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Yes, I’m talking to you.
Look up here, in the clouds.
Didn’t see me there, did ya?
What am I doing here?
Ah, nothing much, just finishing off a review for you.
What’s it all about?
Well, the best cloud hosting providers, of course…with a little twist added.
We often discuss the process of choosing a new host and the many hidden bits to watch out for — handy features, security measures, well-versed support. As important as they all are, oftentimes it boils down to the simplest decision-making factor — cost.
You can find the best provider for your needs, with the most powerful servers and impeccable assistance, but what good does it get you if you cannot afford it?
So the question is:
Should you sacrifice the financial stability of your business overpaying for something you don’t necessarily need at the moment?
Come, join me in the cloud and I will tell you all about it.
Table of Contents
What Is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is one of the hottest emerging technologies, and for a good reason too.
Imagine your online project was not bound to the confines of a single server machine, solely dependent on its security and performance. Instead, you can scatter your data across a network of secure web servers around the world, making it impervious to single-point breaches.
That’s what the cloud does for you.
I won’t dive into too much detail about how great cloud computing is (which is a lot). We have this in-depth article to tell you all about it.
Instead, I’d rather jump straight to what you are here for — finding the best cloud hosting your money can buy.
Best Entry-level Cloud Providers
The majority of websites on the Web are low-demanding projects — they only take a couple gigs of space, a steady amount of traffic, and rarely outgrow even the shared environment. Still, the understandable need for room for growth and better security can easily leave you wanting for more.
Cloud computing is a relatively new technology, but that doesn’t mean it always costs a pretty penny. On the contrary, there are some cloud hosting companies which have found a way to cater to smaller projects, allowing them to get a feel of the service at the lowest possible rates.
Here are the best of them:
|Wide array of plans||Lowest plans a little skimpy|
With nearly a decade in the hosting industry, Hostwinds has proven it is a company set to stay. There isn’t much info to gain from its website, except that the headquarters are in Washington DC, and the provider likes to make guarantees.
Like, a lot of them.
With Hostwinds, you have a 14-day money back, 99.9999% uptime, and 100% satisfaction guarantees. I see how they can back the first two claims, but the last one touches a bit of a gray area.
Oh well, can’t blame a host for utilizing some marketing buzzwords, as long as they are not blatantly lying.
Unlike many other providers which focus on a few fixed plans, Hostwinds makes an effort to support across-the-board cloud hosting services. New and low-scale projects can start on the smallest account (1 CPU, 1GB RAM, 30GB storage) and upgrade as they grow.
The top-level server is a monster of a machine with its 16 CPU cores and 96 GB RAM. That baby can handle even complex enterprise projects without breaking a sweat.
The wide range of supported plans plays a huge part in your scalability opportunities. You can now grow your website steadily and feel safer there is always a more robust option should you need it. As for adding more space, you can hook up an extra container even without upgrading your account.
With Hostwinds you are never on your own — the knowledge base is full of useful guides. What’s more phone and ticketing is 24/7, and the Live Chat frequently pops up to check if you need something.
So I gave it a go.
The operator was quick to answer my questions in an informed way. The rep was not just pushing for a sale – he was actually trying to help me.
There were some unnecessary links here and there when he could’ve just answered with a couple of words, but overall — a pleasant experience.
- 1 CPU core (from $4.99/mo)
- 2 CPU cores (from $18.99/mo)
- 4 CPU cores (from $38.99/mo)
- 6 CPU cores (from $76.99/mo)
- 8 CPU cores (from $124.99/mo)
- 12 CPU cores (from $214.99/mo)
- 16 CPU cores (from $328.99/mo)
|Great price||Limited in resources|
|Windows servers||No chat or phone support|
Imagine the internet 20 years ago. You’d see a barren wasteland with only a few businesses trying to attract the attention of the handful of people lurking online.
DreamHost was one of those businesses.
The company has been around since 1997 and to this day remains independently-owned, housing over 1.5 million websites for more than 400,000 customers.
Impressive stats, considering the rapid technology evolution, market volatility, and fierce competition.
