So you’re looking to move your website away from your current hosting service and are considering cloud and VPS hosting.
Which one is right for you?
What are the differences between cloud and VPS hosting?
We spent hours researching cloud and VPS hosting services to explain how each works so that you can choose the best option for your needs.
Generally, when a website grows beyond the limits of other hosting services, you should consider moving the website to one of these hosting options.
Cloud and VPS hosting are both much faster than shared hosting because they include dedicated resources.
Let’s see which one is right for you.
Table Of Contents
- Cloud Hosting Vs VPS Hosting: What’s The Difference?
- Is A Cloud Server The Same As A CDN?
- Which Is Faster VPS Or Cloud Hosting?
- VPS Vs Cloud Hosting: What’s Right For Your Website?
Cloud Hosting Vs VPS Hosting: What’s The Difference?
The difference between cloud and virtual private servers is that cloud hosting uses multiple physical servers with the ability to scale resources when needed.
VPS hosting has one server with limited resources.
Cloud hosting and VPS hosting both use virtual servers with dedicated resources.
Generally, VPS hosting is better for medium-sized websites while cloud hosting is better for corporate websites.
Overall, the core technology is the same, but the cloud is spread out across a network of data centers, while a regular VPS is only hosted on one data center.
Cloud Hosting Explained
The word “cloud” gets thrown around a lot, and it’s often used for any service that hosts files on a remote server, instead of a local physical server.
Cloud hosting can be a little tough to wrap your head around because it describes a wide range of services and technologies.
Generally speaking, the purpose of cloud hosting is to remotely access a pool of hardware resources from multiple data centers.
Bear in mind that cloud servers are not the same as CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) and I’ll explain more about that later on.
Advantages Of The Cloud
Cloud hosting is extremely reliable because if one data center has an issue, one of the others on the network can pick up the slack, also called redundancy.
Another benefit of cloud hosting is scalability.
If you require more resources, you can easily rent more servers or resources.
Most of the time you only pay for what you use.
Cloud hosting is the preferred choice for applications that have bandwidth and processing requirements that fluctuate.
Another way to think of that is it’s easier to vertically scale a cloud server.
In other words, your website or application will almost never see downtime on a cloud hosting plan.
Cloud hosting is the preferred choice for large websites such as magazines, news outlets, search engines, social networks, online stores, and many others.
Bear in mind, that every hosting company offers its own cloud hosting packages with a wide range of features.
Cloud hosting costs are a bit tricky.
For example, some servers will charge you for bandwidth use or per minute of use.
Most of the big-name cloud hosting companies will offer pay-as-you-go plans which are convenient because you only pay for the resources you use.
- Great performance
- Server hosting on multiple data centers
- Can be vertically scaled as needed
- Most cloud hosts provide pay-as-you-go plans
- Extremely reliable
- Dedicated resources
- Great security
VPS Hosting Overview
A VPS (Virtual Private Server) works the same way as cloud hosting but without multiple servers or a pay-as-you-go plan.
With a VPS you have dedicated resources on one partition and one physical server.
For example, your virtual private server could have 1 CPU core, 1 GB of RAM, and 20 GB of storage.
You also have root access and can host a number of applications and operating systems, including multiplayer game servers.
You’re not strictly limited to certain applications.
The downside is your server is one small piece of a larger physical server, and if the main server goes down, then your plan will go down too.
However, most VPS providers like Kamatera, Hostwinds, Hostinger, KnowHost are very secure, and your website is unlikely to go down.
Typically, there’s no user interface on a VPS server.
You will have to enter command lines, usually via a Linux terminal.
There’s also the option to purchase a managed VPS hosting where a technician will set up the services you need.
However, certain hosting companies do provide a user interface on their VPS servers.
Most VPS servers offer a limited amount of resources, and if you use more than the amount allocated, you need to upgrade to a new plan.
Unlike cloud servers, VPS servers don’t automatically scale on a pay-as-you-go model.
Generally, VPS servers are ideal for people with small to medium-sized websites or applications where you need dedicated resources and full hosting control.
Most small websites don’t have very high bandwidth requirements so you won’t have to worry about that problem.
VPS servers are also much cheaper than cloud hosting because you’re only buying one server.
Website owners usually move their websites to a dedicated virtual private server after they outgrow their shared hosting plans.
For a complete breakdown of how a VPS works, read our detailed VPS guide.
- Better performance than shared hosting
- Total control over your server via root access
- Dedicated resources
- Option to install any number of applications
- Great security
How Virtualization Technology Works
Cloud hosting and VPS hosting both use virtualization technology.
It’s a software-based technology that allows you to create a layer over computer hardware.
I’ll quickly explain how it works.
In simple terms, you can think of a virtual server as a partition on a hard drive, a digital way to split a hard drive into separate folders.
Hosting companies use that technology to create private sections with dedicated resources that they rent out to users.
