Shared server vs. cloud server – which one for your web project?
Are you interested in publishing or revising your own website? In addition to the content and technical implementation, the choice of a suitable hosting environment is a key decision within your project.
You have probably heard the terms shared server or cloud server in connection with web hosting.
The right hardware sets the course for success and provides you with the necessary resources to allow your web presence to grow.
You should, therefore, always keep an eye on the required capacities and functions in addition to the security aspect and finances.
This in-depth guide provides you with an overview of the various hosting solutions.
Here is an overview of the topics of this guide, and you can jump directly to the individual topics.
Table of Contents
What is shared hosting?
If you don't run your own server where you host your website, you have certainly come across technological terms like "shared hosting" or "dedicated hosting."
Compared to the now well-known cloud-based hosting, the systems mentioned are old - but are they also outdated?
Basically, the point is that you are using hardware solutions, i.e., complete server systems of a web hosting provider, equipped with CPU, RAM, and hard disk space as well as an operating system, web server, and much more.
You can choose from the following options:
- With so-called "dedicated hosting," you are assigned one or more servers by the provider, and you are the only user of these resources.
- With "shared hosting," you also get one or more servers assigned to your website, but you share the available resources with other customers of the company - web projects of different users are executed on one or more servers.
At first glance, there doesn't seem to be much difference between using the server alone and also storing other users' web applications on them, since you don't notice each other's "presence."
However, there are sometimes very significant differences between the two systems if you take a closer look at factors such as server utilization and performance, security aspects, or even costs.
Performance and control
It is clear that the providers of web hosting solutions usually have a high-performance Internet connection. But this is also necessary to be able to provide a certain bandwidth to the individual website visitors.
The bandwidth is often limited in shared server systems in order to guarantee a connection that is as trouble-free as possible, even if there are several web projects running at the same time.
Although you agree with the provider on a maximum bandwidth for both dedicated hosting and shared hosting, in reality, this can be significantly lower, for example, if other customers exceed these limits.
This can lead to long loading times, overloads, and technical malfunctions, which in turn can lead to the displeasure of your website visitors.
When using a dedicated server, you often have root rights and can install your own programs and scripts on the server and configure settings as desired. However, this also means that you have a higher degree of responsibility - you have to take care of updates and maintenance work yourself.
Conversely, the provider is responsible for updates and maintenance in shared hosting. However, the access rights for you as a customer are then usually significantly restricted. You must have the provider install software or make changes to the configuration. Short-term adjustments are usually not possible.
Whether you choose a dedicated server or shared server, as a responsible website operator, security should play a crucial role in your web project.
If you run your website via dedicated hosting, you have to take care of setting up and configuring a firewall and measures against malware, data theft or attacks on your own.
In a shared server offering, however, the provider is responsible for the basic security measures and you as a customer only need to take action if you want to take measures beyond that.
One thing is clear: If you use a dedicated server, you are the sole customer with exclusive access and can therefore determine at any time what data is stored on the server.
Conversely, when using shared server offerings, you should have in mind that you have no power to decide with how many and, above all, with which other users you move around the server and share resources.
You also have no knowledge about which web projects your "neighbors" are running. This can increase the security risk, especially if other customers of the provider run projects that can be classified as dubious or unsafe.
Also, in terms of costs, shared hosting and dedicated hosting solutions differ from each other.
Dedicated hosting offers you the sole use of a server, which, of course, is associated with higher costs compared to shared offers.
Therefore, private website operators or smaller companies, which do not (yet) need a lot of computing power or storage space, often fall back on these offers.
|Dedicated Server||Shared Server|
|Performance and control||+ exclusive use of bandwidth + more rights - but also more responsibilities||- connection breakdowns and long loading times are possible + fewer responsibilities - but also fewer rights - no own decision about software installations or similar|
|Security||- customer is responsible for security measures + there is only one customer, who determines which data is stored on the server||+ provider is responsible for security measures - no knowledge about other customers on the server. This increases the security risk|
|Costs||- for sole use of the server, higher prices will be charged||+ since several customers share the server costs, these are lower for the individual|
What is cloud hosting and what’s the difference to shared hosting and dedicated hosting?
