12 Best Scalable Hosting Services (2020): Cloud, VPS & WordPress

Best Scalable Hosting

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:

1. Bluehost.com

Bluehost review

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.

CHEAP
RATING
4.8 ★★★★★ Our Review

Bluehost: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 4 minutes

Ryan Frankel (HostingAdvice.com): If you’re looking for an affordable host, Bluehost is a solid, reputable choice; The company's low costs, coupled with its supremacy in the shared hosting arena, is what makes this provider such a valuable deal. The Bluehost name is listed toward the top of many of our reviews categories, and with good reason. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Cheap Hosting Plans
30 days 50 GB - Unlimited FREE (1 year) www.bluehost.com/shared

2. Hostinger.com

Hostinger review

Monthly Starting Price $0.99

  • 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.

CHEAP
RATING
4.8 ★★★★★ Our Review

Hostinger: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 3 minutes

Laura Bernheim (HostingAdvice.com): As the shared hosting market becomes increasingly saturated, unlimited storage, bandwidth, and email accounts have become surprisingly average. Hostinger, however, extends the routine, expected metrics to greater lengths — the number of websites, databases, FTP users, subdomains, and parked domains are all unrestricted for most customers. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Cheap Hosting Plans
30 days 10 GB SSD - 30 GB SSD FREE (1 year) www.hostinger.com/shared

3. HostGator.com

HostGator review

Monthly Starting Price $2.64

  • Get 62% 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.

CHEAP
RATING
4.7 ★★★★★ Our Review

HostGator: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 4 minutes

Ryan Frankel (HostingAdvice.com): HostGator is a great compromise between performance and price. The company offers unlimited emails, MySQL databases, disk space, and bandwidth, plus one-click installs of popular open-source projects, in addition to a 99. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Cheap Hosting Plans
45 days Unlimited FREE (1 year) www.hostgator.com/shared

See other top affordable hosts »

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.

1. InMotionHosting.com

InMotion review

Monthly Starting Price $5.00

  • Ranked #1 for cloud VPS hosting
  • Fault-tolerant SSD storage and up to 8GB of RAM
  • FREE control panel with choice of Linux OS
  • Full root access or managed servers available
  • FREE live-state or scheduled snapshots
  • Get started on InMotion now.

CLOUD
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

InMotion: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 6 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 unmanaged or fully managed servers to help you scale your site with cloud-based hosting…. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Cloud Hosting Plans
90 days 75 GB SSD - 260 GB SSD FREE (1 year) www.inmotion.com/cloud

2. HostGator.com

HostGator review

Monthly Starting Price $4.95

  • 2x as fast and 4x the computing resources
  • Tons of storage with the scalability of the cloud
  • Low-density servers and multiple caching layers
  • Unlimited domains and MySQL databases
  • Upgrades available for security, backups, productivity, and domain privacy
  • Get started on HostGator now.

CLOUD
RATING
4.8 ★★★★★ Our Review

HostGator: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 7 minutes

Ryan Frankel (HostingAdvice.com): For those ready to expand beyond shared hosting, HostGator offers a fully featured step into the cloud. With scalable, high-powered resources, customers can easily monitor resources and caching from an intuitive dashboard. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Cloud Hosting Plans
45 days 120 GB - 240 GB New or Transfer www.hostgator.com/cloud

3. Hostwinds.com

Hostwinds review

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.

CLOUD
RATING
4.7 ★★★★★ Our Review

Hostwinds: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 6 minutes

Laura Bernheim (HostingAdvice.com): Hostwinds provides supremely scalable and customizable options for the savvy developer or site owner. Customers can customize their cloud environment or choose pre-built configurations optimized to run apps like WordPress, Drupal, and others. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Cloud Hosting Plans
N/A 30 GB - 750 GB SSD New or Transfer www.hostwinds.com/cloud

See other top cloud hosts »

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:

4. Hostwinds.com

Hostwinds review

Monthly Starting Price $5.17

  • 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.

VPS
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

Hostwinds: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 6 minutes

Laura Bernheim (HostingAdvice.com): Does any hosting provider have more virtual private server packages than Hostwinds. The company offers 10 configurations — and that's just for managed Linux server partitions. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name VPS Hosting Plans
N/A 30 GB - 750 GB SSD New or Transfer www.hostwinds.com/vps

5. InterServer.net

InterServer review

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.

VPS
RATING
4.8 ★★★★★ Our Review

InterServer: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 6 minutes

Laura Bernheim (HostingAdvice.com): InterServer's on-site datacenter and hands-on involvement with configuring and provisioning virtual private servers give customers a level of flexibility not seen with many other hosting providers. InterServer rations VPS and cloud resources through slices. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name VPS Hosting Plans
N/A 30 GB SSD - 480 GB SSD $7.99 New or Transfer www.interserver.net/vps

6. LiquidWeb.com

Liquid Web review

Monthly Starting Price $19.99

  • High-speed hosting that's faster than AWS, Rackspace, and Digital Ocean
  • FREE backups, CDN, and DDoS protection
  • Up to 16 processors with all-SSD storage
  • Choice between cPanel or Plesk Onyx
  • Real-time monitoring and 100% uptime guarantee
  • Get started on Liquid Web now.

VPS
RATING
4.8 ★★★★★ Our Review

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. The company's cloud VPS environments embody that reputation to its fullest — including managed WordPress and WooCommerce products. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name VPS Hosting Plans
N/A 30 GB SSD - 150 GB SSD New or Transfer www.liquidweb.com/vps

See other top VPS hosts »

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:

7. InMotionHosting.com

InMotion review

Monthly Starting Price $4.99

  • WordPress pre-installed with NGINX and PHP 7
  • FREE SSL certificate and unlimited bandwidth
  • Automatic plugin, theme, and core updates
  • Features a FREE drag-and-drop WP page editor
  • Premium themes and plugin subscriptions
  • Get started on InMotion now.

WORDPRESS
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

InMotion: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 5 minutes

PJ Fancher (HostingAdvice.com): InMotion Hosting, long known for affordable and high-performance shared hosting options, entered the WordPress space with a solid option built upon the company's reputation for great support and reliability. Costing a small premium over other budget-minded options, InMotion does include some nice features to help justify that cost difference. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name WordPress Hosting Plans
90 days 40 GB SSD - 120 GB SSD FREE (1 year) www.inmotionhosting.com/wordpress

8. Bluehost.com

Bluehost review

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.

WORDPRESS
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

Bluehost: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 5 minutes

Ryan Frankel (HostingAdvice.com): Aimed at personal bloggers and first-time users, Bluehost’s WordPress hosting packages are a great alternative to simple shared hosting. These service come at a premium, compared to Bluehost’s standard shared plans, but the WordPress optimization and platform-specific resources are arguably worth the cost. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name WordPress Hosting Plans
30 days 50 GB SSD - Unlimited FREE (1 year) www.bluehost.com/wordpress

9. A2Hosting.com

A2 Hosting review

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.

WORDPRESS
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

A2 Hosting: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 4 minutes

Alexandra Leslie (HostingAdvice.com): As experts in performance optimization, A2 Hosting is a top choice for powering resource-heavy WordPress websites. The company offers shared or managed plans for the ultra-popular content management system, with the benefits extending to Joomla, Drupal, and other platforms. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name WordPress Hosting Plans
30 days Unlimited SSD New or Transfer www.a2hosting.com/wordpress

See other top WordPress hosts »

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.

Even though computing resources are virtualized, VPS and cloud hosting both rely on physical servers.

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.

Graphic illustrating cloud hosting and computing

Cloud hosting can serve a wide range of business goals, from web hosting to project management.

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!

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