Cloudways delivers affordable, powerful, and easy-to-set-up cloud hosting for WordPress sites, and in this in-depth Cloudways review you'll find out if they're the best WordPress host for you.
Are you looking for a WordPress host that is not only fast, secure and highly reliable, but affordable as well? That can seem like an impossible feat sometimes, especially when you’re just starting out and don’t know how to weed out the bad WordPress hosting providers from the good ones.
Now, I can’t possibly tell you about every single reliable, fast and affordable WordPress hosting provider on the market today. But what I can do is highlight one of the top ones: Cloudways.
I'm not the only one who is impressed by Cloudways:
Here in this Cloudways review I'll look at the most important features they offer, do my own speed test of them and walk you through all the pros and cons, to help you decide if signing up with Cloudways.com is the right thing for you to do.
Give me 10 minutes of your time and when you have finished reading this you will know if this is the right (or wrong) hosting service for you.
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What you'll learn from this Cloudways review
- List of pros
- List of cons
But there are a few cons too. Here I cover what the downsides are of using them.
- Plans and prices
Here I take you through the different plans and prices they offer.
- Do I Recommend Cloudways.com?
And finally here I let you know if Cloudways is a web host I recommend (hint: yes I do).
Setting out to simplify your web hosting experience, Cloudways aims to give individuals, teams, and businesses of all sizes the power to provide their site visitors the most seamless user experience possible.
Not to mention, this unique company offers platform-as-a-service (PaaS) cloud-based web hosting, which sets it apart even from so many other hosting providers that offer a variety of hosting solutions.
Hosting plans come with a fantastic feature set, support you can rely on, and prices you can afford.
Performance is at the core of everything they do. They have designed their tech stack to make the most out of every dollar you put in. They combine NGINX, Varnish, Memcached and Apache to provide the fastest experience without compromising on code compatibility.
Which means that their infrastructure is optimized for speed, performance, and security, and you’ll see that this is one of the best cloud-based hosting provider options around.
And I'm not the only one saying Cloudways is the best …
Because Cloudways is very popular amongst real users. WordPress Hosting is a closed Facebook group with over 9,000 members solely dedicated to WordPress hosting.
Each year members are asked to vote for their favourite WordPress web host. As you can see they have been voted the #2 WordPress host for two years in a row now (#2 in 2017’s poll and #2 in 2016’s poll)
So, let’s take a closer look and see what Cloudways has to offer you.
Cloudways takes web hosting seriously and strives to give customers the very best when it comes to the 3 S’s of web hosting; Speed, Security, and Support.
Hosting plans also come packed full of essential and useful features that anyone, with any type of website, and any skill level can use.
1. Unique Cloud Hosting Solution
Cloudways only offers cloud-based hosting for website owners.
So, how does this differ from other, more traditional hosting solutions?
- Multiple copies of your site’s content is stored on multiple servers so if the main server goes down, the copies from other servers jump in, minimizing downtime
- Easily migrate your site to different servers in different datacenters if need be
- Experience faster loading times thanks to the multiple server setup and premium CDN services
- Enjoy a more secure environment because each server works together and independently of one another
- Take advantage of a dedicated resources environment so your site is never affected by others
- Scale your site easily, adding more resources if needed if you see a spike in traffic or growth in sales
- Cloud hosting is pay-as-you-go so you only pay for what you need and use
Although this hosting solution is different than many hosting provider plans available today, rest assured you can use it with any popular content management system (CMS) such as WordPress, Joomla, Magento, and Drupal with only a few clicks.
2. High Speed Performance
Cloudways’ servers are blazing fast so you know your site’s content is being delivered to visitors as quickly as possible, no matter how much traffic is visiting at once.
But that’s not all. Cloudways offers a whole host of speed-related features:
- Dedicated resources. All servers have a specified amount of resources thanks to the dedicated environment they sit in. That means your site is never at risk because of another site’s extra pull of resources, and your site’s performance is never sacrificed.
- Free Caching WordPress plugin. Cloudways provides their exclusive caching plugin, Breeze, to all customers free of charge. All hosting plans also come with built-in advanced caches (Memcached, Varnish, Nginx, and Redis), as well as Full Page Cache.
- Redis support. Enabling Redis helps your site’s database perform better than ever. Mixed in with Apache, Nginx, and Varnish, you never have to worry about your site’s performance.
