If your website has outgrown shared hosting and you’ve decided you need a better solution, it’s time to consider VPS or cloud hosting. Both give you the increased reliability, performance, and resources you need to expand.
But how do you decide which option is best for you?
The answer depends on your business requirements. Each type of hosting has its own pros and cons.
For example, while VPS has the advantage of better security, it could potentially fail if there’s a malfunction with the physical server it’s built on. Cloud hosting, on the other hand, gives you almost unlimited scalability, but because it’s web-based, it’s also more vulnerable to malicious attacks.
To help you make the right decision, we’ve compared VPS and cloud hosting side-by-side in a few key areas:
We’ll also take a look at a few scenarios in which VPS beats cloud hosting and vice versa, and recommend some of the best hosting services.
An Overview of VPS Hosting
VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. It’s a type of hosting that gives you the advantages of a dedicated server — but without the high price point.
VPS hosting uses a physical server that’s been partitioned virtually into many individual virtual servers. Even though you’re still sharing that server with a number of other users, there’s no direct competition. You can also configure your operating system and software however you want: think of it like a condo that you can remodel and decorate as you wish.
But VPS hosting comes with a few drawbacks. Because there are many virtual segments on one physical server, performance can fluctuate if another VPS is consuming a lot of resources. You also need to know what you’re doing when you’re customizing the setup, so you need technical skills to get the most out of VPS hosting.
Many hosting companies offer VPS plans. InMotion Hosting is one that gets consistently positive reviews. In any case, it’s always a good idea to compare the features on offer to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
The Best VPS Hosting Services
Our hosting experts live and breathe web hosting, and we couldn’t think of anyone better to ask. Here are their top recommendations:
- InterServer – Two US data centers, one on each coast, make for excellent loading speeds in the US and beyond. All VPS machines are 100% SSD, prices are well within reason, and 99.9% uptime is guaranteed. All major OS and control panels are supported.
- Hostinger – An industry leader in terms of affordability and value for money, Hostinger offers both Linux and Windows unmanaged VPS solutions. Ample resources and the company’s excellent 24/7 support service just go to show that sometimes, you can have your cake and eat it too.
- ScalaHosting – A Texas-based host that specializes in VPS hosting. Choose between the Dallas or Sofia, Bulgaria data centers, and enjoy powerful features like the cybersecurity shield, free website migrations, free backups, and easy server management.
- Hostwinds – Ten different VPS setups make Hostwinds a great choice for websites and projects of all sizes. Both managed and unmanaged plans are available, and you’ll get access to useful features such as nightly backups and the enterprise firewall.
- Liquid Web – One of the few companies to forgo shared hosting and focus only on high-end hosting solutions. This boutique service comes at a higher price, but for good reason: independent benchmarks rate Liquid Web as one of the fastest hosts in the industry, and all plans include a firewall, DDoS protection, free backup space, and expert personal assistance available 24/7.
An Overview of Cloud Hosting
The major difference between cloud hosting and VPS hosting is that cloud hosting uses many different physical servers, instead of being a segment on a single physical server.
This means that you’ll be drawing resources and processing power from physical servers all over the world. You’ll have access to virtually unlimited resources, and there’s no risk of slower speeds.
The huge plus with cloud hosting is that it gives you more flexibility and guarantees performance when you experience surges in traffic. Instead of confining you to the limitations of a single server, you can simply tap into more server resources whenever you need them. There’s also no risk of your website going down if one physical server fails, since another server will simply move in to take its place.
That said, cloud hosting doesn’t offer as many customization options as VPS hosting — and if your host does allow you this customizability, you’ll typically need much more technical knowledge to configure a cloud-based server.
An increasing number of hosting providers are offering cloud hosting at affordable prices. Liquid Web, for example, offers a range of cloud hosting options – including Cloud VPS, a VPS hosting option that has all the additional benefits of cloud hosting. This makes it one of the best options for larger businesses looking for customization and reliability.
The Best Cloud Hosting Services
We went back to our hosting experts to see what they had to say. Here are their top cloud hosting recommendations:
- Liquid Web – This is a top-notch host for businesses of all sizes. Here you can find high-performance cloud VPS and cloud dedicated plans, private cloud hosting, and even custom solutions.
- SiteGround – This user-friendly host offers autoscalable, customizable, managed cloud hosting solutions which include SSD storage and 5TB data transfer. All the cloud hosting plans come with 24/7 VIP support.
