Are you curious about how cloud hosting can be better than other hosting options? We used over 60 hours doing our own research on cloud hosting providers to give you the hard facts. We found Hostinger to be the best cloud web hosting for most users. They give beginners an easy setup while still getting the boosted performance of a cloud hosting environment, all at an exceptional price.
The Best Cloud Web Hosting for Most
Hostinger makes cloud hosting dead simple. You don’t need any special skill to make the upgrade from traditional shared hosting—most administrative tasks take just one click and you get a guided setup process that never leaves you guessing what to do next.
Better still, you’ll save hundreds of dollars on Hostinger compared to similar hosts on this list while getting just as many resources. You get all the tools you need with no extreme learning curve, plus reliable fast page loading times. It’s really the full package for anyone looking for cloud web hosting.
The Best Cloud Web Hosting Options to Consider:
- Hostinger – Best for most
- HostGator – Best for hosting one website on a budget
- Liquid Web – Best for building large-scale, powerful sites
- A2 Hosting– Lowest cost for cloud hosting multiple sites
- InMotion – Best for getting full server control for $10
- DreamCompute – Best for developers wanting OS control
When it Makes Sense to Invest Into Cloud Web Hosting
What’s a cloud server? How is it different from shared or dedicated servers? These are questions many people have.
Knowing the difference is how you start when figuring out if you should invest in a cloud hosting service.
Let’s talk about the main categories of hosting real quick.
Shared hosting servers make you share your resources with everyone else on the same server. It’s the cheapest option in most cases, but it means performance is affected when someone uses more resources than usual.
Then you have virtual private servers, known as VPS hosting. That gives you your own little corner of private resources that no one else can touch on an otherwise shared server.
Dedicated hosting, of course, means you get a server or servers all to yourself. Not only can no one share from your pile of resources, but the server itself never has to handle someone else’s sites’ needs on top of your own.
Where does cloud hosting fit in? And how is it different?
We’ll answer this in two words—hardware and functionality.
First, understand that cloud hosting is just a different way for data to be stored, accessed, and used. Cloud hosting splits up resources across multiple virtualized servers.
That means a wide array of physical servers spread across wide distances are all used together to form a cloud environment, boosting performance, power, and scalability.
With cloud hosting, it’s less about how one physical server is used—split up into chunks for multiple sites on shared and VPS, all given to one site with dedicated—and more about how multiple servers are used together virtually.
That’s why “cloud” is often used in tandem with “VPS” and “dedicated”.
Cloud VPS means that instead of getting a dedicated chunk of one server, you get a dedicated chunk of the cloud environment.
You still get one set of resources and the virtual servers you use are still shared with other users.
Cloud dedicated hosting means that that same cloud environment is all yours. No one else can use it and you get access to way more resources.
That allows you to do really incredible things with your hosting, like spin up virtual machines or create multiple VPS environments in one cloud dedicated package.
It’s also more secure because you’re the sole user on the entire cloud. But, of course, dedicated cloud servers are significantly more expensive than cloud VPS.
Either of these routes are a clear upgrade over shared hosting, obviously. But what about switching to a cloud solution from traditional dedicated or VPS hosting?
There are a couple reasons to prefer cloud options.
On the VPS side of things, cloud makes it easier to scale if you need more or less resources.
With a normal plan, you may have to guess what your business will need in the short and medium term. Use too many resources compared to what you’re allotted and performance suffers. Use too little of your resources and you’re paying for more than you need.
With cloud hosting, you can turn resources on and off like a faucet to compensate for fluctuating traffic.
Even better, resources are spread over an entire network of servers that have access to your data. So, if one fails, another is available to take its place. No one even notices there’s something wrong.
It keeps your website running like a championship thoroughbred.
Plus, you don’t have to fiddle with software or any of the complexities, extensions, or costly upgrades to keep things running smoothly.
Most cloud service providers do all the work for you. Meaning you never have to self-manage in order to save a buck.
With dedicated hosting, it’s similar.
In the traditional world when your dedicated server goes down, you’re stuck scrambling to fix it or trying to get a new server up and running as quickly as possible.
It can take a full 24 hours to solve that problem. And that’s if you have the skill set and knowledge to do it.
If you have a site losing money or people in your online community are silenced because of a server being down, that creates doubt in your brand and its reputation.
But cloud dedicated means if one physical server fails you, there’s another one ready to step in and prevent any site outages.
That’s the main takeaway here: cloud hosting takes away a lot of the pain of traditional hosting if or when something goes wrong.
And this is why cloud hosting services are becoming the most popular way to host high-traffic websites, news sites, ecommerce stores, interactive sites, forums, and online communities.
Web applications, web-based SaaS, and IoT device deployment and monitoring runs even smoother on cloud hosting because of the uptime reliability that multiple servers backing up your data provide.
Now we’re not saying you can’t do the same with traditional dedicated hosting plans.
But you save more with cloud hosting and not have the upkeep to worry about.
If you want this kind of reliability and flexibility, then cloud hosting is a better investment.
#1 – Hostinger — Best for Most
Overall score: 4.1/5
Hostinger is best suited for users who want the ease of use of shared hosting but the boosted performance of cloud hosting.
Simply put, if you want faster performance without a complex setup, Hostinger is for you.
Part of what makes it so easy is Hostinger’s guided website setup process. It never leaves you guessing what to do next.
Hostinger is perfect for anyone building a new website from scratch or migrating an existing site from shared hosting. And our testing proves this. That’s why it’s at the top of our list.
Let’s look at the areas we tested and how well Hostinger did in each:
- Speed: 5/5
- Uptime: 3/5
- Technical Specs: 5/5
- Ease of Use: 5/5
- Pricing: 4/5
- Customer Support: 1/5
Speed: 5/5 – Our demo site on Hostinger’s Cloud Startup plan had an average response time of just 178 milliseconds over 25 days of testing.
That’s blazing fast—under two hundredths of a second! Unsurprisingly, then, Hostinger was the fastest host we tested.
This is exactly what you want to receive when you move over to cloud hosting and one of the reasons why Hostinger is the best cloud option for most people.
The average server response time across all the hosts we tested was 304 milliseconds. Hostinger averaged almost half of that.
This is a big step up over other Hostinger products we’ve reviewed. Just look at the upgrade this provides you over our testing results for their shared, WordPress, and VPS hosting plans:
- Shared hosting: 670 milliseconds
- WordPress hosting: 480 milliseconds
- VPS hosting: 471 milliseconds
Hostinger makes sure your visitors are not sitting around waiting for pages to load. They get on your site, find what they’re looking for, and are more apt to stay on your site.
Hostinger supports this performance with Litespeed caching pre-installed and pre-configured on their servers, plus an included content delivery network with 152 global locations. Both features help your site data be fetched faster, no matter where your site visitors are coming from.
Uptime: 3/5 – Our Hostinger demo site experienced 40 minutes and 3 seconds of downtime over 25 days, resulting in 99.89% uptime with our cloud hosting environment.
That’s a pretty high amount of downtime, which is some cause for concern. However, it was mostly isolated to one really bad day. And, it was actually below the list-wide average of 54 minutes, 27 seconds of downtime.
There were 15 incidents that caused our demo site to go down, with the longest one being seven minutes and 50 seconds in duration.
As you can see, September 29 was a pretty rough day. But other than that, it was smooth sailing.
That day of uptime issues had a lot going on. Here’s a glimpse at the incident report for the day:
Paying attention to the types of incidents is very important. Connection timeouts are a nuisance but aren’t nearly as detrimental as the SSL errors, which not only mean your site isn’t available but potential visitors may get a warning that visiting your site isn’t safe.
This is something to keep in mind if you’re running a store, for example. SSL errors can erode shopper trust in your brand and if this is something that could happen frequently with Hostinger, you’ll want to assess if this is worth it or see if their support can offer advice on how to avoid these issues.
We also want to give you a comparison of how Hostinger did with uptime in other hosting types we tested. As you can see below, this is better reliability than their shared and WordPress hosting, but far worse than when we tested their VPS.
- Shared hosting: 2 hours, 22 minutes, and 22 seconds of down time (99.68% uptime)
- WordPress hosting: 1 hour, 25 minutes, and 24 seconds of downtime (99.8% uptime)
- VPS hosting: 17 seconds of downtime (100% uptime)
In the end, Hostinger’s cloud hosting scores average on uptime, but it’s certainly not the most rock-solid on our list for reliability of access.
Technical Specs: 5/5 – Hostinger provides you with all the necessary resources from day one, giving you the best start when moving to cloud hosting.
For starters, their entry-level Cloud Startup plan lets you host up to 300 websites on your server. This makes it easy to set up a reseller-type environment or just have tons of sites cranking out data or selling your products, all with the stability of cloud hosting.
You also get 3 GB of RAM on that plan, meeting our minimum benchmark, but also unlimited bandwidth.
Hostinger gives you 200 GB of SSD storage as well, accommodating a large amount of media and content. It might be a bit low for running web applications but it meets our recommendation for most sites.
Plus, you get a dual-core processor, so your cloud servers can handle multiple processes simultaneously. That speeds up the hosting environment and allows your visitors to access different parts of your site with no limitation on their user experience.
While there are providers on our list that offer more generous resource sets, Hostinger meets all of our baseline requirements on its entry-level cloud plan and thus gets a perfect score here.
Ease of Use: 5/5 – Hostinger is one of the easiest cloud hosting options to get started with and use.
