There was a time in the past when the two main types of web hosting available to website owners were basically just shared hosting and dedicated servers, each of which has certain advantages and disadvantages. Then virtual private servers became a popular option that combines some of the best aspects of both worlds. And then came cloud-based VPS offering maximum reliability, scalability and cost-effectiveness.
With the majority of leading VPS providers using cloud infrastructure nowadays, your biggest challenge would be picking out that one best host for you from a vast sea of choices. This can often end up being very time consuming and even frustrating for someone with no previous experience in this field.
Given the many varying technical requirements and specifics of each project, there isn’t really one single perfect provider out there that can satisfy the needs of every customer. But there are several well-established companies that stand out from the crowd in terms of the reliability of their services and the competence and diligence of their support team.
Following deliberate examination of dozens of the highest-rated names in the cloud-based VPS hosting arena, we put together a list of seven of the most noteworthy companies that fairly check all of the boxes of a solid service.
Quick List: Top Cloud VPS Hosts
- ScalaHosting — Custom and scalable plans with free SPanel
- KnownHost — Best US-based support team
- ChemiCloud — Best fully managed VPS for beginners
- HostArmada — Enhanced server security and caching
- Linode — Powerful cloud computing for developers
- RSHosting — Most helpful and personalized support
- Krystal — Best UK VPS provider (US servers available)
Below we get into more details about the main features, advantages and disadvantages of each of these hosts.
ScalaHosting isn’t just a seller of web hosting services, they are one of the innovators in the industry. Their most notable innovation is the SPanel control panel. They’ve custom-built this control panel to be a free alternative to the costly cPanel (you can still choose this one as an add-on).
SPanel comes with free real-time security protection by SShield, which stops various types of attacks and malware targeted at your websites. It also comes with SWordPress Manager that simplifies the management of WP sites with automated tools for installing, updating and securing WordPress (more features are currently being developed).
This company gives you the option to deploy a managed VPS on their own servers located in the USA and Europe, or alternatively, you can choose between two other big-time cloud providers: AWS and DigitalOcean. The most affordable option is using ScalaHosting’s data centers, which also enables you to build a custom plan with any amount of initial resources. You can later scale any of these resources up or down without having to change your entire plan.
In addition to the robust infrastructure and technology, the technical support service offered by ScalaHosting is superb. Their live chat support team is online 24/7 and they are quick to answer questions and fix problems.
- Cost-effective and custom-built VPS servers
- Scale each resource on its own with the custom plan
- Free SPanel with unlimited accounts (cPanel is optional)
- Free security scanning and malware protection with SPanel
- LiteSpeed server and cache for faster WP sites (add-on)
- Responsive support team via 24/7 live chat
- Free daily backups stored offsite
- Free snapshots for the last two days
- Dedicated IP address and SSL certificates
What are the drawbacks?
One of the possible disadvantages of ScalaHosting’s managed VPS is that if you choose the SPanel control panel, they don’t give you root access to the server because it’s fully managed by their technicians. You do get root access with cPanel or when you purchase an unmanaged (self-managed) VPS.
Plans and pricing
ScalaHosting’s managed VPS service is available through three infrastructure providers, each of which has different features and prices. What sets SH apart from most other hosts is that you can build your custom plan by selecting any amount of CPU cores, RAM and SSD storage you need. This option is only available with SH’s data centers (selected by default).
They do have a few preset plans that may be suitable for you, but if you choose the more flexible custom-built option, the starting price would be $37.95 per month and includes 2 CPU cores, 4 GB RAM, 50 GB SSD storage, and unlimited bandwidth. Discounts are automatically applied to annual, biennial and triennial billing terms.
Visit ScalaHosting’s website to learn more!
KnownHost stands out as one of the few providers that don’t outsource their support operations to some useless agents who don’t do much more than basic copy-and-paste replies. This company is based in the USA and so is their support team.
