What Is The Difference Between Shared Hosting and Cloud Hosting?

Written by: , Aug. 10, 2018

Is cloud hosting or shared hosting right for you?

To get your website up and running, you will need a website provider. When you are just starting out a blog or a site for a small business, it can quickly become overwhelming having to choose between the different kind of web providers. And if you are just beginning, chances are you will be choosing between shared hosting and cloud hosting, depending on your level of skill and amount of resources and features needed. Today, we will be breaking down the differences between shared and cloud hosting and what style is best for you.

cloud web hosting

What Is Shared Hosting?

Shared hosting is similar to apartment living; a landlord divides an apartment into individual apartments which are then rented out to multiple tenants. With shared hosting, the hosting provider divides a server into units, which are then sold out to website owners for a fee.

With shared hosting, you have no idea who the neighbors on your server might be. However, each customer does usually have a limit on the number of server resources they can use. Because you are sharing server power with others, it is typically the cheapest and most economical option, depending on your needs. However, because it is more affordable, there will be more strict limitations and is not suitable for everyone.

What Is Cloud Hosting?

Cloud hosting is a service that provides access via a virtual server to a vast pool of resources on-demand that are doled out on an as-needed basis. It has become extremely popular in the past few years because it allows you to manage peak loads efficiently. This is because your website doesn’t rely on just one server, but instead a cluster of servers that work together called “the cloud.”

Because there is a team of servers that help service your website, you are unlikely ever to experience downtime on your site. Cloud hosting makes it easy for a business to scale up as needed. The price of cloud hosting has gone down significantly in the past few years and could be a good option for small businesses due to its reliability and scalability.

Server Resources, Configuration, and Management

Depending on if you choose cloud or shared hosting, you will receive different levels of server resources and the flexibility in the configuration of your website.

Shared hosting is perfect for beginners because it includes a user-friendly control panel (usually a cPanel) that even someone who has no technical skills would be able to handle. The hosting provider also has the server up and going with all the necessary hardware installed on there for you. The platform helps you get your site up and going almost immediately. Because you are sharing resources, it is not suitable for people that need a little RAM, storage, or see high levels of traffic.

Additionally, shared hosting is managed, which means the hosting service will take care of the maintenance of the software, configuration the servers, and keeping the server secure. That way, you only have to focus on your website without dealing with any server issues.

Conversely, cloud hosting is extremely customizable and has more resources available to each user. Because multiple servers are pooling their resources together to host websites, that means that you can add resources easily to your account. The cloud environment allows you to configure your site quickly.

Top cloud hosting plans also will include a user-friendly control panel, root access, and added features. The provider manages cloud servers, so that means cloud users will not have to deal with any server hardware issues or keep the server secure, similar to shared hosting.

Scalability and Performance

Scalability can be a huge tipping point when you are trying to choose if you should select cloud hosting or shared hosting. When it comes to scalability, a shared hosting plan will be much more restrictive than cloud hosting. Shared hosting users are allowed to access only a specific amount of disk space, bandwidth, and server power. You might see shared hosting providers that will offer “unlimited resources” for storage, bandwidth, and email accounts but that is often just a trick to get you to sign up. Users that exceed the parameters are often penalized with fees or decreased performance.

A shared hosting plan can usually accommodate your needs if your sites see, or expects to see about 30,000 monthly visits. However, as you get more traffic, you might see internal errors from your host. If a user needs more resources, they must either upgrade to a new plan or switch providers completely.

If you have maxed out the number of resources you have available on a shared hosting plan, you might see reduced speeds or a completely stalled website. Depending on the other sites and the number of resources they use, your speed could fluctuate as well.

Cloud hosting, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. Because websites have access to multiple servers, users can add data storage, processing power, and bandwidth instantaneously. As a bonus, the provider bills you only for the resources you end up using. So even if you overestimate your needs, you aren’t penalized.