The company took a strong stance on customer data protection in 2017. The US Department of Justice served the host with a warrant, requiring them to hand over visitor and owner data, related to an anti-Trump campaign website. DreamHost refused to execute the order, went to court, and successfully defended the Fourth Amendment rights of its clients.
DreamHost specializes mostly in shared services, so their cloud web hosting looks more like a complimentary service than a primary revenue source. You’ve got a choice between three packages, and they are fairly limited resource-wise.
The most powerful cloud hosting server comes with 4 CPU cores and 8GB RAM, which will be a mid-range offering at best compared to other providers.
On the bright side, storage is SSD, which makes up for some impressive speed, plus there is no bandwidth cap. You can add more storage blocks without upgrading your account, and they cost relatively cheap, around $10/mo per container.
The provision of my account was one of the fastest I’ve seen for cloud services — mere seconds after payment I was already wandering around my new space in the Web.
This is where things get a bit tricky. If you are well-versed in site building and troubleshooting, you will most probably never need support for something urgent.
Problem is if you are not.
DreamHost is one of the few hosts that don’t make an effort to support many communication channels. You have a tutorial base, forums, ticketing system, and a chatbot. Hardly anything that will provide adequate help in case of emergency.
I tried the chatbot just in case, but I was already sure of the outcome — useful for basic queries, but never when you need an out-of-the-box solution.
I guess you can’t be an affordable cloud hosting provider AND maintain round-the-clock support services. Sad but true.
- 512MB RAM Server (max $4.50/mo);
- 2GB RAM Server (max $12/mo);
- 8GB RAM Server (max $48/mo).
|Unmetered space/bandwidth||Appalling support|
|Nice extra features||Dubious reputation|
Here is another hosting behemoth, standing strong so many years later. HostGator was the baby company of Brent Oxley, which sold it in 2012 to tech conglomerate EIG for a reported sum of nearly $300 million.
The early bird gets the worm, and HostGator took full advantage of the quick adoption of web hosting services.
HG remains one of the largest providers, despite a plethora of client horror stories circling the Web for years. Hosting over 8 million domains, the company accounts for an impressive 1% of all online traffic.
HostGator’s loyal fanbase, combined with EIG’s endless cash flow proved a profitable combination. The Web was suddenly flooded with ads, giving you a nudge toward this company with the friendly gator mascot. They were everywhere.
Even today. Go ahead, try it out.
Type “best cloud hosting” in Google. One of the top three results is a sponsored ad by HostGator.
Same goes for pretty much every popular web hosting related search.
The good ole alligator has three distinct cloud plans in store for us.
The smallest one, the Hatchling Cloud, is quite limited — you can only host one domain and up to 2GB of memory. Things are getting better as we move up, but not that much.
Some extra perks come with the higher plans, like a free Dedicated IP and SSL certificate. But looking at things in perspective, the accounts are pretty bare-boned, basically a shared account with a cloud setup.
Storage and bandwidth caps state “Unmetered” which is something you wouldn’t want to put to the test.
My suggestion would be to check with the HostGator support with your exact project needs, but…
I have had many encounters with HG operators over the years, and they have been unsatisfying, to say the least.
The live representatives are rarely of any help, don’t listen to your question, and often reply by pushing links to their knowledge base.
You can also try their ticketing system or toll-free number, but I doubt the assistance will be much better.
- Hatchling Cloud (from $4.95)*
- Baby Cloud (from $6.57)*
- Business Cloud (from $9.95)*
*Prices are available for the initial billing period. Renewal rates are $12.95/mo.
Best Business Cloud Providers
We are now in the middle ground of cloud services. Our project has outgrown its initial confines and amassed a fair amount of popularity in the form of traffic.
Where to from here?
The next three on the list can rightfully claim to be among the best cloud hosting providers on the market right now. Their services don’t come cheap, but when it comes to getting a bang for your buck — you can safely trust one of those choices.
1. Liquid Web
|Fully managed service||Prices way steeper when paid monthly|
Liquid Web was founded in 1998 and for a long time focused on the shared hosting market. The provider took а sharp turn in 2009 when it was one of the first to adopt and launch their line of cloud servers.
And the team hasn’t looked back ever since.Liquid Web secured a solid position in the business cloud hosting niche and now proudly hosts over 30,000 customers in over 130 countries. Click To Tweet
Here are some more numbers for you.
