Best AWS alternatives: 5 cloud hosting providers you should consider
In this article, I’ll discuss the 5 best AWS alternatives to consider if you’re looking for a simple yet truly powerful hosting.
Thanks to its flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and security advantages, cloud and VPS hosting are fast taking over the corporate world. And Amazon Web Services (AWS) is one of the popular platforms making this possible.
For many big enterprises, webmasters, and even individuals, AWS has proven ideal for all their major applications. With the continuous innovation and “pay as you go” billing style, this cloud host has been a dream come true for many. But just like every other technological solution, AWS is not perfect. How so?
- First, you might find that some resources are limited for your specific location,
- More so, if you’re not very tech-savvy, you might find the whole management process quite complicated and end up paying for something you aren’t even using,
- Also, no technology is perfect, so some malfunctioning is inevitable.
Now, if you’re that type of user looking for something less pricey and much more beginner-friendly, then you might want to look elsewhere.
Luckily, in the time I took to conduct extensive research, I discovered that there are a handful of powerful options that I can safely recommend as great AWS alternatives. Here’s how they line up.
Best AWS alternatives: ranked
- Liquid Web – overall the best AWS alternative for cloud VPS hosting
- A2 Hosting – managed and unmanaged VPS hosting
- HostGator – resource-rich AWS alternative for VPS hosting
- InterServer – affordable month-to-month cloud VPS hosting
- Cloudways – beginner-friendly AWS alternative
1. Liquid Web
|Features||Free SSL, fully managed, security features, cPanel/WHM, InterWorx, and Plesk panel|
|Best for||Premium fully managed VPS hosting for any project|
If you’re looking for fast, reliable, and secure VPS hosting – Liquid Web has your back. The provider specializes in VPS, Cloud, and dedicated server hosting, with managed VPS being the most in-demand option. A rich array of resources on a reliable and easy-to-use platform makes this provider one of the best AWS alternatives.
If you’re looking for raw cloud computing power, then Liquid Web may have just the stuff for you.
- As it is fully managed VPS hosting, tasks like installs, updates, software, and server maintenance will be taken care of for you. More so, for added ease of use, you can go for 1 out of 3 available control panels – cPanel/WHM, InterWorx, and Plesk.
- Apart from great resources, Liquid Web also offers high-quality support. You can reach the support 24/7 through live chat, and the host promises to respond in no more than 59 seconds.
- Liquid Web establishes its reliability by giving a 100% uptime guarantee. Additionally, if you do experience any downtime, the provider promises to compensate you for it.
- Lastly, when it comes to security, Liquid Web does not play around. Every single plan includes advanced server security services, automatic daily backups, firewalls, DDoS protection, and a free SSL.
In short, Liquid Web offers secure, trustworthy, and easy-to-use fully managed cloud hosting. Although the prices are more premium, you pay for worry-free hosting.
Liquid Web pricing
Talking about plans and prices, Liquid Web has 4 Linux and 3 Windows plans to choose from. Linux plans range from $25.00/mo to $105.00/mo, while Windows start at $65.00/mo and go up to $145.00/mo.
No matter what plan you go for, you will get 10TB of bandwidth, a firewall, DDoS protection, and monitoring. However, as the provider has no pre-installed caching, that’s something you’ll have to take care of yourself.
Here’s how Linux plans range in resources: from 2 to 16 GB RAM, 2 to 8 vCPUs, and 40 to 200 GB SSD storage.
More so, you can choose to go with a Bundle & Save package that each plan has. Just for a few additional $ you can upgrade any plan to include extras like:
- Threat stack oversight detection system,
- Premium email,
- Site remediation and protection,
- Free 100GB automatic quota.
If you’re a newcomer to VPS hosting, you might find the 2 GB RAM plan of most value. However, if you have a clear outline of what you’re after, choose the plan that is most fitted for your project.
Liquid Web performance
In my time of testing, Liquid Web showed only the best it had to offer – reliability and speed.
Sure, the provider has a 100% uptime guarantee, but those are really hard to keep. So it was pleasant to see that the provider kept 100% uptime throughout almost 3 weeks.
Now looking at the response time – it averaged at 521ms. Keep in mind that this result is only with a bare server with no optimization. It is already fast, so just imagine the added speed with a few optimizations.
I must note that the provider also allows choosing 1 out of 3 data center locations (west coast, east coast, and Europe). If you choose the server closest to your target audience, you make sure to cut down on latency.
In a few words, Liquid Web is truly fast and powerful when it comes to performance.
So, if you’re an advanced user who’s big on the most premium utility, advanced security features, and great performance, then you’ll find a great AWS alternative in Liquid Web.
