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Best cloud hosting services in 2022

laptop on desk with cloud icon next to it
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best cloud hosting offers users seeking a web hosting provider (opens in new tab) with an advanced option utilizing cutting-edge cloud technology. Offered by some of the best web hosting (opens in new tab) services, cloud hosting has revolutionized the market by allowing content to be distributed across an entire network, instead of having a site rely on one server.

As a result, a leading benefit is more scalable websites that can easily add resources should it grow, whether it be RAM, storage, or bandwidth. Upgrading (or indeed downgrading) is as easy as a couple of clicks, while fresh server power is added in minutes. Being cloud-based, there's also no downtime to worry about, which is usually one of the bigger headaches for traditional hosting.

So when it comes to cloud hosting, how do you choose the right web host (opens in new tab)? Interestingly, while providers share the same underlying technology, most cloud hosts differ from one another, and there are services available for most every need: whether it be managed cloud hosting, email hosting, or replacing a business server.

Regardless of your size and requirements, there are many cloud hosts to choose from, and it even provides green alternatives should you wish to reduce your site's environmental impact. Below, we've outlined the best cloud hosting services available for an array of hosting needs.

The top 3 best cloud hosting services available

Cloudways: the best cloud hosting service right now (opens in new tab)
Cloudways offers the best cloud hosting via connections with leading cloud services including Amazon, Google, DigitalOcean, Linode, and Vultr. Layering security and management on top, pricing is flexible, and you can choose data center locations for optimal performance.

DigitalOcean: scalable, flexible cloud hosting (opens in new tab)
DigitalOcean, one of the largest cloud hosting providers in the US, offers services to small businesses and enterprises via highly-flexible plans. Utilizing "Droplets", or virtual CPUs, customers can buy as many as required, for the ultimate in scalable cloud hosting.

Microsoft Azure: secure cloud hosting from the tech giant (opens in new tab)
Microsoft Azure's huge cloud computing platform was built for the world’s largest companies, but can help smaller businesses too. You can add all sorts of extra elements to packages, while its highly-secure hosting is market-leading.

Which are the best cloud hosting services?

Our pick for the best cloud hosting is Cloudways, which connects you with top providers including Amazon, Google, DigitalOcean, Linode, and Vultr. It layers its own management and security framework on top, offering flexible pricing via hourly or monthly charges depending on your project. 

You can also decide where your data center will be, to get the best performance, and its managed hosting platform is set up to meet even the most demanding requests.

For small businesses, we recommend DigitalOcean. It's incredibly flexible, allowing you to host something as simple as your business website or as resource intensive as cloud-based apps. Plus, it offers a huge library of tutorials to help businesses get started with cloud hosting.

For larger companies looking to move an entire server, we recommend Microsoft Azure, a large, well-established platform offering you access to the resources you need to keep your business email, internal apps, and site resources all inside a single system. When it comes to scalability, the sky’s the limit—which can’t be said of many providers.

If you want a simple, site-first cloud hosting service, HostGator's the provider for you. It spreads your site over multiple servers for increased speed, protective redundancy, and adaptability to issues, while server mirroring and customizable levels of CPUs and RAM are great for scalability.

Finally, UK-specific cloud hosting comes from Clook, which has one data center in the UK and offers top-notch, 24/7 customer support from its experienced staff. It also utilizes over 35 monitoring services to detect threats, failures, and other potential issues that may impact your site.


The best cloud hosting services available

Cloudways logo

(Image credit: Cloudways)
Multi-provider cloud hosting

Reasons to buy

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Easy to set up
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Free trial with no credit card
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Selection of platforms

Reasons to avoid

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No domain names
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Email not included
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Unfamiliar control panel

Cloudways takes a different approach to cloud hosting than most of the other platforms on the market. Instead of offering its own network, Cloudways connects you with one of five top cloud providers including Amazon, Google, DigitalOcean, Linode, and Vultr. 

Cloudways then layers its own management and security framework on top of this computational infrastructure. This approach works well for a wide variety of businesses, not least because you get flexibility in pricing. Cloudways offers multiple plan options for each infrastructure provider, and you can choose to pay either hourly or monthly depending on the scale of your project.

You can also decide exactly where your data center should be located, to ensure you get the best performance for your business and customers. Between the five providers, there are more than 60 data centers spread across 25 global cities.

On top of that, Cloudways’ managed hosting platform is designed to meet a wide variety of demands. It includes Nginx, MySQL, PHP 7, Apache, Memcached, and Varnish Cache, among other core systems. Git is integrated to promote collaboration among app developers, and you can easily clone, back up, and restore a repository with just a single click.

