Cloud vs. Shared Hosting: What You Need to Know

Take a look around the web these days, and you’ll see that there are more web hosting options available than ever before. Providers today are equipped to offer a variety of features that serve everyone from large-scale organizations to micro-businesses and individuals, with plans designed to accommodate all budgets.

Two of the most common options you’ll encounter in your search for a new web host are cloud hosting and shared hosting. Each has its own unique advantages and may make sense depending on your situation. But how do you know which hosting option is best for you?

Let’s find out together.

The Basics of Cloud Hosting

The main differentiating factor between these two options is that cloud hosting incorporates the use of multiple servers, while shared hosting uses only one. Having access to multiple servers can be advantageous, because if one server has an issue, your site can simply be migrated to another one, eliminating downtime.

Even better, this type of failover technology maintains your site’s functionality while it’s being rebuilt on other servers. In short, cloud hosting ensures a high level of reliability. This makes it a must for high traffic sites or for businesses for which any downtime would be a major detriment to operations.

The Basics of Shared Hosting

This type of hosting option works just as its name implies: your site is hosted along with other websites on a single server.

With a shared hosting plan, you’ll share resources such as bandwidth, storage and disk space with other sites. Shared hosting is one of the most common types of hosting you’ll encounter online. Nearly all providers offer some version of this type of hosting – Bluehost included.

What Are the Benefits of Cloud Hosting?

There are three key advantages to cloud hosting: reliability, performance, and security.

Because multiple servers are used simultaneously in a cloud hosting arrangement, your site enjoys optimal functionality at all times. If there’s a hardware issue or other type of glitch, your site is simply switched to another server. This type of virtualization ensures maximum reliability, which is especially important for businesses that rely on consistent uptime for sales, productivity and reputation.

This is especially important to be conscious of, as one in three businesses has suffered some type of disaster in the past five years, including power outages, network failure, human error, hurricanes and flooding. It’s impossible to predict when disaster will strike. The ability to plan ahead for business continuity is one of cloud hosting’s major selling points.

Further, in terms of performance, it’s hard to beat cloud hosting. As long as you’re working with a reputable provider, you can expect elite-level performance with consistently fast load times, where dynamic requests are processed with lightning speed. This makes it ideal for websites that receive a high volume of traffic.

Finally, when it comes to security, you can run your site with confidence on a cloud hosting plan. Most providers have stepped up their security protocols to protect databases and applications against common threats such as malware, denial of service and cross-scripting.

Preventative measures such as encryption are used to protect data and prevent attackers from infiltrating a network. Although you’re never completely immune to an attack, you can run your site with peace of mind that it’s safe and secure on a cloud hosting plan.

What are the Disadvantages of Cloud Hosting?

The only real drawback of cloud hosting is its cost. Because of its added features, you can expect to pay a bit more than you will for shared hosting. If you’re on a tight budget or don’t need a lot of extra features, cloud hosting probably isn’t your best option.

That said, the use of cloud services has grown significantly in recent years. Forbes reports, “Cloud computing spending is growing at 4.5 times the rate of IT spending since 2009 and is expected to grow at better than 6 times the rate of IT spending from 2015 through 2020.” More and more companies are realizing the potential of cloud hosting and are allocating resources accordingly.

What are the Benefits of Shared Hosting?

The main appeal of shared hosting is its low cost. Because multiple sites are shared on a single server, costs are distributed. This makes it the most affordable hosting option among and allows individuals or businesses to run a website with minimal expenditure. If you don’t have a lot of money to funnel into hosting, this option makes sense.

An added plus is that there are often several different options available under the umbrella of “shared hosting,” making it possible to find a plan that’s customized to your needs. Bluehost, for example, offers four different shared hosting plans – Basic, Plus, Prime and Pro – which differ in terms of:

The number of websites you can have
Total available bandwidth
The number of parked domains you can have
The number of subdomains you can have
Total email storage space
If you’re just starting out and only need the basics – if, for example, you have a low traffic site and don’t need a lot of bells and whistles – one of these shared hosting options is likely to work for you.

What are the Disadvantages of Shared Hosting?

As hinted at earlier, you can’t expect the same level of performance with a shared hosting plan as you can with a cloud hosting plan. Because your site uses the same server as many other websites, you can’t always guarantee there will be adequate resources available.

If another site is overloaded with traffic, it can adversely affect the performance of your site. This can, at times, result in issues such as downtime and slower speeds. If you can anticipate a high volume of traffic, shared hosting may not be your best option.

When to Choose Cloud Hosting

Here’s a theoretical scenario where cloud hosting would make sense:

You’re a medium- to large-sized business that receives a high volume of traffic. Your visitors expect a high performance site that loads quickly and operates appropriately. Dealing with downtime just isn’t an option, and you don’t want to worry about the issues that could potentially arise when sharing resources with other sites.

Any downtime would be a huge setback for your business because it would squander leads, hurt sales and potentially damage your reputation. You understand the threat a disaster could bring and believe in taking preventative measures. You have a huge need for reliability and want to have access to multiple servers in the event that a disaster occurs. Business continuity is essential to your business.

There’s also the possibility that you’ll need to scale up in the future as you continue to build your brand and generate more traffic. As a result, you want the option to instantly scale CPU and RAM resources.

Security is another one of your concerns. You can’t risk sensitive data winding up in the wrong hands, and a cyber attack could temporarily cripple your operations.

You’re able to free up additional budget, and don’t mind spending more for all the benefits that come with cloud hosting.

When to Choose Shared Hosting

Let’s look at another hypothetical situation:

You’re a small business or individual who’s just starting out with web hosting. Maybe you’re someone who’s simply looking to publish their own blog and have their own little hub on the Internet. Your needs are fairly minimal, and you don’t need a lot of extra features. All you really need is solid hosting that’ll take care of your basic needs.

You don’t anticipate a high volume of traffic and don’t necessarily need top of the line performance. Of course downtime isn’t ideal, but it wouldn’t be a death blow to you in the way it would be to a mid to large-sized company.

In terms of technical expertise, you may be somewhat limited in this department. You don’t want to deal with a lot of backend issues and feel more comfortable with the provider handling them for you. Your primary focus is finding affordable hosting that gets the job done – and shared hosting fits the bill.

The Bottom Line

Choosing the best type of hosting for you comes down to your situation and priorities. Understanding the key differences between cloud and shared hosting should help you make the right decision.