Last updated on June 28th, 2022 at 12:51 pm
Cloud hosting is becoming much more common, but it's still something that can be confusing. You might be asking yourself questions like 'what is exactly is "the cloud", 'how does it work', or, the most common question of them all, 'is cloud hosting safe?'
You're not alone in asking those questions. In fact, I know people who've been running websites and digital marketing teams for years who still don't fully understand what cloud hosting really is. In this guide to cloud hosting, I'm going to answer all of your questions, share my favorite cloud hosting providers – and explain the crucial difference between genuine cloud hosting and CloudLinux.
So, What Actually IS 'the Cloud'
Spoiler alert: you use it every day!
The truth is, ‘the cloud’ has become a part of everyday life in the 21st century – and you’re probably already using it without knowing it. There are cloud storage systems, such as Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, and OneDrive, which give you instant access to your files and documents as long as you have an internet connection (whether that’s using WiFi or Mobile Data). Online banking systems and social media networks also make use of cloud-based services.
Essentially, what ‘the cloud’ means is that rather than things being stored on your device or computer, they run through the internet. Streaming services such as Netflix, for example, don’t store the content on your computer (or whatever device you use) – it’s accessed via your internet connection. It makes it easier for you and the service provider (unless you have a really poor internet connection, of course).
A growing amount of software is now classed as Software as a Service (SaaS), which means that rather than installing software directly on your computer, you access it online, through...you guessed it... the cloud!
Cloud computing uses virtual servers and physical servers around the world to create a (mostly) reliable means of giving people access to what they need when they need it. Since 2015, our use of cloud computing has been increasing dramatically, particularly when it comes to data storage.
By 2025, 50% of all data will be stored in the cloud - amounting to around 100 zettabytes! (via Cybersecurity ventures)
There are many advantages to cloud hosting, which we’ll run through in a moment. First, let’s look at how cloud hosting works. If you’re familiar with the concept of web hosting, you’ll know that hosting hinges on servers. These are powerful computers that store data, websites, etc., and deliver that content, via the internet, whenever it’s requested.
In the past, the cheapest option for web hosting was ‘shared hosting’, where a large number of websites share a single server – so there’s competition for things like bandwidth, which can affect performance. With cloud hosting, the problems associated with shared hosting are radically reduced.
Cloud hosting uses hundreds of different servers (located around the world) to effectively create one huge virtual server. This means that power, bandwidth, and resources can be drawn from many different servers, so you don’t have to worry about competition for server resources.
Because you’re not depending on your shared portion of a single server, you don’t have the worries that come with shared hosting. High traffic and big traffic spikes are no problem for cloud hosting. What’s more, if one server goes down, another server can take its place, meaning that there’s little likelihood of downtime.
Advantages of Cloud Hosting Solutions
There are plenty of great reasons why you should be looking at cloud hosting for your business in 2023.
When you do a lot of your business online, one of the most important things you’re going to be looking for is stability. You need your customers to be able to access your website, use your app or purchase goods and services from your online shop. Unless you have a dedicated server, stability and uptime can never be 100% guaranteed – and even with a dedicated server, things can go wrong and impact on your business.
With cloud hosting, however, the use of multiple servers to host your online content means that you don’t have to worry about downtime, or slow site speeds due to traffic spikes on other websites using the same server. Your data and content is regularly backed up, there are always other servers available to take up the slack, meaning you can have a fast and efficient website that will benefit your business.
The flexibility of cloud computing and hosting solutions is a big selling point that has converted many businesses from other hosting options. Flexibility in cloud hosting means that if you need more resources, the server automatically compensates.
For example during a promotion when you expect much more traffic and customer demand in terms of downloads or streaming, you don't have to worry about the server crashing when you're using cloud hosting.
The resources available with cloud hosting are virtually unlimited, so you don’t have to stress about the issues that you’d have to worry about with other forms of hosting.
Cloud hosting is about more than just websites, however. If you run a business where you have employees who need remote access to business-specific applications that would normally need to be installed in-house, cloud hosting can give access to cloud-based versions. This can save you money by reducing the need to provide employees with computers – as well as meaning that technical issues can often be resolved remotely, too.
Likewise, cloud hosting can allow you to offer customers cloud-based apps rather than apps that have to be installed on a device. As cloud computing grows in popularity, the ability to offer this kind of solution is becoming more important to businesses. In the future, a majority of people will likely expect to have applications that can be accessed virtually – so it’s wise to get ahead of the competition. The reliability of cloud-based hosting means that your customers are much less likely to encounter problems with online apps, giving you – and them – peace of mind.
Recommended Cloud Hosting
There are plenty of cloud hosting providers, but, having tested dozens of them, these three are the ones I recommend. There's options for every budget!
Bluehost is best known for its cheap shared hosting packages, but it also offers cloud hosting plans starting at $6.95 /month
Nexcess (part of the Liquid Web family) is highly secure and reliable, although more expensive, starting at $13/month
Kinsta is the most expensive option in my list, but it uses the powerful Google Cloud. Plans start at $35/month
Is Cloud Hosting Safe?
In an age where it’s common to hear about data security breaches, there’s no wonder people tend to question whether cloud hosting – or any other kind of hosting for that matter – is safe.
The answer to the question isn’t necessarily the one you want to hear, either. If you’re wanting a guarantee that your data is 100% safe and secure, then I’m afraid there’s no hosting – or online – service that can make that promise. For 100% security guarantees, you’d need to go back to handwriting documents that you lock in a filing cabinet that only you have a key for. In the 21st century, that probably isn’t a practical solution!
When it comes to cloud hosting, there are steps that you can take to increase security and ease both your own concerns and those of your customers. In fact, both you and your customers have responsibilities with regard to safeguarding data. For example, whilst it’s up to you to reduce the risks of data being hacked and ensure that data is kept confidential, your customers need to ensure that they use secure passwords and never reuse the same password on another site.
Additionally, your cloud hosting provider has a responsibility to make sure that there’s a data isolation procedure in place. They may offer additional security measures such as encryption, business continuity, and data recovery.
To sum up, let’s run through the main pros and cons of using cloud hosting for your business.
If you're just starting your first website, then cloud hosting isn't totally necessary. You can set up and run a small business website using shared hosting (from as little as $1.99 from Hostinger) but if you're looking for better reliability, or you're wanting to launch an online store, then I'd recommend you take a look at cloud hosting.