Our new account was ready to go immediately after signing up, which was great.
When you log into your account for the first time, you’ll automatically start a website setup wizard that asks a few questions about the type of website you’re building, your experience level, and how much guidance you’d like.
This was much easier than the rest of the providers on the list. Hostinger tailors the setup process to your specific knowledge level and needs.
You’ll set up your domain name, choose the data center you want to use, and that’s it. The guided setup process keeps you on track.
When it comes to managing your site, Hostinger is the only cloud hosting service on our list that has a custom-designed control panel—hPanel. And it’s a dream.
Many users, including us, love how simple it is to use. Usually you’re fighting with where to find things and how to set stuff up. But, with hPanel, you easily find what you’re looking for no matter if you’ve never used a control panel before.
Plus, over 100 applications and scripts can be installed with just one click. When going through the guided setup process for your first website, you’ll be able to choose the applications you want to use, like WordPress, WooCommerce along with WordPress, or other platforms like Joomla, Drupal, OpenCart, and more.
That’s especially convenient if you’re going to deploy multiple sites on Hostinger’s plan (which, again, allows for up to 300 websites).
It took only about five minutes to set up our WordPress site and get started with Hostinger. We can safely say that even someone with no experience whatsoever should have things up and running in under 20 minutes.
And the best part is it’s all fully managed. You don’t have to worry about equipment updates, security management, or paying for upgrades to your server.
If you have anxiety about managing your own server, we get it. It’s hard if you don’t know what you’re doing. Plus, it’s easy to mess something up that you can’t fix without a professional’s help.
Hostinger eliminates that anxiety and lets you quickly deploy sites on their cloud hosting platform.
Pricing: 4/5 – For all that you get with Hostinger, it’s amazing how they keep their pricing down.
To start with the entry-level plan, it’s only $12.99 per month. That runs your bill to just $155.88 for the first year.
However, the renewal rate is a bit harder to swallow—$23.99 per month. This comes to $287.88 for year two, and a total for both years of $443.76.
Even when you factor in the 85% rate hike, Hostinger comes in well below the list-wide average of $925.24 for two years of cloud hosting.
And, to sweeten the deal, you can sign up for four years in advance, lowering your monthly rate for the duration to a scant $9.99 per month.
When you do the math, you pay just under $36 more dollars and get two extra years of hosting service. There is no change in the quality of what you’re getting; you’re just locking in a great price point for four years up front.
Any way you go about it, Hostinger offers one of the best deals for cloud hosting out there.
Customer Support: 1/5 – We could spend a whole blog post on this unsatisfying experience.
Overall, Hostinger’s support is excruciatingly slow. Only one interaction took less than 20 minutes. The other two took between one and three hours to resolve.
To make matters worse, the reps repeatedly copied and pasted the same information that’s publicly available online. And, they have no option for phone support.
So we had no choice but to score them this low.
Here’s how things went:
To start a support chat, there is always a button in your account dashboard in the lower left corner (look for the messaging icon).
Click it and it brings up a chat window. You’ll be greeted by a window full of potentially relevant support articles, but if you just wait a rep will arrive and start the chat.
For our first interaction with Hostinger support, we asked about the security features and measures Hostinger takes to keep our site secure.
We started the chat at 7:48 a.m. Pacific. It took 16 minutes for the rep to join after we initiated the chat.
The rep came on and told us we could install Patchstack. It’s a WordPress plugin that comes with a free trial.
They also sent over a support document that gave us more ways to secure our site. The whole interaction took 19 minutes.
Though this was the fastest interaction it still took more than 15 minutes to get a straightforward answer and the rep did not go above and beyond to help us. They were nice enough, but it took way too long for a response.
On our second support interaction, we asked about the LVE containers Hostinger uses for cloud hosting. We wanted to know what those were and what they provided.
The chat started at 3:11 p.m. The rep came on and said someone would get back to us in 30 minutes.
We waited for over two hours. At 5:58 p.m. at last, a rep came on and thanked us for our patience.
They then copied and pasted the explanation of LVE containers from the Hostinger sales page into the chat and that was it.
This is horrific service and not something any paying customer should ever experience. We were extremely disappointed in this interaction. We waited two hours and 47 minutes for them to tell us exactly (word for word) what’s written on the sales page.
At this point as a customer, we wanted to end our hosting plan right then and there.
Not only did we wait all that time, they didn’t even give us a true answer. They just copy-pasted what we already had found ourselves.
It was a lazy response that made us furious. And the rep left the chat, not even checking if we understood or if we needed anything else.
Hopefully you never experience this and it was a one-off situation.
For our final live chat, at 6:40 p.m., we asked how we could make our site load faster. A rep arrived over 40 minutes later, but was very friendly. They sent over two support articles on how to speed up a WordPress site. And that was it, with the chat ending at 7:24.
We wished they gave more help than sending over support articles and we would have liked them to ask if we had more questions before ending the whole interaction.
It seems like the reps just throw information at you and then bail, which is not atrocious support.
Our overall customer experience was far from what we expected, and it shows in the score.
Good thing is, Hostinger is incredibly easy to use, so hopefully you won’t need to lean on their support team much or at all. Or, at least, that we hope you have better experiences than we did.
Factoring the speed and technical resources you get, as well as the affordable price point, and Hostinger is still our top pick. There’s no better way to get started on your upgrade from lower-level hosting options and Hostinger’s cloud hosting will work quite well for a wide range of websites.
#2 – HostGator — Best for Hosting One Website On a Budget
Best for 1 Site on a Budget
Get the best price in the cloud hosting category if you only need one site with HostGator. One of best options for novices, simple site deployments, and people in a rush to get their site live, HostGator makes it supremely easy to upgrade to cloud hosting.
Overall score: 3.5/5
If you don’t need to upgrade hosting for more than one site, HostGator gives you the best price by far.
If you don’t need to host 300 websites on one plan, why pay for it?
Plus, HostGator gives you a $200 search engine marketing bonus to quickly get more traffic to your website. With that credit alone, the hosting pays for itself.
Here’s how HostGator stacks up across our scorecard:
- Speed: 1/5
- Uptime: 5/5
- Technical Specs: 3/5
- Ease of Use: 5/5
- Pricing: 5/5
- Customer Support: 3/5
Speed: 1/5 – HostGator did the worst in the speed category on our list, but the raw numbers aren’t too bad. This just ended up being a closely contended scoring category among the cloud hosting providers we tested.
The average response time on our HostGator test site was 391 milliseconds over 25 days. That’s just one-hundredth of a second slower than our list-wide average of 304 milliseconds.
HostGator didn’t do that bad, all things considered, and still will fit the needs for most of you looking to get started with cloud hosting.
And, this speed performance is a fair shot better than the other options from HostGator that we’ve tested:
- Shared hosting: 661 milliseconds
- VPS hosting: 859 milliseconds
- Dedicated hosting: 565 milliseconds
HostGator offers multi-layer caching to help with site speed. But some other speed-related features we tend to see with other hosts are missing here.
They do offer two U.S.-based data centers (one in Utah, one in Texas), but you can’t choose which one your site is using.
Look, we rate speed highly for cloud hosting. And HostGator didn’t do better than anyone else on our list, but their performance is still more than acceptable.
And, when you factor in the other virtues you’ll see in the next categories, you’ll start to see just how good HostGator is for folks needing to host a single site.
Uptime: 5/5 – Visitors will always have access to your content when you get hosting from HostGator.
That’s our takeaway after our test site never experienced downtime during 25 days of monitoring with FreshPing. Not a single incident.
This is outstanding performance. And it proves you won’t have to worry about your site ever being down when visitors come looking for products, answers, or information.
HostGator has a track record of this when we’ve tested their other hosting offerings. Both their dedicated and VPS hosting also delivered 100% uptime.
It’s shared hosting experienced just under six minutes of downtime over a month (a 99.99% uptime rate). For that budget category of hosting, that’s still solid performance.
HostGator has the infrastructure to offer the reliability we all expect with cloud hosting. They bolster their cloud servers with extra data storage redundancy, meaning there are always three separate copies of your data for servers to access.
Your site will always load and never feel an unexpected disruption of service. HostGator really shines in this category, so they’re a top consideration if your site is one that can’t go down for any reason.
Technical Specs: 3/5 – HostGator’s entry-level cloud plan only allows for one website. That’s a limitation when it comes to our scoring rubric (and thus, they lose a point here), but all that really means is that they’re a great choice for those who don’t need that capability.
If you’re only going to host one website anyway, get the best blend of performance, resources, and price for that site.
The middle and top cloud hosting plans from HostGator allow for unlimited sites, but you cannot create more than one cPanel account. All of your sites will be hosted under the same cPanel account, so you can’t use it for reselling, or client work. To make sure we confirmed this with HostGator’s sales team.
That’s just something to be aware of if you want to step up in HostGator’s plans and have more than one site on their cloud hosting.
HostGator’s entry-level cloud plan, Hatchling Cloud, gives you 2 GB of RAM. That also falls short of our recommended 3 GB minimum, but that’s not as big of an issue for just one site.
Hatchling Cloud gives you unmetered bandwidth, so you don’t have to worry about limits and incurring fees within reason.
The same goes for their approach to site storage. It’s unmetered, so as long as you’re not using more than 25% of the system’s resources, you’re within the bounds of HostGator’s terms of service.
