If you’re building a website or an app today, you likely know that the most important and often pressing concern is where you’re going to host it. Having your own physical servers offers some benefits, but it can also limit your growth ability and cost more than it’s worth. On the other hand, cloud hosting offers many of the same benefits, with the added advantage of flexibility when it comes to scaling. Additionally, cloud server hosting and cloud VPS services let you choose exactly how much storage, bandwidth, and capacity you need, helping you keep your costs down at a crucial time. Whether you’re building a blog, an ecommerce site, or the next big app, knowing the best cloud hosting providers and what to look for can help kickstart your new project.
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What is Cloud Hosting?
Cloud hosting offers websites and apps the ability to store their code repositories and services in virtual servers online, much as they would on physical servers. Your data is stored in the cloud hosting services’ data centers, while you can take advantage of cloud-based server that can be private or shared. This type of hosting gives you several key benefits, starting with scalability.
Because the servers you’re using are virtual, you can easily create more as you need without having to pay the cost of the actual hardware. Instead, you’re simply paying your hosting provider to extend the amount of storage you have access to. This means that you have access to new servers and hosting space on demand, and you can also reduce the number of servers you use as needed as well. The best cloud hosting services also offer reliability, ensuring that your web property or app will be online no matter what and you’ll avoid any service outages. There are also multiple types of hosting, including shared or dedicated hosting, virtual private servers (VPS), and cheap cloud hosting, which is great if you’re just starting out.
The Main Benefits of Cloud Hosting
There are few things worse for a website or app these days than to be taken offline abruptly and unexpectedly. Although you may only miss an hour or even a few minutes, that could translate to hundreds or thousands of dollars in lost potential business. Moreover, it affects your standing in customers’ eyes. Cloud hosting gives you reliable uptimes—most companies advertise over 95% uptime—that mean you’ll always be available for your visitors. Unlike physical servers which require your constant attention, cloud hosting companies handle the stress for you.
Setting up physical servers is not just costly, but also complex. While you may be a hardware expert, it’s still not often worth the hassle when it means you’ll have to spend hours getting things just right, and days afterwards maintaining it. Cloud hosting companies offer solutions that are ready out of the box, and that are fully managed. This means that instead of worrying about the little stuff, you can focus on building your website or app without stressing that you’ll crash your servers.
In addition to being easier, cloud hosting is often a more eco-friendly solution than other alternatives. Indeed, many hosting companies offer certificates and meet standards that prove that they offer reduced environmental footprints. Additionally, the reduced needs for electricity and other resources mean you’re spending less on power and doing your part to reduce waste.
Main Questions You Should Consider When Looking for Cloud Hosting
Regardless of what hosting solution you select, the first priority should always be security. If you’re using your servers for business purposes, you’ll like have sensitive data—both yours and your customers’—that require robust protection. You should always look for a hosting service that offers strong encryption, as well as security certificates (HTTPS) that give your website both credibility and security from hackers and scammers.
Loading and Uptime Tests
When you talk about your website’s reliability, you want to ensure both speed and steady uptimes. Most expert cloud hosting reviews will take the time to test both a company’s loading times—how quickly their pages load when you first visit them—as well as uptime—how consistently they’re online over a set period. Loading times these days should always measure smaller than one second, while uptimes should always rate higher than 97%.
Even the most reliable and effective cloud hosting service will have problems here and there. While they may range from the trivial to the catastrophic, it’s important to know that you can find the help you need to solve it whenever you require it. Look for hosting services that offer extensive support, including knowledge bases, FAQs, chat and phone support, and who are active on social media to give you the best chance of reaching someone.
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How to Choose the Best Cloud Operating System
Much like your computer, you’ll have to decide what operating system to use when you create a server on your cloud hosting service. Luckily, the options you have are similar, but there are some important things you’ll have to consider. It’s hard to say that there is a single best cloud operating system, and most companies, such as HostGator cloud hosting, as well as many reseller cloud hosting providers, let you pick the right one for you. Here are the most popular choices, as well as what you’ll get from them:
- Windows gives you the benefit of mass adoption and familiarity, as well as a well-known user interface. Moreover, it means you don’t have to train significantly to get your IT team up to speed. However, it does have some restrictions that operating systems like Linux don’t have.
- Linux is known for its malleability and its deep customizability. Linux is also cheaper than Windows (since it’s open source), and it is better at resource management, letting you do more with less. There are multiple Linux variants (such as Ubuntu, Red Hat, CentOS, and Debian) that give you specific tools based on your needs.
How to Install Cloud Hosting
Once you’ve chosen your hosting provider, the next step is to get set up. Some providers will have different processes, but many have similar steps to go through.
- Make sure your server is configured. If you’re using a managed cloud hosting service, you’ll likely have a virtual server ready for your needs.
- Connect your cloud server to your domain
- Change your DNS and web settings
- Connect your hosting service to your database to start storing and communicating data to your website.
The Top 5 Cloud Hosting Plans
HostGator has long been one of the biggest names in cloud hosting, and for good reason. The company’s plans provide a mix of affordability and performance, and its dedicated hosting solutions (which include VPS and regular hosting) include root access for advanced users. With support for multiple languages, a 99.90% uptime, and strong support, HostGator is always a top choice.
FastComet is a fresh competitor to the scene and provides an expansive network of data centers spread across three continents. The company offers fast scaling and reliable servers, as well as shared hosting plans. FastComet’s uptime clocks in at a whopping 99.99%, while its load times average around 500 milliseconds. With strong support to accompany its service, FastComet is definitely worth a look.
Although it’s a relative newcomer to the scene, Chemicloud has already started making a name for itself with great features and a generous money-back guarantee. Chemicloud focuses on shared hosting services (meaning your server is on a shared server cluster with others), but it does so with panache. Chemicloud offers free backups and restores, loading times of 490 milliseconds, and 99.90% uptime.
Based in Europe, Hostinger has a reputation as one of the most affordable alternatives for cheap cloud hosting. The company has over 29 million users, boasts loading times of 369 milliseconds, as well as an impressive 99.91% uptime. You’ll have access to around-the-clock live chat support, and native integrations for WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and more.
Cloudways gives you an affordable base plan and a versatile platform for blogging, ecommerce, and app development. Although the company offers a variety of cloud servers from different providers, you do get support from Cloudways, as well as the ability to clone servers, create fully permissioned dashboards, and even firewall tools.
Cloud Hosting For Free
In addition to its technical benefits, one major advantage you get from cloud servers is the possibility of free cloud hosting. While more storage and bandwidth will cost you, you can find enough in a free cloud server hosting tool that will get you off the ground and online faster. Choosing cloud VPS free of charge could help you build your app and start gaining traction more than waiting to pay for an expensive plan might. Before locking yourself into a plan, look around to see if you can find reliable web hosting services that offer free options.
My Conclusion on Cloud Hosting
Despite the buzzwords surrounding it, cloud hosting is not a smoke screen. When you’re looking to start a new web project, the last thing you want to do is waste money and time setting up your hosting. Cheap cloud hosting solutions give you an alternative that delivers the same benefits as physical servers, with few of the downsides. Before you settle on your provider, read our expert reviews on the best cloud hosting to determine the best website hosting solution to suit your needs.