- Superb Internet – This host specializes in cloud hosting solutions with fully dedicated, guaranteed resources. You can choose to pay monthly, with no long-term commitment.
- Cloudways – As its name implies, Cloudways specializes in fully-managed cloud hosting. With this host, you can focus on building and growing your site, while everything else is taken care of for you.
- FastComet – Here you get Cloud VPS hosting on SSD-based servers, and your server will be deployed within minutes. Developers will appreciate the full root access and automatic backups.
Performance Priorities for Ultimate Reliability and Speed
If you’re moving your website from a shared hosting plan, one of the biggest differences you’ll notice with both VPS and cloud hosting is the performance. The speed, stability, and reliability you’ll have with both these hosting types are far superior to shared hosting. However, there are some differences in performance levels between the two.
Before cloud hosting became popular, VPS was the best-performing option you could get without paying the premium for a dedicated server. With VPS, you are guaranteed server resources that you won’t have to share with other websites, and your page loading speeds will be faster than with shared hosting.
But VPS hosting is limited in that your website is still hosted on a physical server — even if you have your own separate partition. There are other websites on that same server, so there’s still a chance, even if it is a small one, that your website will be affected if another website is hogging a bunch of resources. Your VPS is also limited by the capacity and hardware of the physical server.
Cloud hosting draws on many servers worldwide to deliver superb performance levels. Even during times of high demand – such as Black Friday sales, for example – cloud hosting will deliver the same speed and reliability. Being able to pull RAM (memory) and CPU power from a range of servers gives it an unparalleled ability to handle even the most unexpected traffic spikes.
Cloud hosting is also protected against downtime because of its ability to migrate files and functional responsibilities to another server if one fails.
The Winner Is…
Cloud hosting comes out on top in performance and reliability.
Scalability When Your Website Grows
As your business grows, it’s important that your hosting service can cope with the increased demands on your website. Scalable hosting is a priority for most business owners. When looking for the best hosting solution for your needs, consider how easy it’ll be to scale up with the provider. Don’t just look at what you need now – plan for the future.
Although VPS can offer a greater amount of server resources than shared hosting can, its scalability is limited by the physical server it’s hosted on. You can increase the memory and CPU power available on your virtual server, but these amounts are still fixed. The physical server only has a certain amount of resources it can deliver.
To scale your VPS hosting beyond the limits of the physical server, you’ll have to upgrade to a new plan. Certain hosts, such as InterServer (read the full review here), will try to minimize any disruption to your website when you’re migrating to the new server, but some downtime is inevitable.
Cloud hosting has a huge advantage compared to VPS hosting. It’s not restricted to a single physical server, so its scalability options are virtually unlimited. As your business grows, your cloud hosting grows with you, offering higher levels of bandwidth, storage, memory, and processing power.
With cloud hosting, if you know you’ll need more bandwidth and other resources – during a major sale or promotion, for example – you can easily scale your hosting plan to cope with the extra traffic. Hosts such as Liquid Web (read our expert review here) give you the flexibility to scale it back afterwards, too, so you’re not paying for resources you’re not using.
The Winner Is…
Cloud hosting, which gives you many more scalability options than VPS hosting.
Customization Controls: Your Website, Your Way
The ability to customize your server setup becomes more important as your business grows. In this aspect, both VPS and cloud hosting have huge advantages over shared hosting, where you have little control over your setup.
Configuration options include applications, security, partitioning, backups, PHP versions, and much more. You’ll need some technical knowledge to get the most out of your hosting, however — unless you opt for a “managed” plan, where the hosting provider takes care of the more complex tasks.
VPS hosting gives you access to a similar level of customizability as with a dedicated server. Having full root access means you can control every aspect of your VPS setup, including the OS (usually Linux or Windows). Not all hosting providers offer Windows VPS, however, so if you’re looking to install a Windows Server, you’ll have to shop around.
Cloud hosting also gives you a degree of customizability. For instance, you’ll be able to configure firewalls, change your network architecture, and implement load balancing. However, because your hosting is built on a vast network of servers, your hosting company has to limit your control over certain settings to ensure that your cloud hosting works efficiently.
Cloud hosting is also more complex than other hosting types because of how it’s set up. You’ll need more technical knowledge to take full advantage of the configuration options available to you.
The Winner Is…
VPS, which offers superior customization options and requires less technical expertise than cloud hosting.