So, as you begin to add your site’s media, you don’t have a ceiling to worry about. You might never reach this limit of 25% of your server’s storage resources if you tried. But, just bear in mind, you will be penalized if you do. So don’t go too crazy with your site content.
HostGator offers solid processing power on Hatchling Cloud. You get a dual-core CPU, which should run fast when just handling a single site.
One important note is some cloud hosts let you upgrade resources without switching plans. HostGator does not give you this option. The only way to get more resources is to upgrade to an entirely different tier.
Ease of Use: 4/5 – HostGator is an all around solid cloud host, and their easy setup only enhances this truth. It’s not the easiest on the list, but if you’re familiar with cPanel you should have no problems making the leap to cloud hosting.
It feels very similar to shared hosting and anyone can pick it up pretty quick.
HostGator’s checkout process is straightforward. It’s all handled on one page to streamline the process.
After signing up, our server was ready in 23 minutes. You’ll get an email letting you know it’s ready.
After that, log into your account and you’ll be greeted with the dashboard for your hosting package.
If you want to use WordPress for your site, all you have to do is click Install WordPress under the Control Panel list. It takes you directly to the WordPress installer in Softaculous.
And if you’re using something other than WordPress, just click Launch cPanel and use Softaculous to install just about any other CMS or platform.
That’s really all there is to it. It’s very easy to figure out.
One thing HostGator left out was a guided setup. But there is a getting started guide in your welcome email that is quite clear and helpful.
It covers how to use cPanel, how to install an SSL certificate, how to use the file manager, and how to point your domain name to your cloud server. If you follow that checklist, you should have no problem.
cPanel comes pre installed, too, so you don’t have to fuss with downloading anything.
You can see that the cPanel dashboard is bright and easy to read. We do want to mention again that you only get one cPanel license for your hosting plan. So, remember if you give cPanel access to a client, you’re giving them access to all of your websites.
With Softaculous, just one click is all it takes to install apps and scripts for your site. This makes it easier to install crucial site features with very little technical knowledge.
Softaculous is easy to navigate as well, with tools and script to help with just about anything.
We love HostGator’s speedy WordPress setup. It took us just 10 minutes.
If time is of the essence, then this is a huge benefit.
Plus, you get a fully managed hosting environment. Some cloud hosts are unmanaged, which means you’re on your own for updating and maintaining your server.
But with managed cloud hosting you get things like security and server management taken care of for you, enhancing HostGator’s beginner-friendly platform.
Pricing: 5/5 – If you want a solid cloud hosting experience for barely any cost, HostGator gives it to you.
The first year of hosting with their Hatchling Cloud plan is only $95.40, at a rate of $7.95 per month. And when you’re ready to renew for year two, you pay just $10.95 per month—only a 35% increase—for a total of $131.40.
Add it up and you pay just $226.80 combined for two years of cloud hosting.
When you compare this to the average two-year price across our list of $925.24, it’s a mind-blowing deal.
And it gets better. If you want to drop your monthly amount down to $4.95 and pay just $178.20 up front, you lock up three years of hosting for less than you’d pay for two.
And they give you a better renewal price of just $8.95 per month after three years. So you save even more in the long term.
When we saw this, we couldn’t believe our eyes. But that’s why HostGator scores perfect in this category.
Not only is this ultra affordable cloud hosting, they make staying feel safe because you’re not getting ripped off on renewal rates.
Customer Support: 3/5 – Overall, HostGator’s support is average. We weren’t thoroughly impressed since some of the reps didn’t seem to be too knowledgeable, especially about HostGator’s advanced hosting products.
Two of the interactions were very slow and felt like they dragged on forever.
Overall, their support quality and speed is hit or miss depending on the time of day and who you get connected with.
At least you have the helpful option of 24/7 phone support in addition to the live chat service we tested.
Regardless of what page you’re on in your HostGator dashboard, there’s always a live chat button in the top right corner of the screen.
Clicking it opens up a short form to fill out. Here, you’ll enter the topic of your question, select a description from the drop down menu, and enter your full question into a text box.
After that you have the option to ask to chat.
Our first question was about security measures and features and began at 10:57 a.m. Pacific.
Someone immediately joined the chat. The rep asked for our PIN. This can be found in your welcome email.
After asking, the rep left the chat and someone else joined.
The new rep joined three minutes later and asked for our domain name. Several minutes later, they said we can find more information on a HostGator help page article and sent the link.
We asked if they had any advice on how to keep our WordPress site secure. The rep mentioned HostGator’s secure firewall and how they also employ additional server security methods and precautions that are confidential.
They then said to purchase SiteLock security to keep our site secure.
We ended the chat at 11:20 a.m. It took 23 minutes.
We didn’t like that the first rep didn’t answer our question and just dumped us off to another rep. We also did not like that we waited so much time for a link and short explanation, followed by a rep just telling us to buy something else.
For the second support interaction, we asked about setting up email addresses for our domain at 1:33 p.m.
Someone joined in less than a minute and asked if we had our cPanel account open. They directed us where to click to find email settings and that our plan included as many email accounts as we needed.
Then, we asked about forwarding those emails to Gmail and the rep told us where to go within cPanel to set that up as well.
The chat ended at 1:40 p.m. and only took seven minutes.
This rep was friendly, fast, and thorough. They walked us through the steps and made sure we understood how to do things before letting us go. A much better experience overall and close to ideal service in our eyes.
The last chat started at 4:00 p.m. Our question was about HostGator’s integrated caching solution and what it does.
Even though a rep joined right away, we had to wait six minutes for a response. When the rep did finally reply, they told us that their cloud servers use different hardware than shared servers, and are designed to have multiple caching layers.
That didn’t explain much to us. We asked if it was a setting we needed to configure somewhere. They completely glossed over that question and began talking about joint clusters, which was confusing because we did not ask about that.
For another 12 minutes they gave us information we really didn’t need and sent over support articles we did not ask for.
After 18 minutes we had had enough. We thanked them and ended the chat.
This was a weird interaction. It’s like the rep just threw everything they thought would help but did not really answer anything with any precision.
If we sifted through all the support articles, we’re sure we’d eventually find the answer. But that’s not the point.
All in all, the rep was nice but lacked the ability to truly answer what we were asking about in a way that we could follow.
We know HostGator is a solid host. They have several benefits that make signing up for cloud hosting with them a great choice. Plus, the price point is hard to ignore.
You can set up a reliable and well-performing website without paying for extra sites and other things you don’t need on your hosting plan. This will leave money in your pocket for other areas of your business. HostGator is, hands down, the most affordable way to set up one cloud-hosted website on this list.
#3 – Liquid Web — Best for Building Large-Scale Reliable Websites
Overall score: 3.6/5
With Liquid Web, you get rock-solid uptime and the technical resources to accommodate larger websites. You don’t have to worry about doing too much with your websites and instead build them out to your heart’s content.
Plus, Liquid Web’s reliability means you’re never leaving any visitors out in the cold. Whether your large-scale site is focused on ecommerce, a web application, or hosting a community of site visitors, it will always be there when people need it.
Let’s look a little further into the scoring for each section we tested.
- Speed: 2/5
- Uptime: 5/5
- Technical Specs: 5/5
- Ease of Use: 4/5
- Pricing: 1/5
- Customer Support: 4.3/5
Speed: 2/5 – As you saw in HostGator’s review, this is a tight category across all the providers we tested out. Liquid Web scored second-worst on this list with average load times of 343 milliseconds, but that’s still barely more than a third of a second.
That will definitely get the job done in most cases.
But, keep in mind, we tested on sites with no content. Maybe you won’t get this level of speed on a more content-heavy site. But one thing to rest assured about is that you’re not getting performance that wavers between good and bad—just look at our testing chart below:
The response time is always steady. There are few peaks and valleys, so every visitor will get the same experience.
That’s preferable to sporadic response times that give the unlucky visitors slower page loads depending on when they visit your site.
Liquid Web’s been a little behind the pack in other categories we’ve tested too. Their VPS hosting averaged 689 milliseconds during our testing and their dedicated hosting delivered an average of 346 milliseconds.
Liquid Web’s consistent speeds are helped by RAID-1 SSD storage (which keeps a mirror of your site media available in case of any loading issues) and automatic load balancing. You also get the option to upgrade to NVMe storage (even faster than SSD) if you need more of a boost.
Uptime: 5/5 – Uptime is what makes cloud hosting so awesome. You have servers working together across the country or globe to make sure your site’s content can always be delivered.
Liquid Web was another of the hosting options on this list to deliver true 100% uptime during our testing. Nary a single incident caused our site to go down.
Usually in the green bar at the bottom of the image there would be red blocks showing the downtime. But as you can see the bar is blemish free.
Every visitor has an opportunity to buy, subscribe, or surf your site whenever the time is best for them. No matter when they’re ready, your site is waiting patiently to convert.
This is a department where Liquid Web has excelled before. Their VPS and dedicated hosting both turned in 100% uptime rates when we tested them earlier in the year.
Liquid Web gives you the piece of mind to start and stay with them as you grow. And their cloud hosting’s reliability makes them the number one choice for users with powerful, large websites, especially when to take into account the technical specs we’re about to run through.
Technical Specs: 5/5 – If you’re going to take advantage of Liquid Web’s infrastructure for your large website, you’re going to need powerful resources. Liquid Web delivers with a perfect score.
It’s one of the most potent resource sets on our list and Liquid Web’s entry-level offering for cloud dedicated hosting is one of the most powerful plans you can get started with.
