Differences Between Shared Hosting and Cloud Hosting
These days it’s hard to imagine a successful business without a website. Not just large organizations but even small local companies are launching websites nowadays. And why shouldn’t they? With billions of people accessing the internet, sales and purchases have rapidly shifted to online methods.
In the online world, your website is the face and identity of your business. Without it, you don’t even exist to the consumers on the internet. The good thing is that setting up a website is incredibly easy nowadays. However, one of the first things you must decide when starting a website is which hosting you would like to choose since there are two options to pick from – web hosting (also called shared hosting) and cloud hosting.
If you want to launch a website for your business, the difference between these two is something you should know. Now whether you already have a basic understanding of these things or you don’t even know what hosting is in the first place, it doesn’t matter. This guide is the perfect starting place for everyone who wishes to start their website, and by the end of it, you will have a clear idea about the following things:
- What are shared hosting and cloud hosting?
- What are the differences between the two?
- What are the pros and cons of each type of hosting?
- Most importantly, which hosting will be suitable for your business?
Basics of Website Hosting Service
To make sure that all our readers stay on the same page, we’ll first talk about what the term ‘hosting’ means in general. It’s essential to know this if you want to understand the rest of the content discussed further properly.
Every website you see on the internet has a bunch of files, codes, and data that the website users don’t see. For the website to be online and visible to internet users, two things are essential:
- The site’s files and data must be stored in a device or computer somewhere.
- The data should continuously be connected to the internet, accessible to anyone through the site’s URL.
The device, computer, or system which stores the site data and connects it to the internet is what we call a server. And website hosting is simply the process of storing all the website’s files on a server and making them accessible to people over the internet. Website hosting services are companies that own and manage many servers that website owners can purchase/rent to store their site data.
Let’s look at the Facebook website as an example. Like any website, the files and data for Facebook are also stored in a bunch of servers. When someone types in the URL ‘www.facebook.com’ on their device, what they see is the site load up in seconds. But what happens behind the scenes is that their device is connected to Facebook’s servers, which transmits the files and data to the user’s device, which makes the site load.
So that covers the basics of website hosting. Now let’s take a look at shared hosting, cloud hosting, and their differences.
What is Shared Hosting?
Shared hosting is when your website’s data is stored in a server together with other websites. So as the name suggests, your website is sharing the server with multiple websites. Since one server is hosting many websites, your hosting plan will determine the number of the server’s resources (like storage space, RAM, etc) used by your website.
It’s important to note that the ‘server’ in shared web hosting is a physical server in a fixed location. Imagine that the hosting provider has many computers (servers), and one of the computers stores your website data along with that of many other websites. Your site doesn’t use up all the computer resources but only a fixed amount of resources based on the hosting plan you purchase. The site data will always be stored in that one particular server unless you request to shift it to another server.
With shared hosting, you get what you pay for. If your website grows bigger and you need to use more server resources, you can upgrade to a higher plan, which will also cost you more. However, since the same server is being shared among many websites, shared hosting plans are usually low-cost and affordable.
What Are The Advantages Of Shared Hosting?
Shared hosting offers the following benefits:
As we said earlier, shared hosting divides the resources of one server among many websites. Since you’re not utilizing the server’s entire resources and computing power, the hosting will be much cheaper. If you’re a small business, have a limited budget, or start your first website and don’t want to spend a lot of money, shared hosting is the best option. For just a few dollars, your website can be up and running.
Another great thing about shared hosting is that they have flexible and scalable plans. Right from the beginning, you get to choose from different plans and packages. Small websites can pick the most basic plans while bigger sites have higher packages to choose from, providing them greater resources. So you have the freedom to choose a hosting plan based on the needs of your website.
Websites don’t always remain the same. With time, your site will grow and attract higher traffic, publish more content and offer better features. So the same hosting plan won’t always be sufficient for your site. Well, you can just contact your hosting provider and switch to a better plan. You can always scale the hosting services based on the growth of your website.
It’s Beginner Friendly, Simple, And Easy To Manage
Shared hosting is a great option for even those who don’t know anything about hosting and maintaining websites. The hosting provider takes care of all the technical stuff, such as site security and site maintenance.
All you have to do is pay for the plan, sit back, and watch your website go online. In case of any problems, contact the support team of your hosting provider, and they’ll handle it. If you want to get more involved, you’ll also be given a control panel from where you can easily monitor and manage things. Overall, shared hosting offers a beginner-friendly service for new website owners.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Shared Hosting?
Despite its benefits, shared hosting also has some drawbacks and limitations such as:
One of the obvious disadvantages of shared hosting is performance issues, which are likely to arise when multiple sites share the same server. The processing power, RAM, and other server resources are all shared to put pressure on the server at times. This can lead to issues such as the slow loading speed of your website, and failure to render images or certain content. Sometimes, high traffic requests on other shared websites can overload the server, impacting your website.
A major concern when it comes to shared hosting is security issues. If any one of the shared websites is breached by a hacker, they get access to the entire server, including your website’s files. So if one website is compromised, it can expose every website on the same server. Now this doesn’t mean that shared hosting is entirely unsafe and hosting providers implement tight security measures. But it just leaves the possibility that one website on the server can put everyone else at risk.
