Should I use Shared or Cloud Hosting? Here’s how to decide

Believe it or not, this is a choice many will make when deciding where to host WordPress or any other similar application. Both have pros/cons that we will explore in this article and high-level steps needed to obtain your first shared hosting or cloud hosting account!

Choosing the wrong hosting for your website is like going into space without a spacesuit. Without the proper support for your mission, your website will come crashing back down to Earth. But how do you choose which hosting is right for you? You can read about that here, but in this post, we’ll go into more detail about what kind of server you should be looking for: cloud hosting or shared hosting.

What is Shared Hosting?

A long time ago (like in the late 90s) someone figured out how they could host multiple websites from a single web server and thus “shared” host was born. In fact, a whole industry that powers most of the internet was born from websites that lived, shared, and spread out the cost everything needed to have a website on the internet.

Fast-forward 20 years and technologies like Cloud Linux, cPanel & WHM, Plesk have evolved to include a more stable hosting environment, often times isolating your website and/or providing allocated resources that are not shared among other websites. 

Most shared hosting includes a control panel to allow you to manage aspects of your website such as managing files, databases, applications, and e-mail, with the most common one being cPanel & WHM. 

Pros of Shared Hosting

  • The low-cost option usually includes everything you need to get up and running for less than $10 per month.
  • No worries about managing a server or needing to know too much about Linux or Windows.
  • Usually bundles a domain name or provides one for free, but makes the process smooth.
  • Pretty good support that is used to dealing with first-time users.
  • Moving and upgrading are painless and most likely your shared hosting company has options to grow.
  • Easier to “google” for help as shared hosting is both the standard and been around a long time.
  • Can host multiple apps, domains on a single account such as WordPress and Joomla.

Cons of Shared Hosting

  • Your site will be among 100’s of other sites on the same server, expect turbulence from time to time.
  • Achieving large boosts in performance will be more difficult as you are contending with resources and might have a limited allocation.
  • Shared servers IP addresses can get blacklisted, resulting is websites being delisted from Search Engines.
  • If you are new, the first time you log in to your control panel, you will have 100+ options and decisions to make.
  • Your DNS is probably the slowest possible, locally hosted on the same server as your website.
  • Shared hosting support is generally jack of all trades but when it comes to specific application support, they’ll likely point you elsewhere.
  • If you decide to move, gaining ownership of your free domain name will be tedious and potentially confusing.
  • Get used to upsells, the $5 hosting account you bought is designed to get you in the door and push other services such as website backups or SSL. 

What is Cloud Hosting?

Cloud Hosting evolved when players like Google, Amazon & Microsoft decided they wanted into the hosting game.  New providers such as Digital Ocean, Vultr, and Linode are also viable options, but what you are buying is virtual machine on their cloud platform.  Utilizing their virtual storage, networking, security, data centers, containers and other technology that you pay for.   

Like shared hosting this technology has evolved to the degree you can purchase cloud specific applications like WordPress and even companies like Cloudways & Gridpane offer management layers to help assist.   

Cloud Hosting in not for the average user and requires knowledge on operating systems, cloud technologies, and some understanding of how it all works to be successful.  Cloud companies have been trying to break these barries by offer large initial credits to attract new users, but in the end you will either need to be saavy in Cloud or have a deep desire to learn about it. 

Pros of Cloud Hosting

  • Provides better “resource” allocation and less sharing via container technologies.
  • Complete control over Server Resources, Configuration, and Management
  • Ability to scale your website by automatically provisioning more resources
  • Higher uptime and availability 
  • No upfront hardware to purchase & hourly billing available
  • Advanced analytics and stats through Cloud Dashboard
  • Developer level tools to help automate most things
  • Tons of expertise available for ongoing support and outsourcing DevOps tasks 

Cons of Cloud Hosting

  • Cloud Data Centers can often be found in places like Iowa cornfields or in the middle of Utah, slowing websites down.
  • Website, server, and overall security are now your responsibility, even when you get hacked.
  • When you scale, you might checkmark one box that costs you $1000’s of dollars.
  • Once you have conformed to a specific cloud platform, moving becomes more challenging.
  • Knowledge of operating systems, containers, and cloud infrastrure is a must.
  • First Time to Byte has layers and layers of cloud(s) to go through before reaching your visitor.
  • If you end up needing something like cPanel & WHM, it’s an additional cost.