You get unlimited website creation. But keep in mind your cPanel license only lets you manage up to five sites before you have to upgrade to allow you to manage more.
With that you get 16 GB of RAM. That means five websites can still get a slice of just over 3 GB each to use.
And bandwidth is plentiful as well, with 5 TB allotted. If that’s not enough you can always add more, at $50 more per month per 10 TB you add.
Keeping with the theme, Liquid Web more than doubles our recommended storage minimum of 200 GB by giving you 452 GB of SSD storage, so your site can hold all the media you can handle.
But it’s the processor that really seals the deal. This lowest-cost cloud dedicated plan comes with a quad-core Intel Xeon E3-1230 v5. That can handle almost anything you throw at it, including running web apps while tons of users are accessing it at once.
While Liquid Web is really flexible, you can’t install your own operating systems like you can with some other hosts. But if you’re okay with the simple choice of servers running Linux or Windows, Liquid Web brings all the power and storage you could need.
Ease of Use: 4/5 – Most of the time, when you get powerful hosting, you have to sacrifice ease of use. Usually, this means you’re the one responsible for maintenance and getting things running smoothly, too.
However, Liquid Web’s fully managed plans brilliantly marry quality performance with an easy learning curve.
With the managed plan we tested, the checkout process was simple. Anyone with basic knowledge of web hosting shouldn’t have any issues figuring out how to get started with and use Liquid Web’s cloud dedicated hosting.
The only thing is that setup is time consuming, because there are so many options available for customizing your plan.
However, if you don’t need to change much except choosing their operating system and the level of server management, it streamlines things quite a bit.
You also get several chances to review your selections before paying.
It took 1 hour and 16 minutes from first starting checkout to signing into our dashboard. It wasn’t immediate like some of the other options on our list, but it actually wasn’t the slowest, either.
Out of the five features we tested on ease of use for, a guided setup process was the only thing missing from Liquid Web.
But they come in strong with the others. You get a pre-installed control panel with three different options to choose from: Interworx, cPanel Admin, and Plesk Pro.
Remember when we told you cPanel only lets you have five sites? Well Interworx has no limit and is also the cheapest option out of the three at only $20, while cPanel is $22 and Plex Pro is $25. You have options if you know you will be managing multiple sites.
Liquid Web, like many hosts, also offers a one-click application installer through Softaculous. It’s incredibly easy to deploy any site apps or plugins—it only took us 15 minutes to set up our WordPress site from within Liquid Web’s dashboard.
With fully managed hosting, three options for a pre-installed control panel, and easy access to Softaculous for one-click installs, Liquid Web easily earns a surprising four out of five in this category.
Pricing: 1/5 – Look, when you get a very powerful hosting provider that also makes things easy on you with fully managed service, you’re going to pay more for it.
So, of course, Liquid Web’s pricing is going to score low. But the value is high.
Let’s look at the details.
The cheapest dedicated cloud configuration is $149 per month. When you add cPanel, it bumps up to $169 per month.
Either way, Liquid Web is significantly more expensive than any of the other options on our list.
Fortunately, there’s no bump in price upon renewal like you’ll often see elsewhere. That’s because all Liquid Web plans are billed month to month. There’s no need to lock in a year or more upfront in order to get the best rate.
So, each year of hosting you’re getting from Liquid Web comes to a predictable but steep $2,028. That’s way higher than the rest on this list for one year of cloud hosting.
And the two-year total of $4,065 is over three grand more than our list-wide average of $925.24 for two years.
At least the month-to-month nature of billing means you are not forced to shell out over two grand upfront. You can try Liquid Web’s services and see if it’s a good fit. And you never have a binding contract keeping you there if it doesn’t live up to your standards.
Customer Support: 4.3/5 – Overall, Liquid Web’s customer support is significantly better than most of the other options on our list. It’s not perfect and at times it was slow, but the quality of answers were very good.
But all the reps were friendly, eager to help, and—more often than not—they go above and beyond to explain things to you.
Plus, they have 24/7 phone support if you want to use it.
It’s super easy to get in touch with Liquid Web support regardless of the page you’re on. You can always open a new live chat from the support button in the top navigation menu.
When you click on it, a chat window opens up in the bottom left corner of the screen. It has a short form to fill out, including the department, your name, and email address. That’s it.
Our first chat, at 8:44 a.m. Pacific, was to make sure everything went through after checkout because we did not receive any emails confirming our set up was complete.
The rep joined almost immediately, then asked how they could help. We let them know ours was a new account.
The rep let us know that everything looked good on their end but our account needed to be verified. After that, the Liquid Web team would set it up.
They then said it should take about an hour and we would get an email when it was ready. We ended the chat after nine minutes.
The rep we talked to was super patient and more than willing to help. We also liked how fast the interaction was.
The second interaction was finding out how we could optimize server speed. We started the chat at 1:25 p.m.
After four minutes, the rep responded that it should already be optimized and asked if there was anything specific we were looking to optimize for.
We replied we just wanted to know our options for speeding up our site if there was anything specific to deploy for our WordPress site.
The rep responded about a minute later and said everything is already optimized on the server, including the Apache servers and MYSQL databases. We then asked if they had any advice on how to stay optimized in the future. They replied with advice to compress our site’s content to keep things optimized going forward.
The whole chat took just 12 minutes. Since there wasn’t really much for the rep to do, we appreciated that they actually explained what takes up the most resources and is most important when it comes to optimization. Overall, a good interaction.
For our last support experience, we asked about switching our server operating system and what that looks like. We started the chat at 6:05 p.m. and a rep joined three minutes later.
The rep asked if we meant switching from CentOS to something like Ubuntu or Windows. We said we were simply curious what that process would look like.
They told us we’d need to destroy the existing server and start fresh. We then asked how we’d get started doing this. About fifteen minutes went by before the the rep returned and said told us two ways to do it. The first being reimaging the server and the second being paying for a new server and migrating old data to the new one.
We thanked them and ended the chat after 22 minutes.
The rep explained things to us in detail, though we had to wait a long time to get our answers. But we did get the answers we were looking for.
All in all our customer service experience was great.
When you pay for Liquid Web you’re paying for a premium cloud host that specializes in handling large, powerful sites. You get great reliability, fantastic customer service, and a host that easily blends power and ease of use. We wished they were a bit less expensive. But if they were, would you get this kind of performance and service?
#4 – A2 Hosting — Lowest Cost for Cloud Hosting Multiple Websites
Overall score: 2.8/5
When you’re building an empire of websites, it’s extremely valuable to find a host that can allow them to live all on one effective hosting plan.
And it sure doesn’t hurt if it doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Getting multiple sites on one cloud plan is what A2 Hosting is best for.
If creating websites like the ones mentioned above is what you’re looking for, then A2 Hosting’s entry-level cloud VPS hosting plan is exactly what you need. T
A2 isn’t stingy with how much space they give you.
In fact you can create unlimited websites with 250 GB to share among them.
For now, let’s look at the other details we tested, to see what other benefits devs get when using A2 cloud VPS hosting.
- Speed: 3/5
- Uptime: 1/5
- Technical Specs: 3/5
- Ease of Use: 2/5
- Pricing: 5/5
- Customer Support: 3.7/5
Speed: 3/5 – A2 Hosting came in fourth place on our list for speed. Two providers were slower and three were faster.
The average response time was 310 milliseconds for our demo site. Just like all providers, we tested A2 for 25 days, getting a real sense for what to expect when it comes to page loading times.
Now, A2’s average was only four milliseconds slower than our list-wide average, but there’s something extra to pay attention to which can be seen in our FreshPing graph below:
The thing that stands out is the ups and downs in the response time. It’s a bit sporadic, isn’t it? When you compare this image to the other providers with similar speeds you will notice a few of them have much more stable performance.
This means that, depending on the day, your visitors may be waiting longer for their browsers to fetch your page. That’s something to keep in mind if your site needs consistency to keep visitors there.
Fortunately, this is the best performance we’ve seen from A2 Hosting in this category. They’ve had pretty poor performance when we tested their other types of hosting:
- Shared hosting: 895 milliseconds
- VPS hosting: 1287 milliseconds
- Dedicated hosting: 786 milliseconds
The good news about this—if you’re already on an A2 plan, their cloud hosting presents a real upgrade in this regard. In fact, this is much better performance than we even saw with their dedicated hosting option.
Uptime: 1/5 – Uptime was a different story with A2. Our test site was down for a whopping four hours, 36 minutes, and 56 seconds. What?
Yeah, that’s an eternity of nothingness for any category of hosting.
We saw 12 incidents that caused our demo site to go down, one of which lasted just shy of four hours on its own. So, you’re starting to see why A2 scored so poorly on our list.
No bones about it, that’s a nightmare for many websites. Think how costly that would be for a web store, where four hours of downtime during a month could result in thousands of dollars lost. Or, imagine trying to find a solution to your problem or check your bank statement and you have to wait one minute shy of 4 hours to access the site.
That’s going to drive visitors elsewhere and customers to your competitors.
So, what happened?
All of the incidents were connection timeout errors but that four hour prolonged outage was for scheduled maintenance.
Normally, we might hedge our scoring to accommodate scheduled maintenance. But we didn’t receive any emails or any sort of heads-up about this coming. So, we had no time to prepare, meaning the “scheduled” maintenance was as detrimental as an unplanned outage.