- PHP ready servers. Cloudways servers are PHP 7 ready, which is the fastest PHP version to date.
- Content Delivery Network (CDN) service. Receive premium CDN services so servers spanning the globe can deliver your site’s content to site visitors based on their geographic location.
- Auto-Healing servers. If your server goes down, Cloudways jumps in right away with automatic self-healing to minimize downtime.
As you can see, speed and performance should never be an issue with Cloudways hosting.
So.. How fast is Cloudways WordPress hosting?
Here I’m going to check Cloudways performance by testing the speed of this website (hosted on SiteGround) vs. an exact cloned copy of it (but hosted on Cloudways).
- First, I’ll test this website’s load time at my current web host (which is SiteGround).
- Next, I’ll test that exact same website (a cloned copy of it *) but hosted on Cloudways **.
* Using a migration plugin, exporting the entire site and hosting it on Cloudways
** Using DigitalOcean on Cloudways’s DO1GB plan ($10/mo)
By doing this test you'll get an understanding of how fast loading a site hosted on Cloudways really is.
Here’s how my homepage (on this site – hosted on SiteGround) performs on Pingdom:
My homepage loads in 1.24 seconds. That’s actually really fast in comparison to many other hosts – Because SiteGround is not a slow host by any means.
The question is, will it load faster on Cloudways? Let’s find out…
Oh yeah, it will! On Cloudways the exact same homepage loads in just 435 milliseconds, that's close to 1 second (0.85s to be exact) faster!
How about a blog page, say this review page? Here's how fast it loads on SiteGround:
This review page loads in just 1.1 seconds, again SiteGround delivers great speed! And what about Cloudways?
It loads in just 798 milliseconds, well under one second and again a lot faster!
So what to make of all this?
Well, one thing is certain, if this website was hosted on Cloudways instead of on SiteGround then it would load a lot quicker. (note to self: move this site over to Cloudways pronto!)
3. Managed Security
Taking a proactive approach to site security, you can trust your sensitive data to Cloudways thanks to their built-in security features:
- OS-level firewalls protecting all servers
- Routine patches and firmware upgrades
- 1-click free SSL certificate install
- Two-factor authentication for your Cloudways account
- IP whitelisting capability
As an added bonus, just in case something does happen to your website, Cloudways offers free automatic backups of cloud server data and images.
With a 1-click restore option, if your site doesn't crash, downtime is minimal.
If your site does experience any downtime (not related to scheduled maintenance, emergency maintenance, or what they call “Force Majeure Events”), you will be compensated by Cloudways.
Those credits will apply to your next month’s service charges.
4. Stellar Customer Support
When it comes to choosing a hosting provider, support should be a priority. Any type of business nowadays fully depends on web hosting to run smoothly. But there can be times when things don't work so well.
After all, if you ever need help, you have to be able to get in touch with those responsible for maintaining your site’s data.
If you need to get in contact with someone in support, you can talk to a member of the Customer Success Team via live chat, or submit a ticket through the ticketing system and manage the progress of your query.
And if you want, you can “request a call” and speak to customer support via phone during business hours.
You can also reach out to Cloudways’ active community of members to share knowledge, experiences, and skills. And of course, you can ask questions too!
Lastly, take advantage of the extensive Knowledge Base, complete with articles about Getting Started, Server Management, and Application Management.
Not to mention, read articles about your account, billing, email services, add-ons, and more.
5. Team Collaboration
It may seem strange, but Cloudways offers a suite of features and tools designed to help you and your team collaborate and succeed.
This is especially useful for developers or agencies that manage multiple websites at once across many servers.
For instance, automatic Git deployment, unlimited staging areas, and secure SSH and SPTP access lets you launch projects and make them perfect before going live.
In addition, assign team members tasks, transfer servers to others, clone applications and servers, and use the Cloudways WP Migrator plugin to easily move WordPress sites from other hosting providers over to Cloudways.
6. Website Monitoring
Enjoy around the clock monitoring of your website so you know everything is on track at all times. The server your data is stored on is monitored 24/7/365.
Plus, you can see over 16 different metrics right from your Cloudways console.
Receive real-time updates via email or text from the CloudwaysBot, a smart assistant that monitors your site’s performance at all times. With the information sent by the AI bot, you can optimize your servers and applications.
