other underwater prey, however, the peril for websites is a sudden rush of visitors. High traffic volume can overwhelm a server, sinking your site to the bottom of the ocean.
We know servers can’t magically double in size and conjure up more resources, but the right hosting plans and providers can grow and shrink to meet your audience’s demands. Read on to learn about the most reliable and trustworthy scalable web hosting services.
Best Cheap Scalable Hosting
Sure, cloud hosting offers more flexibility than shared hosting, but all that growth opportunity can come at a hefty price tag. Believe it or not, super-affordable shared hosting plans cover the basic needs for growth of most website owners.
Look especially for hosts that offer so-called unlimited hosting — the term may not be entirely accurate, but the undefined limits on storage, bandwidth, and memory enable your site or online business to grow to the point where you’re ready to move to a virtual private server or cloud environment. Unlimited hosting providers commonly say their shared servers will cover 95% to 99% of users’ needs.
Not only do several affordable cloud hosting providers combine shared hosting environments and prices with the premium redundancy and stability of the cloud, but our favorites also offer no-hassle migrations to upgraded plans. Whether you’re moving to a larger shared hosting package or making the jump to the cloud or a VPS, these companies are worth a look:
Monthly Starting Price $2.95
- Known for high performance at a low price
- Endorsed by WordPress.org team
- FREE Weebly site builder and CloudFlare CDN
- FREE domain and unlimited storage
- Get 63% off today (was $7.99/month)
- Get started on Bluehost now.
Monthly Starting Price $1.39
- Unlimited everything, from storage to databases
- FREE site builder & WP performance upgrades
- FREE daily or weekly backups
- Custom control panel and auto-installation scripts
- SSH access & SSL certificates
- Get started on Hostinger now.
Monthly Starting Price $2.64
- Get 70% off by buying 36 months up front
- Unmetered disk space & bandwidth
- Unlimited email addresses & free SSL certificate
- One-click WordPress install & free blog tools
- Free 1-year domain registration on select plans
- Get started on HostGator now.
Best Scalable Cloud Hosting
When it comes to scalable web hosting solutions, cloud hosting always seems to be at the top of the list. The platform involves a network of servers that share the load of storing and delivering your website to visitors. Additional machines can be brought online to help out when traffic is growing, just like they can be turned off when things start to slow.
Website and business growth can be quite unpredictable, and cloud hosting offers a simple way to manage unexpected peaks and valleys. Even better, many hosting providers offer automatic scalability to remove tedious and time-consuming infrastructure management tasks. You’ll want to keep an eye on costs, as the pay-by-the-hour billing can fluctuate just as much as your computing resources.
That said, cloud hosting remains a wildly powerful — and still growing — market for modern online businesses. Technology market research firm Gartner estimates that the cloud hosting industry will grow by more than 17% in 2019, largely behind strong adoption among businesses. More than 90% of businesses rely on the cloud in some form, making our three favorite cloud hosts important potential partners in your brand’s growth and success.
Monthly Starting Price $10.00
- Managed cloud hosting with 24/7/365 monitoring
- Choose from 5 popular cloud providers
- Auto-healing cloud servers with FREE backups
- 1-click server cloning and easy management
- Host unlimited apps with no contract lock-in
- Get started on Cloudways now.
Monthly Starting Price $4.99
- Choose your OS or application configuration
- Hourly or monthly billing for convenience
- Optional upgrades for cPanel, backups, and more
- Managed services, SSDs, and HDDs available
- Block and object storage, plus enterprise firewall
- Get started on Hostwinds now.
Monthly Starting Price $9.99
- User-friendly hosting powered by Google Cloud
- Isolated resources and integrated CloudFlare
- Built on CloudLinux with LVE containers
- Automated, daily backups and integrated caching
- Instant setup with intuitive custom control panel
- Get started on Hostinger now.
Best Scalable VPS Hosting
A close cousin to cloud hosting, virtual private servers traditionally represented the next step when scaling a website beyond shared hosting. We’ll get into the differences between VPS and cloud hosting later in this article, but business owners can still rely on powerful VPS solutions to grow and adjust to meet audience demands.