What’s even crazier is we actually found out about the outage through a Google search. We wished we’d received notification from A2 instead of having to investigate the cause ourselves.
Even without the scheduled maintenance, A2 Hosting’s cloud server still would have had around 38 minutes of downtime. Still not great, though it would have bumped A2 up to second place on our list for uptime.
Even if we only judged A2 on the non-maintenance downtime, its cloud hosting still did worse than other categories we tested them on, including shared hosting surprisingly enough:
- Shared hosting: 15 minutes and 41 seconds of down time (99.96% uptime)
- VPS hosting: no down time (100% uptime)
- Dedicated hosting: 1 minute and 26 seconds of downtime (100%)
In the end, we couldn’t believe this, but numbers don’t lie. We wanted to show you firsthand because it’s hard to believe.
If you are focused on keeping your site up and running, A2 doesn’t give you much confidence in their uptime performance. Uptime is a huge factor and weighted 25% on our scorecard for a reason.
Having downtime for almost four hours with no notifications, no emails, and no way to plan for it is horrible for any website. That’s as painful as a bear trap to the ankle for a business owner.
Technical Specs: 3/5 – When it comes to resources, A2 didn’t knock our socks off.
A2 Hosting’s Runway 2 plan is the lowest-priced cloud option that offers at least 2 GB of RAM. Unfortunately, you get exactly 2 GB for memory, 1 GB short of our minimum benchmark.
Runway 2 also falls short on bandwidth, offering 3 TB as opposed to the 5 TB minimum we look for.
But A2 makes up for this in the other factors.
You get a dual-core CPU, 250 GB of SSD storage, and unlimited website hosting. You can literally put as many websites that your resources can handle. However, remember that they’ll all draw from the same well, so a ton of websites will slice that 2 GB of RAM pretty thin.
A2 is also the only host on the list that has RAID10 Storage protection. You get data redundancy with mirrored drives and improved speed with data striping.
You’ll have to pay for cPanel, though. Get one license for $8.99, five for $11.99, or 30 for just $16.99
Keep in mind, too, that Runway 2 is one of A2’s unmanaged plans. You’re not getting the full-service, hands-off experience you get with managed hosting. But A2 Hosting also offers managed cloud VPS, it’s just mightily more expensive.
Ease of Use: 2/5 – This is an unmanaged offering, which means there’s some administrative pressure on you to know what you’re doing. You’re responsible for security, software updates, and configuring everything on your own.
A2 Hosting gives you the option of using Webuzo instead of cPanel, but we weren’t impressed by it. It doesn’t come with the premium version of Softaculous to handle one-click installation of things like WordPress. Plus, the file manager is a huge pain to use.
We ended up deleting the entire control panel and installing WordPress and setting up a new site manually with Secure Shell (SSH) and the command line interface (CLI) instead.
Because of that, we recommend either paying extra for cPanel or sticking to SSH and CLI. It’s not worth the hassle of installing the free Webuzo control panel unless you really know what you’re doing.
Because of likely having to go the CLI route, your WordPress setup can take hours instead of minutes. Plus, CLI is pretty advanced—less experienced users can find themselves fumbling around for a long time.
A2 also isn’t going to provide you a guided setup process on its unmanaged plans. Altogether, this isn’t much of a cloud hosting option for beginners.
Pricing: 5/5 – Fortunately, A2 Hosting’s Runway 2 plan is very attractively priced.
For $11.99 per month, you can use their developer-friendly cloud VPS hosting. That’s a year-one price tag of just $143.88.
The second-year renewal rate barely increases. It’s just $12.75 per month for year two, totalling $153 flat.
Two years of unmanaged cloud hosting from A2 is just $296.88, way below the list-wide average of $925.24. That’s an incredible price for hosting multiple sites on cloud servers, or even just one website.
Already that makes A2 one of the most affordable options on our list. But if you want to commit to three years upfront, you lock in an even better price tag.
Three-year plans lower the rate to $7.99 per month. You can get three years for a scant $287.64, even cheaper than the two-year route we outlined above.
Basically, you get a free extra year of cloud hosting, plus A2 basically hands you nine bucks back.
How clever would you feel sitting on the winning side of that deal?
Customer Support: 3.7/5 – A2 Hosting’s support reps tended to be very helpful and they went above and beyond to answer our questions with as much detail as possible. The major problem was the time it took for the chats.
Two interactions took more than 15 minutes and the last one we ended up figuring out on our own.
So this reflects in the score overall. You can see how things panned out with each interaction below.
Getting in touch with support is super easy. There’s a chat button in the top navigation menu no matter what page you’re on.
When we started our first chat at 8:07 a.m. Pacific, we had questions about improving security measures for our site.
Ten minutes later, the rep apologized for the delay and told us there are a broad array of security features A2 employs.
They sent us a help center link for more information, then began explaining everything in detail, from brute force protection to using non-standard ports. This went on for another eight minutes. The rep was very thorough.
After that we thanked them and ended the chat after 29 minutes..
This interaction was great. We loved that they spent so much time with us combing over every detail. We just wish it didn’t take as long.
For our second support interaction, we asked about optimizing our site for speed. We reached out at 1:46 p.m.
The rep sent over five articles right away with super clear explanations what website optimization entails. We really liked that most of them are pretty advanced and specific to VPS users who have a lot more control over their hosting environment.
We then asked if there was anything we needed to do on the server to boost speed or if it was mostly site-side actions.
The rep sent over a few more articles and also recommended a CDN to help reduce the load on the server as well.
We thanked them and we ended the chat at 1:57 p.m.after 11 minutes. Another good interaction overall.
For the last support chat, we reached out about a 403 error we were seeing. That’s when a server understands the request but it doesn’t follow through on it. This happened after we installed WordPress via the file manager.
We started the chat at 3:07 p.m. Several minutes later, the rep said that our domain name wasn’t pointing to the VPS server’s IP address.
We told them we had done this hours ago and they said that we needed to check with our domain registrar to see how long propagation takes.
We noticed they were confident this was the issue. We verified with the rep that we had installed our WordPress files in the right place. All we could do was wait, so we ended the chat after 13 minutes.
After the chat we started over with a fresh install and it worked like a charm the second time. So, it wasn’t a DNS issue. Something was wrong and this person didn’t help us solve it. Instead, we figured it out on our own with no help from them.
So this call ended up hurting A2’s customer service rating.
All in all, the support was good. We are disappointed we could not score them higher because of the last rep’s error. But even with that, they still scored well above average.
Overall, A2 Hosting is great for hosting multiple sites at a great price. If you are creating several online communities or media-rich websites, you can’t go wrong with A2 since you get so much storage at your disposal.
And, if you’re savvy, you get the perfect development environment. All without worrying about the media stacking up and slowing things down.
#5 – InMotion Hosting — Best for Getting Full Server Control for $10
Overall score: 2.8/5
InMotion Hosting is the cheapest plan that comes with at least 2 GB of RAM—only $10 per month, with no renewal spike to worry about.
If you want full control over your cloud hosting servers, this is the most economical way to go. Just keep in mind that InMotion is for advanced users. We’re talking you need to know everything about server setup and management to take advantage of this pricing benefit.
Here’s a look at their full scorecard:
- Speed: 3/5
- Uptime: 4/5
- Technical Specs: 1/5
- Ease of Use: 0/5
- Pricing: 5/5
- Customer Support: 4/5
Speed: 3/5 – Our InMotion test site performed well during 25 days of testing, averaging load times of 293 milliseconds. That makes it the second-fastest host we tested. So, it’s a bit better than our score implies.
The response time is steady for InMotion and barely had a bump over the testing period, showing you get a stable infrastructure.
This tracks with other InMotion offerings we’ve tested. They’ve been fast every time we’ve put a plan of their through its paces:
- Shared hosting: 339 milliseconds
- VPS hosting: 380 milliseconds
- Dedicated hosting: 292 milliseconds
Plus, your plan comes with speed features you don’t have to manage on your own. Edge routing, for one, helps reduce bandwidth bottlenecks and slowdowns. InMotion’s proprietary UltraStack infrastructure also reduces drag, especially if your site hosts a high-traffic page or demanding application.
On top of that, you can choose from two data centers, one in Washington D.C. and the other in Los Angeles.
InMotion is rated a three because our grading scale is strict but make no mistake, this is fast. Any worries about slow pages can be dismissed.
Do keep in mind, though, that our sites have nothing on them. Which means the speed of a more media-rich site can be different than what we got back over our monthly test.
Uptime: 4/5 –
InMotion Hosting’s cloud option has solid uptime performance as well, delivering 99.99% availability.
We only experienced one incident, a three minute, 56 second connection timeout. That’s it.
InMotion has a consistent track record for being reliable and making sure your site is available the majority of the time.
We can say that because we tested all the other hosting plans InMotion offers and the uptime was pretty much the same across the board.
- Shared hosting: 6 minutes and 17 seconds of downtime (99.99% uptime)
- VPS hosting: 18 seconds of downtime (100% uptime)
- Dedicated hosting: 2 minutes and 59 seconds of downtime (99.99% uptime)
InMotion bolsters this with some extra uptime-related features. You get Corero DDos protection and smart routing technology to keep everything smooth during traffic or usage spikes.
Between its speed and reliability, InMotion offers some of the best cloud hosting performance you’ll find.
Technical Specs: 1/5 – The good news here is you can scale the heck out of this server. You have full control and can mold the server into your ultimate masterpiece.
