Cloud Hosting vs. Shared Hosting — 6 Comparisons & Our 2022 Picks

Cloud Hosting Vs Shared Hosting

When encountering the buffet of web hosting plans for the first time, the cloud hosting vs. shared hosting debate can easily overwhelm site owners with the various options, configurations, and acronyms.

Matching the right server portions and hosting flavors to your appetite can be daunting, but we’re happy to serve as your waiter and present this week’s specials: cloud hosting and shared hosting.

Boasting high-powered and reliable infrastructure, cloud hosting is a fast-growing option for consumers with a somewhat more refined palate, while shared hosting serves up affordable, easy comfort food.

Read on as we feed you through a six-course feast of information studying the similarities and differences between these two savory web hosting choices.

12 Best Shared & Cloud Hosting Services

Before we detail the nitty-gritty differences and similarities between shared hosting and cloud hosting services, it’s time to find the meal that best suits your taste and budget — you might be craving a burger, but do you prefer it come from a greasy fast-food joint or an acclaimed chef at a sit-down restaurant?

After years spent scouring the internet and testing tons of hosting plans — for both personal use and for our work here at HostingAdvice — we have identified the strongest plans and providers for a variety of hosting services. See which categories and recommendations below will satisfy your cravings.

Top 3 “Shared Hosting” Providers

As the base level of the hosting pyramid, shared hosting has the unlucky distinction of attracting customers with the widest range of technical needs and experiences. Some hosts excel at appealing to diverse audiences by balancing user-friendly features with high-performing hardware. The three hosts highlighted below offer the perfect mix of performance, usability, and support:

1. Hostinger.com

Hostinger Review

Monthly Starting Price $1.99

  • 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 & unlimited FREE SSL certificates
  • Get started on Hostinger now.

CHEAP
RATING
4.8 ★★★★★ Our Review

Hostinger: Our Expert's Review

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 Setup Time
30 days 50 GB to 200 GB SSD FREE (1 year) 3 minutes

2. Bluehost.com

Bluehost Review

Monthly Starting Price $2.95

  • Cheap shared hosting from a highly reputable provider
  • Ideal for hosting a WordPress website
  • FREE Weebly website builder and Cloudflare CDN
  • Unlimited traffic and 24/7 live chat support
  • Get 63% off today with our Bluehost coupon
  • Get started on Bluehost now.

CHEAP
RATING
4.8 ★★★★★ Our Review

Bluehost: Our Expert's Review

Ryan Frankel (HostingAdvice.com): Bluehost pricing is about as competitive as the industry offers. Sign up for a shared hosting plan for as little as $2.95 per month, and WordPress hosting packages are consistently priced; a VPS plan starts at around $18.99 per month; and the dedicated hosting rates are as little as $79.99 per month. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
30 days 50 GB SSD - unlimited FREE (1 year) 5 minutes

3. Veeble.org

Veeble Review

Monthly Starting Price $0.95

  • Instant setup with no fees
  • A massive library of 419 one-click installation applications and scripts
  • FREE cPanel integration for easy management and metrics tracking
  • FREE SSL security
  • 99.99% uptime guarantee
  • Get started on Veeble.org now.

CHEAP
RATING
4.8 ★★★★★ Our Review

Veeble: Our Expert's Review

Lynn Cadet (HostingAdvice.com): If you’re looking for fantastic service on a smaller budget, Veeble is the web host for you. Its inexpensive hosting plans deliver the essential resources to run a website with the same high-performance capabilities as many other web hosts. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
14 days 20 GB SSD - unlimited SSD FREE with select plans 3 minutes

See more shared hosting options »

Top 3 “Shared Hosting” Providers with SSDs

If you’re a little hesitant about taking the cloud hosting leap, upgrading your shared hosting plan to a service powered by solid-state drives can be a very productive and rewarding baby step forward. Hosts that are willing to upgrade their infrastructure to the faster and more expensive hardware are signaling their attention to quality user experiences as opposed to just cramming as many clients on the same server. Although shared hosting plans with SSDs tend to be slightly more expensive, we’ve found the hosts reviewed below are certainly worth the investment:

4. InMotionHosting.com

InMotion review

Monthly Starting Price $2.29

  • Shared business hosting with FREE SSD storage
  • FREE website migration with zero downtime
  • Develop in PHP, Ruby, Perl, Python, and MySQL
  • FREE drag-and-drop builder or WordPress
  • FREE data backups and FREE SSL cert
  • Get started on InMotion Hosting now.

