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blog easier cloudsWhat do you think of when someone says "the cloud"? There are probably thousands of answers to that question. If you're a technologist, then you probably have a pretty good idea that the term is very generic. It can mean many things technically. If you're a marketing person, then you probably see the term as something useful attractive and trendy. Something you can use to help sell your web product or service. But for a website owner, the cloud is really where you want your site to be. In today's world, old fashioned web hosting is not helping you. Your website is likely sitting on an actual computer with disks that have been whirring along for years in a computer that reflects technology several years old. In essence, it's needlessly slow and under-powered. Putting your site on the cloud will not only help your user's experience by delivering your site much faster and more reliably, it will also help your SEO. Search engines love fast websites that are always there.

How To Get Started

Before we get started with how to get on the cloud, let's be clear that this post is really for those who have no idea or maybe some idea of what they're doing. If you're already an expert at procuring and managing virtual private servers, then this information is probably going to be a repetition of things you already know. Our goal here is to take the mystery out of cloud hosting for users who are just exploring clouds for the first time, or may be ready to make the switch and want to know how.

Creating Your Cloud

What we are talking about here when we say "cloud" is establishing your own virtual private server (VPS) somewhere in a facility that, in reality, is comprised of hundreds or thousands of computers that operate collectively. When you purchase your VPS, you carve out a little bit of that collective computing power for yourself. You choose how much storage, ram, computing power (CPUs) and bandwidth you need, and where you want your VPS to be located. By the way, having your website located close to you will speed up your interactions with it and make updating it an even more pleasant process.

There are at least a couple ways to go about finding your server and setting it up. You will need to have a server and a way to manage it. This can be accomplished by either using a service that integrates the entire process like Cloudways.com, although there is an overhead cost for their pretty interface and easy to use processes. Or you can buy your servers direct from a cloud vendor and then use a separate server manager like ServerPilot to set them up. Although this path is less expensive (or even free), it is also not as pretty or easy to use for non-technical types. It also does not provide server monitoring, at least on the free level. However, you may find it easier than expected and worth a try.

Cloudways Is Easiest For Newbies

Cloudways offers a solution that makes establishing a cloud server very easy. You can choose to bill by time and use or by a fixed monthly rate. Cloudways offers access to the most popular cloud vendors, including Google Cloud Front and Amazon Web Services, as well as less expensive services such as Digital Ocean, Vultr and Linode. If you just want good web hosting, then the less expensive solutions are going to work excellently for you. If, however, you want to create a web based service that hosts thousands of users simultaneously, then you're probably not reading this post. But if you are, then Google and Amazon are both excellent choices for doing that. Most website owners wont need that much power and can therefore avoid the cost.

ServerPilot.io Is The Least Expensive Choice

If you want to get in the cloud as inexpensively as possible, then procuring your own servers and using ServerPilot to set them up is the best choice. The process may seem a little more daunting than the Cloudways solution at first. However, given the clear and concise instructions provided by ServerPilot, the tasks can easily be accomplished by almost anyone. Essentially, you buy your VPS from whatever vendor you like, and then connect it to your ServerPilot account. ServerPilot will automatically turn your server into a webhost. All the software you need will be automatically installed and configured, including Apache, several PHP versions and MySQL. Once this process has completed, you setup your first app (website), upload your files via SFTP. and you're in business. All that's left is to point your domain to your server's IP address and your website is visible to the world and faster than ever before.

How To Choose Your Cloud

First of all, since most cloud VPS services bill by the hour, it is easy to create and destroy servers without much risk. You can easily try different vendors and see who you like best. For most people, it's a matter of finding a good host as close as possible to where you are. For example, Empro is located in Las Vegas, Nevada. Our best choice is a host with facilities in Los Angeles or The San Francisco Bay Area. Then you will want to choose a size and capacity that suits your needs. If you have an average website, even the smallest packages will probably meet your needs. $5 a month will typically buy you one CPU with a megabyte of RAM, 20 gigabytes of storage and a terabyte of bandwidth. This is ample capacity to run several websites simultaneously and serve them all up well. We are even aware of a solution offered by one vendor at $2.50 a month that should suffice well for anyone with a website that gets used on a moderate basis.

Great For WordPress And Joomla Sites

The server configurations created by these methods are perfect for hosting CMS based websites like those based on WordPress or Joomla. In fact, both Cloudways and ServerPilot will install WordPress for you. Cloudways will install WordPress or Joomla and a myriad of other common PHP based content managers and ecommerce shops. If you are starting from scratch, this is a great way to go. You'll have a working website in minutes. If you are migrating from another host, then you'll simply upload your backup to your new host, and install via typical methods like Akeeba Kickstart or something similar.

One Last Note On Speed

The main advantages of migrating to a cloud host are speed and reliability. Even though you find a host that is close to you to make your site as fast as possible for you, it's important to remember that you are mainly serving other people in other locales. You might even be targeting the entire country or the world. This is where a content delivery network can help. A CDN essentially serves up a local copy of website in key locations around the country and the world. By using a CDN, your website can offer greater performance to more people in more locations than if it had to do all the work. The best low budget solution for website owners is to setup an account at CloudFlare.com and establish a free account for their websites. There are of course paid levels of service that offer more protection and performance, but for many, the free choice will be more than ample to serve them well.

In Summary...

What we have laid out here is a fast performing web hosting solution that costs less than almost any standard web hosting plan offered by anyone. Using the services we have recommended here, it is possible to host an amazingly fast website in the cloud for as little as $30 annually! We recommend this path wholeheartedly. We have tried all the solutions mentioned in this post and can recommend them all. It is worth noting that we had some difficulty connecting ServerPilot to our Linode servers. However, we assume this was a temporary issue and had no difficulty actually using their servers once configured.

Of course, if after reading this post you still feel a little intimidated by the processes we're talking about, then we would love to offer our expertise in helping you accomplish your cloud hosting goals. We will use our expertise and experience to get your site performing better than ever on a cloud server that's perfect for your needs! We'll do all the complicated stuff so you can do your business.

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