Guide

Website hosting options

Cloud hosting

With traditional web hosting, you buy or rent a physical machine - a server - that gives you resources like memory and processing speed. With cloud hosting, you are effectively renting virtual hardware and server space for your website.

How does cloud hosting work?

Cloud hosting uses the resources of a number of virtual servers to accommodate all the aspects of hosting your site. These resources are utilised as and when needed. You only pay for what you use and, because you can access these resources at any time, you don’t need to pay for additional capacity.

Is the cloud a server?

The cloud itself is not a server. A server is a physical hardware - dedicated entirely to your business or shared with others. A cloud server is a logical server that is built, hosted and delivered through the cloud. It has similar capabilities to a typical physical server, but it resides in a virtualised environment and is managed by your cloud hosting provider.

You can choose from several types of cloud services for full or partial hosting. The cloud option reduces costs of buying hardware and paying IT staff, and allows smaller businesses to share advanced IT resources.

Problems with cloud web hosting

You may experience several possible issues with cloud hosting:

  • Connectivity. You will need a fast internet connection to allow you to use cloud solutions. If you will mainly be using these at your business premises, you may need to check what internet connection speed is available, and what is the contingency plan if connectivity is lost. See more on choosing a business broadband connection.
  • Cost of ownership. Cloud services are often delivered as a software as a service model, usually in the form of a monthly cost. Some companies prefer this from a cash flow perspective. You should consider the cost of cloud services over a period of three years to allow you to compare cloud products with more traditional software products.
  • Service level agreement. Check the conditions of your service level agreement, what happens if something goes wrong, who is liable for putting them right, and what are the timescales for fixing the issue.
  • Data security. It is important to understand the security of your data, including where will the data be stored and whether it will be encrypted. See how to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

To find out is cloud hosting is a good option for your business, see how cloud computing works, read about the advantages of cloud computing and find tips for moving your business to the cloud.