Plus, you can integrate your platform with your email, Slack, HipChat, and other third-party applications.
Lastly, take advantage of the New Relic integration so you can troubleshoot issues bottlenecking your progress and fix them as soon as possible.
Cloudways is no doubt a unique, reliable, and highly performing hosting solution. That said, it is missing a few important features.
1. No Domain Name Registration
Cloudways doesn’t offer customers domain name registration, for free or for a charge. That means before you sign up to use their hosting services, you need to secure a domain name through a third-party seller.
Adding to that, pointing your domain name to your hosting provider after getting setup can be difficult, especially for novice website owners.
Because of this, many people may choose to go elsewhere for their hosting needs. After all, leaving to register a domain name, and having to come back to sign up for hosting and point your newly created URL to your hosting provider might be too much of a hassle unless dead set on using Cloudways.
This is especially true when so many competitive hosting providers offer free domain name registration and help with pointing your domain to your host.
2. No cPanel or Plesk
Cloudways is a platform-as-a-service company so the traditional cPanel and Plesk dashboards are simply not there.
There is a dedicated console available for managing applications hosted on the cloud server. But for those not used to this significant difference, you may have trouble.
Not to mention, cPanel and Plesk is much more comprehensive, letting you manage everything related to hosting from one convenient dashboard.
Though the Cloudways console just takes a little getting used to, it can be daunting for those making the switch from a different hosting platform.
3. No Email Hosting
Cloudways hosting plans do not come with integrated email accounts like so many reputable hosting providers do.
Instead, they want people to pay per email account, which can prove costly if you run a large business, have a sizeable team, and need plenty of email accounts to keep things running.
They offer email services as a separate paid add-on. For email accounts (mailboxes), you can use their Rackspace email add-on (pricing starts from $1/month per email address) and for outgoing/transactional emails, you can use their custom SMTP add-on.
Cloud Hosting Plans and Pricing
Cloudways comes with many managed hosting plans that will work for everyone regardless of site size, complexity or budget.
To start, they have 5 infrastructure providers to choose from, and your plan prices will vary depending on which infrastructure provider you choose to use:
- DigitalOcean: Plans range from $10/month to $80/month, RAM from 1GB-8GB, Processors from 1 core to 4 core, storage from 25GB to 160GB, and bandwidth from 1TB to 5TB.
- Linode: Plans range from $12/month to $90/month, RAM from 1GB-8GB, Processors from 1 core to 4 core, storage from 20GB to 96GB, and bandwidth from 1TB to 4TB.
- Vultr: Plans range from $11/month to $84/month, RAM from 1GB-8GB, Processors from 1 core to 4 core, storage from 25GB to 100GB, and bandwidth from 1TB to 4TB.
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) : Plans range from $85.17/month to $272.73/month, RAM from 3.75GB-15GB, vCPU from 1-4, storage at 4GB across the board, and bandwidth 2GB across the board.
- Google Computing Engine (GCE): Plans range from $73.62/month to $226.05/month, RAM from 3.75GB-16GB, vCPU from 1-4, storage at 20GB across the board, and bandwidth 2GB across the board.These are just the featured plans. We also offer additional plans.
- These are just the featured plans. They also offer additional plans, as well as customized plans.
Remember, these plans are pay as you go. Anytime you need to scale up (or scale back down) you can, which means the more bandwidth you use, the more you pay.
In addition, all hosting plans come with 24/7 expert support, unlimited application installations, free SSL certificates, and free site migrations.
You can try any of the available hosting plans for free for 3-days. From there, you simply pay-as-you-go and are never tied into any type of contract.
Managed WordPress Hosting
It’s worth noting that Cloudways offers fully managed WordPress hosting.
That said, it’s tough to determine what the differences are between the typical Cloudways hosting plans and WordPress hosting plans. In fact, there is no indication that there’s even a price difference.
I reached out via Live Chat to find out if there’s a difference in features or price:
I will say that the response was very quick to my query. I am, however, a little confused as to why they separate each CMS into different webpages – WordPress, Magento, PHP, Laravel, Drupal, Joomla, and PrestaShop, and WooCommerce hosting – if everything is the same.
This caused me to scroll through a lot of information that was in actuality all repetitive. This can be confusing to a person who is trying to compare plans and make a final decision.