Similar to shared servers, VPS hosting entails dividing a server’s resources among multiple customers. Instead of sharing a server’s resources with hundreds of others, however, VPS environments distribute more resources to fewer users. Even better, site owners can configure their VPS to their exact specifications, including the operating system and security measures of choice, along with the option to add and remove resources as needed.
Because traditional VPS environments reside on a single physical server, site owners are somewhat constrained. However, that threshold is set rather high, and providers will gladly help you migrate to a larger cloud or dedicated server if your web traffic demands it. Take a look at our most trusted VPS hosting providers below:
Monthly Starting Price $4.99
- Managed or unmanaged, in Windows or Linux
- Cloud hosting with hourly or monthly billing
- Instant upgrades without downtime
- FREE around-the-clock monitoring
- Automatic nightly backups available
- Get started on Hostwinds now.
Monthly Starting Price $17.99
- HostingAdvice readers get 73% off the first term
- FREE site migrations and 2 hours of Launch Assist
- Handle 10x more traffic with virtually no downtime
- FREE cPanel/WHM licenses included
- Highly available servers with real-time redundancy
- Get started on InMotion now.
Monthly Starting Price $6.00
- $0.01 for the first month using code HOSTINGADV
- Then $6 monthly with no contracts, no changes
- Latest of PHP, MySQL, Perl, Python, and Ruby
- 7 operating system options for Linux or Windows
- Full root access and choice of datacenter
- Get started on InterServer now.
Best Scalable WordPress Hosting
Simply put, WordPress hasn’t become the world’s most popular content management system without being able to scale. The platform serves everyone from hobbyist bloggers and small-scale professionals to Fortune 500 companies like eBay, Forbes, Sony, IBM, and TechCrunch.
That said, WordPress is not the only tool you’ll need to help your site reach the masses quickly and effectively. In addition to a fast WordPress hosting provider, you’ll want to optimize your site to minimize the amount of hosting horsepower you’ll need to load various pages.
In addition to various caching solutions, you’ll want to explore a content delivery network, database optimization, and elastic hosting infrastructure. Bonus points for faster solid-state drives, NGINX, PHP 7, and automatic updates — features that are common with our favorite WordPress hosting providers, listed here:
Monthly Starting Price $2.99
- FREE Cloudflare CDN and 1-click WP installs
- Turbo Server, SSD speed, and optimized caching
- A2-optimized plugins for performance and security
- FREE SSL certificates and 24/7 support
- FREE HackScan and KernelCare
- Get started on A2 Hosting now.
Monthly Starting Price $2.95
- Recommended by WordPress Core since 2005
- FREE SSD storage and SSL certificate
- FREE domain registration and email
- Automatic installation and updates
- 63% discount for HostingAdvice readers
- Get started on Bluehost now.
Monthly Starting Price $3.99
- Officially endorsed by WordPress.org
- FREE migration plugin or automated installation
- Pre-installed Git, 3 caching levels, and FREE CDN
- FREE WP setup wizard, staging, and auto-updates
- Fast, 24/7 support via custom chat system
- Get started on SiteGround now.
What is Cloud Hosting and How Does It Work?
Synonymous with scalability and reliability, cloud hosting entails storing your site on multiple servers connected together on a network that enables you to use resources from several different places. The configuration of so many machines behind your site means you have virtually unlimited storage, bandwidth, and memory to deliver your site. If some part of the cloud network fails, other machines can take over the workloads, ensuring your online presence remains online, available, and fast.
Cloud hosting can be broken down into three different configurations or business models: IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. The as-a-Service suffixes speak to the on-demand nature of the cloud. Infrastructure-as-a-Service is what most site owners will find helpful, as it gives customers more control over the technology behind their website. Platform-as-a-Service focuses more on developers scaling applications and leveraging data, while Software-as-a-Service makes software programs, business applications, and productivity tools available online via a subscription.
