Cloud vs. Dedicated Hosting

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Both Cloud and Dedicated servers are two types of hosting solutions that you will find across many professional web hosting companies. Whether you’re a small business or a thriving enterprise, the question remains: what is the difference between Cloud and Dedicating hosting and which one is the best solution for you?

For the third year in a row, Liquidweb has been ranked by Cloud Spectator as having the highest rated, server-side performance of any Cloud Hosting based system. Because of our knowledge and experience in this area, we are providing a comprehensive break down of the ‘Cloud Hosting versus Dedicated Server’ hosting environments. This includes other impacting aspects like performance, uptime, and more importantly, cost.

Simply put, the cloud is a virtual space on multiple servers. A typical product of the cloud environment is a Cloud VPS. We can compare Cloud hosting to the service of a restaurant. The restaurant would represent the physical server, within that server lives the Cloud VPS, in this case, represented by the restaurant’s tables. Each waitress/waiter equals the resources that each table or Cloud VPS can pull from. If your party is growing, you can add another table (Cloud VPS) together and therefore increase your waiter/waitresses (resources). If your party is leaving, the same concept can be applied, quickly adjusting to your needs. On the other hand, a dedicated server would have one large table with you having the whole restaurant to yourself while having six wait staff attending to your dedicated server needs.

Both Dedicated and Cloud hosting both have the option to have fully managed or, self-managed options. Unmanaged means, you’ll be responsible for running routine software updates and other management tasks which are essential to its nominal operation, as opposed to your host providing that assistance. The choice to go managed or unmanaged is better left to a broader discussion but, as you can probably imagine, the unmanaged choice is usually the cheaper option.

Cloud hosting wins over with price, as there is no hardware to purchase and, you usually only pay for what you use or need. While your business grows, you’ll be able to scale up by adding more file space for more or larger websites.  Because Dedicated Servers are actual physical pieces of hardware that you can own, sometimes have a setup fee can be associated with them. The freedom of having your own Dedicated Server also means you’ll be paying for maximum power even though you may not be utilizing all of the server’s resources.  Your hosting provider can maintain both Cloud VPS and Dedicated servers but, dedicated servers will often need an additional team with a deeper understanding of resource monitoring and troubleshooting. Lastly, Cloud VPS average entry-level servers start at around $60 per month while a dedicated entry-level server starts off around $199 per month.

Cloud Costs
  • An average entry level server runs about $60 per month
  • No hardware to buy
  • Unlimited resource scaling
  • You only pay for what you use
Dedicated Costs
  • Average entry level $199 per month
  • Increased stability
  • limited resource issues
  • May include an initial setup fee
Check MarkLearn how HA infrastructure can help your business. Download our white paper on Why High Availability Matters – And How You Can Achieve It Reliably and Affordably.

Uptime is defined as the amount of time your server is online and available to your users.  For most, uptime is of the utmost importance because businesses rely on the revenue or information that their site provides. More frequently, cloud environments uptimes are improving although, there is always the chance of downtime due to resource abuse from other customers residing on the same server.  Dedicated servers face similar issues but, those issues can be due to different reasons such as hardware failures. You’ll also find cloud environments are very resilient and, redundant with their environmental setup and also are ideal when scaling up is needed as this usually involves minimal downtime. When scaling up within a dedicated environment, downtime can have an initial impact on your overall uptime but, this is usually limited to the actual time that’s needed to complete the hardware swap. Regardless of the minimal downtime involved in scaling up, dedicated servers are well known for their superb uptime and stability. Dedicated servers are also a favorite of larger e-commerce businesses that need solid performance and speed larger mission-critical websites need.

Cloud Uptime
  • More for small to medium business because uptime can sometimes be an issue
  • Resilient and Redundant
  • Can have occasional downtime due to shared resources
Dedicated Uptime
  • Great uptime for larger websites, such as e-commerce businesses and high-traffic sites
  • One point of failure
Check MarkLearn how HA infrastructure can help your business. Download our white paper on Why High Availability Matters – And How You Can Achieve It Reliably and Affordably.

Because the speed of your website is most often the number one concern amongst website developers and users, when differentiating whether the cloud or a dedicated server, the short of it is, dedicated will usually be faster. It can be difficult to compare the two environments because not all websites are optimized for speed and, front-end and backend development can come into play.  In this instance, we are going to assume the code is sufficient for optimal performance. If we think of our restaurant analogy from earlier, resources (the wait staff) are limited in a Cloud environment. These resources get utilized by the website’s processes so it’s possible you may reach a limit that your Cloud VPS can’t handle as fast as a dedicated server (although, there are some caching services you can implement to be more SEO competitive). Remember, resources for dedicated servers are all yours, and this equals out to a significant increase in speed.

Cloud Speed
  • Average page load times
  • Extra work needed to implement caching
Dedicated Speed
  • Quicker website load times
  • High performance due to unshared resources
You’ll find that determining the current need of your business will help to ease the choice of hosting environments.  Dedicated servers remain the best choice where performance is critical if you have the money to spend but, can be somewhat of a downside when scaling up.  Most small to medium sites are optimal to run on the cloud or can stand for the occasional downtime and are best for growing businesses.   For a side by side comparison, visit our products to see how our Dedicated Servers and Cloud VPS win over big name hosting providers.


Author Bio

About the Author: Echo Diaz

Throughout Echo's four year stint as a technical support specialist, her passion for breaking down complex concepts has to lead to a career in professional writing. As a top tier support specialist, she adds a distinctive element to her written work that speaks to customer feedback and concerns.

Echo occasionally pops her head out from behind her computer to watch her dog energetically run around the yard and unabashedly shovels money into buying tickets to see her favorite musical artists.

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