The problem is, your resources are very limited from the start.
You can host multiple websites (an unlimited number), but the resource allotments on cVPS-2—the entry-level cloud plan we tested—are low. You only get 2 TB of bandwidth monthly, 2 GB of RAM, and 50 GB of SSD storage.
You also only get a single-core CPU.
Everything but the number of websites you can host on the plan fell short of our benchmarks.
Now, as an advanced user, you’re probably going to need lots of storage or bandwidth depending on what you’re working on. And a single-core CPU won’t last for too long if you plan on growing your traffic.
But if you’re not building a massive site yet and just need a simple set up this is plenty—all for a drastically cheap price.
Plus, when you’re ready to grow, that’s when things get better. You can scale all the way up to 32 GB of RAM, an octa-core processor, 640 GB of storage, and 7 TB of monthly bandwidth for $160 per month.
For that many resources, that’s a steal. When you compare this resource stack to another, higher-priced provider (Liquid Web), you’re saving $100 per month.
So, starting out, the resources are minimal. But as you need more space or processing power for your server, you have options that keep costs from ballooning on you.
Ease of Use: 0/5 – InMotion Hosting’s sign up process is more drawn out than some of the others on our list.
It’s not all done on a single page, so there’s a lot of navigating from one page to another throughout the process. However, it’s not terribly complicated.
The only things you really have to choose are the plan you want and the operating system you want installed.
Despite InMotion’s website saying that provisioning is nearly instant, it took 17 hours and 13 minutes after signing up before we could sign into our account.
Here’s what your account dashboard looks like the first time you log in:
After you sign up for InMotion’s unmanaged VPS services, you’ll get an automated response via email from InMotion customer support.
Regardless of the plan you sign up for, the information you get is actually about shared hosting. So it isn’t helpful whatsoever. And you don’t get any guided setup wizard. You are 100% on your own.
None of InMotion’s cloud VPS plans are managed, meaning you’re responsible for security, software updates, monitoring your server, and configuring everything on your own.
You get no pre-installed control panel, no means for one-click application installation, and everything is done through the command line interface.
This just further demonstrates this is a good option for devs and experienced users, but not appropriate for novices in hosting self-management.
Pricing: 5/5 – Here is where you, as an advanced user, will fall in love with InMotion Hosting.
You’re not charged for a bunch of stuff you don’t need. You get a fully stripped server that you set up how you want, with the resources you will need.
The cVPS-2 plan comes with the resource minimums we mentioned above for $10 per month. That’s an easy-to-swallow $120 for year one.
The standout feature in pricing for InMotion is the 0% renewal increase. No rate hikes, no surprises. Just keep on trucking at $120 per year of service on this plan.
At just $240 for two years of hosting, InMotion comes in way under our list-wide average. $685.23 cheaper than average, to be exact.
Plus, all of InMotion’s unmanaged VPS plans are billed monthly. There’s no commitment or contract to break if you want to change hosting providers.
Many users get excited about this feature because it removes that risk of being locked into a plan. Plus, it makes it easy to scale since you don’t have to worry about breaking one plan in order to upgrade to a new one.
Customer Support: 4/5 – This was surprising to see on our end, to be honest. Unmanaged cloud hosting normally means you’re on your own when it comes to everything.
So, customer support usually suffers as a result.
InMotion Hosting generally didn’t fall into this trap. But we did have some rough wait times.
Overall, InMotion’s reps are very helpful. Every rep we talked to went above and beyond to help while delivering high quality support every time we reached out during live chat.
If you want to call them by phone because you have more complicated problems, 24/7 phone support is also available.
For live chats, it’s really easy to get started. There’s always a chat button at the top right corner of the screen.
Clicking on it opens a new window where you can choose between sales, support, billing, and account confirmations. After that, you’ll answer a few questions about the nature of your question and that’s it.
Our first support chat started at 7:20 a.m. Pacific, when we asked for help with verifying our account in order to speed up the provisioning process.
It took over an hour for a rep to join and respond. When that finally happened, they asked for a few more minutes to look over our order.
15 minutes after that, the rep came back and apologized that it took so long. They then said they had a few questions before they could activate the account.
The first thing they asked was what we wanted to use our hosting plan for, which we found a bit invasive. We told them that we were testing it out to see if we want to use it for our business site and blog.
They went over their hosting agreement, informing us of all the sites we could not create. Again, a bit strange for them to partially assume we might be using their plan for a shady operation that would run afoul of their terms of service.
They then let us know that we should get an email in 15 to 20 minutes with info on how to log in.
The whole thing took an hour and 25 minutes. We ended up getting our account verified in the end, but it was an odd and stilted interaction.
Fortunately the next two were superlative.
Our second chat started at 12:11 p.m. and we needed help accessing our server after getting an error message of “No supported authentication methods available.”
The rep joined and took six minutes to break the silence. They asked if we generated our SSH key, which we had. They then ran some tests to assess the issue.
After another 10 minutes, they needed a senior technician’s help and asked if they could follow up via email after that. We asked if we could just wait in the chat, which they allowed.
After another ten minutes they fixed the problem and we were able to get into our server.
Other than the chat being 52 minutes long, we were so happy the rep was able to help us and get us into our server.
Our last chat was about switching our server operating system. We reached out at 5:46 p.m. and got a response in seven minutes.
The rep let us know that CentOS is the only one that they currently support but we could definitely switch to a different OS if we’d like to. They just wouldn’t be able to provide support or help during the process whatsoever.
They said that, in order to switch, we would need to migrate our data from this server to a new one and that they also would not be able to help with that either.
We thanked them for the super thorough explanation. We ended the chat after 11 minutes.
In closing, the customer support was way better than we expected for bare-bones, unmanaged hosting. It was long, but we did get the help we sought.
And, if you’re an advanced user, you might not ever need to call or chat with support. But it’s nice to know you can if you’re completely stumped.
All in all, you are getting a cheap, fixed-rate plan with great scaling capability from InMotion Hosting. Full server control at a low price, bolstered by excellent speed and uptime reliability, make this a top choice for developers and pros.
#6 – DreamCompute — Best for Developers Wanting Operating System Control
Best for Choosing Your OS
Developers will love the power and control that comes with DreamCompute. If you know enough about hosting management to know exactly the operating system you want to use, DreamHost's cloud option delivers great uptime and speed so you can maximize your hosting.
Overall score: 2.8/5
DreamCompute from DreamHost lets you run any Linux OS, including uploading your own custom operating system.
It truly is a blank slate you can turn into whatever you want.
This is excellent for advanced Linux users that want to make a server their own.
In fact, this platform is perfect for you if you don’t want to feel like you’re on a provider platform at all. The host gets out of your way and let’s you dream up whatever you can imagine.
So many providers don’t let you change the operating system and force you to use their prebaked OSes. With DreamCompute, you’re the boss.
Let’s take a look at how this different cloud hosting option did on our scorecard:
- Speed: 3/5
- Uptime: 4/5
- Technical Specs: 2/5
- Ease of Use: 0/5
- Pricing: 5/5
- Customer Support: 2.3/5
Speed: 3/5 – DreamCompute basically set our list-wide average. They were right down the middle with a 25-day loading time average of 306 milliseconds.
Two small bumps in response time happened towards the beginning of the month. Then, after that, the speed was ultra consistent, leveling out and having a calm and steady month thereafter.
Those two little bumps come from the brief uptime incidents we experienced, which we’ll talk a bit more about in a bit.
This performance is just two milliseconds more than the average across our whole list. And, it’s well under the bar in terms of what you should expect at this tier of hosting.
It’s also some of the best performance we’ve seen from DreamHost products. Their other categories of hosting had demonstrably worse performance than both their DreamCompute offering and many of their peers in these other categories:
- Shared hosting: 813 milliseconds
- VPS hosting: 455 milliseconds
- Dedicated hosting: 616 milliseconds
What’s great about DreamCompute cloud hosting is it’s a clean slate. All of your resources are your own and you can slice and dice them however you’d like.
You can also single out specific resources for different virtual machines or instances to ensure one doesn’t take the resources needed for another.
What does this do for performance?
It ensures each site, app, or instance on your DreamCompute server will have the resources it needs for the best performance possible.
DreamCompute is all about customization, so you can make things faster if you know how. This gives you complete control to make it your own. Which makes DreamCompute special in this category.
Uptime: 4/5 – Our DreamCompute demo site experienced five minutes and 51 seconds of downtime over 25 days. This gave us a 99.98% uptime rate.
We had two incidents that caused our site to go down. The longest incident was four minutes and 55 seconds in duration.
Comparing this to 54 minutes and 27 seconds of downtime averaged across the other hosts we tested, DreamCompute came in well ahead of most of the pack.
The two connection timeouts happened on two separate days. And, like we referenced in the speed section above, you can see in the image they had a direct affect on the response time.
However, DreamCompute actually performed a good deal worse than DreamHost’s other popular hosting offerings:
- Shared hosting: 49 seconds of down time (100% uptime)
- VPS hosting: no downtime (100% uptime)
- Dedicated hosting: 2 minutes and 24 seconds of downtime (99.99% uptime)
Still, this is solid performance on the reliability front. DreamCompute takes pride in keeping your site available to new and surging traffic on your site no matter the plan you select.
By now you know this isn’t the case for a lot of other providers that have different price points. You’re getting a level of reliability you don’t see on other affordable cloud plans, but you don’t have to pay for the performance of some of the higher-octane ones on our list.