- Fully managed cloud-based VPS hosting
- Excellent security features
- 100% uptime guarantee
- 3 available control panels – cPanel/WHM, InterWorx, and Plesk
- Premium prices
- No pre-installed caching
2. A2 Hosting
|Features||Full root access, managed and unmanaged hosting available|
|Best for||Advanced users looking for unmanaged VPS hosting|
A2 Hosting is a well-known name in the hosting industry and is mostly known for its performance-oriented tactics no matter the type of hosting. When talking about VPS hosting, A2 Hosting’s raw power and simplicity are exactly what placed it among the best AWS alternatives.
These are the main A2 Hosting’s selling points:
- The provider is highly performance-oriented. Even the standard A2 plans offer great performance. However, the host has Turbo plans that are hosted on enterprise-level hardware and have numerous speed optimization to really guarantee fast performance.
- To keep good performance widely spread, A2 offers data centers in 3 continents – North America, Europe, and Asia.
- When it comes to VPS hosting, A2 gives you a choice between managed and unmanaged services. Depending on your level of experience, you can choose the most optimal hosting for you, yet unmanaged services bring more value for money, as the plans can be up to 8 times cheaper.
- With unmanaged VPS cloud hosting, you get full root access, meaning you can manage your virtual server as you please.
- While A2 does not come with a free website management panel, you can get cPanel for an extra $8.99/mo.
- To make software installation a little easier, the provider offers a free Webuzo 1-click installation with its unmanaged plans.
Simply put, A2 Hosting is a pretty inclusive host. It’s not very uncommon for providers to offer only managed or unmanaged VPS hosting. Yet, with A2, you get both. However, unmanaged plans bring better value for money but also require more technical skills.
A2 Hosting pricing
Talking about the best value offers – A2 Hosting has 6 unmanaged cloud VPS plans to choose from.
What I must note is that the 3 cheapest plans (from $4.99/mo to $9.99/mo) are just standard plans, while the following 3 are Turbo plans. What’s the difference, you ask? Turbo plans promise improved performance, as they are hosted on enterprise-level gear – NVMe AMD EPYC servers with significantly faster CPUs. Understandably the price range is much higher too – $34.99/mo to $79.99/mo.
Regardless of which plan you choose, all offer full root access and SSD storage.
Here’s how they differ:
- Standard plans ($4.99/mo to $9.99/mo) – resources vary from 150 to 450GB SSD storage, 1 to 4GB RAM, 2TB to 4TB of bandwidth, and 1 to 4 CPU cores.
- Turbo plans ($34.99/mo to $79.99/mo) – you can expect from 150GB to 450GB NVMe storage, 8GB to 32GB of RAM, 2TB to 8TB of bandwidth, and 2 to 8 CPU cores.
Depending on your level of experience, you can either opt for managed or unmanaged VPS cloud plans. However, if you’re relatively experienced and are looking for the best money/value ratio, I suggest you give Runway 1 a look. With a 3-year billing option, the plan will retail for only $4.99/mo for the first installment.
A2 Hosting performance
A2 Hosting likes to boast about its extra-fast performance, and it seems that such claims are not far from the truth.
In a little more than 2 weeks’ time, the host maintained a 99.98% uptime, which is much better than the official guarantee at 99.9%.
The average uptime also did not disappoint – it averaged at only 253ms. A2 Hosting is very proud of its Turbo plans, and this shows why. Performance surely won’t be of any issue.
To add to that, the host also has data centers in North America, Europe, and Asia. You can either go for Michigan, Arizona, Amsterdam, and Singapore, depending on where your audience is from.
Overall, A2 is a reliable and fast performer. The uptime greatly surpasses what’s promised, and the response time is very impressive.
In all, A2 Hosting’s pricing and very good uptime make it a very difficult option to overlook when looking for an alternative to AWS.
- Competitive pricing
- Managed and unmanaged VPS hosting
- Fully customizable VPS cloud
- Data centers in 3 continents
- cPanel is for an extra charge with unmanaged plans
- Managed and Turbo plans are at a premium price
|Features||DDoS protection, server monitoring, free SSL, and email accounts|
|Best for||Secure, reliable, and resource-rich VPS hosting|
While HostGator is mostly known for its shared hosting plans, the provider also offers quite a few cloud and VPS hosting options. Inclusive, secure, and easily scalable VPS plans are what truly make HostGator a worthy AWS alternative.
But what do you actually get for the price you pay?
- By default, HostGator offers unmanaged VPS hosting. This means that you get full root access to your server, which allows you to manage your server as you like.
- If you’re not very experienced with command lines, HostGator also offers cPanel. However, it does come at an additional price – $10.00/mo.