1+ million websites in 5 global data centers under the care of 500+ hosting professionals.
It sure sounds like this host is doing something right.
If your project is big enough for a business cloud hosting plan, you can no longer go with the bare minimum. Your website is on the right track, but this makes it all the more “fragile” — you have to ensure its constant uptime, stellar performance, and proper security.
Liquid Web seems to think so as well.
On top of the access to their five-star web servers, each account grants you a ton of useful extra features like CDN, DDoS protection, integrated firewall, and advanced security tools.
Speaking of the servers, they are an absolute beauty.
You can find anything between 2 to 8GB RAM and 40 to 200GB SSD storage space. Monthly bandwidth cap maxes at 10TB, which should be more than enough, even for more resource-hogging projects.
2007 was monumental in the Liquid Web history. Their support team got the honorable title “Heroic Support,” and the company wasn’t shy to praise them as the Most Helpful Humans in Hosting™.
So what’s the big deal?
Many providers like to call themselves “the best” in this and that, just the usual marketing shenanigans.
That’s the thing — Liquid Web doesn’t seem to be kidding.
Hands down, one of the best support assistance I’ve ever had the pleasure of dealing with. The chat operator was super polite and careful, and he made sure he understood my queries correctly before pointing me out in the right direction.
Certainly no complaints here.
- 2GB (from $29/mo)*
- 4GB (from $49/mo)*
- 8GB (from $69/mo)*
- 16GB (from $129/mo)*
*Prices apply when prepaid yearly. Monthly prices are double the rate.
Here is one inspirational story for the history books. SiteGround started as a few college buddies’ dorm project. They decided to pioneer in an unknown industry in their home country, tiny Bulgaria, expanding SG to one of the largest independently-owned hosting companies today.
This is huge:400 employees in 4 offices across Europe service over 2 million domain under the SiteGround belt. Click To Tweet
The host won numerous local awards for Best Employer, and the attitude toward its staff seem to directly reflect on their customer satisfaction.
SiteGround has a whole department dedicated to innovations, so it was no surprise it was quick to adopt cloud computing technology right from the get-go.
When it comes to setting up a fully optimized cloud environment, few can do better than SiteGround. Its stack includes CentOS, Apache/Nginx, PHP/MySQL support, and that’s only scratching the surface.
SG is perhaps the most scalable company in this cloud hosting comparison. You can add not only more storage space but also tweak your RAM and CPU. The unique auto-scale option lets the system add more resources in times of unexpected traffic spikes, avoiding downtimes in the process.
The freebies with each account make the deal even sweeter — CDN, SSL certificates, dedicated IP, even a private DNS. These perks alone can cost you a pretty penny with lots of other providers.
Speaking of pennies:
That is one of SiteGround’s few “flaws.” You can’t put so many options and efforts to support a grade-A service, only to offer it for peanuts.
Quality comes at a price, and that price is at least $72/mo with SG.
SupportWhen you are happy at your workplace and do your job with passion, the results will inevitably come. Click To Tweet
This mantra finds good proof with the SiteGround support team. You can tell you will be dealing with someone exceptional from the first few lines in the live chat. It’s more like having a conversation with a tech-savvy friend instead of trying to figure out things with someone who doesn’t seem to know much more than you do.
Tried the ticketing as well, and the results came back within minutes — same effectiveness and attention to detail.
The final result?
I was absolutely delighted with the support communication and firmly back SiteGround as one of the best cloud hosting providers.
- Entry (from $72/mo)
- Business (from $107/mo)
- Business Plus (from $143/mo)
- Super Power (from $215/mo)
3. 1&1 IONOS
|Affordable||Host a single domain|
|Feature-rich accounts||No live chat assistance|
The German provider to outlive them all.
If you think it’s hard to run a profitable hosting business for 20 years, imagine doing it for over three decades. Because that’s exactly what the 1&1 team has been doing since 1988.2018 was monumental for the German host when a merge with ProfitBricks marked a new era in their chronicles — a complete rebrand and a fresh name — 1&1 IONOS. Click To Tweet
Datacenters on two continents (Europe and North America) and 7,000 people tirelessly working to push the company forward — no wonder 1&1 is still one of the biggest providers on the market.
