Most of the best web hosting (opens in new tab) services offer cloud hosting, but when we're discussing the technology, we typically mean services such as Microsoft Azure (opens in new tab), Amazon AWS (opens in new tab), and Google Cloud (opens in new tab).
Cloud hosting has several benefits over traditional hosting, including increased reliability, scalability, and performance, but one thing that’s often overlooked is the importance of regional cloud hosting. In this article, we outline what regional cloud hosting is and why it matters.
What is cloud hosting?
First, let’s consider cloud hosting as a whole. With cloud hosting, your website or application is not deployed on a single server. Instead, it’s hosted on a network of connected physical and virtual cloud servers.
There are many advantages to cloud hosting over traditional hosting. Whereas traditional hosting has limited bandwidth, cloud hosting scales to accommodate any traffic spikes. Website and application downtime due to hardware failures don’t happen, because sites and applications are hosted on a network of servers.
With cloud hosting, you typically only pay for the resources you use, often making it cheaper than the flat-rate model of traditional web hosting.
What is a cloud region?
A misconception of the cloud is that it’s a massive, intangible, monolithic storage space online. In reality, when you sign up for a cloud solution, you’re usually asked which region you want your website or application to be hosted in. This is the physical location of your servers in the world.
There’s not a standard definition of a region, so all cloud hosting providers have their own interpretation. Amazon AWS has 24 primary regions that include US East (Ohio), South America (São Paulo), Europe (London), and Asia Pacific (Sydney).
The closer the region, the better the performance
The most obvious advantage of using a cloud region that’s close to you and your customers is better performance. Because the data centers are closer, there’s lower latency, which means there’s less of a delay.
But you shouldn’t automatically assume that a local cloud hosting provider will perform better than one farther away. Other considerations, such as hardware and network infrastructure, are just as important.
Cloud region pricing
The cost of running a huge set of data centers varies around the world. Even within a single country, there’s a big difference between running a data center in a heavily populated city and running one in a rural area.
Real estate prices, energy costs, and taxes all vary. This difference is passed on to the consumer, so the price of hosting your website or application on the cloud varies by region.
Every business has its own set of laws that it must comply with regarding the security and privacy of customer data. Regulations such as the Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU outline specific conditions about the storage and movement of customer data.
Transferring personal data out of EU member states is regulated, and as the data controller, it’s up to you to ensure that you’re providing appropriate safeguards to protect people’s data.
This is a prime example of where cloud regions matter. Where you collect and store your customer data makes a big difference in how complicated it is to comply with local and international laws.
Moving data from one cloud region to another could end up being a legal nightmare, particularly if your company is part of a highly regulated industry, such as financial or health services.
Though we often think of the cloud as one big online storage bin, it’s actually split into regions defined by the cloud hosting providers. A region is the physical location of your website or application in the world. The best cloud hosting services (opens in new tab) let you choose the region that suits you best.
The cloud region that’s closest to you and your customers is typically the ideal choice because the latency will be low. You’ll also run into fewer compliance issues because you won’t be transferring customer data to other countries.
However, cloud regions have different prices, so depending on your application, you might want to consider a cheaper cloud region even if it’s not the absolute closest to you.
Further reading on hosting, cloud, and website builders
In addition to cloud, we've covered various hosting types, including the best VPS hosting (opens in new tab), the best WordPress hosting (opens in new tab), the best Windows hosting (opens in new tab), the best Linux web hosting (opens in new tab), and the best unlimited hosting (opens in new tab).
Looking for cloud storage? Take a look at our guides to the best cloud storage (opens in new tab) for premium plans, the best cloud storage for business (opens in new tab), and the best free cloud storage (opens in new tab).
Finally, if you're looking to create a website, discovering the best website builders (opens in new tab) should be your first port of call.