- One area where HostGator deserves some kudos is scalability. With just one click of a button, you can easily add to your cloud resources — no reboots, downtime, or data migrations involved.
- When it comes to security, HostGator takes it seriously. Without an exception, all plans come with server monitoring, an IP-based firewall, automatic weekly backups, and DDoS protection.
When it comes to VPS hosting, HostGator seems to offer both control and resource-rich plans. These features are exactly what makes it one of the strongest AWS competitors.
Just like on all its other hosting types, HostGator offers 3 VPS hosting plans priced between $19.95/mo and $39.95/mo.
What you get with each plan are a free SSL certificate and unlimited email accounts.
The actual server resources do vary quite a bit. Depending on the plan, you can expect to get from 2 to 8 GB RAM, 2 to 4 CPU cores, 120 to 240 GB SSD storage, and unmetered bandwidth. Just keep in mind that unmetered bandwidth is never truly unlimited when it comes to server resources.
Depending on your personal needs, the best value-for-money may differ from person to person. Yet, due to its easy scalability option, I suggest you consider the Snappy 2000 plan.
Just like InterServer, HostGator showed highly reliable uptime and a little sluggish response time.
When it comes to uptime, HostGator gives a standard 99.9% uptime guarantee. Yet, throughout my examination period, the provider kept an impressive 100% uptime.
A little less impressive was HostGator’s response time. Standing at 976ms, the average response time surely could be better. At the same time, this can be easily improved with a few optimization tools. So while not ideal on its own, this is nothing to worry too much about just yet.
However, it is important to note that the best performance can be expected in the US, as this is where the provider has all its data centers. The less distance there is between the visitor and the server, the quicker your site loads to the viewer.
Simply put, HostGator is a good performer. You can definitely expect great uptime, yet the response time will have to be improved from your end too.
My take-away opinion of HostGator’s VPS hosting is that it is powerful, and the plans offer plenty of resources and security. Yet, an unimpressive response time is a letdown.
- Perfect 100% uptime
- Resource-rich plans
- Full root access
- Many security tools
- Below average response time
- Data centers in the US alone
|Features||Full root access, unmanaged hosting, and DirectAdmin control panel|
|Best for||Affordable month-to-month cloud VPS hosting|
When it comes to a no-nonsense approach to cloud VPS web hosting, InterServer is one provider that quickly comes to mind. With its cloud-based VPS hosting, the vendor offers some of the most affordable plans you can find. An abundance of pans to choose from and ease of use are only a few factors that have landed this provider among the best AWS alternatives.
Let’s see what InterServer really has to offer:
- All InterServer plans are billed on a monthly basis. There are no increased renewal rates meaning you can enjoy the same price no matter how long you decide to commit.
- The provider is one of a few to offer such a large variety of options – you can choose from 16 “slices”. More so, there are no flashy and costly tools. You simply get more RAM, storage, cores, and bandwidth with each slice.
- InterServer also allows you to deploy a large number of apps with an instant provision of hundreds of the most popular web applications.
- If you’re an advanced user, you can make use of the full root access to your server.
- However, if you’re more comfortable with using a control panel, InterServer includes a DirectAdmin panel free of charge. It also offers cPanel and Plesk control panels. Just be aware, these come for an extra charge – $15.00/month and $10/month, respectively.
All in all, InterServer is a simple no-nonsense cloud VPS provider. If you’re after no commitment and cheap hosting, InterServer is really one of the best Amazon Web Services competitors.
Pricing on InterServer is definitely on the affordable side. There are 16 VPS plans you can choose from, ranging from as low as $6.00/mo and goes up to $96.00/mo.
All 16 plans include SSD storage, dedicated backup features, and support for lots of scripts. Additionally, if you get 4 or more slices, you will also get server management support. Simply put, any server issues or security breaches will be taken care of if needed.
Here’s how server resources vary with different plans:
- RAM is available from 2 to 36 GB,
- You can opt for 1 to 16 cores,
- SSD storage ranges from 30 to 480 GB,
- Bandwidth goes from 1 to 16 TB.
The only available billing is on a monthly basis. Therefore, you can easily scale up and down as you see fit and pay for what you’ve used that month.
Every slice is pretty resource-rich, especially for what they retail for. If you’re just starting out, 1 slice might be enough, while bigger projects will require more. Keep in mind that starting with 4 slices, you’ll get managed server support.
InterServer’s performance is giving me slightly mixed feelings. The host had a perfect uptime record, yet I cannot say the same about its response time.
In about 3 weeks of monitoring, InterServer managed to not have any outages resulting in a perfect 100% uptime. That is even more impressive knowing that the official guarantee only promises 99.9%.
