Cloud Hosting vs. Shared Hosting: Which Is the Best Option? – MakeUseOf

People can’t find your website if you don’t host it on the internet. Web hosting is like renting a space somewhere and giving out its address so people can find you.

You can host your website using any of the hosting services out there. But cloud and shared hosting are still the most popular forms, and many websites on the internet rely on one of them.

You’ve probably heard about them. But what does it mean to host your website on the cloud or through a shared service? And which is better?

Standing web servers

Shared hosting uses a form of distributed resources to serve websites it hosts. Many of the websites you find on the internet run on shared hosting.

Shared hosting, however, stacks multiple websites on a single server. So when you create a website using shared hosting, it shares space and resources like bandwidth, database storage, and mail space, among others, with other websites hosted on that server.

One of the constraints of shared hosting is that instead of getting an expanse of servers to yourself, you choose the portion you want from a single one, and the hosting provider allocates it to you.

Shared hosting is easy to maintain as the hosting provider manages most of the resources and technicalities behind the scene.

However, this pooling of resources with other websites can result in unnecessary competition for space, bandwidth, database storage, and performance. In essence, another site that outperforms yours might dominate the server that hosts your website, causing a reduction in your website’s performance.

Additionally, since shared hosting revolves around a single server, it means server downtime renders all websites on it inaccessible as well.

What’s Cloud Hosting?

A hand touching the cloud

Although it recently gained more popularity, the idea of cloud computing has been around for over six decades now.

With Amazon offering its virtual Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) servers for the first time in 2006, other tech giants, including Google, Microsoft, and many others have also swung into action, providing their cloud solutions as well.

When you host a website on the cloud, it’s available on several remote servers. So instead of sharing resources with many websites on a single server, cloud hosting gives a website access to unlimited resources available from distributed servers.

Cloud hosting achieves this by spreading web servers across several remote locations, also called data centers. That distribution makes all hosting resources readily available.

That’s an advantage because even when one server goes down due to technical issues or maintenance, another remote server picks up your website and keeps it running.

Since servers are anywhere and everywhere, it means there’s more storage space, increased performance, and opportunity to expand. Cloud hosting also comes in different forms, so it’s highly flexible.

Nonetheless, cloud hosting delivers a more scalable and robust architecture that’s easy to maintain. Unlike shared hosting, cloud hosting also offers users the opportunity to add more features to their hosting architecture at any time they decide.

Even then, on most occasions, you don’t have to worry about server maintenance, as the hosting provider does that for you. But that also depends on the type of cloud service you use.

Now that you’re clear on what shared and cloud hosting are, take a look at some differences in their features for a quick recap.

Features of Cloud Hosting

  • It delivers content from various data centers.
  • Cloud hosting offers on-premise solutions and you can add features as you expand. So it’s highly scalable.
  • Unless there’s a fault from the hosting provider, it eliminates server downtime with the help of inter-server data transfer.
  • It relies on virtual servers, so you don’t have to worry about getting extra space for physical servers.
  • Data gets delivered more quickly, as the closest server to you receives and delivers them.
  • If not properly set up, there can be a data breach.
  • A single server holds many websites at once.
  • Although you can expand, there may be some limitations as you can’t exceed what you opted for originally. So it’s not as scalable as cloud hosting.
  • It doesn’t eliminate server downtime as one server hosts many websites at once.
  • Data delivery is slower when compared to cloud hosting.
  • Deployment is easy and less technical.
Coins placed on paper currency

Shared hosting is more subtle when it comes to pricing. As we earlier stated, shared hosting is all about space allocation.

So the price of your shared hosting plan might vary, depending on the required storage space, bandwidth, and the hosting provider.

Indeed, many websites out there use shared hosting because it’s cheaper, offering more fixed prices than its cloud counterpart.

Therefore, as long as you’re not opting for wider bandwidth or higher plans, your hosting charges are not likely to change from the previous one even if you decide to renew your plan.

Pricing Characteristic of Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting could start at a low price. Some are even free from the beginning. But the cost of maintaining the infrastructure when you decide to scale up is typically quite high.

Depending on your demand, hosting on the cloud could cost you between hundreds to several thousand dollars a month.

Cloud hosting also comes in different forms, so you get to pick the service that suits your needs. You can opt for an Infrastructure as a Service plan (IaaS), where you get virtual servers that give you the entire hosting infrastructure.

There’s also Platform as a Service (PaaS), where the hosting provider configures readily available infrastructures or software platforms where you can deploy and run your apps quickly.

Another popular one is Software as a Service (SaaS), where people get to access the software on-demand without necessarily installing them.

These options are highly scalable, but while expansion is the goal, you might want to consider the cost of maintaining a robust infrastructure moving forward. Unlike shared hosting, where you’re sure that you’ve subscribed and that’s it, cloud hosting places you on a “pay as you use” condition, which usually becomes rather expensive.

So before dabbling in it, ensure that you’re resourceful enough.

No rule explicitly states which apps or websites you can and can’t host using shared hosting. But when you consider factors like speed, data delivery, data storage, and traffic tolerance, shared hosting might not offer much in that respect.

That’s because shared hosting is hardly scalable. So when your website hits the limit, things might get messy and clogged up.

But as you know already, that the low cost of shared hosting is its strength, so deciding whether to use shared hosting or not also depends on your financial capability.

That said, if your web app isn’t going to generate much traffic or if it doesn’t transmit or store a large volume of data, then shared hosting is a perfect choice as it doesn’t cost much.

For instance, you can host your company’s website or portfolio using shared hosting. Most blogs on the internet today even rely on shared hosting. Shared hosting delivers excellently as well, as long as you don’t exceed your bandwidth.

When Can You Use Cloud Hosting?

If yours is an enterprise app that requires plenty of resources, sufficient storage, and instant data delivery, then cloud hosting might be the right option.

While high cost might be a con of cloud hosting, it outshines shared hosting with its robust performance.

If you have a website that receives a high amount of traffic or that has a high traffic potential, if you can afford it, you should consider putting it on the cloud.

For websites that transmit real-time data, such as those that provide some form of virtual solutions like Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), as expected, these can’t afford downtime. So cloud hosting is a perfect option for them as well.

Each form of hosting has different setup methods and deployment instructions. Shared hosting usually takes a few upload steps to implement once you have your website zipped in a folder.

Although the deployment process varies depending on the provider, shared hosting is more graphical, so it’s beginner-friendly.

Deploying on the cloud usually depends on the cloud service type and the hosting provider. While it’s easy to deploy on some cloud hosting platforms like Heroku, some require the expertise of trained cloud engineers.

Generally, hosting on the cloud is a bit more technical, and what’s even scarier is that you can incur an unnecessary cost even with a few setup mistakes.

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About The Author

Idowu Omisola (81 Articles Published)

Idowu is passionate about anything smart tech and productivity. In his free time, he plays around with coding and switches to the chessboard when he’s bored, but he also loves breaking away from routine once in a while. His passion for showing people the way around modern tech motivates him to write more.

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