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What Is Cloud Hosting and How Does it Compare to the Alternatives?

If you’ve dealt with hosting providers before, chances are you’re already acquainted with terms such as shared hosting and dedicated servers. However, those types of plans aren’t the only game in town, and cloud hosting has become a viable option for many.

There’s lots of talk about ‘the cloud’ these days, but few people are aware of how hosting providers are leveraging it to offer exciting new services. Even if you’re happy with your plan now, it’s always a good idea to know what your options are, how they work, and how they can benefit you.

We’ll cover all that information in this article as it relates to cloud hosting. Plus, we’ll tell you how this service compares to the other types of hosting plans out there. Let’s get started!

An Introduction to Cloud Hosting and Its Benefits

Cloud hosting might sound like a buzzword, but it’s a real hosting alternative that offers solid benefits. As such, it’s something that you should at least be aware of if you’re in the market for a new hosting plan. To explain why, first we need to talk about what cloud hosting is.

A2 Hosting cloud hosting options.
Cloud hosting may not be that well-known, but it’s definitely a viable option.

When people speak of cloud services, they’re actually referring to server clusters (usually made up of virtual computers). Instead of having your website or application run on just a single server – as is traditional – the cloud spreads the work among multiple. Think about it as having a computer that you can upgrade or downgrade on the fly depending on your needs

In short, cloud hosting services run your website on multiple servers instead of one, and here’s why that’s good:

  • Better scalability. For practical purposes, don’t think about your site running on multiple servers, but a single powerful one. Cloud servers can easily add more resources to their cluster to tackle heavy loads on the fly.
  • Minimized downtimes. Usually, if your server goes down, you have no choice but to wait until your provider solves the issue. That isn’t the case with cloud hosting since there isn’t a single point of failure.
  • More customization options. Most reputable cloud hosting providers will enable you to customize your server cluster to your specific needs. That means you get to choose how much RAM, CPU cores, and storage you get to play with. In our case, you can even set the speed of your processors from the get-go (and change it whenever necessary).
  • Reasonable pricing. When it comes to pricing, cloud hosting plans tend to sit somewhere between shared and dedicated alternatives. That means you get a lot of bang for your buck as long as you don’t start adding on too many resources.

As you can see, cloud hosting sounds amazing on paper, but the question is, how does it hold up against the alternatives? Let’s answer that right now.

How Cloud Hosting Compares to Shared and Dedicated Alternatives

When it comes to hosting, a lot of people think the only options worth considering are shared plans, Virtual Private Servers (VPSs), and dedicated options. However, they’d be wrong. Let’s take a look at how cloud hosting compares to the other available options.

Shared Hosting

An example of cloud hosting plans.

As you might expect, cloud hosting plans are decidedly better in many ways than their shared counterparts. Overall, cloud hosting provides you with dedicated resources and much better performance than shared plans. Of course, this comes at a cost.

Virtual Private Servers

An example of several VPS plans.

When it comes to VPSs, they actually share a lot of similarities with cloud hosting plans. For example, they’re both highly scalable and customizable, but cloud hosting has the edge when it comes to the latter. VPSs do tend to be cheaper than cloud hosting plans, particularly when you start ramping up resources for your cluster. In short, you could probably live with VPS hosting unless you really think you’ll make use of the customization options available with cloud hosting.

Right now you might be thinking, But what about downtimes? I thought that was cloud hosting’s main selling point. The truth is, these days most reputable web hosts already do their best to minimize downtimes. As such, you may not want to weigh this feature too heavily in your decision-making process. Some exceptions apply, of course, such as sizable e-commerce operations where even a little downtime can cost you dearly in lost revenue.

Dedicated Servers

An example of multiple dedicated server plans.

Finally, we’ve got dedicated servers, and in this case, price is the deciding factor. Dedicated servers are, for the most part, one of the most expensive options when it comes to hosting. It’s not out of the norm for these plans to cost upwards of $100 per month. However, for that price, you usually get top-of-the-line performance.

On the other hand, cloud hosting plans usually start at more reasonable prices. However, you will have to shell out more money if you want to configure your cluster to match the performance of a dedicated server.

In short, dedicated servers are by far the best option if you need raw performance for your websites. However, if you don’t need access to that many resources and you value scalability, cloud hosting might be the right pick for you.

Conclusion

Cloud hosting may read like a buzzword the first time you come across it, but it’s a reliable alternative with some serious benefits to back it up. Best of all, it provides you with a reasonably-priced alternative to more expensive solutions (such as a dedicated server), while still providing excellent performance.

If you’re still on the fence, let’s recap the benefits of cloud hosting plans over more basic options:

  1. Better scalability
  2. Less chance of downtimes
  3. More customization options

Do you have any questions about cloud hosting or if it’s a good fit for you? Ask away in the comments section below!

Image credit: Pixabay.

About Corey Hammond

Corey has been directly involved in the web hosting space since 2010 and leads marketing for A2 Hosting.

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