Now on that happy note, we are being brought down to earth. The average InterServer's response time came up to 1.01s. While this is not the end of the world, I do suggest going for providers that have a much quicker response time. However, then again, this is a bare server that can be optimized to perform better.
Another way to improve the server’s responsiveness is to choose the server location that is closest to your audience. In this case, InterServer hosts its sites in the US alone. This means that the best performance can be expected in the US too.
In general, if you’re looking for some of the most affordable VPS hosting plans packing a decent amount of server resources, then InterServer is the way to go. Unfortunately, you may feel a little let down by the outdated user interface.
- Cheap month-to-month cloud VPS hosting
- No-nonsense policy
- Full root access
- Control panels come for an extra charge
- Below average response time
|Features||Free SSL, automated backups, staging, and CDN|
|Best for||Beginner-friendly cloud hosting for any project|
While Cloudways is not a household name, the host has been gaining more and more visibility. One thing that really distinguishes this provider from the rest is its unique concept. Cloudways takes the most popular cloud providers and resells them with an additional layer of simplicity.
While this is not entirely fair to say that Cloudways is an AWS alternative, since it sells improved AWS services, the host does also resell direct AWS competitors like Google Cloud or DigitalOcean.
Just by looking at the prices and plans, which are not the cheapest (The cheapest AWS plan retails for $27.38/mo), you might wonder why it’s any better than the traditional AWS. Well, let me clear the confusion.
- The main Cloudways feature is the added simplicity. Buying cloud hosting right from a provider like AWS means that you're buying simple, fully unmanaged services where you will be responsible for all and any installations, updates, and security. Cloudways takes that bare service and dresses it up with an easy-to-use control panel with a promise to take care of tasks like updates, installs, software, and server maintenance for you.
- Additionally, to make your installation process that much easier, Cloudways includes a 1-click installation option for the most commonly used apps (e.g. WordPress).
- Another area where Cloudways excels is with its collaboration tools. The host allows you to create a team for your developers to work remotely with custom-regulated access to 3 different areas of the Cloudways Platform. You also get full root access which expert developers will find very useful.
In short, Cloudways makes cloud hosting comprehensive to everyone. With the modern and intuitive control panel, setting up and running your applications won’t be much of a hassle, even for the least experienced users.
Since Cloudways offers 5 server provider services, of which 1 is the same AWS, you can choose from many different plans. However, the cheapest DigitalOcean plan retails for $7.50/mo, and the price can go to hundreds of dollars per month.
In the image above, you can see each provider's cheapest plan. This simply helps to distinguish which providers are more premium.
You most likely have noticed the same AWS option and at a significantly higher price than with the official provider. Why is that?
Cloudways doesn’t just offer bare server power, you are paying extra for added convenience and simplicity. If you’re a beginner that finds command lines and overall VPS management quite complex, Cloudways gives you an easy-to-use control panel. More so, it’ll take care of the more complicated stuff for you.
Regardless of which provider or plan you decide to choose, you will get managed security, automated backups, staging, 1-click SSL installation, and free CDN.
There simply is no one-fits-all solution. Therefore, choose a provider and a plan that is best suited for you. However, if you’re not quite sure about what you’ll need long-term, I suggest you start with the cheapest DigitalOcean plan and work your way up.
Looking at Cloudways performance, there’s little to no complaint. The host proved to be trustworthy and very fast.
In 6 months of examination, the provider kept a very good 99.98% uptime. One thing to note, the uptime guarantee may vary depending on the server provider you choose to go with.
Now, the average response time showed even more pleasant results. It was only 229ms. And knowing that this is a bare server that can be optimized to perform even faster, I am very pleased.
When it comes to picking a server location, it gets a little tricky. As there are 5 different server providers, each has its own multiple data center locations. However, the options vary from 8 to 20, depending on the server provider.
It becomes apparent that Cloudways is, by all means, a worthy contender as an alternative to AWS. With affordably priced cloud hosting and a variety of server options to choose from, it’s an option you should definitely consider.
- Variety of server providers
- Intuitive control panel
- Additional tools like custom-regulated access
- No free domain name
- Prices are higher than from the original provider
Best AWS alternatives: final recommendations
To round it all off, it is evident that there are quite a few cloud and VPS hosting providers that are great AWS alternatives. Some offer more clarity than AWS does, while others offer better prices and simplicity. In the end, your final choices will depend on which features you prioritize the most.
Here’s a recap of the best AWS alternatives and the areas in which they excel:
- Liquid Web is an overall best-managed cloud VPS hosting for businesses and bigger projects.
