Cloud Web Hosting
Cloud Hosting is a solution specifically designed for people who cannot accurately predict their websites' growth or level of usage, as it allows for flexibility in the amount of resources that are allocated. See below for our rundown of the best Cloud Hosting providers.
Our list of hosting providers is based on:
- Customer reviews
- Platform reputation
Cloud Hosting Providers: what's different about them?
Cloud computing is the practice of storing, managing and processing data on a network of servers hosted on the Internet. Cloud Server Hosting applies this functionality to provide web hosting services.
Cloud Hosting Providers utilize a group of servers linked via a network, which work together to deliver web hosting services. The servers are load-balanced in order to spread the resource usage evenly, reducing risk of malfunction. Cloud Servers are also configured to be redundant, so that a failure in one server will not affect the rest of the system.
A good analogy compares a Cloud Server to an electricity grid. You are delivered energy (bandwidth, storage etc) quickly and reliably, only when you request it – for example by flipping a light switch (a setting on the control panel). When you turn the light switch off, that energy returns to the grid for someone else to use.
Cloud Hosting operates on a pay-as-you-use structure and is therefore preferred by those who use much more one month than they do the next. In particular, if your website has constantly fluctuating levels of traffic and you don't want to overpay or be caught short - Cloud Hosting is the solution for you.
Pros and Cons of Cloud Hosting Providers
- Flexibility and scalability
- Quick and easy setup
- Pay only for what you use
- Hardware bought and maintained for you, elsewhere
- Use more than one operating system
- Downtime (if it happens) is longer than traditional hosting solutions such as Dedicated Servers, VPS and Cheap Web Hosting
- Potential for unexpectedly high bills (as well as unexpectedly low ones!)
Cloud Hosting Providers: Reliability Through Redundancy
Cloud Server Hosting has a reputation for high reliability and performance, with maximized uptime achieved through retention of redundant server capacity. In cases where one server fails or is damaged, the other servers in its group pick up the slack until it is fixed. Cloud Hosting plans will often guarantee a specific level of performance and adjust customer payments if that level is not achieved.
No host is immune from service outages, but Cloud Hosting providers are at a distinct advantage. Despite the benefits of other hosting solutions such as Cheap Hosting, VPS Hosting or Dedicated Servers, the mechanics of Cloud Web Hosting ensures that even if one server forming part of the Cloud goes offline, your website isn’t usually affected as the other servers are often in different locations, away from the cause of the issue.
Cloud Hosting Providers vs. Virtual Private Server (VPS)
The principles behind both VPS and Cloud Hosting are similar, but the practice is different. Both service are designed for flexibility and scalability, allowing you to accommodate fluctuations in demand by sharing resources with fellow customers.
With Virtual Private Servers (VPS), multiple Virtual Machines (VMs) are housed in one physical server which has been split into smaller sections. Cloud Hosting utilizes the resources of multiple physical servers linked together over the Internet in a network.
VPS hosting is generally cheaper than Cloud Hosting, but if physical server fails all of the VPS accounts on that server go down with it, whereas a Cloud Host would simply get another server to do the job until it is fixed.
Cloud Hosting Providers Security
Data security is a major consideration when deciding on a Web Hosting service, and even more so when entrusting your information to a concept as intangible as 'the cloud'. Although Cloud Hosting solutions are no less secure than any other type of web hosting, it is true that the 'virtual' nature of the server makes them an appealing target to hackers and their software.
The approach that Cloud Web Hosting companies must take to secure the data stored on their servers is different to that of 'traditional' hosting solutions such as Dedicated Servers. This is largely because the information that must be protected is distributed throughout hundreds or even thousands of servers across the world.
How do Cloud Hosting Providers protect my data?
This is variable, depending on the cost of your plan and the type of data being stored. For example, a cheap Cloud Hosting plan being used to store a few blog posts will offer much less in the way of security than a solution used to host a large eCommerce site which regularly collects confidential information about its customers.
