Pros and Cons of Cloud Web Hosting and What it Means for Your Website Downtime

As the popularity of the “cloud” increases, more and more entrepreneurs and businesses are turning to cloud based hosting solutions for their website hosting needs. With increased popularity comes increased awareness of the pros and cons of this particular type of hosting service. Before you can decide whether or not cloud based web hosting is right for you and how it will (or will not) affect your site’s downtime, you need to become familiar with exactly what this type of hosting is, what it offers, and what the benefits and drawbacks can be in the cloud. We have spent this month exploring the ins and outs of the cloud. Now it is time to determine whether or not cloud based web hosting is right for you and how it can impact your site’s uptime percentage.

Understanding Cloud Based Web Hosting

With traditional hosting, your site is hosted on a single server. If something happens to that server, such as planned maintenance or unplanned downtime, your site goes down for the count. With cloud hosting, however, the hosting service runs on a series of networked servers that transfer the data of your website across various servers at the same time. This type of hosting has been compared by many to the likes of a spider web. Each strand of the web connects to the main center, which holds the web together. How good or bad a cloud web hosting provider is depends on how strong that center is. When the center holds strong, your hosting runs as it should.

Understanding the Pros and Cons

As with all types of hosting, there are pros and cons to consider when determining whether or not cloud based web hosting is right for your website or business. First, let’s look at the benefits. First and foremost, there is the flexibility of cloud based hosting plans. These plans are designed to expand (or decrease) services and space as your website needs it. For sites that experience rapid changes in growth, this is a huge benefit. Cloud based hosting is better equipped to handle a sudden burst in traffic that would bring down a site with traditional, restricted web hosting services. Instant access is another benefit to cloud based web hosting. The setup process associated with traditional hosting services is nonexistent in the cloud. This is especially beneficial when you have backup hosting that you need to put into place, since the cloud server is there the moment you need it. In addition to the above technical benefits of cloud based website hosting, there are financial benefits to consider as well. If you plan your cloud hosting properly, you can save quite a bit of money. This particular type of hosting reduces or, in some cases, eliminates the need for staff to help you manage your site. In addition, there is usually no extra cost involved with the software that allows you to benefit from this IT staffing reduction. While on the surface cloud hosting may seem more costly, if you do an in-depth analysis you may find that this type of hosting can actually save you money. Now onto the cons. While having your site hosted across multiple servers would, in theory, minimize your risk of website downtime, the problem with this type of hosting is that when a cloud based web hosting provider goes down, it really goes down. This is why it is crucial that you choose a service that is known for its stability and uptime. When cloud based hosting goes down, and some have a bad reputation for spontaneously going offline, your site really goes down for the count on a level that dwarfs traditional hosting downtime. You become completely helpless and at the mercy of the cloud. The centralization of the cloud’s “center” creates a bit of a risk. Another drawback is the potential for unexpected bills. With standard hosting services you know exactly how much you will pay each month. With most cloud based hosting providers, you pay for what you use. If your site ends up using a lot more resources than you thought it would, you may be facing a much larger bill than you had anticipated.

Considering Downtime in the Cloud

So you now know that downtime in the cloud is a very bad thing. The question is, what is the actual risk of downtime if you begin hosting your site in the cloud? The risk of downtime in the cloud, while it is there, can be significantly reduced if you choose a stable cloud based hosting provider. The reason for this is the way in which the cloud works. If you are on a shared hosting account, chances are that the server your site is hosted on is fully loaded. If one site on that server overloads the server, your site is going to suffer from either poor performance (at best) or complete downtime. In the cloud, on the other hand, your site is hosted on several servers that are connected to work together as one. You aren’t depending on just one piece of equipment for your site to remain up and running. If one of the servers breaks down, the others in the cloud will back up that server’s data and process it in such a way that no downtime appears. This means your site’s downtime can be greatly reduced with cloud based hosting, but only if you go with a service that has a well-managed cloud center, as mentioned above. Whether hosting with traditional hosting plans or hosting in the cloud, the need for website monitoring service will remain the same. While your site may go down more frequently with traditional shared or dedicated server hosting (and you need to be notified of those occurrences as quickly as possible), when it does go down with a cloud based hosting provider, it is usually to a drastic degree (again, requiring you to know about the downtime as soon as possible).