SSD
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

InMotion: Our Expert's Review

PJ Fancher (HostingAdvice.com): InMotion Hosting trailblazed the SSD space, including free SSD storage in all server plans for maximum performance. Existing websites experience no downtime as InMotion Hosting transfers your site to its new home on InMotion’s network, and you can choose a West Coast or East Coast datacenter location. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
90 days 100 GB SSD - unlimited FREE (1 year) 5 minutes

5. Kamatera.com

Kamatera review

Monthly Starting Price $0.00

  • Customize your cloud environment for FREE
  • Work with a dedicated account manager
  • Dozens of Windows & Linux OS choices
  • Complimentary live chat support open 24/7
  • Launch in less than 60 seconds
  • Try Kamatera FREE for 30 days.

SSD
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

Kamatera: Our Expert's Review

Laura Bernheim (HostingAdvice.com): That's right, Kamatera gives new customers FREE access to high-quality VPS hosting for 30 days. Upgrade your bargain-basement shared hosting to a cloud server configured to your exact specifications for no cost. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
30-day FREE trial 20 GB - 4 TB SSD New or Transfer 3 minutes

6. Cloudways.com

Cloudways review

Monthly Starting Price $10.00

  • SSD hosting, built-in cache, and FREE CDN
  • Your choice of 5 popular cloud providers
  • Optimized stack with Apache, PHP-FPM, and MariaDB
  • Support for the latest PHP versions
  • Get 25% OFF first 3 months with promo code HOSTINGADVICE
  • Get started on Cloudways now.

SSD
RATING
4.8 ★★★★★ Our Review

Cloudways: Our Expert's Review

Alexandra Leslie (HostingAdvice.com): Cloudways offers blazing-fast, SSD-powered performance with additional caching layered atop an optimized tech stack. Enjoy a performant cloud cocktail of Apache, NGINX, PHP-FPM, and choice of MySQL and MariaDB databases…. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
3-Day FREE Trial 1 GB SSD - 3 TB SSD New or Transfer 8 minutes

See more SSD shared hosting options »

Top 3 “Cloud” Hosts

Don’t be surprised if you see many of the same hosting brands represented below. We’ve found the best overall hosts are usually more than just one-trick ponies — they excel at providing and supporting a variety of services, from shared and cloud hosting to dedicated servers and plans specifically tailored for platforms such as WordPress.

Aligning yourself and your online presence with a strong hosting provider bodes well for your website as you traverse across the hosting universe. The three superb cloud hosts examined below will help customers move their files from one service to another while minimizing downtime:

7. Cloudways.com

Cloudways review

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.

CLOUD
RATING
4.8 ★★★★★ Our Review

Cloudways: Our Expert's Review

Alexandra Leslie (HostingAdvice.com): If you can’t beat the cloud provider behemoths, offer their infrastructure as a service. Cloudways gives customers their choice of cloud platform: AWS, Google, Linode, Digital Ocean, or Vultr. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
3-Day FREE Trial 1 GB SSD - 192 GB SSD N/A 8 minutes

8. 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

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 Setup Time
N/A 30 GB - 750 GB SSD New or Transfer 6 minutes

9. Hostinger.com

Hostinger review

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.