Be sure to assess the security of your data once it is stored on the server, and the systems that in place to help you recover if data is compromised or lost at any point. Here are some security features to look for in potential Cloud Hosting plans:
Server-side data encryption
One of the simplest security features offered by Web Hosting companies, data encryption provides an excellent first line of defense. In basic terms, encryption makes files unreadable to anyone except the data owner (you and anyone else you nominate). Entering your login information de-encrypts the data and makes it readable again.
This is different from a standard username and password system because the data is unreadable without the login information. Therefore, even if a hacker forced entry to your virtual server, the information inside it would be useless to him/her and remain uncompromised - protecting you from legal ramifications.
Even if your Cloud Hosting solution provides server-side data encryption, don't forget that the same encryption is typically applied to every Cloud server the company manages. This presents a big problem; a security breach on just one of the servers can put every website hosted by that company at risk.
One way to protect your site against this possibility is to add your own data encryption which can serve as the second line of defense when required. You may require a Hybrid Cloud Hosting solution in order to make use of this feature, as it is not usually provided with standard Cloud Hosting plans.
Protect the physical servers
Although with Cloud Hosting your site and files will be hosted on a multitude of servers, those servers still need to exist physically somewhere. The vast majority are stored within high-security data centers accessible only to authorized personnel.
Your data will also be protected by the hosting company retaining servers in data centers across multiple locations, in case of a disaster occurring at one data center such as an earthquake or hurricane.
SSL (Secure Socket Layer)
This is a protocol used to establish direct and secure connections between a server and a web browser (such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer). All data passed through this type of connection remains private.
Firewalls are used to regulate traffic coming in and out of your server, based on a set of predefined rules. Their effectiveness and necessity on servers is the subject of heated debate, but they are still used by some Web Hosting companies in order to add an additional layer of security.
The Cloud is Growing
Many commonly-used web applications are now based on Cloud computing (Google Apps, iCloud and Dropbox to name just a few), and the trend is not showing any signs of slowing.
Goldman Sachs suggest that Cloud computing will make up to 12% of total IT spend by 2018, with total market worth increasing to over $40 billion USD by 2018. These graphs demonstrate the emergence of Cloud computing as a force to be reckoned with.
Using Cloud Hosting Providers
Moving to Cloud Hosting Providers
Managed hosting can help you to overcome some of the larger technical hurdles involved in making the transition to Cloud Hosting from a different type of hosting solution. Managed hosting is where the Web Hosting company sets up, maintains, and monitors your hosting solution for you, as well as taking care of running regular backups.
Knowing that somebody is responsible for regularly checking your Cloud Hosting account for suspicious activity and irregular performance can give peace of mind, particularly if you are not fortunate enough to have somebody in-house capable of administering a server.
Unique Capabilities of Cloud Hosting Providers
Cloud Hosting allows you to deploy different technologies that could not work together on other web hosting plans - even enabling you to use different scripting languages, operating systems and web application frameworks (i.e. PHP or .NET) within the same site.
Scalability of Cloud Hosting Providers
The value in having the ability to add capacity and functionality as needed in real time cannot be understated. Cloud Hosting companies are equipped to be responsive and flexible - some of our favorite providers have made it as simple as moving a slider to increase or decrease current capacity or bandwidth.
5 things to require from Cloud Hosting Providers
If your Cloud Hosting provider can give you a satisfying answer to the following five requirements, while offering you a price plan you are happy with, you could well be onto a winner.
Reliability - look for 99.9% uptime
Scalability - how easily can you increase/decrease your usage?
Security - what safeguards do the company put in place to protect your site?
Strong technical support - look for knowledge, availability and attitude
User-friendly control panel - how difficult is it to update and maintain your site?
Are Cloud Hosting Providers right for me?
Cloud Hosting is a growing presence in the web hosting industry because it meets customer needs so well. It represents a simple way to retain an industry-grade hosting solution without the associated hardware, staffing and maintenance costs, and will support your website's growth instead of hindering it.
If you are looking for a reliable, cost-effective and adaptable hosting solution that is ready to adapt to future requirements - Cloud Hosting is certainly worth your consideration.
If you are still unsure you can Compare web hosting companies side by side, or use our Hosting Wizard and Knowledge Base for more ideas - whatever you decide, Web Hosting Search is here to help you find the best deal!