What’s the Difference between Cloud Servers vs Physical Servers

Whether you are an individual user or a representative of an enterprise, you may be troubled to choose between cloud servers and physical servers. In this article, I will introduce them both, and compares the differences between them.


By Crystal / Updated on July 15, 2022

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Cloud servers vs physical servers: Introduction

Is the cloud era our future? The answer is still not clear. But as we can see, the cloud servers, cloud computing platforms have certainly gained great momentum in recent years.

So you may be troubled between cloud servers and physical servers. And because of the large price difference between them, you may need a full evaluate before you can make a decision.

In this article, I will make a comparison between cloud servers and physical servers. But before that, let me introduce you what they are and their pros and cons separately.

Cloud servers vs physical servers

What is a physical server

Physical server refers to the bare metal server that includes the motherboard, processor, memory, hard drives, IO-controllers, network connection, and the operating system (OS) running on it, etc.

Unlike cloud servers, physical servers are the dedicated computers specifically purposed for private use, with its hardware resources used directly by the OS.

Server room


  • Complete freedom to customize the hardware and software configuration.
  • Top data privacy and security.
  • Stable response speed and performance.
  • No additional training for employee skills.


  • Physical space such as server room is required.
  • Self-installation, maintenance and expansion required.
  • Regular offsite data backup for disaster recovery

What is a cloud server

Cloud server refers to the virtual server or virtual machine that runs in a cloud computing environment. It is a software-based representation of physical server.

Users who rely on cloud servers do not need to purchase or maintain any hardware, but simply pay a fee to the cloud providers to access virtual resources built, hosted, and delivered via the Internet on a cloud computing platform anytime, anywhere.

A leading cloud computing platform


  • No initial hardware investments.
  • A pay-as-you-go pricing model.
  • Near-instant server deployments.
  • Flexible and highly scalable.


  • High dependence on the Internet.
  • Latency and periodic service interruptions.
  • Data security risks and high data recovery costs.
  • Skill training costs are required.

Cloud servers vs physical servers: What’s the difference

Now you have a general overview of the pros and cons of cloud servers and physical servers. But to make a correct choice from them, you may still need a more visual comparison, especially regarding the cloud server vs physical server cost.

Therefore, here I will provide a table intuitively shows the differences between cloud vs physical server.

Before you start, please note that in the table below, “+” means “Higher”, and “-” means “Lower”.

  Physical Servers Cloud Servers
Physical infrastructure cost + -
Internet dependency - +
Performance + -
Stability + -
Expansion flexibility - +
Expansion cost + -
Maintenance cost + -
Data security + -
Backup and recovery cost - +
Skill training cost - +
Business continuity cost - +

Cloud servers vs physical servers: how to choose

As you can see from the above comparison, it is hard to tell cloud server vs physical server, which is better.

Physical servers are safe, independent, easy to operate, and offer good performance. But they cost more on the purchase, maintenance, upgrade, and expansion the physical infrastructure.

Cloud servers are flexible, pay-as-you-go, quick to deploy, and easy to migrate or failover. But they are highly dependent on the Internet condition, and can cost more in terms of feature expansion, business continuity, and skill training.

Therefore, to choose from cloud servers and physical servers, you may need to evaluate which of their pros you need most, and which of the cons you need to avoid most.

For example:

  • If your business requires stable, consistent amount of available resources – physical servers may suit you better.
  • If your business needs to scale up or down quickly – cloud servers may be better for you.
  • If you are working on a project that requires a custom server – physical servers.
  • If you run e-commerce sites with seasonal traffic surges – cloud servers.

In addition, don’t forget that there are also hybrid solutions that allows centrally monitor of both cloud and physical environments.

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With all these ads, a cloud server with no initial hardware costs sounds like a very tempting option. However, a business cannot afford not to calculate its long-term costs compared to a physical server.

Therefore in this article, I provide an intuitive table comparing the differences of cloud server vs physical server, and examples of how to choose from them. Hope it could be helpful to you.

Crystal · Editor
Crystal is an editor from AOMEI Technology. She mainly writes articles about virtual machine. She is a positive young lady likes to share articles with peolpe. Off work she loves travelling and cooking which is wonderful for life.