For example, a hosting company buys a whole server, complete with CPU, RAM, and storage.
It then splits the resources into multiple virtual partitions with a small portion of the main resources.
It customization process for cloud hosting and VPS hosting is a little different. Before you buy a plan, it’s best to know what you’re getting into.
Customizing A Cloud Hosting Server
Most cloud hosting servers are bare-bones with no graphical interface or operating system and the commands need to be typed directly with command lines.
However, some do include a control panel with a list of applications and other onboarding services. For example, SiteGround offers a WordPress migration tool that’ll move your WordPress website to the cloud with a few simple steps.
For other applications, It can be tricky to set up a cloud server on your own, so web hosting companies offer managed cloud hosting services.
With a managed cloud hosting server, a technician will run all the commands on the server to install the applications you want and get everything ready for you.
On that note, many of these servers allow you to install control panels like cPanel but you have to buy a license or pay for an add-on.
Do Cloud Servers Offer Root Access?
Not all cloud servers offer root access. It varies from the web host, but generally speaking, most big-name hosting companies do not provide root access.
For example, SiteGround does not provide root access on any of its servers.
Customizing A VPS Server
Typically, with a VPS server, you will have complete control.
There are usually two types of VPS servers: unmanaged and managed.
As mentioned earlier, an unmanaged VPS will provide you with a bare-bones server with a Linux terminal for installing applications.
Most VPS servers will provide you with root access, so you’re in total control of your server.
Managed VPS servers are preferred for non-experts because they are done-for-you packages.
Most web hosting companies will offer managed VPS servers for a variety of applications, such as WordPress, or even multiplayer game servers.
Once again, the exact customization options will vary depending on the hosting company.
VPS Resource Limitations
Once again, a VPS comes with resource limitations (CPU, RAM, storage, etc).
They don’t automatically scale vertically like cloud servers.
So you need to consider the resource requirements of your project.
Normally, simple WordPress websites don’t have very high resource requirements, so a VPS should be able to handle the workload with no issues.
For example, if your website is suddenly hit with a massive traffic spike, the VPS server might not have enough resources to handle the workload fast enough.
To solve that issue, you will need to upgrade to a VPS that has more resources.
Except by then, the traffic spike might be over, and you will no longer need those extra resources.
Is A Cloud Server The Same As A CDN?
Cloud servers are often confused with CDNs (content delivery networks) but they’re not the same.
Essentially, a CDN makes a cache of static files and hosts them in key locations around the world so visitors can access the files from the data center closest to them.
CDNs improve the overall performance of websites that use a lot of static content, such as images, files, text, and whatnot.
For optimal performance, it’s recommended to use a CDN with your cloud server.
Which Is Faster VPS Or Cloud Hosting?
Generally, cloud hosting is faster than VPS because it uses resources from multiple servers and it can automatically allocate more resources when needed.
However, many factors can affect the speed, such as the web host’s infrastructure, data centers, hardware, and whatnot.
Some cloud servers are slower than virtual private servers.
In most cases, the performance is about the same, although the cloud has a slight lead.
In most cases, the security of both cloud and VPS hosting is top-notch with multiple levels of protection and you don’t need to worry about it.
With a VPS, you can install your own custom security options with firewalls, etc.
One major point for the cloud is redundancy, if one physical server fails, there are plenty of backups to keep it online.
The downside is if you make a mistake with configuring your firewalls you could leave your server vulnerable.
For that reason, I recommend using managed VPS hosting because a technician will take care of all the security measures.
Once again, the level of security comes down to the quality of the hosting provider.
It’s difficult to compare the prices of these two options because they vary dramatically.
Additionally, managed servers are more expensive than self-managed.
Certain companies only provide managed servers while others only provide self-managed.
For example, SiteGround only offers managed cloud plans, starting from $100 a month.
Meanwhile, Hostinger only offers self-managed cloud servers.
However, for small websites, you can find beginner VPS plans that are often much cheaper than cloud servers.
Granted the resources will be heavily limited but they can be enough for simple websites.
Is VPS Hosting Cheaper Than Cloud Hosting?
Yes. VPS hosting is almost always cheaper than cloud hosting because it’s a single server.
VPS Vs Cloud Hosting: What’s Right For Your Website?
To decide which options are better for your website, it’s best to take a look at your bandwidth usage over the last few months.
If your bandwidth usage fluctuates dramatically from month to month, a cloud server can balance the workload.
However, if your bandwidth is relatively stable, a VPS is the better choice.
Just remember, that both of these hosting options use the same virtual technology, and you’ll need to know how to configure them.
I personally recommend moving from shared hosting to a VPS and then from there, you can consider the cloud for more scalability.
Most of the time, a good VPS with a moderate amount of dedicated resources is enough to host most websites with decent performance.
Not sure what is the best hosting provider? Take a look at our 7 recommendations for small business owners.