Looking at the four cloud package deals, you will notice a couple of things.
For starters, they all look relatively cheap. That’s great, especially if you are on a tight budget. Getting a business-level account at the price of $25-$35/mo sure sounds like something you can’t easily pass on.
But when you consider what you’re getting for your money (i.e., not much) things quickly start falling into place.
The most expensive 1&1 IONOS cloud hosting package starts with only 4CPU cores and 6GB RAM — a configuration that would be considered mid-level with most niche competitors. Default SSD storage space is on the low-side as well — only 160GB with the highest plan.
I admire one thing, though — all four offers have nearly the same toolset included; they differ mostly in the amount of allocated system resources.
1&1 IONOS cloud deals have a rare feat — a personal assistant for your needs. That bears a ton of benefits — establishing a relationship with someone who knows your case quite well and can react on the spot can be a game changer.
You can activate the personal assistant option at any time and even request callbacks in a time of your convenience.
The only real downside for me is the lack of live chat, which can work much better than a phone call for international clients.
- Managed Cloud Hosting M (from $15/mo)
- Managed Cloud Hosting L (from $25/mo)
- Managed Cloud Hosting XL (from $35/mo)
- Managed Cloud Hosting XXL (from $65/mo)
Best Enterprise Hosting Providers
We have entered the zone where the big boys play. Money is rarely a concern for those in need of enterprise cloud services, as long as their project gets the optimized environment it needs.
That’s not exactly as simple as it sounds.
Many enterprise projects include a complex configuration that can only run smoothly in a specific environment. Ensuring a healthy climate is one of the prime targets of hosts in this niche.
The big trio here won’t surprise you — these providers account for 57% of the whole cloud market and represent some of the biggest tech giants of our time.
1. Amazon AWS
|Vast array of resources||High learning curve|
|Wide selection of APIs|
Amazon AWS is one of the most profitable subsidiaries of the tech mogul and a prime reason why Jeff Bezos is now the world’s richest man.
The company first entered the market in 2006 and took it by storm, registering an annual revenue of over $20 billion in the last few years. Though the gap between AWS and Microsoft Azure is tightening, Amazon’s service still reigns supreme over the public cloud market, with 68% adoption.
Most AWS servers are Windows-based, but the provider offers Linux cloud hosting configurations.
There aren’t any distinct plans with set resources, as each client gets a fully customized experience right from the start. That can be a little confusing for the novice user, but at this level, you most probably have another professional handling this side of things.
That’s the kicker — if you know what you’re doing, we are talking about endless modification possibilities.
To make things even sweeter, Amazon AWS has a special cloud tier, where you can use the service for a whole year without paying a dime. After the trial period is over, you can either choose to continue on a paid plan or cancel the account.
That easily puts even shared hosting free trials to shame.
The level of assistance with AWS is exactly as stellar as you would expect from a company like Amazon. The staff clearly know what they are doing and ready to address every issue with the needed care.
That is if you can get a hold of them…
Forget about live chats and phone support — you can either send AWS an email or work your way around the extensive knowledge base and video guides.
You want better assistance? Sure, but better bring that checkbook out.
Providers at this level don’t put a fixed rate on their cloud hosting solutions, due to their advanced customizability. What I do know about Amazon AWS is they have three billing models – “pay-as-you-go,” “save-when-you-reserve,” and “pay-less-using-more.”
The AWS support team is the one with more details on how each of those works.
|Windows-friendly||Steep learning curve|
|Great for startups|
A few years after Amazon AWS’s success, Microsoft was quick to join them in the cloud game.
Enter MS Azure.The Microsoft platform covers over 600 services in 13 distinct areas of cloud computing. Azure might still be second to AWS, but recently touts higher adoption rates than the industry leader. Click To Tweet
16.8% of the market in less than a decade? Sounds like the provider is doing something right.
Azure supports Linux, but let’s be honest — this is Microsoft, so services will always have a strong focus on Windows. The web servers can run Java, Python, and NodeJS, as well as MySQL databases.
Azure accounts scale quick and easy, giving you enough customization options to refine things as per your liking.