The decisive difference between cloud hosting and the shared hosting and dedicated hosting described above is that in cloud based hosting the data is not stored on a physical server. Instead, the services are provided on the basis of a cloud infrastructure.
What is cloud hosting? Cloud hosting means that different computers, which can be located in different places, are connected to each other via an extensive network. Since the number of computers connected to each other is theoretically unlimited, the performance provided can be scaled to meet demand at any time.
Cloud performance and control
Since the number of cooperating computers is theoretically unlimited the available power can be scaled as desired.
Cloud hosting offers significantly more advantages, such as:
- higher flexibility than static server systems such as shared servers or dedicated servers
- fewer performance problems, failure of a single server has no adverse effects
- much wider range of functions and configurations for the user
Due to the distributed structures, there is also an increased level of security.
The hardware used for cloud hosting is operated in professional data centers. In this way, the providers ensure the necessary security and prevent physical access to the cloud.
Before using cloud hosting, it is advisable to clarify the legal situation of the system used, i.e. which laws from which country apply. Some providers allow users to choose their preferred data center.
This is something that has especially become relevant to new European Union laws such as GDPR.
A decisive advantage for users of cloud hosting services results from the different billing models. In contrast to other hosting solutions, there are no monthly costs to pay for the services.
In accordance with the "pay-as-you-use" principle, customers only pay for the services they actually use. Unused services therefore incur no costs - a considerable cost advantage over conventional solutions.
For example, costs can be higher during busy peak periods, while they can be lower during periods of low usage. Cloud hosting is, therefore, a very flexible and cost-effective solution, especially for small and medium-sized companies without their own IT infrastructure.
Advantages of cloud hosting:
- flexibly scalable performance, depending on current needs and very high availability
- increased data security, individual technical failures no longer have an impact
- comprehensible cost model. Users only pay for services and benefits that they actually use
Disadvantages of cloud hosting:
- there are hardly any disadvantages. However, it should be clarified in which countries and under which legal situation the data is stored.
- the configuration possibilities are less than with a dedicated server
Cloud hosting – these providers are available
Amazon, through its subsidiary AWS, has become the world's largest provider of cloud services.
This is a so-called public cloud. In contrast to the exclusive private cloud, for example, this means that several users simultaneously use customized and reliable IT infrastructures.
The use of store systems or content management systems such as WordPress or others is possible without problems.
Amazon's offering is immediately available in most regions, offers a flexible, broad selection of different services, and is particularly cost-efficient.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides a highly reliable, scalable, low-cost infrastructure platform in the cloud that powers hundreds of thousands of businesses.
In combination with our managed high-performance stack, you get one of the fastest managed Magento hosting services worldwide.
Microsoft offers a similar service to the Amazon subsidiary with Azure, now the world's second-largest cloud provider.
Microsoft calls the computing power provided by Azure "virtual machines" and is compatible not only with Windows servers but also with Linux, SQL servers, and products from other providers such as Oracle, IBM and, SAP.
The integrated support of Office 365 and Dynamics 365, for example, should be of particular interest to companies. Azure also offers suitable interfaces and tools for hybrid Cloud environments.
Microsoft Azure offers a wide range of products that cover numerous use cases and, typically, for cloud environments, only has to be paid for if services are used.
The third in the group of the three largest cloud providers is - not surprisingly - Google.
Compared to AWS and Azure, GCP offers the basic features and services of its competitors, which are billed on a per-second basis.
Google, on the other hand, scored more with the use of CO2-neutral infrastructure with only half the power consumption of comparable systems.
With its focus on Kubernetes, an open-source system for automating the deployment, scaling, and management of container applications, and its long-standing project support, Google is likely to outperform its competitors in this area but is lagging behind AWS and Azure in the area of storage.
Google recently launched a premium support model for GCP with a promised 15-minute response when an application or infrastructure in the production process is not working.
Furthermore, premium support users benefit from product reviews and the troubleshooting of third-party systems.
DigitalOcean is regarded as the primary rock in the industry and also offers data centers set up worldwide.