How to select a Good Shared Hosting Provider.

Choosing between shared hosting and cloud isn’t as difficult as it used to be and the good news is with the evolution of hosting technology, you’ll have plenty of options to to select from. If your selection is to try Cloud, spend some time understanding it, testing it, and developing the skill sets or team you will need to manage it’s more complex and robust feature set.   However, if you are seeking a solid hosting provider here are 12 tips to find the best.  

  • Ask them how they control resources for your account and be looking for answers that explain the precise technology they do.  A common one with shared hosting providers is Cloud Linux, which is a specialized operating system designed to give you allocated resources for your account.
  • Get a list of available paid add-ons they have, which will help you understand what’s included with your hosting plan and what you have to purchase.
  • Verify their DNS servers and ask them how they perform, if poorly consider using something like CloudFlare DNS.
  • Review how they handle backups, in many cases lower cost hosting providers offer full server level backups, but are unable to restore websites and files. They may also charge for this service.
  • Review how they handle WAF & Malware protection, is it bundled for free or does it cost extra and what sort of protections does it provide?
  • Discuss how your site scales (for example, if you got 50,000 website visitors in 1 hours) would they be able to handle it, auto-upgrade their account?
  • Find out what happens when you outgrow your shared hosting account, do they have managed VPS, how much does it cost, do they handle the migrations, will you need to know Linux or will they handle?
  •  Check out social media on the company, Trustpilot reviews, and gather as much information as you can about the company, it only takes about 20 minutes!
  • Ask for a demo account and test out their control panel and interfaces, if you are particular to cPanel, Plesk, Interworx, DirectAdmin – know what that offer in advance.
  • If you are running a specific application that has version specific needs, verify the server you are going to be housed on has these components or the hosting provider is willing to install them.
  • Monitor your website for a while, grab a free monitoring service and be in the know if any unexpected downtime occurs.
  • Speed test your website on sites like www.gtmetrix.com or www.fastorslow.com and ask the hosting provider how they can help make it faster, if you own a website.  

Cloud Hosting versus Shared Hosting Resources

  • A Comparison of Shared and Cloud Hosting, and How to Choose … – Lucero del Alba explains the differences between shared and cloud hosting, with practical tips on how to decide which is the best option for you. (sitepoint.com)
  • Shared Hosting, VPS, or Cloud Hosting: Which Should You Do? – Learn about shared, VPS, and cloud hosting and what makes each option unique so you can make the right choice for your website. (blog.hubspot.com)
  • What Is The Difference Between Shared Hosting and Cloud Hosting … (hostadvice.com)
  • Difference between Shared, Dedicated & Cloud Web Hosting – Sysally – The technicalities and the associated merits and demerits concerning the difference between shared, dedicated & cloud web hosting. Take a look! (sysally.com)
  • Cloud Hosting vs Shared Hosting: Choose Wisely or Pay Later! – When it comes to cloud hosting vs shared hosting, the terms are similar, but you must know the differences or it may backfire on you if you make a MISTAKE! (startbloggingonline.com)
  • Choose between shared, shared (virtual machine), dedicated and … – Choose between shared, shared (virtual machine), dedicated and cloud hosting – it isn’t that much complex to set apart Most hosting plans allow a set amount of bandwidth every month. (blisswebsolution.com)

Cloud Hosting versus Shared Hosting Facts & Stats

  • Furthermore, 79% of web shoppers who have trouble with website performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again and around 44% of them would tell a friend if they had a poor experience shopping online. (liquidweb.com)
  • Uptime guarantees: While cloud hosting providers will generally have higher uptime guarantees, you will see most hosts promise the industry-standard 99.9% uptime. (hostadvice.com)
  • It’s impossible to achieve 100% uptime, but the aim is to get as near to that as possible. (websitebuilderexpert.com)
  • It’s not too expensive either, with cloud plans starting at $4.99 per month ; while the uptime isn’t the best at 99.95%, you do get a wealth of excellent features. (websitebuilderexpert.com)