They offer different types of cloud and traditional (non-cloud) virtual servers with both managed and unmanaged plans. You can find their cloud-based VPS under the “cloud hosting” category. This KVM-virtualized service comes fully optimized for maximum performance and uptime, especially for database-driven software, such as WordPress. You can also get great performance with their NVMe VPS servers that make use of high-frequency processors.
If none of the standard plans suits your requirements, just shoot them an email and they will help craft a custom package for you that fits the bill. The folks running this company are very friendly and engaged with the community, especially on Reddit where many users vouch for them.
Technical support is available 24/7 via the ticketing system. The live chat option is not available all of the time, but when it is, you get instant answers by real US-based agents rather than automated chat bots or offshore support agents who may not even understand the question (a typical disadvantage of many cheap services).
- Fully managed VPS with ample resources
- Optional unmanaged plans at a low price
- 2 free IP addresses (you can order more)
- Guaranteed 99.9% network uptime
- DDoS protection at no additional cost
- Automated backups kept on a remote server
- 30-day money-back guarantee
What are the drawbacks?
Their live chat isn’t always available and it seems to be more focused on pre-sale and basic technical questions. However, you can reach senior technicians via the 24/7 ticket system, and they normally respond within minutes.
Plans and pricing
The managed cloud hosting (this is their cloud-based VPS) comes in several tiered plans. The entry-level Basic plan includes 2 vCPU cores, 4 GB RAM and 60 GB cloud storage at a price of $50 per month. If you’d like to do the server management yourself, you can take advantage of their low-cost unmanaged plans which start at just $8 per month.
You may also want to check out the traditional, non-cloud VPS hosting that KnownHost offers. This comes in both managed and unmanaged versions and costs a little less.
Visit KnownHost’s website to learn more!
ChemiCloud’s fully-managed cloud virtual servers make an ideal choice for beginners who have little knowledge of server technicalities. The support team is very helpful and they take care of all software installations, updates, security, etc. They can also assist you in migrating from your current host.
A cPanel Solo license and a LiteSpeed license are included for free. LiteSpeed is a commercial web server software that is significantly faster than the free Apache web server. It comes with the free LiteSpeed Cache plugin for WordPress, which can dramatically boost your site’s performance with fast-loading cached pages, image optimization, database optimization, and other useful features.
As for server security, you get standard features like network and web application firewalls as well as DDoS and brute-force protection. If you’d like to have more advanced security features with real-time scanning, you should opt for the Imunify360 add-on.
- Powerful and stable cloud infrastructure
- Free cPanel Solo license (upgrades available)
- Free LiteSpeed server (better performance, speed and caching)
- Proactive server monitoring
- 99% guaranteed uptime
- Outbound email filtering by MailChannels
- Network firewall and DDoS mitigation
- Multiple worldwide server locations
What are the drawbacks?
Experienced developers may not like the fact that this company does not provide full root access with their VPS servers. They only offer fully-managed plans that come at a higher price than self-managed or partially-managed services. Another downside is that a remote backup service is only included for free with the entry-level plan, while with higher-tier plans it’s available as a paid add-on.
Plans and pricing
ChemiCloud offers four VPS packages that can accommodate small, medium and large-scale projects. The CVPS 1 package will run you $79.95 per month for 2 CPU cores, 4 GB RAM and 80 GB SSD storage. Depending on the billing cycle you sign up with, you may get a discounted price that only applies to the first invoice.
Visit ChemiCloud’s website to learn more!
HostArmada is another distinguished web hosting company with a very solid cloud server infrastructure and plentiful features in each plan they offer. They care well for their customers and they have a knowledgeable support team that promptly handles support requests.
Unlike most other providers that normally limit the port speed to around 100-200 Mbps, HostArmada offers high port speeds ranging from 2 Gbps to 6 Gbps. But keep in mind that the network transfer rate depends on various factors, so practically, the actual speed would be much lower than that. Most websites and applications don’t need such high port speed limits, but if yours does, this is one of the most generous companies in that regard.