CLOUD
RATING
4.6 ★★★★★ Our Review

Hostinger: Our Expert's Review

Laura Bernheim (HostingAdvice.com): Hostinger offers something for everyone. From two cloud hosting plans that leverage the company’s global datacenter presence to a premium service powered by Google Cloud Platform, you’re sure to find what you need…. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
30 days 30 GB to 200 GB SSD New or Transfer 6 minutes

See more cloud hosting options »

Top 3 “Cloud VPS” Hosts

Similar to shared hosting plans with SSDs, cloud hosting also comes in a few different flavors. To us, the service most worth exploring is cloud VPS. Although cloud hosting relies on multiple virtualized or clustered servers, a VPS plan divides an individual server into a handful of virtual machines. Think of a virtual private server as a blend of the shared hosting environment with the cloud-minded features of control and dedicated resources.

The difference between virtual and cloud servers is fairly small and can be difficult to understand, but many providers opt to blend the two server architectures to take advantage of the high-availability strengths found in the cloud. Virtualized server environments are backed by redundancy to boost your site’s speed and uptime. Here are our three favorite providers that blend the best of both worlds:

10. A2Hosting.com

A2 Hosting Review

Monthly Starting Price $4.99

  • Turbo server & cache options for faster page loads
  • Well-built plans starting with 4GB RAM
  • FREE CDN plus auto-installs with Softaculous
  • Multilingual support and up to unlimited databases
  • Enhanced security with and daily kernel updates
  • Get started on A2 Hosting now.

VPS
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

A2 Hosting: Our Expert's Review

Alexandra Leslie (HostingAdvice.com): While A2 Hosting's turbocharged shared hosting platform gives site owners ample room to grow, the company's tech prowess is on full display with its portfolio of VPS options. Ranging from unmanaged, bare-metal environments to stress-free, fully managed space, A2 Hosting is sure to have the perfect option for your expanding online presence. Go to full review »

Setup Time Disk Space CPU RAM
7 minutes 150 GB SSD - 450 GB SSD 1 - 8 Cores 1 GB - 32 GB

11. Veeble.org

Veeble Review

Monthly Starting Price $1.45

  • Instant setup with no fees
  • Full root administrative access
  • FREE weekly automated live backups 
  • Basic server management
  • Ultra-fast performance
  • Get started on Veeble.org now.

VPS
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

Veeble: Our Expert's Review

Lynn Cadet (HostingAdvice.com): Veeble combines lightning-fast server hardware with top-notch SSD storage to create a robust VPS platform. Its VPS hosting gives users the scalability and usability to drive an optimal hosting experience. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
14 days 10 GB SSD - 480 GB SSD new or transfer 1 minute

12. InMotionHosting.com

InMotion Review

Monthly Starting Price $17.99

  • HostingAdvice readers get 73% off the first term
  • FREE site migrations and 2 hours of Launch Assist
  • 2 - 3 dedicated IP address options
  • FREE cPanel/WHM licenses included
  • Highly available servers with real-time redundancy
  • Get started on InMotion now.

VPS
RATING
4.8 ★★★★★ Our Review

InMotion: Our Expert's Review

PJ Fancher (HostingAdvice.com): Boasting market-leading VPS hardware, slick management software, and free SSD drives and backups, InMotion Hosting competes to win when it comes to managed VPS hosting packages. The host initiates its VPS customer relationship with free website migrations and up to two hours of launch assistance from an experienced SysAdmin. Go to full review »

Setup Time Disk Space CPU RAM
6 minutes 45 GB SSD - 300 GB SSD 2 - 8 cores 4 GB - 16 GB

See more VPS hosting options »

Overview: What is Cloud Hosting vs. Shared Hosting?

Now that we’ve skimmed the menu of major web hosting flavors, let’s dive into the specific ingredients that make each plan delicious. Even though shared and cloud web hosting can mean drastically different things as far as behind-the-scenes server arrangements, both types of plans are quite popular with individual site owners and businesses of all sizes.

In general, hosting entails renting out space on a company’s hardware; simply put, the distinction between cloud and shared hosting lies between whether your files are stored on a network of multiple servers or within a single machine.