There is now even the option to auto-scale your website which will assign additional resources to your server if you need them. It makes it easier to monitor your resource use if required.

If speed matters to you, then cloud hosting will typically provide better page loading stats. eCommerce hosting customers especially will require higher speeds, so cloud hosting could be a good option for you.

Security

No matter what type of web provider you choose, they all will typically include SSL certificates, which will encrypt any data. Top providers, regardless of the kind of hosting, will also have anti-virus, anti-spam, and DDS protections. You can also sometimes find additional security plugins, automated malware scans, and a firewall, but usually, these features can only be found in high-end service plans.  

Nowadays, shared hosting is very secure; however, there are chances of security breaches because there can be no guarantee due to other neighbors on the server. For example, if one shared hosting user makes a mistake that reduces their level of security, then the whole server is more vulnerable to attack because you are sharing a server.

For cloud hosting, because you have more control over your website in general, this means you also have more control over your site. Even though you will have some security protections offered by the provider, including anti-virus and data encryption, users have to ensure the level of security themselves. With cloud hosting, you must install and configure the correct firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and other monitoring tools.

Pricing

Pricing can vary widely for both shared hosting and cloud hosting, depending on the added features you require. This is why it is essential to assess what you need for your site and do your research on a good hosting company.

With shared hosting, it will typically be the most affordable because you are sharing resources with many other websites and the provider will send you a consistent monthly bill. It is a strong economic option if you are trying to run a more basic site, with standard features and functionality, and don’t see much traffic. If you sign up for a plan that lasts for one to three years, you can find significant discounts, helping to make this option even more affordable.

Cloud hosting plans will not send you a standard bill each month but instead, will send you an invoice breakdown with the precise resources used during that time. Unfortunately, this can make the billing amount challenging to anticipate, especially if the hosting account is set to increase with traffic demands automatically.

Common Features

Price, resources allocation, and configuration allowed varying widely depending on if you choose shared or cloud hosting but there are a few features that generally will stay consistent.

24/7 Support: This has become an industry standard, and most hosts will provide the option to contact them via email, chat, or phone. When choosing your provider, look beyond just the customer service hours but their typical response time. Even if customer support is available around the clock, you need a provider who can quickly respond in case there are any issues with your website.

Uptime guarantees: While cloud hosting providers will generally have higher uptime guarantees, you will see most hosts promise the industry-standard 99.9% uptime.

Our Top Cloud Hosting Providers

1. FastComet
9.8
9.6
9.8
9.8
9.7
Ilya Hazanov: FastComet’s cloud hosting is really their VPS hosting. That means you get your own dedicated resources on a fully managed server in the cloud. You also choose where you want your... Read the full expert review
Price Range Disk Space Free Domain Moneyback
$59.95 - $139.95 50 GB - 320 GB 45 Days
2. Cloudways
9.5
9.3
9.4
9.5
9.4
Ilya Hazanov: If you want to escape from server management hassles, Cloudways is a good bet. It's a Managed Cloud Hosting Platform that is user-friendly and designed to save your precious time. ... Read the full expert review
Price Range Disk Space Free Domain Moneyback
$10.00 - $36.04 4 GB - 25 GB 30 Days
3. SiteGround
9.8
9.4
9.7
9.8
9.7
Idan Cohen: SiteGround’s cloud platform is based on innovative Linux container platform with SSD disks which allows for higher flexibility, scalability and performance. You can create your own... Read the full expert review
Price Range Disk Space Free Domain Moneyback
$72.76 - $218.27 40 GB - 120 GB 30 Days
Author:
Eliran Ouzan is the Co. Founder and designer of HostAdvice and also owns Moonshot Marketing LTD, a leading web design & development firm and was a member at GreenPeace.

Widely known for his pixel-perfect and high conversion rate web designs. Over the course of his web experience he experimeneted with over 200 web hosting companies and have a superior knowledge on what defines a good hosting company.

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"What Is The Difference Between Shared Hosting and Cloud Hosting?"