In case of a dedicated server, you can purchase a server with the required hardware from the Webhost. The Webhost is responsible for HW upgrade and OS installations. You can make your own custom modifications in the application level. In most cases the support or management will be done by the Webhost but you too will have root access. If the management is done by the Webhost, then that particular dedicated server is “Managed Server”. This is ideal for high resource consuming applications. A Cloud Server provides all the benefits of a VPS but the resources are on-demand. For example, if suddenly your website starts to receive an enormous amount of traffic, you can login to the Cloud Server control panel and add more bandwidth and RAM to the server.
In Cloud you may not get available resources allocated to your server. It can be over sold by webhost (depending on their cloud infrastructure). If you are looking for dedicated resources (RAM, CPU, Disk IO), Dedicated server is the best solution. Generally user selects Cloud hosting because it provides high availability and easy to scale.
Many companies sell VPS as 'cloud', cause that's a common term used these days, so don't be fooled.
I suggest you do good investigation to see if the party really offer cloud services and not just basic virtualization
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It really depends on what your definition of 'better' is.
To some, 'better' means less expensive; so from that perspective, a dedicated is a 'better' option.
A service can be perceived as 'better' when your server is completely independent of others and/or it operates on a more established environment. In this case, dedicated is a 'better' option.
Others find services to be 'better' when they can scale as needed without having to worry about migration, load balancers and all the inconveniences to being tied to a single piece of hardware. In that case, cloud hosting is a 'better' option.
It really boils down to what you think is 'better' and what you need to get for your money.
Dedicated Servers are as the term; dedicated - you purchase the specs that you want (e.g. CPU, RAM, Drives, etc.) just as you would with a Cloud Server.
The advantage of dedicated servers As others have said; dedicated versus cloud servers should be determined by you when it comes to disk IO (read/writes). If you have very large database which require high IO's then a dedicated is probably the best choice. you can "scale" the dedicated server (e.g. add more RAM, storage, etc.) similar to a cloud server with one exception; a dedicated server will have to go offline to make these changes.
A cloud server is a "group" of dedicated servers which pool their resources (e.g. RAM, CPU); from this pool your resources are allocated. Storage Area Network (SAN) is used which allows you to expand your storage needs.
Since cloud servers are grouped (clustered) together it allows cloud servers to have a higher "failover" rate and high-availability. Which makes Cloud Servers a good option for those seeking higher uptimes and resilience.
In my opinion and answer to your question to which is better; it should be determined based on the application(s) you will be running, fixed or scalable resource requirements. I don't think one is better than the other. My analogy is a automobile (car) versus a truck. If you don't plan to haul things in the bed of a truck, why buy it?
Totally agree with @GorillaServers as you what the application of the website.
A cloud would be suggested if your requirements for resources vary over the period of time, wherein the cloud can be scaled as per your needs and pay as you go for the usage.
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