Safe and Secure: Protection from Malicious Attacks
Security considerations are important when you’re running a business, of course. If you’re not adequately protected, hacking, DDoS attacks, and malware infections can have a devastating effect on your bottom line. Not only do different types of hosting carry different security concerns, but you’ll also have varying levels of security measures with different providers.
VPS hosting gives you a high level of security – comparable to that of a dedicated server. Since each VPS is separate from other VPSes on the same physical server, your website won’t be affected even if another website on the server is hacked or infected with malware. Plus, being hosted on a single physical server means that security is much tighter than with cloud hosting.
However, you should know that VPS hosting isn’t risk-free. If another website on your server is hit with a DDoS attack, the physical server may still be incapacitated if the attack is large enough. You’re also responsible for your own security customizations and installations on a VPS, so the level of protection depends on the measures you take to keep your VPS secure.
With cloud hosting, security levels are relatively high, since your website is kept separate from others. You’ll be able to put in your own security measures on top of those offered by your hosting provider. The main limitation, however, is the cloud-based nature of the setup.
Your hosting is spread across multiple physical servers, which makes it more difficult to keep your website completely secure. Like all web-based services, there are vulnerabilities: cloud hosting is more likely to suffer from malicious attacks.
The Winner Is
VPS hosting, which can offer much higher levels of security due to its location on a single physical server.
Cost Considerations: Affordability and Value
Both VPS and cloud hosting are much more affordable than dedicated servers, while still providing many of the benefits of dedicated hosting. These two options mean that you’ll have greater access to reliable, high-performance hosting as well as excellent value for money.
Not only is a VPS cheaper and better value than a dedicated server, but it also offers a predictable monthly cost. You choose your plan and receive the promised amount of resources every month.
Prices for VPS hosting differ depending on a variety of factors, such as resource caps, server specifications, and the level of support you require.
With its unlimited resources and excellent scalability, cloud hosting is more expensive than VPS hosting. It’s still excellent value for money, however, and generally much more affordable than a dedicated server.
Monthly costs for cloud hosting are less predictable than VPS hosting because of the scalability options. If you experience traffic spikes, for example, your monthly costs will be higher than normal. However, if your traffic is lower than normal, you may end up paying less.
The Winner Is…
Well, there’s no clear winner in terms of price. VPS is cheaper but offers less scalability. Cloud hosting costs are higher, but the value for money makes the additional costs acceptable.
VPS vs. Cloud Hosting: Choosing What’s Right for You
VPS and cloud hosting are both attractive options when your website has outgrown shared hosting. Although cloud hosting is the current trend and more and more providers are offering a variety of cloud hosting options, VPS is still a solid and dependable choice.
|Hosted on a single physical server||✔||✖|
|Hosted across multiple physical servers||✖||✔|
|Exceptionally high level of security||✔||✖|
|Excellent customization options||✔||✖|
|Basic customization options||✖||✔|
|High level of scalability||✖||✔|
|Guaranteed ability to cope with traffic surges||✖||✔|
Choosing the right type of hosting for your website depends on a range of factors, including your budget, the amount of web traffic you receive, and your technical capabilities. Let’s look at a few scenarios:
Choose VPS If:
- Your business is relatively small and your monthly web traffic is predictable (no big traffic spikes)
- You have just enough technical knowledge necessary to customize your VPS
- You’re worried about malicious attacks on your website
Choose Cloud Hosting If:
- You’re very tech-savvy and can easily handle cloud-based server customizations
- You run a large web-based business that gets both predictable and unpredictable traffic spikes
- Your business is growing and you need to be sure that your hosting can cope with the extra demand without any downtime or disruption in service
Making the Switch Between Hosting Types
It’s not uncommon to find that your current hosting setup isn’t working for you. Maybe you’re on a VPS plan and find that the scalability limitations are holding you back. Switching to cloud hosting in that situation makes sense, as you’ll have much more flexibility and room to grow your business.
Or perhaps you’re on a cloud hosting plan and are finding it difficult to manage strict data protection protocols because of the more fluid nature of a cloud-based infrastructure. If your business depends on top-level security, switching to a VPS (or even dedicated hosting) may be the best choice.
Most hosting companies make it easy to switch from one type of hosting to another, though you should still expect some downtime. To ensure the process is as simple as possible, check whether your web host offers expert migration services.