- A2 Hosting offers powerful and fast managed and unmanaged cloud VPS hosting for any project.
- HostGator is a powerful, simple to use, and resource-packed AWS alternative for VPS hosting.
- InterServer is a no-nonsense and affordable month-to-month VPS hosting provider.
- Cloudways is a beginner-friendly managed cloud VPS provider for fast and smooth hosting.
What’s wrong with Amazon Web Services?
No doubt AWS is an amazing cloud service provider. But most of the problems any user may encounter using the cloud platform are associated with the fact that it is not beginner-friendly. AWS generally requires advanced technical knowledge to use and can also become expensive for less-experienced users.
Though AWS’s offering of more than 212 services will definitely provide you the utility you need for almost any of your projects, there are still certain areas where the platform struggles. The most obvious of these areas include application deployment, billing, and common cloud computing issues.
AWS deployment problems and service limits
AWS application deployment process can be complicated, lengthy, and sometimes unreliable without supporting error descriptions. For non-tech-savvy users, having to manually deploy your applications may not be the easiest of tasks. A lot of these deployment issues are also directly related to the EC2 limits, which vary according to region.
For many who aren’t familiar with the terminology, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a cloud computing service that allows users to create their own virtual machines and run applications on them.
In other words, EC2 allows you as a developer to automatically choose just how many resources you want based on your changing needs and peak periods. As good as this may sound on paper, reality may prove different. You may ask, how so? The major challenge comes with the fact that AWS EC2 comes with service limits.
According to the vendor’s philosophy, these limits are actually designed to prevent you from spending too much as a new user. It also helps the company to protect itself and its users from other users with malicious intent. Unfortunately, these limits aren’t general — they vary based on your region or location. So, the type and amount of resources you have access to are limited to your geographical location. To make things worse, Amazon doesn’t provide sufficient information upfront as to how much of those resources you’ll be getting. You can only check your current resources.
So, what we have in the end, is a situation where you are sometimes paying for resources you don’t need and those you need aren’t accessible. For example, some users may find the default 20 EC2 instances per region excessive.
The good news, however, is that you can always request more resources if you so desire. But however you consider it, it’s not a hassle-free procedure altogether. Also, if you’ll be requesting more resources, you’ll have to pay more which leads me to the second reason why you may want to reconsider using AWS.
For different categories of users, Amazon Web Services can either be inexpensive or expensive to use. In a bid to offer as much flexibility as possible, the platform’s billing ends up being confusing. To understand your bill, you’ll need to calculate data transfer fees, tax, and other invoices. In hopes to make it a little easier, AWS offers its own pricing calculator for an estimated price.
Understanding your AWS bill also has a lot to do with your level of expertise or experience. Without the right information, you may end up paying for services you never use. This is why many beginners consider the platform to be expensive.
The commonly adopted solution for this is an AWS reseller (like Cloudways). Though resellers offer you the same services you’re getting directly from Amazon, they provide you with a detailed and less complex billing structure or invoice. However, depending on the reseller you choose, some transparency may be lost along the line.
Common cloud computing issues
In general, as promising and innovative as it is, cloud computing is not a perfect technology. And AWS shares some of its shortcomings too – in high degrees, in some areas. Some of these common cloud computing issues include downtime, backup protection, security, and limited control.
In the past, AWS has experienced some major outages that wreaked quite some havoc. A good example is an incident that occurred in June of 2016 when storms in Sydney led to the failure of a handful of EC2 instances. Luckily, AWS has now published a 99.99% SLA which is available in all regions where AWS Systems Manager works.
All in all, if you’re a user looking for a cloud computing solution with an easier application deployment procedure, less complicated billing, and resource limits, then an alternative to AWS may just be what you need.
Best AWS alternatives FAQs
Why is Amazon Web Services the market leader?
Amazon Web Services is the market leader for a good number of reasons — the most important of which is the fact that the provider is a pioneer in the industry. This headstart, coupled with the company’s consistent investments to expand its cloud network, ensures that it keeps dominating the cloud hosting industry.
What’s a cheaper alternative to AWS?
A cheaper alternative to AWS is A2 Hosting. This provider offers some of the cheapest VPS hosting plans in the market at the moment. Other equally affordable AWS alternatives to consider are HostGator and InterServer, which offer resource-rich plans and ample customizability, respectively.
Do I need Cloud VPS hosting?
You need cloud VPS hosting if you want to build high-traffic websites demanding lots of processing power and dedicated storage. Virtual Private Server hosting employs virtualization technology to allocate dedicated partitions (resources) of a server to multiple users. For small-scale users with smaller projects, shared hosting will be a more cost-effective option.