Who Is Shared Hosting Best For?
By now you might already have understood that shared hosting is the best option, mainly for beginners who are launching their first website and for small businesses. Not just that, but anyone who’s looking for a cheap and affordable hosting plan will find that shared hosting is a perfect choice. In general, it’s a great way to get started with website hosting and a first step towards taking your business online.
What is Cloud Hosting?
If you look up some resources like review guides on cloud hosting, you’ll often come across a definition that mentions it as hosting on a ‘virtual server’. And many people don’t have a clear idea about what ‘cloud’ mainly means.
Well cloud servers are basically a large group of servers all connected to each other and to the internet. So with cloud hosting, your website’s files and data are not stored in a single server/computer in one fixed location. Instead, the data is distributed all across the various connected servers and accessed through the internet.
The reason why it’s called a virtual server is that there isn’t just a single device that you can point to as the main server. The ‘cloud server’ is simply a virtual environment on the internet that uses the resources of multiple physical servers. You might not even know where exactly your website’s data is stored, but rest assured that you and anyone else can access it anytime through the internet.
So, in short, cloud hosting is simply the process of hosting your website’s data over the internet on a cloud server, which is actually a network of many interconnected servers.
What Are The Advantages Of Cloud Hosting?
Cloud hosting has the following benefits:
The website data is not stored on a single server in cloud hosting but scattered across many servers. If any one of the servers fails, the information it holds can easily be moved to another server. This distribution of data across various servers ensures that your site is always up and running. For big websites where even a few seconds of going offline can make them lose a lot of money, cloud hosting comes across as a highly reliable solution.
Cloud hosting provides multiple layers of security with strong encryptions. It also offers excellent backup and recovery features. Many cloud hosting solutions keep copies of your site data as a backup over various devices. Even if you lose some data on a particular server or device due to hardware issues, it can easily be recovered from the backups. So cloud hosting ranks highly in terms of security and the safety of your data.
Since cloud hosting utilizes the resources and computational power of many servers, it will naturally be able to provide a high-performance environment. It’s capable of handling large websites with huge amounts of traffic while still providing super-fast loading speed. Even websites with intensive resources such as high graphics, lots of media files, and animations will function exceptionally well when hosted on the cloud.
High Value for Money
When we say value for money, we don’t mean that cloud hosting is cheap. In fact, it’s a lot more expensive than shared hosting plans. However, the value lies in the fact that you only pay for what you use. Cloud hosting is also called an on-demand hosting service because you will be charged only for your website’s resources. When you enjoy a lot of traffic and activity on your site, you’ll be using more resources on the cloud server and will have to pay more for it. At times when there’s little activity on your website, you’ll be charged less for it. So you’re getting the best value for your money.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Cloud Hosting?
While not many, there are some disadvantages of cloud hosting such as:
We did mention that cloud hosting is quite expensive compared to shared hosting. Of course, the high cost is justified as you get better services and good value for the money. Still, it means that many site owners may not get to enjoy the benefits of cloud hosting even if they want to because of the high cost.
Less Control, Difficult to Manage
With your website’s data divided over a network of many servers, you’ll have less control over the cloud infrastructure as the site owner. For most things, you’ll be relying on the cloud service provider. Many people will also find cloud-hosted websites to be harder to manage. If you’re not a tech-savvy person or not well familiarized with cloud technology, then hosting your website on the cloud will definitely be a confusing affair.
Who Is Cloud Hosting For?
Cloud hosting is the best solution for large businesses and websites that encounter huge traffic requests. It’s also perfect for e-commerce sites, as their income is totally based on online sales, so they need to be up and running at all times. In general, any website that needs high resources to function smoothly and needs to stay online at all costs should go for cloud computing. Though it’s expensive, it will prove to be more of an investment than an expense.
How To Choose The Best Hosting Option?
Shared hosting is suited for:
- Small businesses, individual site owners, hobby websites or non-profit websites, and beginners who are starting their first site.
Cloud hosting is suited for:
- Well established organizations and large corporations, websites that get very high traffic, e-commerce sites that make their revenue entirely from online sales.
Whether you go for shared hosting or cloud hosting, there are some things you need to consider if you want to find the best hosting provider:
- Reach out to more than one hosting service and check out different plans and features offered by each. It’s important to keep many options in your hands.
- Check the background and user reviews of the hosting provider to get an idea of what their customer support is like.
- Schedule a consultation with the hosting providers if possible. A one-on-one discussion with them will help you get a better idea about the quality of their service.
- Consider your options for scalability. Don’t just think about the present but also weigh your options for when your site grows bigger. A good hosting provider should offer smooth and easily scalable hosting plans.
We hope that you now have a proper understanding of web hosting, the difference between shared and cloud hosting, and the pros and cons of each. So you should be able to decide which type of hosting is suitable for your website. But regardless of what you choose, remember that web hosting is only as good as the hosting provider.
Do follow the tips we have mentioned to choose the best hosting service. Avoid two common mistakes – rushing into things and jumping for the cheapest plan available. Right at the beginning, we mentioned how your website is the face and identity of your business. So finding the right hosting service for your website is a crucial decision and often a long-term commitment. With a clear idea about shared hosting vs. cloud hosting, we believe you’ll make the right decision for your website.