The Difference Between Traditional vs. Cloud Hosting

Apr 26, 2022 | Cloud Hosting, dedicated servers

For years, traditional hosting dominated the web infrastructure landscape, providing reliable hosting services for companies of all sizes. In comparison, cloud hosting is still relatively new, but currently growing at nearly 20% year-over-yearSo what are the benefits of cloud computing? Should you move to the cloud or stay with traditional hosting? To answer these questions, let’s break down what traditional and cloud hosting consist of, how they are different, and why some companies prefer one over the other. 

What Is Traditional Hosting? 

In general, traditional hosting is the type of hosting, in which your website or application is stored on a single physical server. This means that you have a defined limit on the bandwidth, CPU, RAM, and storage space you can use. At the same time, your server costs are fixed as well and you can predict your expenses for the year ahead, for example. There are three categories of traditional hosting: 

  • Shared: popular with small businesses
  • VPS (virtual private server): used by small and medium-sized companies
  • Dedicated: the default choice for medium and large enterprises

Shared Hosting: Cheap & Low-Maintenance

When you use shared hosting, it means your website or app are hosted on the same server with many others. This is by far the most cost-efficient and low-maintenance way to host something online. 

Shared hosting is fully managed by the hosting provider, so there’s nothing for you to tweak or manage, and you can control your website from a user-friendly interface (e.g. cPanel). 

While shared hosting works well for websites and apps that have predictably low traffic, any spikes might overload the server and send the website offline. You can also suffer from the “noisy neighbor” problem, when someone else’s website hosted on the same server is taking up all the shared resources. 

VPS Hosting: Affordable & Self-Contained

A step up from shared hosting is getting a VPS (or a virtual private server). Similar to shared hosting, multiple websites or apps are hosted on the same physical server but are split into self-contained virtual servers. 

VPS hosting improves security and prevents the “noisy neighbor” problem that shared hosting users tend to suffer from. You know in advance the exact amount of resources allocated to you and can plan accordingly. 

Lots of small and medium-sized companies quickly outgrow shared hosting and choose VPS hosting instead.

Dedicated Hosting: Full Control 

Once your app or website gets very popular, with over 100,000 monthly visits, you’ll benefit from getting a dedicated server that you don’t share with anyone. 

Dedicated servers give you complete control over which hardware, software, and operating system you want installed. Plus, you get reliable uptime, top performance, and maximum security. 

The downside, however, is cost. Since you’re the only tenant renting the whole server, you also pay for all of its resources. 

The last thing to think about when it comes to traditional hosting in general is that your server presents a single point of failure — if there are any technical problems, all tenants are going to be affected. That said, hosting companies do everything to make sure their servers are protected from any internal or external threats.

What Is Cloud Hosting? 

Cloud hosting is an on-demand, virtual hosting solution. In a way, cloud hosting is the exact opposite of traditional hosting. Instead of using just one server, you rely on an interconnected cluster. Instead of paying the same amount every month, you only pay for the computing and storage resources you use. 

When you host on the cloud, the server load is balanced across multiple servers, which makes the setup instantly scalable. You can use more resources at any time and pay more accordingly (without manually adding new servers). In addition, if any server in the cluster goes down, there’s not going to be any downtime and no data will be lost. 

So cloud hosting is more flexible and resilient. It’s usually offered on the IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) model, where you don’t have to manage any hardware configurations. You also don’t pay for the resources you don’t use. 

However, if you do experience frequent spikes in traffic, cloud hosting might get expensive during those times. You also usually don’t get as much configuration flexibility with cloud hosting as you do with a dedicated server. 

Should You Choose Cloud vs. Traditional Hosting? 

You can’t say whether traditional or cloud hosting is better. But there’s definitely a more appropriate option for your specific use case, depending on which hosting features you value more. 

Let’s compare traditional vs. cloud hosting in a few important aspects. 

Data storage

  • Traditional hosting stores data on a single server
  • Cloud hosting stores data across multiple servers

Scalability

  • Traditional servers need to add physical resources to scale
  • Cloud servers can be scaled virtually in real time

Performance

  • While dedicated servers offer outstanding performance, shared hosting can be quite slow
  • Most cloud servers offer high performance right from the start

Security & uptime 

  • Traditional hosting relies on just one server (with backups) but excels at blocking external threats
  • Cloud hosting offers more resiliency and can keep a website or app running even if any single server fails

Pricing

  • Shared, VPS, and dedicated servers have predictable monthly pricing
  • Cloud hosting has variable pricing, which might be very low when server resources are not used and very high when usage spikes

Overall, large companies with predictable traffic and specific needs for server customization would benefit from using a traditional dedicated server. At the same time, growing businesses that use popular server infrastructure and experience both highs and lows in their traffic should certainly consider switching to cloud hosting. 


M5 Hosting has been a leading provider of both dedicated and cloud servers for over 20 years. Take a look at the variety of solutions we offer and reach out with any questions — our engineers will be happy to advise you on the best server configuration for your needs. 

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