The other main categories of cloud hosting is whether a cloud is public or private. Public clouds, like those hosted by the companies listed above, are vast networks of computing power where thousands of businesses, websites, and applications can coexist. Private clouds are internally operated and managed, protecting valuable data from potential outside threats. Again, public cloud hosting is going to serve most site owners most effectively, while private clouds are typically reserved for enterprise businesses with vast resources and technical expertise.
What is the Difference Between VPS and Cloud Hosting?
We’ve touched on the basic similarities and differences between virtual private servers and cloud hosting environments earlier, but let’s dive into the details. For starters, both types of hosting involve the virtualization of computing resources. According to cloud computing and platform virtualization experts at VMware, “virtualization relies on software to simulate hardware functionality and create a virtual computer system.”
Those virtualized computer systems are called virtual machines, which can be created and deployed on a single server (VPS) or network of servers (the cloud). Tech organizations can run multiple independent virtual machines on a single server — including multiple operating systems and applications. Virtualization gives businesses the best of both worlds: reduced IT expenses and increased agility, efficiency, and flexibility.
- Customization: VPS users have fine-grain control over configuration and management, which is straightforward and akin to a dedicated server. Because cloud platforms are more complex, features may be limited or harder to tweak effectively.
- Scalability: Site owners can typically add more resources to either environment, but a VPS is limited by the physical server. Meanwhile, the cloud draws from tons of servers, with even more often waiting in the wings.
- Performance: The extra oomph in cloud hosting generally means the platform is speedier, but much of website performance depends on how you configure and optimize both your site and the underlying infrastructure. Let’s call this a tie.
- Security: Cloud hosting typically holds a slight edge here, boasting greater natural redundancy and failovers. But the distributed network represents a larger target for attackers. A VPS, however, represents a single potential point of failure but offers a central physical location and greater independence.
- Cost: This one gets tricky. As you may have noticed above, you can find VPS and cloud plans for as little as $5 per month — or as much as $20 or more monthly. A lot rides on the type of website or application you want to host, but the dedicated resources of a VPS typically come at a higher rate. That being said, by-the-minute billing of cloud hosting can fluctuate wildly and wreak havoc on budgets if not closely managed.
As you can see, the two platforms are very closely related and are both poised for highly scalable organizations looking to rapidly grow their audience. Some hosting providers further blend the lines by using a cloud network for their virtual servers. A Cloud VPS offers added stability and scalability while providing the structure and services of dedicated resources.
What is the Best Cloud Server for Small Business?
For small and growing businesses, it’s all about return on investment, productivity, and efficiency — and cloud-based solutions cover all three. A comprehensive, well-managed cloud streamlines operations, reduces cost, and enables entrepreneurs to focus on mission-critical business strategies instead of tedious IT oversight.
A recent study showed 80% of small and medium business owners would prefer to get one bill for all communications consumption, alleviating the hassle associated with on-premise hosting and IT support or management.
We’ve covered the best cloud hosting options above, but there’s a whole other world of cloud storage, file sharing, and Software-as-a-Service options. You’re probably already familiar with Google Suite, Microsoft Office 365, and Dropbox, but what about tools for project management, human resources, and other day-to-day tasks? How else can the cloud help your business?
Amazon Alternatives: Developer-Friendly Cloud Options
We prefer the hosts listed above for their attention to high-performance infrastructure and premium, personalized customer support, but there’s another region of cloud hosting scalability for those who really know what they’re doing.
Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform represent the Big Three of cloud hosting. The companies offer seemingly unlimited scalability potential for enterprise organizations, but the complexity of the à la carte solutions, lack of support, and tough-to-predict pricing models can make those options unattainable for those just getting started.
These flavors of cloud hosting are perfect for application developers and power some of the biggest brands on the internet; those looking for a simple and scalable way to get online, however, may be quickly overwhelmed. For those that have a little bit of tech expertise but aren’t quite ready for the big time may want to consider some of the following:
All six options offer incredible services for those not faint of heart. Those with the tech know-how will appreciate the simplicity of access the three providers on the left can offer, while enterprises especially will gravitate toward the robust platform of services the three companies on the right can offer. Whether you’re scaling from 1,000 visitors a month to 100,000 or 1 million to 10 million, you can find tons of options to help you reach those goals. Best of luck!