Technical Specs: 2/5 – The tech resources you get with DreamCompute are very different compared to the others we’ve reviewed.
Only two out of the five expectations we tested for from an entry-level plan were met.
But we found this plan to be very unique in how they separate your core tech, meaning there are two sets of resource limitations: overall account limits and individual instance limits.
So, if you spin up virtual machines on your DreamCompute plan, you also have to be mindful of limits on each of those.
DreamCompute allows for up to eight instances on your plan. Each instance can have its own operating system—so you could have one running Ubuntu and others running CentOS, for example—and unlimited websites running on it.
Just keep in mind how your resource allotment needs to be split and shared across them.
Let’s start with RAM. Your account is given 64 GB total, but each instance can only use up to 2 GB each, even if you’re running fewer than 32 of them.
So, in terms of scoring, that 2 GB per instance falls short of our 3 GB per website recommendation.
Storage, too, gets a bit tricky. It’s a bit of a reverse from memory allotment—instances can each use up to 80 GB of your SSD storage, but your account only gets 100 GB overall.
So, that’s not too limiting if you’re already planning on more than one instance on your server. Split up the 100 GB among them as you see fit. But, be advised that you’re only allowed 16 volumes (splits of your SSD drive dedicated to an individual instance) initially on the plan.
You can, however, scale your overall storage in 100 GB increments for an additional $10 per month each.
Now, for the good stuff.
First, bandwidth is unlimited. You don’t have to worry about that at either the account or instance levels.
On top of that, you get a powerful processor with eight cores. That lets you split its multi-tasking power across your many instances without any drag on performance.
What we really love is how easy it is to tweak and resize instances and their resource allocations.
You can easily see your account limits in the window if you decide to resize an instance. You can also see these limits when you add a new instance and on the overview screen of your cloud dashboard:
And, don’t forget, you can install any Linux operating system.
There are several one-click OS installations available when creating new instances, including Fedora, Debian, and CentOS. You can also upload your own OS, if you’d like to.
Ease of Use: 0/5 – CloudCompute tied for last place for ease of use, but that shouldn’t be a big surprise. There’s a lot of self-management involved in provisioning virtual machines and instances on a plan like this.
Unless you know what you’re doing and are comfortable with command line interface, it’s going to be a challenge to use.
But, if you’re looking for a host based on the ability to set up your own operating system, you’re probably not scared of going through setup and administration on your own.
When signing up, you don’t have to choose a plan. You’ll choose which plan you want to use when you actually start creating instances. So, the signup process is super short.
You’ll have to enter a credit card, but it won’t be charged until 30 days later for the services you used within that 30-day window.
Our dashboard was ready to go immediately after creating a new account. Inside it, you’ll be able to see an overview of how much you owe at your next due date.
Once you click View Dashboard, you’ll be taken to your cloud hosting dashboard where you can manage your instances. Here’s what it looks like when you open it up for the first time:
When it comes to guided setup it’s non-existent. You do get a welcome email after you sign up for CloudCompute, telling you how to log in to your account as well as a tutorial on how to create a new instance.
But that’s it. And if you want to use a control panel with DreamCompute you must install one yourself using the CLI.
There isn’t any one-click app or script installation. It took several hours for us to work through installing WordPress through the command line. But, to be fair, we’re probably not as skilled as you. So it most likely won’t take you that much time at all.
You get great power, flexibility to scale, and the ability to run your own OS for an incredible price, which we’ll discuss in just a second.
So it’s definitely worth it when you know how to get things done.
Pricing: 5/5 – We signed up for, tested, and scored the 2 GB RAM server (gp1.supersonic plan).
It’s the cheapest cloud option that has at least 2 GB of RAM.
The price is stellar because of the pay-as-you-go plans DreamCompute offers.
Rather than a set monthly or annual fee like with most of the other hosts on our list, you’re charged per hour.
DreamCompute cloud plans come with a maximum number of 600 billable hours (25 days) per month per instance—this amount is the most you’ll be charged in any given month.
This means if you have an instance that’s live and using resources, you’re getting billed.
Everything over that initial 600 hours per month is free.
At the end of every month, you’re responsible for paying for the services you used during that month. Each instance is charged separately and will continue to incur charges until you delete it.
But you’ll get a single invoice with your total amount due for all instances at the end of every month.
That billable rate is two cents per hour. So the most you’ll pay per instance is $12 per month. For a single instance, you’ll pay $144 for the first year at most.
Just keep in mind, this is per instance. Splitting your DreamCompute cloud server into multiple virtual machines may cause the price to jump quite a bit.
Since there’s no renewal rate hike, you can count on this maximum cost per instance every year. So, two years comes to a maximum of $288, well below our list-wide average of $925.24.
Customer Support: 2.3/5 – As you would probably guess, with DreamCompute being an unmanaged cloud hosting plan, customer support is not the strongest part of their core feature set.
It’s not the worst, but it’s also not great either, particularly for more advanced questions. We felt none of the reps we talked to were really able to give us detailed answers, but instead sent us tutorials or articles to read through on our own.
Last, there’s no phone support. That’s a bit of a drawback too, considering the complexity of issues that may arise.
The only option is requesting a callback, which isn’t free. Call backs are $9.95 per request or $14.95 per month for three per month. Other than that, there is no phone support.
DreamCompute makes it quite clear they expect you to fix things on your own unless you’re willing to pay for callbacks.
Inside your dashboard, you have to navigate to the support link in the left hand navigation menu. This opens up a chat widget.
Once you enter your question, you’ll have the option to submit a ticket, start a live chat, or request a callback for an additional fee.
We first reached out at 7:57 a.m. Pacific, to ask about security measures and features.
Three minutes later, a rep joined and said the first thing that they recommend for extra security features would be to enable DreamShield, which acts as a malware detector.
They sent another message with a support article link that goes over how to enable extra web security.
Start to finish, this chat took 17 minutes. We felt the rep could have led with free options for fixing security and didn’t love the delayed response time at the start of the chat. But overall, it wasn’t a bad experience.
Our second chat, at 3:31 p.m. was to ask what Ceph storage was, how it worked, and if there were any extra benefits to it.
The rep joined immediately and asked for a few moments to review our account. Six minutes after that, they basically told us that it was a pretty complicated question and sent a link to an Ubuntu page that explained Ceph storage in more detail.
We said we’d never heard of it so figured we would ask. Then we asked if it comes with DreamCompute or if it’s just for their DreamObjects plans.
30 seconds later, the rep let us know that it’s included for both and explained that DreamCompute uses it for instance and memory storage whereas DreamObjects is built on Ceph entirely. We thanked them and we ended the chat.
It wasn’t terribly helpful, with just a document to read for a real explanation. While this is a very hands-off unmanaged hosting option, we were left wondering the point of live chat support if we were only going to get answers we could search for elsewhere. At least it took less than 10 minutes.
The last chat was more of the same. We asked about methods to improve site speed at 6:42 p.m.
The rep immediately joined and checked our site’s current load times. They noted it looked fine to them and that we didn’t have any content on it yet. We told them we were just getting started and were hoping for more general advice on how to optimize our site for speed.
They directed us to a support article covering WordPress optimization and invited us to reach out again if we had any specific questions or experienced slow loading speeds in the future.
The chat was just six minutes. We loved that they took the time to test the site, but wished there was more back and forth about things that could slow down our site. There wasn’t any talk about how media or security issues could lead to slowdowns, things we know can be prepared and optimized for.
In brief, customer support is an afterthought with DreamCompute. At least that’s how it felt to us.
It might be different for you, however.
When looking at the provider as a whole, they offer tons of flexibility with whatever operating system you want to use, a great price that never changes on renewal, and a setup that adapts to how you want to use it.
Your speed is fast, and uptime is stable. DreamCompute has proven they care about reliability and speed no matter the plan you have. Our comparisons in both the speed and uptime sections prove it.
As long as you don’t need too much help from support and you know how to set up your server environment you can have an incredibly powerful cloud environment with unlimited website opportunity, speed and reliability, that makes DreamCompute a wonderful fit for a knowledgeable user.
Methodology for Choosing the Best Cloud Web Hosting Plan
Cloud hosting is the best of both worlds when it comes to hosting your app or website. It gives you the power of VPS or dedicated hosting bolstered by the reliability of a cloud server network, and you usually don’t have to handle any of the maintenance.
This quality of cloud VPS or cloud dedicated hosting compared to the traditional versions of the same makes things extremely reliable.
Plus, you often can choose between managed and unmanaged options. If you want full control or you’d like your hosting provider to handle security and other administration, there’s a cloud hosting option for you.
So, you have a lot of possible routes to take when making the step up to cloud hosting. That escalates the degree of difficulty in finding the right option for you.
That’s why we’ll show you our research legwork in this section. We set minimum benchmarks for several categories of scoring, then weighted the major considerations in order of what cloud hosting shoppers value most:
- Speed (20%)
- Uptime (20%)
- Technical specs (20%)
- Ease of use (15%)
- Pricing (15%)
- Customer support (10%)
Most people are coming to cloud hosting for an upgrade in performance. Hence, why speed, uptime, and the quality of resources you get on a provider’s entry-level plan are the most heavily weighted.
When judging technical specs, we identified each provider’s cloud plan with at least 2 GB of RAM and then compared what was offered to our benchmarks. More on that in a bit.
