The differences between cloud hosting vs. VPS hosting are subtle — but understanding them can make a major difference in how you manage and interact with your site.
As you begin the adventure of creating your own website, you’re faced with a seemingly never-ending maze of choices, with each one making 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.
The choice between cloud and virtual private server (VPS) hosting, for example, is no different. 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.
10 Best Cloud & VPS Hosting Providers
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty technical details, lets take a broad overview at the best of both worlds. Our hosting recommendations below will help you choose 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 fits your particular requirements.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- $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.
- 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.
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 it 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.
- Ultimate scalability with limitless customizations
- Create and deploy servers in 60 seconds
- Easily add load balancers and firewalls
- Stellar 99.95% uptime guarantee
- Sign up today for a 30-day FREE trial
- Get started on Kamatera now.
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 plans 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.
- 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, Plesk, or InterWorx
- Real-time monitoring and 100% uptime guarantee
- Get started on Liquid Web now.
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.
- Choice of Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, and CentOS
- Cloud VPS hosting with hourly or monthly billing
- Impressive 99.9999% uptime guarantee
- Real-time monitoring and instant scalability
- Easy server administration via custom control portal
- Get started on Hostwinds now.
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.
- Cloud-powered SSD VPS with Intel Xeon vCPUs
- Run any Linux or Windows operating system edition
- Superb 99.95% uptime rate and 24/7 support
- Up to unlimited Plesk licenses available
- 30-day FREE trial with no hidden fees
- Get started on Kamatera now.
Overview: What is “Cloud / VPS” Hosting?
VPS hosting is a partition of a dedicated server machine. It acts like an autonomous server, but in reality, it’s 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.
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 the software as you would if 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.
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 may 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.
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.
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.
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 could 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.
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 more 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.
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.
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.
How much hosting firepower do you require? And how much are you willing to spend?
Generally speaking, VPS hosting represents a more expensive but more powerful route for steadily growing businesses. Cloud hosting presents a more affordable option with widely varying degrees of scalability for the more tentative site owner who isn’t sure how many resources they’ll need in the long run.