The standard web server configuration at HostArmada is Apache with Nginx as a reverse proxy server for enhanced caching. You can also go with LiteSpeed for an additional license fee. You get a free cPanel license (5 accounts) and a free Imunify360 (premium security tool) license. Local backups are free while offsite cloud backups are available as an add-on.
- Fast SSD storage and high network speed
- Apache/Nginx server setup for improved performance
- Advanced security protection by Imunify360
- Free cPanel for 5 accounts
- Free daily backups stored locally
- Optional outbound email filtering by SpamExperts
- Quick-responding and competent support staff
What are the drawbacks?
The only con is probably the extra setup fee you have to pay if you select a monthly billing cycle, which is not refundable under their 7-day money-back guarantee for virtual private servers.
Plans and pricing
HostArmada’s VPS plans pack a handful of neat tools and features at an attainable price point. The Web Shuttle bundle (1 CPU core, 2 GB RAM and 50 GB SSD) will run you $54.95 per month. This also covers licenses for cPanel and Imunify360.
Visit HostArmada’s website to learn more!
Linode is one of the major providers of cloud computing infrastructure with top-grade servers and a simple hourly pricing model. The easy-to-use interface and the friendly support team make them an excellent choice for developers looking to quickly deploy and scale Linux servers on demand.
They’ve recently introduced an app marketplace featuring a selection of about 100 third-party apps that can be automatically deployed with just one click. These include control panels (e.g. cPanel, Plesk, CyberPanel), databases (e.g. MySQL/MariaDB, PostgreSQL, Redis), content management systems (e.g. WordPress, Joomla, Drupal), VPN systems (e.g. OpenVPN, WireGuard, UTunnel VPN), and many others.
Now, Linode is primarily a self-managed service aimed at skilled developers. If you don’t have any previous experience with managing Linux servers, this probably isn’t the place for you. They do have a managed support add-on, but it is costly ($100 per server instance per month).
- Transparent hourly billing with monthly caps
- Easily scale up/down and pay as you go
- Different types of compute instances for different uses
- Cloud GPU powered by Nvidia Quadro RTX 6000
- Scalable storage blocks using NVMe SSDs
- High outbound transfer speeds from 1 to 12 Gbps
- Wide selection of apps that can be automatically installed
- Load balancing for heavy-traffic sites using NodeBalancers
- Easier to use than AWS, Azure and Google Cloud
- Around-the-clock support via phone and tickets
What are the drawbacks?
Although Linode’s platform is less complicated than some of their main competitors’ platforms (e.g. AWS and Google Cloud), and despite the fact that they have lots of helpful documentation articles and tutorials, this is an advanced solution that may not be a wise choice for non-developers who aren’t proficient with the Linux command line.
Plans and pricing
Linode has straightforward and competitive pricing in comparison with other big players in the cloud computing market. The shared CPU instances are the most cost-effective and these are perfect for personal projects or applications that aren’t very CPU-intensive. Pricing starts at just $5 per month for 1 CPU core, 1 GB RAM, 25 GB SSD storage and 1 TB bandwidth.
If you want more stable and higher CPU performance for something like data analytics or a game server, you’d better spend a little extra cash for a dedicated CPU instance. These start at a monthly cost of $30 for 2 CPU cores, 4 GB RAM, 80 GB SSD storage and 4 TB bandwidth.
Do you have a memory-intensive application? How about 24 GB of RAM for just $60 per month?! And that can go all the way up to 300 GB if need be. Doing some heavyweight video or graphics processing? Consider forking out the dough for a fancy Nvidia-powered GPU instance!
Visit Linode’s website to learn more!
If you’re looking to install a third-party software on your VPS but lack the technical knowledge to do it yourself, then RSHosting might just be the right host for you. Their managed cloud VPS comes with full-on technical support and they are more willing to help with software installations and configurations than most other providers out there.
