Best cloud hosting providers in 2018

Signing up for a simple web hosting package will usually buy you a defined block of resources on a single server: this much web space, that much bandwidth, maybe a set amount of RAM or CPU cores.

While this works well for many websites, having fixed resources can be a problem for larger projects. There's generally no way to temporarily allocate extra RAM or bandwidth if you experience an increase in traffic, and even a simple plan upgrade might require your website to go offline for a while.

Cloud hosting plans look much like virtual private server (VPS) products, where you'll initially pay for a set amount of web space, RAM, CPU time and bandwidth. But these resources are spread across multiple devices instead of just one, and changing your plan later – adding another gig of RAM, for instance – is generally as easy as dragging a slider, with the extra power coming online within moments.

This flexibility is great for delivering extra power when you need it most, and starting prices can be similar to regular VPS hosting (from £10 or $14 a month). Costs will rise as you add resources, but typically you'll only pay for the time in which you use these resources.

DigitalOcean's monster 192GB RAM, 32 vCPU and 3,840GB SSD product costs $960 (£685) a month, for instance, but this pay-as-you-go approach allows you to try it out for $1.429 or £1.02 an hour.

Cloud hosting still won't be for everyone, and small, simple websites are likely to be better off with regular packages. But the technology has a lot to offer anyone with larger or more ambitious projects, and many hosts run free trials which make it easy to explore their abilities for yourself.