Many people believe that cloud and virtual private server (VPS) hosting is exactly the same thing; however, there is a world of difference between them. At first glance these differences may seem slim, but if you make the wrong choice they could significantly impact the functionality of your data storage.

Server Setup

A virtual private server has a physical server that is split up between a certain number of users – similar to a shared server setup where accounts are held in the same location. The primary difference is that a VPS has fewer users, which provides a greater amount of control. Virtualisation software is also used to divide users on the server; however, this doesn’t always prevent them from affecting your account.

A private cloud will distribute resource across multiple servers. This allows your account to seamlessly transfer to other servers in the event of a hardware failure. WordPress developer Chris Wiegman sums it up perfect by stating that “its infrastructure is similar to a RAID 5 hard drive setup, in that multiple smaller systems support one main system.”


The location of the hardware itself is one of the biggest differences. A virtual private server is commonly hosted off-site by a third party operator; while a cloud server is hosted either on-site or in a data centre that’s owned by you. Some operators will also offer hosted private clouds that use hardware that’s exclusive to your account and not shared with any other users.


Cloud control panels are specifically designed with convenience in mind and you can change servers or get a new virtual server up-and-running in just a matter of clicks. A virtual private server on the other hand, is far more complicated as upgrades must take place manually.

This means that you will have to contact the operator and ask them to make the changes on your behalf. In addition, the technical specifications of a VPS are fixed depending on what type of package you purchase; while a cloud system is flexible and can be scaled up or down on the fly.


Private cloud hosting is generally more expensive than a virtual private server as you must cover the costs of the hardware, installation, set-up and maintenance. These fees can be lowered significantly if you opt for a hosted private cloud, which allows the costs to be shared; however, this could limit your freedom and won’t give you as much control over the system. Virtual private servers are far less expensive than cloud-based options.


The scale of your storage needs should determine whether a cloud or virtual private server system is more appropriate. If you’re trying to save costs or only have a small operation, then a VPS could do the job perfectly. However, if you have an online empire; expect to expand; or need to host sensitive information; cloud hosting is certainly the most beneficial. Every operator will provide different services and technical specifications, so before you make your final decision, it’s always worth shopping around to see which option will provide the most benefits.