RSHosting offers both Linux and Windows VPS plans with plenty of features at an affordable price. Remote daily backups are included for free for up to 5 GB (can be upgraded). For the control panel, you can choose one of the following three options at no additional cost: cPanel (5 accounts), DirectAdmin (unlimited accounts), and Plesk (30 accounts).
- Fully managed and hands-on support service
- Free cPanel, DirectAdmin or Plesk control panel
- Free dedicated IP address
- Unlimited Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates
- Offsite snapshot backups (one-day retention)
- On-demand local backup configuration
- Helps you install and customize third-party apps
What are the drawbacks?
They don’t currently have many server locations except for one data center in the USA and another one in the UK.
Plans and pricing
Linux VPS deals from RSHosting start at $50 per month with 2 CPU cores, 2 GB RAM and 50 GB disk space. The Windows VPS also has the same starting price with almost identical resources, but instead of a cPanel license they throw in a Windows Server 2016 license and a Plesk license. You get an automatic one-time discount on your first invoice.
Visit RSHosting’s website to learn more!
Krystal is one of the most professional web hosting providers in the UK. Their VPS service is powered by a robust and stable cloud infrastructure at three global locations: UK, USA and Netherlands. You can create your own custom plan with the ability to control and scale the size of each resource (CPU, RAM, SSD storage) on its own.
Server management is available as an optional add-on and it’s a little pricey. The reason for that is because they hire skilled support staff who are based in the UK. To take full advantage of their managed support, they require you to have cPanel/WHM installed on your server. If you have the skills to set up and configure the server on your own, you’ll save a lot of money with an unmanaged server from Krystal.
- Flexible and custom-built plans
- Scale up or down any of the resources
- Fast and redundant NVMe SSD storage
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Free IP address (can add up to 4 more)
- DDoS protection
- 60-day money-back guarantee
- Professional UK-based support
What are the drawbacks?
Although their prices are fair for the service you get, this isn’t one of the cheapest deals for those on a small budget and looking for a managed VPS. Also, they only accept customers from a certain number of countries at the moment.
Plans and pricing
Krystal has a flexible pricing model where you get to specify the exact amount of each resource and the total price changes accordingly. To give you an example, if you select 2 CPU cores, 2 GB RAM and 25 GB SSD storage, the total price of your order would be £21.59 per month (including VAT). This does not include management, which will run you an extra £80 per month.
Visit Krystal’s website to learn more!
Frequently Asked Questions
Purchasing and running a VPS server can be an intimidating step for the average user who is more familiar with shared web hosting. There is a varying learning curve that each novice user has to go through. It’s normal to have a lot of questions as you begin your journey in the realm of virtual servers, so let’s try to answer some of the most frequently asked questions that may have crossed your mind.
What is VPS hosting?
VPS stands for virtual private server. It’s called virtual because it’s not a fully dedicated server, but rather a preset quota of the server’s main resources (CPU, RAM and disk space) that is dedicated to a single user and not shared with any other users.
A virtualization solution (e.g. KVM or OpenVZ) is used to create and control VPS instances by virtually dividing the server’s resources and allocating the required amount to each virtual private server. So while several VPS instances may be using the same underlying server hardware and network connection, each of them gets a dedicated portion of CPU, RAM and disk space.
As far as software is concerned, each VPS is completely independent and isolated from the others. You can install any operating system and any additional software you need and have total control over its settings, which can be customized to meet the requirements of your website or application.
What’s the difference between VPS and shared hosting?
Both VPS and shared hosting involve multiple users sharing the same physical server but with some major distinctions. In a shared server setup, the resources are pooled and used by different users and websites that also share the same server software (operating system, web server, control panel, etc.)
On the other hand, although VPS users share the same physical server equipment, each of them has their own exclusive cut of CPU, RAM and disk space, and each runs their own custom-configured and self-contained software.