And if the user experience on their website is this frustrating, they may miss out on many opportunities to get people to sign up for their hosting plans because people simply abandon their site before getting far enough to sign up.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:
- What type of hosting plans are available? Pay-as-you-go cloud-based hosting using one of five available infrastructure providers: DigitalOcean (DO), Linode, Vultr, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Computing Engine (GCE).
- Where are the Cloudways datacenters? Depending on which cloud provider you choose, you can host your site’s data on data centers located in USA, Europe, Asia, or South America. There are 62 data centers located in 15 countries and 33 cities.
- Can I migrate my existing website to Cloudways hosting? Yes, the team at Cloudways will help you migrate your existing site for free.
- Can I scale up and down using Cloudways? You can only scale down when using GCP and AWS. The other three cloud providers have limitations in scaling down. However, as a workaround you can always clone your site to be deployed on a lower spec server.
- What payment methods are accepted? Cloudways accepts PayPal and major credit cards such as MasterCard, Visa, and American Express.
- How does the pay-as-you-go work? It means you only pay for the resources you consume. They charge you in arrears, meaning they'll invoice you for the services you used in any given month at the start of the next month. There's no lock-in contracts so you can freely use their services without being tied to a contract.
- Do they offer a built-in page builder? No, Cloudways only deals with server resources and the minimal features that come with each plan such as speed and performance, security, and customer support.
- Is Cloudways any good for WordPress sites? Yes they're an excellent hosting provider for WordPress sites and blogs. You get unlimited WordPress installations, pre-installed WP-CLI, unlimited number of staging sites and Git integration. Plus they'll also migrate your existing site to them for free.
- Do they offer FTP access? Yes you get SFTP or SSH to access and update files and folders on your application.
- What about dedicated server and IP? Each server you deploy comes with dedicated cloud environment and a single dedicated IP address.
- Do they offer free backups? Yes they'll backup all your application data and related databases for free.
- Is email hosting included? No it's not, but they offer email services as a separate add-on. For email accounts (mailboxes), you can use their Rackspace email add-on (pricing starts from $1/month).
- How do I know which cloud provider to choose? I don't know if I should choose DigitalOcean, Vultr, Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Google Computing Engine (GCE)?
- DigitalOcean is one of the cheapest clouds with high performance SSD-based storage. With 8 data centers, you should choose DigitalOcean if you need an affordable web host with big volumes bandwidth.
- Vultr is the most affordable cloud providers with most locations. They offer SSD storage and almost unlimited bandwidth across 13 locations. Choose Vultr if cheap pricing is a key factor for you.
- Linode comes with extensive features at great prices. Linode guarantee a 99.99% uptime, it is trusted by over 400K customers all around the world. Choose Linode if you want a scalable hosting solution for ecommerce and custom applications.
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers reliable infrastructure. It delivers flexible, scalable and configurable disk size and bandwidth with 8 data centers in 6 countries. Choose AWS if you are hosting large business and resource intensive websites.
- Google Compute Engine (GCE) is a powerful and reliable cloud hosting infrastructure with the efficient performance that comes with Google's brand name at an attractive price with 99.9% uptime. Choose GCE if you're hosting large business and resource intensive websites.
- Do they have a free trial? Yes you can sign up for a 3-day free trial period (no credit card needed) and take their service for a test spin.
Do I Recommend Cloudways?
Yes I do.
Because in the end, Cloudways is a reliable and affordable cloud hosting option for any website owner, regardless of skill level or site type.
Because of its cloud-based platform, you can experience blazing fast speeds, optimal site performance, and top-notch security.
All of this is designed to give your site visitors the best user experience possible and keep your site’s data secure from malicious activity.
That said, Cloudways’ differences can make things a little bit complicated for novice website owners at first. There is no traditional cPanel or Plesk, no way to register a domain name with Cloudways, and no email hosting feature.
This adds to the overall hosting price and makes getting started more involved than other comparable hosting providers on the market today.
If you do decide to go with them, weigh the pros and cons before signing up. Or, take advantage of the 3-day free trial period to make sure they have the features you need to scale your business and manage your hosting account.
From there, take the time to read through the documentation and familiarize yourself with this cloud-based platform so you don’t miss out on some of the features that do come with this unique hosting solution.
FTC disclosure: To get you the cheapest price I'll earn a commission if you decide to sign up through my links.