One major downside to using Cloudways for your cloud hosting is that support costs extra. Every plan includes 24/7 live chat, but if you want to talk to tech support by phone, you’ll need a Premium support subscription for $500 a month

Read our Cloudways review (opens in new tab).

DigitalOcean logo

(Image credit: DigitalOcean)
Scalable cloud hosting for small businesses

Reasons to buy

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Specialized Droplets enable scalability

Reasons to avoid

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Relatively expensive

DigitalOcean is one of the largest cloud hosting providers in the US, but the company caters equally to small businesses and enterprises. Whether you want to speed up your website, develop a cloud-based app, or crunch through massive amounts of data, DigitalOcean has highly flexible options you can turn to.

The key to this versatility is DigitalOcean’s system of Droplets. Instead of signing up for a single plan with a set number of CPUs or RAM, you can purchase as many Droplets—virtual CPUs—as you want from the company. Better yet, you get to decide whether you need general purpose Droplets for tasks like web hosting or memory-optimized Droplets for storing and accessing a massive database.

Every Droplet can be deployed with any of six Linux distributions, as well as apps like Docker, MySQL, and Node.js. Plus, performance monitoring and system-level backups happen at the level of individual Droplets, so that you never have to worry about a single bad server slowing your business down.

DigitalOcean isn’t the cheapest cloud hosting service on the market. A single general purpose Droplet with 1GB of RAM costs $5 a month. But, the scalability means that you’ll only pay for exactly what you need, and the company offers hourly pricing options for short-term development projects. 

Read our DigitalOcean review (opens in new tab).

Microsoft Azure logo

(Image credit: Microsoft)
Cloud hosting to crunch big data

Reasons to buy

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Scalability
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Pay-as-you-go

Reasons to avoid

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Costly tech support plans
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No live chat support

Microsoft Azure is more than just a cloud hosting service. It’s a massive cloud computing platform, built to handle the needs of the world’s largest companies.

Microsoft Azure shouldn’t be the cloud hosting provider you turn to if you just want to build a business website. But, if you want to crunch through a trove of customer data or build a complex internal app, this platform can provide all the resources you need. 

On top of just adding RAM and CPUs to your cloud hosting plan, you can also add machine learning algorithms, bots, and cognitive APIs into your Azure application. Another plus to Microsoft Azure is that it’s one of the most secure cloud hosting solutions on the market. 

The platform is favored by government institutions, including the Pentagon, and it boasts compliance with a number of brand-new cloud security standards. Small businesses might be tempted to shy away from Microsoft Azure, since you’ll need a savvy IT team to get the most out of this cloud hosting service. 

But, if your company collects a lot of data and is willing to pay for third-party help, it can still be a very attractive option. 

Read our Microsoft Azure hosting review (opens in new tab).

HostGator logo

(Image credit: HostGator)
Affordable cloud hosting for your website

Reasons to buy

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Simple cloud hosting
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Affordable plans

Reasons to avoid

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Only supports websites

Looking for a better way to host your website rather than a solution for processing mountains of data? HostGator's relatively simple, website-first cloud hosting service fits the bill exactly.

With HostGator, your website is spread over multiple servers to give you redundancy, speed, and adaptability. The provider advertises that its cloud hosting packages can cut your site’s loading time in half compared to its traditional hosting options. Plus, you don’t have to worry about your website being taken offline by a hardware failure since your data is mirrored on multiple servers.

Best of all, though, is the fact that you can adjust the number of CPUs and the amount of RAM devoted to your website in real-time. Is your website overflowing with traffic after a big announcement or a sale? HostGator’s cloud hosting service enables you to quickly and seamlessly adapt to the spike in visitors.

Another plus for small businesses is that HostGator’s plans are very inexpensive. Cloud hosting starts at just $3.13 a month for a single domain and 2GB of RAM. If you need more resources, you can get six CPUs, 6GB of RAM, and a dedicated IP for just $6.28 a month (although the cost jumps to $17.95 a month after renewal).

Read our HostGator review (opens in new tab).

Clook logo

(Image credit: Clook)

Clook

Cloud hosting with UK-based servers

Reasons to buy

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UK-based data center
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Ultra-fast internal connections

Reasons to avoid

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Expensive plan pricing
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No hourly plans

If your company needs to establish a stronger digital presence in the UK, Clook is one of the best options available. This cloud hosting provider operates a single data center in Manchester, England, which makes for fast connections for London-based offices and customers.

Whereas many cloud hosts leave you on your own once you sign up for their service, Clook puts its customers first. Every plan comes with 24/7 phone and email support from experienced technicians, who understand how the company’s servers are set up and how you can leverage them to meet your business’s needs.