The following table demonstrates the key differences between shared hosting versus VPS hosting.
|Shared Hosting||VPS Hosting|
|Server software||Determined by the host||Fully customizable|
|Server resources||Shared by many users||Dedicated to a single user|
|Performance||Low to medium (less consistent)||Medium to high (more consistent)|
|Security||Pre-configured by the host||Custom security tools and configurations|
|Root access||Not available||Available|
|Complexity||Very simple and beginner-friendly||Requires more advanced skills|
|IP address||Normally shared||Dedicated (more than one can be ordered)|
|Scalability||Limited upgrade and downgrade options||Easier to scale up or down on demand|
|Cost||Cheapest type of hosting (license fees are absorbed by the host)||More costly and requires paying extra for licensed software|
What’s the difference between VPS and dedicated server?
As we explained earlier, a virtual private server has its own committed resources that are virtually (by means of a virtualization software) separated from those of other virtual servers on the same machine (physical server). But in case of a dedicated server, you get the whole machine including all of its hardware solely for your use.
It’s obvious that a dedicated server is capable of rendering superior hardware performance and network connectivity as opposed to a virtual one. But that doesn’t come without a few cons, the most considerable of which is that renting a dedicated server can put a large dent in your budget.
Examine the following table to get a better understanding of the most significant differences between VPS and dedicated server hosting.
|Server hardware||Shared with other users (limited hardware choices)||100% yours (more freedom to choose custom hardware)|
|Server software||Full control (you may have limited OS options though)||Absolute control without any limitations|
|Management||Requires fair knowledge to manage yourself (paid management is affordable)||Very complicated to self-manage (paid management is very expensive)|
|Performance||May experience degradation depending on server load||More stable and predictable|
|Security||Rare security threats from other sites on the server||No potential threats from other sites|
|Scalability||Instant scaling up or down with little to no downtime||Difficult to change resources/hardware and may cause significant downtime|
|Initial setup||Normally free and instant||Takes several days and may cost an additional fee|
|Cost||More budget-friendly||Can easily break the bank|
Is a VPS really faster than shared hosting?
It is usually asserted that VPS hosting provides better performance and speed compared to shared hosting, and while that’s generally true, it is not necessarily always the case. It ultimately depends on the technical aspects of each individual service.
A well-optimized, high-end shared hosting service can indeed offer better performance than a poorly-configured virtual private server.
Let’s take WordPress for example, which is known as a resource-hungry content management system. The higher quota of dedicated resources that come with a virtual server can lead to a noticeable boost in performance, especially for heavy e-commerce sites. But the increased resources on their own won’t help much without a properly configured and optimized software environment.
The majority of companies offer pre-configured server templates or stacks (OS, web server, control panel, etc.) that you can choose from when you create your VPS. However, achieving optimal website loading speed often requires additional customization of different systems running on your server.
If this is your first time setting up a VPS server, it may take some time and trial and error to eventually figure out the right tools and settings to achieve optimal performance for your website.
How to find the best VPS provider for your project?
You’ve probably noticed that online reviews of web hosting companies are often very subjective and a lot of times contradictory to each other. While reading other users’ experiences can be helpful when shopping for a new host, there are different crucial technical criteria that you need to pay attention to as well. The following are some of the most notable of those.
Cloud infrastructure: Most VPSes these days are based on cloud technology that enables administrators to instantly scale the resources with minimal or no downtime. This is one of the most important aspects of cloud VPS hosting that small business owners find very convenient and cost-effective.
SSD storage: The type of storage devices that your server is equipped with can markedly affect the speed of your website. NVMe SSD disks are the fastest, but come at a higher price tag. Regular SSD drives are still much faster than outdated HDD drives, and they come at a reasonable price.
