Cloud hosting hasn’t been around forever, but when web-hosting and data-backup companies coined the term, it spread like wildfire. So fast, in fact, it begs the question, were these companies all legitimate and can you trust cloud-based web hosting today?
Some of the earliest companies to get behind the trend of cloud web hosting certainly used the term for its popularity. Their service was not, in fact, hosted in the cloud.
We know this because cloud hosting is expensive. Very expensive, in fact. To provide a true cloud architecture, a company must own multiple servers that are preferably from different data centers, in various regions around the world.
For an established provider in the web-hosting space, that’s not saying much. For a bootstrapped startup that’s on an extremely tight budget, that’s near impossible. The latter is where most web-hosting companies find themselves in the early stages of offering their service. Cloud hosting should be a distant goal for most, not something to push for in the first few months of getting off the ground.
Most of the businesses that clung to the cloud bandwagon in its early days were the underdogs and lesser-known providers of the industry. They simply didn’t have the revenue to accomplish something of such a magnitude.
Web hosting providers that use cloud architecture do so because it offers higher performance and stronger data redundancy.
Cloud hosting means your website runs on various interconnected servers. Unlike traditional shared hosting that runs on a VPS or dedicated server, your files are in the cloud with access to virtual resources from the array of servers powering the configuration.
On a shared host, VPS, or dedicated server, your website is dependent on a single physical server; if it goes down, your website goes down. With cloud hosting, one of its many servers could go offline and the network would remain intact.
Some of your provided resources may be temporarily unavailable in a failure situation, such as one less gigabyte of memory or one less CPU core, but the server will remain operable and no data loss will occur, thanks to RAID configured drives spread across the cloud.
Cloud servers often use the same RAID disk setup as traditional servers, which means your data is not only hosted on multiple servers, but each individual server provides redundancy for its portion of the data. This makes creating backups and implementing recovery processes much easier for the provider.
As an end-user, this ensures your website files and databases are never lost, even when there’s a hard-drive failure in one of the cloud’s servers.
Since cloud hosting provides access to an unlimited supply of servers, there’s no hard limit on resources. Data-centers generally have many available server slots which means hosts have plenty of room for expansion. The provider can always expand their cloud network by adding an additional server.
This gives your website complete flexibility to grow. Whether you need more processing power, memory, disk space or bandwidth, those resources can always be made available.
Cloud hosting is typically provided as a VPS or virtual private server. Some web hosts even provide cloud architecture in their shared-hosting packages, but of course, there will be no root level (admin) access on a shared server.
With either solution, this means far lower pricing than paying for your own dedicated server. VPS’ are typically 1/3 to 1/4 the cost of buying an isolated server – and that’s even with cloud architecture.
You get access to the technical advantage cloud hosting provides, but without the excessive costs of dedicated server pricing.
Using a content delivery network or CDN is a great way to improve load times and increase website speeds (read, DIY On-Page SEO Tips, Part 2: 6 More Tips for Better SEO). Many websites host resource-intensive content like images, video or sound on a content delivery network. A cloud-hosting service can act much like a CDN by detecting which server is closest to the user and prioritizing that server for content delivery.
This allows the user to receive content from the source that is nearest to their location. The delay in delivery is minimized and page load times skyrocket. By distributing the load to end-users across your cloud delivery network, this takes the burden off a single host and maximizes your page speed.
For a startup with a small website and minimal traffic, cloud hosting can seem like an unnecessary upgrade… and for many, it is. However, you will find as you progress that the speed and reliability of a VPS makes a significant difference in user experience. When you’re ready to make that jump, a cloud VPS is often comparable in price to a traditional VPS. Its benefits are incredible and if you can find a host that offers a genuine cloud setup, it’s worth the upgrade.
If you’re not ready for a cloud-hosted VPS, take regular backups
One of the more significant advantages of cloud hosting is that it reduces the chance of data loss and downtime, by spreading the load across multiple servers. If you’re not ready to upgrade or you can’t find a cloud provider with comparable costs to regular VPS pricing, make sure you take regular backups of your website’s files and databases. This can save you from losing everything in the inevitable event of a hard drive failure.
Hardware simply doesn’t last forever; especially, with the high demands of a server environment which runs on a continuous basis. There’s no downtime and opportunity to cool and recover from stress, which makes cooling more important to a data-center. Don’t place more trust than necessary in your host and backup your entire account daily, if possible.