We also judged pricing on that same plan, beginning our process of testing the affordability and ease of use.
Then, we bought a domain for each host we tested and went through account creation, onboarding, and setting up a new site, in order to see how kind the process was on users, regardless of their experience level.
Last, we reached out to each provider’s customer support to have them solve issues we ran into or answer questions we had. We did that three times with each provider’s live chat support, to get an idea of their support teams’ capabilities and effectiveness.
By following along with our experience, you can see all the key details about each provider and even gain a sense for a good comparison shopping process if you want to apply our methods to your hosting provider search.
Let’s dive into each category a bit more, so you can see more of our thought process and the benchmarks we set.
You hate waiting for things, right?
We all have stuff to do and, when you go to a website, you don’t want to watch the page slowly load.
Your visitors don’t either.
So, speed is the number one factor to look for. It keeps your users happy and makes your website more enticing to Google, allowing it to rank higher in search results.
We plugged each demo site (bare of any content or media) we made on each host’s platform into FreshPing and monitored loading times at one-second intervals.
To be honest, all the hosts did quite well in this category. All the providers on our list, combined, averaged just 304 milliseconds across our 25 days of testing. That’s exceptional—less than a third of a second.
So, good news all around here. Not only are just about all of the choices on our list blazing fast, but you can rest assured that they all present an upgrade from other categories of hosting in this regard.
First, here’s our grading scale for separating the absolute fastest cloud hosting providers from the rest of the pack:
- 5 points for less than 250 ms
- 4 points for 251 ms to 290 ms
- 3 points for 291 ms to 330 ms
- 2 points for 331 ms to 370
- 1 point for more than 370 ms
What may be surprising is that our cloud provider list’s average is actually better than the testing average we found from traditional dedicated hosting providers.
And they blew away the averages from when we tested out VPS and shared hosting, too, of course:
- Shared hosting: 676 milliseconds
- VPS hosting: 690 milliseconds
- Dedicated hosting: 420 milliseconds
Check out the product reviews above for more information on individual performance, consistency, and any speed-related features that each provider offers to boost your site’s speed.
Site access reliability was a different story, with a much wider range of performance from the hosts we tested. The providers on our list averaged just under an hour of downtime for our month of testing.
When people can’t find your site because it’s going through downtime, your company looks bad and will likely lose money.
Uptime rates cannot be ignored and significant unplanned downtime is a dealbreaker at this stage of the hosting game.
Just like with speed, we monitored each demo site we built for 25 days, took the data, and delivered an accurate uptime rate for each host.
Obviously, we’re looking for unblemished uptime with no interruptions for that period. For judging any imperfect performances, we set the following scale:
- 5 points for no downtime
- 4 points for less than 30 minutes of downtime
- 3 points for 30 to 60 minutes of downtime
- 2 points for 60 to 90 minutes of downtime
- 1 point for more than 90 minutes of downtime
There’s a lot of room in there for an hour or more of downtime. Frankly, the poor list-wide average surprised us, but it was largely affected by one provider’s abysmal performance.
Still, 59 minutes is a lot of downtime for a type of hosting meant to be known for its reliability.
Compared to other types of hosting, it’s even more surprising. When we tested out VPS hosting, for example, the average across those 10 providers was just one minute, nine seconds.
So, our advice is to take your time in judging this quality of a potential cloud hosting provider. There’s a lot of variance in performance among options in this category and our testing shows it.
Technical Specs (20%)
We know that if you’re looking into cloud hosting, you know a thing or two about the server resources you’ll need. Not much else really matters if you’re not getting the processing power, memory, and storage to support your site or web app.
So we put serious work into identifying minimum benchmarks for the technical specifications of each provider’s cloud servers.
What’s great with cloud hosting is that there is a lot of flexibility and scalability. You can get as much as you need and while avoiding paying for more than is necessary.
Whether you’re building a website, a database, a phone system, a backup server, a gaming platform, or something else, the resources you get from day one are just as important as server performance.
We want to make it easy to know what’s right for you.
This factor will also help balance out the pricing criteria—if a host is more expensive, does that mean you get more? Or if it’s cheaper, does that mean you’re sacrificing resources?
We judged each provider’s lowest-cost plan with at least 2 GB of RAM against our minimum requirements:
- One point if you can host multiple websites
- One point for at least 3 GB of RAM on the cheapest plan
- One point for at least 5 TB of bandwidth
- One point for at least 200 GB of storage space
- One point for at least 2 CPU cores
We didn’t turn this into a masterclass on each of the above criteria, but we didn’t leave things to your imagination either. In each review, we compare what is offered to likely cloud hosting use cases.
And, in the end, we’ve found a wide array of plans, from affordable ones that the job done resource-wise to powerful packages that max out processing power, RAM, and more.
Ease of Use (15%)
While the power of cloud hosting is important, it’s not much of an upgrade if it’s too steep of a learning curve compared to your previous hosting arrangement.
Cloud hosting environments vary greatly from one provider to the next.
Some are fully managed and come with control panels, one-click installers, and more, making it easy on beginners to make the step up to a cloud provider.
Others are a completely blank slate that may only be approachable to developers and experienced admins, since the only way to manage them is via command line interface.
Many of our readers are upgrading to cloud hosting for the first time and simply want something easy enough to use that still offers better performance and scalability.
The best option for you depends heavily on your experience level, how comfortable you are with hosting, and how much you’re willing to learn.
To test for ease of use, we signed up from scratch with each host on this list, just like you will.
We went through the process of setting up a WordPress site with each one, paying close attention to every detail of onboarding and setup along the way.
We documented the entire process of getting started on a host, then judged the ease of use based on the grading scale below, where we assigned one point for each of the following:
- A guided setup process that never leaves you guessing
- A pre-installed control panel
- A one-click app/script installer
- It took less than 20 minutes to set up a new WP site
- The cloud environment is fully managed
The process was tedious, sure, but it’s necessary to make your choice simpler. We want to remove the anxiety that comes with wondering if you’re doing things right or able to handle cloud hosting management at all. Plus, we included details about how long setup should take and if you have options to make things even easier.
Even though this is the most straightforward scoring category, we wanted to look both at overall cost and actual value.
There’s a wide array of price points in this category, and understandably so. The more powerful and developer-friendly cloud hosting providers can get very expensive. But there are fully managed options that can be had for barely more than you’d pay for shared or traditional VPS hosting.
Our process was simple. Judge the entry-level plan that met our resource benchmarks for a first year of hosting on promotional pricing and a second year on the renewal rate.
In each review, we outline clearly how much your monthly rate goes up in year two and show you a simple set of number for your upfront costs for years one and two, plus a combined two-year total that set our scoring scale:
- 5 points for less than $400
- 4 points for $401 – $750
- 3 points for $751 – $1,100
- 2 points for $1,101 – $1,450
- 1 point for more than $1,451
The average price for two years of hosting across our whole list is $925.24. That ain’t cheap. But, again, there’s a wide spectrum of price points among the options on our list. And, incredibly, four of the hosts we tested came in under $400 for two years.
You can probably tell one host’s pricing is bringing this average way, way up.
We also include in the reviews any details on better deals you can secure if you’re willing to commit to a longer term contract up front.
Customer Support (10%)
We feel that, even if you’re pretty well-versed in hosting, you should be able to find quality help when you need it.
If your server goes down or you need help scaling, there should be real human representatives helping you arrive at a solution.
This applies to both managed and unmanaged options. Sure, the latter comes with the understanding that it’s largely on you to administrate your server yourself. But you shouldn’t be left out in the cold if something happens that stumps you.
Plus, unmanaged options should have knowledgeable experts on tap. If you need help with something, you need peer support with at least as much hosting know-how as you have.
To test customer support, we reached out to each host’s live chat support channel three times at three different times of the day.
Some interactions were things we actually needed help with or had problems with as we got started. Others were purely informational questions to test how knowledgeable reps are.
Then, we scored each interaction and averaged the scores of the three interactions for an overall customer support score.
Each live chat was scored on the following:
- We connected with a rep in less than a minute
- Our question was resolved in less than 15 minutes
- Questions were answered by the first rep we connected with
- The rep went above and beyond to help us
- 24/7 phone support is an option
The highest customer support score among providers on our list was a 4.3. Not perfect, but solid.
Most hosts fell right in the middle with some good and some bad experiences on our end. One provider flopped completely with a score of just one. Ouch.
Our hope in covering this in our reviews is to shine a virtual spotlight on problem areas so you can avoid poor service if that’s something you value highly. You don’t want to be left holding nothing but a squirt gun when you really need your cloud hosting provider to put out a fire one day.
Cloud hosting encompasses a broad range of potential upgrade from shared hosting. There are cloud hosting options and versions of VPS and dedicated hosting that also run on cloud servers.
The question becomes, then, how do you know the right path to take to secure the upgrade that fits your needs?
We think Hostinger is the best option for most people looking at cloud hosting for the first time. It has the perfect blend of ease of use and power at an easy-to-swallow price point.
But we have several other options on our list that work for more specific needs. Power users, large website that need tons of resources, and enterprise use cases should consider Liquid Web or DreamCompute, for instance.
Our ultimate advice? Take our research into consideration and use our methodology to apply to your own search. We’ve done a lot of the work to make sure you have enough information to see past any marketing copy for what these six cloud hosting providers are really worth to you.
One of these products may very well work for you. But, if not, you can take our methods and apply them to any other providers you might be considering.