8 min read

Cloud Hosting Services Reviewed

WHO IS THE BEST CLOUD HOSTING PROVIDER?

It’s time to launch your website, web app, or web service in the cloud! Cloud hosting is reliable, scalable, and flexible – ideal for websites that need fast load times, 24×7, even during frequent or heavy marketing campaigns and promotions that may cause heavy traffic spikes. The main difference between cloud hosting and other hosting solutions (such as a VPS or shared hosting) is that cloud hosting distributes your resources among many different physical servers. This creates a level of reliability and scalability you cannot find in other methods of web hosting.

To evaluate the top cloud hosting providers the following factors were considered. By analyzing everything from speed, to bandwidth, to CPU and RAM, the following 5 best cloud hosts come highly recommended.

Overall RatingCloud HostSpeed TestSSD StorageBandwidthRAMCPU coresPrice/month
1HostGator0.87 secUnmeteredUnmetered2 GB2 core$4.95
2Bluehost0.68 sec100 GBUnmetered2 GB2 core$6.95
3SiteGround1.37 sec40 GB5 TB4 GB2 core$80.00
4Cloudways1.39 sec50 GB2 TB2 GB1 core$22.00
5DigitalOcean1.42 sec50 GB2 TB2 GB1 core$10.00

For HostGator, Bluehost, and SiteGround, the cheapest and most basic plan was selected. For Cloudways and DigitalOcean (DO), the second tier was analyzed in comparison to the other hosting plans, as the first droplet tier was too small for most applications. Note that the Cloudways option reviewed was the DigitalOcean plan. This shows the same DO hosting droplet specs, but with a managed (Cloudways) vs unmanaged (DO direct) comparison.

HostGator – Cloud Hosting Plans

HostGator is well known as a top shared hosting provider, but they’re so much more than that! HostGator has recently supercharged their cloud hosting platform, making it 2x faster with 4x the resources as before! If you’re currently running your website on a shared hosting platform, migrating to HostGator’s cloud hosting will turbocharge your website, making it lightning fast! But beyond greatly improved speed, you’ll enjoy the benefits of seamless scalability and growth. As your website grows and traffic demands increase, you can allocate more resources with a simple click – no migrations, downtime, or server reboots! This is particularly useful with upcoming promotions, such as a black Friday sale for an ecommerce web store; simply respond to the traffic increase by allocating more RAM and CPU cores, then scale back down if the additional resources are not needed long-term.

HostGator also provides a nice dashboard where all your website performance statistics are presented, making it easy to manage your cloud server. The dashboard is presented with several categories, including: Page Load Speed and Server Uptime, Site Availability and Visitor Stats, as well as a CPU and Memory Usage Monitor. HostGator best practices recommend not exceeding 50% of available CPU usage under normal load, and 70% under peak usage. Additional RAM and CPU cores can be allocated once every 24 hours to your HostGator cloud hosting account. Simply select the “Update Hosting Plan“ button and adjust the CPU cores and RAM using the “Customize Your Hosting Plan” box. It’s that easy to manage a HostGator cloud server!

Signup for HostGator Cloud

Bluehost – Cloud Hosting Services

Bluehost has launched a new cloud hosting solution, and it’s great! Bluehost wins our speed challenge with their new in structure and premium hardware. Their cloud hosting platform utilizes varnish caching and a global CDN, resulting in outstanding performance for the money. You’ll find that static website content loads extremely quick with this server configuration.

From the side-by-side comparison above, Bluehost offers a very similar introductory package to that of HostGator, with slightly faster page load times as well. Bluehost has won the fastest web host comparison for sharing hosting and edges out the competition for cloud hosting as well.
I’m a sucker for the Bluehost dashboards – they are clean and simple to understand, but offer powerful information at a quick glance. The Bluehost cloud hosting dashboard shows page speed, site uptime, global reach with CDN stats, and much more. CPU load and RAM usage stats are auto calculated and prominently displayed on the dashboard, with a rating for each. The instant resource management tool enables you to add CPU and RAM a la carte with the click of a button, as your changing needs require.

The managed cloud hosting setup utilizes automatic mirroring of your data across three devices – one serving content to your end-users, the other two copies as rebuilds, giving you confidence that there are no data delays or downtime issues from your cloud server.

Signup for Bluehost Cloud

SiteGround – Cloud Hosting

SiteGround makes enterprise-class cloud hosting available to everyone, with optimization for the most popular web applications. Getting started is simple, with one-click installs for WordPress, Magento, Drupal or Joomla. The cloud servers are efficiently managed with autoupdates, static and dynamic caching, with daily backups stored offsite for peace of mind for both server management and data protection.

SiteGround’s cloud server configurations are top-notch, with light-weight Linux distributions running on SSD disks, coupled with free CDN implementation for local end-user speed. One excellent feature of SiteGround is their auto-scale function, which enables you to auto-scale resources upon increased demand without the need to reboot the server instance. (Auto-scale can also be turned off, and instead manually adjusted up or down depending on your needs). This is a very powerful feature, not found on most discount cloud hosts.

SiteGround’s Entry Plan is the most expensive on the list, staring at $80/month – with 2 CPU cores, 4GB RAM, 40GB SSD, and 5TB of data transfer. They also offer 3 more tiers, Business, Business Plus, and Super Power – but you can just as easily create your own plan, customizing CPU, Memory and SSD space based on your specific requirements and budget. SiteGround’s more expensive rate is justified by their first-rate infrastructure, top-tier support, and premium features.

