There are plenty of differences between cloud hosting, regular shared hosting, virtual private servers, dedicated servers, managed hosting, and unmanaged hosting... and many of these categories overlap with others. To make a definitive statement like “cloud hosting is faster” wouldn’t really be telling the whole story.
If you’re looking for a faster hosting option, it’s very possible that finding a cloud host could make the difference you’re looking for, but it’s not a guarantee. There are a lot of other factors to consider.
Let’s go over them one by one, and by the end of this page, you’ll have a much clearer understanding as to whether or not cloud hosting will be faster for your website, compared to other types of services, including whichever type of server you’re currently using.
A distinction that’s worth making before we dig in too deep is that some shared hosting companies will advertise their plans as taking advantage of the cloud, but often that’s more of a marketing buzzword than an accurate description of their product.
Shared hosting is when you have one server with a bunch of different websites on it, sharing a big pool of resources. Sometimes, the resources are broken up and divided among accounts, other times they’re “unlimited” (which really just means that they’ll cancel your account if you use too many resources, and this puts your site at risk for succeeding.)
Basic shared hosting isn’t ideal for businesses; it’s good for hobbyists who are just starting out and a few niche applications. But generally speaking for a mission-critical business site, an online store, and so on, shared isn’t a great choice.
Cloud hosting that you’ll get from companies like AWS and Digital Ocean costs about the same as regular shared hosting plans (and sometimes quite a bit less, in fact) but offers better performance. A basic cloud hosting plan is more closely comparable to a VPS than to shared hosting, though, but generally speaking your cloud hosting will be quite a bit faster than shared hosting.
Not every VPS uses the cloud, though… so how do those older styles of VPS stack up against the cloud?
A standard VPS is a big upgrade from shared hosting, and will typically be faster than a shared hosting plan. A cloud server, for example something from any of the best cloud hosting providers is often managed though there are unmanaged options that we don't recommend, whereas a standard VPS will almost always be managed.
This means that when you order your server, you get a username and a password to log-in and manage your sites or apps, and all of the backbones and infrastructure are already in place. With an unmanaged cloud VPS, you’ll need to install some software before you can start working on your site, but most hosts have a one-click install to make the process easy, but they also may not install updates for you, concern themselves with your security, etc.
In this case, the benefits of cloud hosting will still be worthwhile, but the speed difference might not be as noticeable. The same applies when comparing cloud hosting versus dedicated servers. The “cloud version” of any type of host should have advantages over the regular version, all else being equal, but there are plenty of variables to keep in mind.
I believe that choosing a good hosting company is the first step. I would rather have a decent server from a great company, than a slightly faster or cheaper server from a company with more down-time. Choosing reputable hosts is the most important part, because it means you’ll have support when it hits the fan. It’s only a matter of time until you run into some type of issues or difficulties.
Once you’ve found a reputable hosting company, it’s time to choose the plan that suits your site the best. Do you have an existing website that’s already getting visitors everyday, and do you get a small handful of visitors daily, or thousands? If your site is pretty small and targeting a small market, you may be able to get away just fine with a cheaper hosting option. For important sites, busy sites, or where a slightly larger investment won’t break the bank, it’s a good idea to go for a higher-end server, and look for one that takes advantage of cloud technology.
Cloud hosting allows you to easily configure, upgrade, or even downgrade your hosting plan as needed, to meet your specific needs, and to grow as your site grows without having to over-buy during the initial stages. This is important for if your content goes viral or you begin a marketing campaign.
At the end of the day, cloud hosting is worth the investment as long as it’s real cloud hosting and not just a fancy marketing name applied to standard shared hosting. Stick to the hosts I’ve recommended and you’ll be in good hands.