Cloud hosting, a premium option that touts performance, reliability, and scalability, entails connecting and virtualizing several servers to share storage and processing resources. The hardware components are optimized to handle particular tasks, and extra servers are ready to fill in if something breaks or has to go offline. Customers can provision or turn off additional computing resources to meet traffic demands, making the product particularly relevant to growing businesses.

Shared hosting, the most common plan on the market, resonates especially with first-time site owners and individual developers. In a shared hosting provider’s datacenter, individual servers can host hundreds or thousands of websites. Several customers share each server, meaning that storage and computing resources are limited. As the cheapest and most accessible type of hosting, shared packages often come with extra features such as one-click software installations, marketing credits, and website builders.

1. Server Resources, Configuration, and Management

As is the case with desktop computers, tablets, or smartphones, web hosting servers are equipped with a finite amount of processing power and storage capacity. In shared hosting, server resources are divided among several hundred clients with customarily smaller websites.

Shared hosting providers make an effort to set the table with everything beginners need to get online, often including a free domain registration, drag-and-drop site builder, email accounts, search engine marketing credits, automatic backups, and a security certificate. The host will take care of the technical details of server maintenance such as operating system updates and security patches.

Graphic illustrating the difference between shared and cloud hosting

Shared hosting means multiple customers can use one server, while cloud hosting entails several virtualized servers.

Cloud hosting, however, takes a different approach; multiple servers pool their resources together and cooperate to host multiple websites. The added hardware means more resources are available to each customer — and even more can be tacked onto your account with just a click of the mouse.

Instead of shared hosting’s usability features, however, the best cloud hosting plans typically feature upgraded hardware, a control panel, root access, and managed services to handle the more mundane maintenance tasks and configurations.

2. Scalability

Shared and cloud hosting are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the ability to add and subtract computing resources to handle varying numbers of visitors. With shared hosting, providers allocate a certain amount of disk space, bandwidth, and processing power; acquiring more resources requires upgrading to a higher-tier shared hosting package or another service altogether.

Even though numerous shared hosting providers tout unlimited resources for storage, bandwidth, databases, email accounts, and the like, so-called unlimited hosting is a myth — shared hosts commonly ask customers to enjoy their “unlimited hosting” within certain parameters deemed fair to the other customers on the server. Websites that exceed the allocated resource usage are often penalized with fees or decreased performance.

Conversely, scalability is perhaps cloud hosting’s biggest advantage. With so many servers on standby, data storage and processing needs can be adjusted on the fly. Most cloud hosts provide an intuitive management portal for customers to monitor their usage and scale up or down as needed, with some even introducing the ability to add and remove resources automatically.

3. Performance

More servers are roughly akin to more horsepower — as one might expect, cloud hosting services typically outperform shared hosting plans. In addition to the ample resources producing ultra-fast page loads, cloud hosting platforms typically allow site owners to configure their hosting environment to the exact specifications they prefer. The customized configurations mean users can match certain operating systems with particular software to maximize all possible efficiencies and performance metrics.

Shared hosting speed, on the other hand, can fluctuate between perfectly acceptable and downright slow. Customers’ site speed is largely dependent on the performance of other websites on the same server. The more a shared server is maxed out, whether in terms of the number of accounts or the amount of traffic it needs to handle, the slower it processes requests for information.

Chart comparing shared, dedicated, VPS, and cloud hosting

Although cloud servers’ resources outperform other types of hosting, shared plans excel at simplicity and affordability.

Speed is particularly important to online businesses, as roughly 80% of shoppers indicated they wouldn’t revisit a website if it was too slow. Because eCommerce hosting customers require more performance and security, cloud hosting is typically the best option.

For bloggers and developers looking for a spot to house some pet projects, however, shared hosting provides perfectly fine performance. To maximize your shared hosting speed, look for a plan powered by solid-state drives, which use flash memory chips and an embedded processor to deliver data up to 20 times faster than traditional hard disk drives.

4. Security

As far as protecting your data from attackers, it can be hard to determine if a particular hosting platform is inherently more secure than another. A website’s security is largely dependent on the expertise and behaviors of those installing, maintaining, and operating the programs behind the scenes.