The cloud provider gives you everything you need to build, test, deploy, and manage your web projects. You can also make yourself feel like a tech god by connecting your devices through the IoT hub (more about “Internet of Things” here).
The best thing?
Just as with AWS, you can enjoy an Azure platform completely free of charge for the initial 12 months.
You can’t be one of the best cloud hosting companies without providing exceptional support to back your clients.
Microsoft knows that for sure.
So does it apply this lesson to its public cloud services?
The live chat option is still missing, but at least MS offers round-the-clock phone operators and ticketing system. The community forums and support center are a useful solution to the most common queries.
Additionally, you can opt-in for paid assistance to maximize your public cloud experience.
The cost of enterprise-level accounts greatly varies depending on the chosen setup, but from what I’ve gathered Azure offers very affordable entry-level plans. These basic configurations can go as low as $30/mo, but they’ll grant you just enough resources to start a relatively small project.
3. Google Cloud
|Per-second billing||Costly service|
|Global private networks|
|Multitude of user-friendly apps|
You don’t really need a history lesson about Google, do you?
The household name for internet searches has been dipping its toes in practically everything — from machine learning to multimedia and from AI to self-driving cars. Sure, not all of their projects were a booming success (R.I.P. Google Plus), but those are just the kind of failures that make you grow and improve.
When G+ came out, it was already late to the party, and the company certainly learned from its mistakes. The Google Cloud platform came to be in early 2008, back when the technology was just emerging.
Over 4 million paying customers and an 8% market share. Trusted by giants like Twitter, Paypal, 20th Century Fox, and Bloomberg.
A sure sign that big enterprises can find a suitable home here.
It’s safe to say you’ve got your bases covered here. I mean, this is Google, after all — of course, they have an app for everything.
Developers love the multi-layered infrastructure, which allows them to stage, test, and deploy their web projects safely. The toolset is also impressive — Compute Engine, App Engine, Cloud Storage, and Big Query are just a few of the crowd favorites.
Google Cloud Platform is ready to help with a variety of industry-level solutions as well. Whether you are in Healthcare, Education, or Retail — Big G has got you covered.
Unlike the other top cloud hosting providers in the enterprise niche, Google Cloud has a pretty comprehensive support structure in place.
You have the Basic level, which is free, but operators can help with Billing issues only. It is available via phone, chat, and ticket.
Adding some technical assistance and quicker response time will take you into the Role-Based support solutions, which comes at a couple of hundred bucks a month.
On the Enterprise level, things are kicking into high gear — 24/7 help with 15-minute response time plus additional perks, like reviews and strategy roadmaps. You can expect at least a few thousand bucks added to your monthly bill here.
As with AWS and Azure, it’s hard to define an exact package price for the Google Cloud services. Entry-level packages start at around $45, but you can also take advantage of a 1-year free trial (up to $300 credit).
This is where our journey ends today. This review should give you a pretty good idea of how cloud computing can boost your online project and what would be the most suitable places to start.
At the very least, the next time someone mentions “cloud technology” in a conversation you can join in instead of looking at the sky in bewilderment.
Let’s recap our findings:
-=Best Entry-level Cloud Providers=-
-=Best Business Cloud Providers=-
- Liquid Web
- 1&1 IONOS
-=Best Enterprise Cloud Providers=-
- Amazon AWS
- Microsoft Azure
- Google Cloud
Ready for blast-off? See you up here!
Q: Which website hosting service is the best?
A: There is no such thing as best in the hosting business. The market is buzzing with providers, each trying to find their niche and unique characteristics. The proper way to find a host would be to determine the scale of your project and then go hunting with specific requirements in mind.
Q: What services can be hosted in the cloud?
A: Whether it’s a cloud-native or hosted application, there isn’t any limitation to what you can accommodate in the cloud. The term refers to an infrastructural method, so as long as your project is compatible with the environment — you are free to host it in the cloud.
Q: What is the best cloud storage for small business owners?
A: Entry-level cloud hosting is the right niche to start with, provided you don’t have huge space requirements. HostGator supports Unmetered capacity on all plans, and Hostwinds offers deals for up to 750GB SSD storage. All of the best cloud hosting providers on our list can be scaled space-wise without the need to upgrade.