The company sees its target group quite clearly in developers and offers a wide range of services for the deployment and scaling of Kubernetes.
A flexible solution and pricing model offer a broad spectrum for scaling.
Easy to use cloud management
With so many different cloud providers, an intelligent cloud management solution like our free control panel is particularly helpful and makes managing your web project much easier. Furthermore it is very easy to get started.
Summary: Cloud hosting or shared hosting?
In this guide, you have gotten to know different hosting models. In summary, shared hosting means that web projects of several provider customers run on one physical server.
In cloud hosting, a network of several interconnected servers is available that share their resources.
Cloud hosting is not simply a shared hosting principle in the cloud but represents a modern solution of its own compared to traditional hosting solutions - with numerous advantages.
Performance and scalability
The advantages are obvious.
- In shared hosting, several website operators share the resources of a server.
- In cloud-based hosting, all resources such as processor power, working, and hard disk space are allocated to one user, similar to a so-called dedicated server.
This means that performance drops and long loading times can be virtually eliminated.
The failure of a single server in a network, therefore, has no effect and can be handled by the entire system.
In addition, the required resources can be scaled as required and thus react flexibly to a growing project volume.
The problem with using a shared service offer is that you, as a user, have no decision-making authority over your server "neighbors" and have no knowledge of their projects.
This can increase the security risk, especially if other customers of the provider run projects that can be classified as dubious or unsafe.
Cloud hosting offers a higher level of security due to distributed structures.
In addition, the hardware used for cloud-based hosting is located in professional data centers that are protected against physical access.
Compared to dedicated hosting, shared hosting is already a more cost-effective solution, as the costs are spread over several users. Nevertheless, with monthly costs, you always pay for a complete package of services, even if you do not use the entire service package.
With cloud hosting, however, the principle is "pay-as-you-use." This means that you only pay for services that you actually use. You can optimally compensate for higher or lower peak times due to seasonal fluctuations or marketing campaigns and do not incur unnecessary costs.
How to find the right hosting solution for your business
Cloud hosting is an attractive solution for small and medium-sized companies in particular.
Thanks to its high flexibility and convincing performance, the resources provided can be scaled at any time and adapted to your current requirements.
For example, you can scale flexibly as your business grows over time.
Costs are also more transparent and easier to control than with other hosting solutions. Instead of a monthly flat fee, which is often difficult to understand, you only pay for the services you actually use and thus have the cost structure in your own hands at all times.
But cloud hosting also offers numerous advantages for larger companies or larger projects, in addition to those already mentioned.
Due to its distributed structures, cloud hosting offers reliably high availability with high system stability - individual technical failures or physical attacks are avoided - so that you as a company can impress with a serious and stable web presence.
Checklist: You should ask yourself these questions when choosing the right solution
- Be the only user on the server or share the server with other (unknown) web projects?
- Have greater design freedom in selecting functions, scripts, etc. or a range of functions specified by the provider with fewer options for your own applications?
- Manage firewall and other security applications yourself, or leave it to the provider?
- Have full performance, almost no downtime at a higher price, or accept occasional problems and reduce costs?
- Or even have full performance and only pay the services you actually use?
CloudPanel - reliable management tool for every cloud!
With the help of this guide, you could get to know the numerous advantages of modern cloud hosting.
Whether you choose the cloud offerings of Amazon, Microsoft, Google, or DigitalOcean, CloudPanel is the best free server panel for PHP and offers maximum performance and security for your web project within a free cloud server management tool.
With this free, powerful program, domains, users, and databases can be added quickly and easily at any time.
In the frontend area, a clearly arranged dashboard provides a quick overview of the IP address, hostname, and much more, as well as the current utilization of CPU, memory, etc.
You get the highest possible security with the extensive possibilities of the IP- or Bot Blocker.
You can access the settings and functions of your respective cloud provider at any time in the "cloud functionalities" section.
An extensive admin area rounds off the clearly arranged range of services. CloudPanel is compatible with PHP apps such as Shopware, Joomla, Typo3, WordPress, CakePHP, Drupal, and Magento.