Those same technicians are in charge of monitoring Clook’s network, and they do an excellent job of it. The company boasts more than 35 monitoring services that work around the clock to detect security threats, hardware failures, and any other issues that could impact the cloud’s performance. Clook also stands out for using ultra-fast 10Gbps connections for all internal storage nodes and hypervisors.

Of course, a cloud network built and maintained by IT experts doesn’t come cheap. An entry-level cloud hosting plan includes just one CPU, 1GB of RAM, and 500GB of bandwidth and costs $110.95 a month. If you need enough computational power to crunch a lot of data—say, four CPUs, 8GB of RAM, and 2TB of bandwidth—it’ll cost you at least $328 a month. There’s also no option to pay-as-you-go at an hourly rate.


Cloud hosting FAQs

What is cloud hosting?

Cloud hosting is a form of web hosting that operates via a network made up of physical and virtual servers, interconnected across the cloud. A site that is hosted via cloud hosting has more resources to use, more flexibility, and more scalability, with the ability to spread data across multiple geographical regions in private and public forms.

What are the benefits of cloud hosting?

There are three main benefits of cloud hosting: scalability, reliability, and versatility. It offers access to near-unlimited levels of resources and processing power, and you can scale either up when required, as quickly as you need it.

With cloud hosting sites shared across a disparate, widespread machine network, yours will remain online even if one server goes down because the other units will pick up the slack. Last but by no means least, you have complete freedom to choose the appropriate solution required as per whatever exacting specifications you need.

How to choose from the best cloud hosting services

Choosing one of the best cloud hosting services for your business ultimately comes down to what your goals are. The demands you’ll place on your cloud provider when hosting a site are very different from the demands of app development or managing a massive database. 

Carefully consider whether you need the ability to scale your resources up and down at any moment and whether RAM, bandwidth, or built-in storage are most important to you. You’ll also need to think about what type of software infrastructure you need. While most cloud hosts are based on Linux (opens in new tab), some offer pre-installed apps like Node.js or Git to help jumpstart app development. 

You may also be able to get access to advanced machine learning algorithms for data analysis depending on your cloud hosting provider. Of course, you should always take the time to check out a prospective service’s performance history

If your cloud host isn’t reliable, you lose out on many of the benefits of turning to distributed computing in the first place. Make sure your cloud hosting service is managed by IT professionals who understand the network and monitor it around the clock.

How we review the best cloud hosting

Whatever type of hosting a provider offers, when we review web hosts we firstly build a website (opens in new tab) (with the host should it include a website builder, or with another before importing it). We then sign up for a hosting plan, before testing server response and uptimes over a two-week period.

Both of those factors are absolutely key to the performance of your website: should your site go offline or be unresponsive, you could lose business and money. While cloud hosting is incredibly reliable, we still undertake this testing to ensure that we've evaluated a host's performance, and how it meets customer expectations.

As mentioned earlier, if a site builder wasn't included, we'll instead investigate and test out a platform-specific tool or feature. When it comes to web hosting security (opens in new tab), we test how easy setting up an SSL certificate is, while also taking a deep dive into how strong and comprehensive general security is too.

Should you hit a problem you can't solve, you'll want your host to respond quickly and competently. We test customer service and support responsiveness and knowledge to define this for you. With cloud hosting offering its own, complex, and unique pricing structures, we examine pricing in-depth to help you understand what exactly you're paying for and when.

Further reading on web hosting and website builders

When it comes to buying a web hosting service (opens in new tab), there are important steps to follow along the way. Start by learning how to host a website (opens in new tab) if you've no idea, and find out how to avoid common hosting mistakes (opens in new tab). Look into anonymous website hosting (opens in new tab) if you're privacy-focused, and search for the best website builders (opens in new tab) with which to create your site.

Once all that is done, choose a domain name (opens in new tab) and register your domain (opens in new tab); before you publish your site, understand how hosting can affect SEO (opens in new tab) too. On cloud hosting, learn why regional cloud hosting (opens in new tab) matters when it comes to the best cloud hosting services.

We've also set out guides to a range of other hosting types, including the best web hosting for cheap (opens in new tab) (updated monthly with the best deals); the best unlimited web hosting (opens in new tab); the best WordPress hosting (opens in new tab); the best free web hosting (opens in new tab); and the best VPS hosting (opens in new tab).

Michael Graw is a freelance journalist and photographer based in Bellingham, Washington. His interests span a wide range from business technology to finance to creative media, with a focus on new technology and emerging trends. Michael's work has been published in TechRadar, Tom's Guide, Business Insider, Fast Company, Salon, and Harvard Business Review. 

With contributions from