Signup for SiteGround Cloud

Cloudways – Managed Cloud Hosting

Cloudways is a managed cloud hosting platform, which empowers its users to access the cloud infrastructure from world-class providers: DigitalOcean, Google Cloud Platform, AWS, linode, StackPath, and Vultr. Through a slick interface, users can quickly deploy an enterprise grade cloud instance with a few simple clicks. This gives webmasters and developers easy access to the reliability, speed, and security of the world’s top cloud networks.

Cloudways even has simple one-click installs on their platform to install frameworks such as WordPress, Magento, PHP, Laravel, Drupal, Joomla, PrestaShop, WooCommerce, and more. They have tons of goodies as well, such as their Breeze – WordPress Cache Plugin, which improves website speed with file level cache system, database optimization and cleanup, minification, and support for Varnish cache with CDN integration options. Bottom line, they know what they’re doing over at Cloudways – and they’re empowering small to medium size businesses (and power users) across the planet with easy accessibility to premium cloud solutions.

Signup for Cloudways

DigitalOcean – Cloud Computing

DigitalOcean is a great platform, and I host several long-term projects on this platform. However, for this particular cloud hosting review DigitalOcean comes in last, as it’s really geared towards developers and teams looking to deploy, manage, and scale their cloud applications. You can certainly host websites on DigitalOcean, however it perhaps isn’t the best option for this. Rather, they are much more suited for web application hosting and management. As mentioned above, Cloudways is a great bridge for webmasters looking to leverage enterprise-grade cloud hosting for their website and provides a great way to easily host on a solution like DigitalOcean.

However, rather than “last place” I see DigitalOcean as an “honorable mention” in this review, as they’re my current favorite of the cloud infrastructure providers. They’re just not the best (or easiest) “cloud hosting” option for a webmaster looking for the next level of fast cloud-based hosting.

Besides hosting web applications, another great use of DigitalOcean is for masternode hosting (I personally host my masternodes on DigitalOcean, and highly recommend the cloud-based platform for this purpose!).

Signup for DigitalOcean

Common Cloud Hosting Questions

What is cloud hosting?

Cloud hosting is an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model which uses virtualization of servers to provide multi-user access, in tandem, to the physical server infrastructure. Quite simply, cloud hosting occurs when your data is hosted on multiple servers simultaneously.

What are the benefits of cloud hosting?

Cloud hosting provides several significant benefits over other hosting models:

  1. Cloud hosting is more scalable and flexible than other hosting methods. Virtualization enables on-demand capacity increases, and the ability to combine multiple physical servers and their resources into a single cloud server. Cloud hosting takes advantage of the economies of scale of partitioning physical hardware in a virtualized environment, allowing on-demand access to nearly infinite scaling possibilities. This offers significantly more flexibility than shared hosting packages, which are pre-set by tiered levels, and dedicated servers, which are bound by the hardware in the physical box that is rented or leased from the hosting company.
  2. Cloud hosting is faster than standard hosting. Unlike shared hosting, which distributes server resources based on the load from each user, cloud hosting allocates specific hardware and bandwidth to your virtual server, ensuring a baseline of performance that won’t waver. Shared hosting can often get bogged down during peak load times, or if one website on that server gets overloaded. A cloud server guarantees your hardware, safeguarding your server performance. Cloud hosting can also be distributed by geographic location, acting as a CDN at the server level, serving your files to the end user from the location closed to their proximity. This cuts down on latency and can greatly increase the time to first byte of the incoming packets. Additionally, CDNs become more effective too, when utilized across distributed cloud hosts.
  3. Cloud hosting is cheaper than dedicated hosting. Cloud hosting empowers users to “build” their own virtual server on the fly, without the extensive management requirements and hardware costs of a dedicated server. Typically, dedicated server hosting is reserved for enterprise organizations that demand extensive data security and have a steady high traffic levels or bandwidth needs that only a dedicated server can supply.
  4. Cloud hosting is easier to manage than dedicated hosting. In a virtualized cloud hosting environment, the hosting provider will manage the hardware, security, and software running the physical server. With a dedicated hosting setup you are responsible for managing and maintaining the server. This includes security management to installing patches and upgrades to the operating system, drivers, and software run on the box.

What is the difference between VPS and cloud hosting?

A VPS (Virtual Private Server) is a private cloud instance, but you are operating on a virtualized partition of a shared server. True cloud hosting runs on many different servers, simultaneously.

By simultaneously running web services in the cloud you are able to serve data to your end users faster and more efficiently than a VPS, all with greater reliability due to the distributed redundancies of employing multiple physical networks. Enterprise grade cloud hosting operates on a pay-per-use method, so you can scale on-demand and only pay for what you actually use, while VPS hosting relies on pre-allocated packages, billed on virtualized resource allocation, not actual use.

Generally speaking, cloud hosting is an excellent choice for those wishing to host web applications, web services, or that require scaling and redundancies for their websites.

VPS hosting is an excellent option for those simply wishing to host a website, but with requirements greater than what shared hosting can provide.

Make sure it’s actually cloud, not VPS hosting

If you’re looking for cloud hosting specifically, you’ll want to pay careful attention to web hosts offerings, as many of them are masked as cloud hosting, but are just VPS hosting. Some web hosting companies try to market VPS and cloud hosting as the same thing – perhaps to pick up on the SEO keyword exposure of both – for example, A2 Hosting states on this page: https://www.a2hosting.com/cloud-vps-hosting – “Don’t settle for merely a top Cloud VPS Hosting provider; choose A2 Hosting for the Best Cloud VPS Hosting service.” If that isn’t convoluted keyword stuffing I don’t know what is.

Needless to say, I’d select one of the cloud hosts mentioned above instead.