Because so many customers depend on each server’s security, shared hosting providers typically go to great lengths to protect their hardware. Many plans include SSL certificates, which are more accurately known as TLS certificates; having one means the information passing between your server and visitors’ devices is encrypted. Additionally, shared hosting customers should look for included anti-virus, anti-spam, and DDoS protections. High-end plans and shared packages tailored for WordPress might also include additional security plugins, automated malware scans, and a web application firewall.

With cloud hosting, customers have more control over how their hosting environments are configured — that oversight extends to security, as well. Although cloud providers will take similar anti-virus and data encryption measures as shared hosts, users commonly have to install and configure the appropriate firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and monitoring tools. If you’re not confident in your abilities to secure your cloud hosting space, look for top-notch managed hosting packages.

5. Cost

Not only can the prices for shared and cloud hosting differ drastically, but the entire billing structure is also different. Shared hosting prices, similar to those for virtual and dedicated server plans, are commonly marketed on a per-month basis, but customers can find greater discounts by signing up for plans that last at least one to three years.

Photo illustration of cloud hosting prices

Cloud hosting’s pay-as-you-go model is refreshing to some, while others appreciate the stability of shared hosting costs.

The flat fee covers all included features, with additional fees for upgraded tools such as access to a content delivery network or enhanced security. Shared hosting is definitively the cheapest option available, and hosts often try to distinguish themselves from the tight competition by amping up the extra services. In addition, shared hosting’s long-term plans can help customers budget their technology spend well into the future.

Many cloud hosting plans differ from traditional hosting formats by invoicing customers precisely for the number of various computing resources consumed over a given time period. The fluctuations can be challenging for site owners to anticipate, especially if their hosting account is set to automatically scale with traffic demands.

6. Common Features

Although shared and cloud hosting take wildly different approaches to server configuration, price, performance, and security, the types of plans do have a remarkable number of similarities. Here are some of the core qualities the two hosting packages often share:

  • Uptime guarantees: Hosts promise a certain level of availability or time when your website is fully operational and accessible online. If the provider can’t deliver the rates promised, the company will refund customers a portion of their hosting bill. Cloud hosting typically comes with higher uptime guarantees, because of the redundant hardware, but shared customers will be perfectly served by the industry-standard 99.9% uptime.
  • 24/7 support: Hosting providers want their customers to be successful online; happy clients and growing websites mean more services and upgraded plans. Seemingly all shared hosting providers tout around-the-clock support through email tickets, live chat, and phone calls, but pay attention to response times. Cloud hosting support tends to be slightly less hands-on, but hosts that specialize in managed services will gladly help you out.
  • Software installations: What good is a server if you can’t add the programs needed to drive your success? Reputable shared server hosts will provide hundreds of one-click software installations to cover your needs for content management systems, blog platforms, wikis, forums, webmail packages, and eCommerce stores. The scripts are less common in cloud hosting, as customers are more commonly expected to have the skills to install the applications manually. However, cloud hosting lets site owners choose and install software such as operating systems, load balancers, and security measures.

Naturally, however, there are some pretty distinct differences in terms of which features are commonly found in each hosting level. In addition to supreme affordability, shared hosting plans typically include a free domain registration, site migration or transfer, a website builder, email setup, and tools for advertising your site on search engine results pages. Cloud hosting often gives customers root or administrative access to their environment, along with disaster recovery assistance and reselling capabilities.

Shared Hosting vs. Cloud Hosting: Which Service is Right for You?

Whether you’re ordering off the value menu or paying market price for prime proteins, hosting connoisseurs can find success with either shared or cloud hosting plans from the providers listed above.

Each type of hosting service obviously comes with perks and drawbacks, but you’ll find that many important features and concepts span the divide. Look for something reliable, fast, and secure that comes with friendly customer support.

By explaining the differences between the two server configurations and sharing some of our most successful hosting experiences, we hope you’ll know exactly which flavors and features will come out of the kitchen.

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