Virtualization technology: The two most popular virtualization solutions are KVM and OpenVZ. KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) offers full hardware-level virtualization with better isolation, resource dedication and performance. It also makes it harder for companies to oversell, which is why KVM-based servers are usually more expensive than those based on OpenVZ.
Backups: Using a VPS for a production website without keeping regular (daily) backups is a very bad idea. Since you’re basically running your own server with its stand-alone software, technical issues and human mistakes are more likely to happen. That’s why you should always have a recent backup that you can restore your server to in case something goes fatally wrong.
Server management: Unless you are an experienced Linux user who has installed and managed server software before, you probably want to avoid unmanaged (aka self-managed) VPS hosting. A fully-managed service is strongly recommended for beginners and those who have limited technical skills.
Support service: Most cheap web hosting companies outsource their support service to poorly-trained agents that may not be any more helpful than a random self-help article! But the price alone isn’t really a measure of the level of technical support you’ll receive. Try to assess their expertise and response time by sending them an email or a chat request at some inconvenient time based on where they are located.
Why are some services distinctly cheaper than others?
If you have been checking out and comparing different providers, you may have noticed that some of them have prices that are well below the market’s average, so what’s the catch with cheap VPS hosting?
Well, there are a few factors that should be considered here. Firstly, the type of hardware that makes up the server plays a major role in determining the price you’ll pay. Not all processors, memory and storage drives are created equal, and the price of each can significantly vary from one make to another and from one model to another. The technical specifications of the hardware can make a big different in terms of performance — an example of this is the frequency (clock speed) of the CPU.
A second key factor to keep in mind here is that many web hosts oversell their servers. While this practice is more commonly seen with shared hosting, it can also happen with VPS hosting, particularly the cheap ones.
It is worth noting that overselling VPS accounts can be done more easily with the container-based OpenVZ virtualization technology compared to the hardware-level KVM. Although overselling is possible with any virtualization system, OpenVZ is more commonly used for this purpose and that’s why providers that use OpenVZ often have lower prices than those using KVM.
And lastly, companies that outsource their support can afford to sell at a lower price than those hiring skilled staff to work on-site. The trade-off is that outsourced support, although cuts costs, cannot be as knowledgeable or helpful as a well-trained in-house team that is familiar with all the ins and outs of the company and its services.
Which operating system is best for VPS?
One of the main strengths of a virtual private server is that it gives you total control of its operating system. You may prefer to install a Windows Server OS or one of the numerous server distributions of the Linux OS.
A Windows-based VPS is more costly due to the licensing fee and the resource-hungry nature of the Windows operating system. So, unless you are working with Windows-only applications — such as Microsoft SQL, Microsoft Exchange, or ASP.NET — you should opt for a Linux OS, which is what most developers and site owners prefer.
There are several free and paid Linux server distributions that are used for various purposes. Of the free ones, CentOS and AlmaLinux are among the top choices, especially if you intend to install cPanel and use the server for website hosting.
It should be noted that CentOS is being phased out and many hosts have already switched to other alternatives. The latest version of this OS, namely CentOS 8, has reached its end-of-life on December 31, 2021, while CentOS 7 is set to reach its end-of-life on June 30, 2024. The latter is still a viable option for short-term projects, but if you want to plan ahead, go with one of top CentOS alternatives; such as AlmaLinux, Rocky Linux, Ubuntu or Debian.
VPS hosting allows you to deploy your own server with dedicated resources and fully customized software. Unlike a dedicated server, a VPS server will not cost you an arm and a leg, and it can be instantly set up and scaled as and when needed.
Most small business owners, developers, and even beginners prefer cloud-based VPS over traditional VPS because of the optimal scalability, redundancy and efficiency of cloud computing.
In this post, we looked at a few of the most reliable VPS hosting providers that utilize a cloud infrastructure and offer great managed services at a reasonable cost. If you still have doubts about any of these companies, you can check out more reviews from real customers of theirs on legit review sites like Trustpilot, Serchen and Sitejabber.
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