Cloudways is a cloud hosting service that has been making waves in the industry. It offers impressive features and a unique pricing model, making it an attractive option for managed WordPress hosting and companies who need to scale resources. This Cloudways hosting review will comprehensively examine Cloudways and its key features.
We will discuss the pros and cons of using Cloudways' managed cloud hosting platform so that you can make an informed decision about whether it’s the hosting service for you. This Cloudways review will look at the various pricing options and provide alternatives per hosting type to provide some alternatives should you decide Cloudways is not the right fit.
What is Cloudways Hosting?
Founded in 2011, Cloudways is a managed, cloud hosting provider that is gaining popularity. If you're sick of slow-loading WordPress sites or hosting headaches, Cloudways offers itself the perfect high-performance hosting solution. Their cloud hosting servers are high-functioning, and the platform-as-a-service has a great feature set allowing you to scale your website.
Not to mention, Cloudway's infrastructure is simple and intuitive, optimized for speed, performance, and security. Furthermore, the SaaS company's platform allows users to choose from five popular server and data center providers like Amazon Web Services or the Google Cloud Platform.
In addition, when you start using the cloud hosting provider, you'll be able to choose from a list of Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress, Magento, Joomla, Drupal, and more. Let's dive into more of Cloudway's features and discuss why many consider it one of the most flexible cloud providers.
Cloudways Review – Key Features
Cloudways distinguishes itself as a provider of cloud servers managed by top-tier server management providers like Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Vultr, Linode, and DigitalOcean.
With an interface just as user-friendly as any shared web hosting platform, anyone can start managing their own server. However, Cloudways servers are not the traditional hosting services that companies usually purchase.
What does Cloudways have that would make it ideal for many types of businesses? Typically a company is looking for a SaaS platform that will provide the following:
- Ease of Use: The interface needs to be easy to use so that users can manage their website with little to no training.
- Flexibility: The hosting platform should allow for easy scalability so that the website can grow as the business expands.
- Performance: The website should load quickly and smoothly, with little downtime.
- Security: The hosting platform should offer robust security features to protect the website from hackers and malware.
- Server Location: When you are looking for performance that meets the obligations of your users, the server location is a critical component in your hosting infrastructure.
Cloudways offers all of these features and more. Let's look at some critical elements that make Cloudways stand out against other web hosting companies.
By using performance tweaks like SSD-based servers, a dedicated environment, and the Cloudways CDN provided through Cloudflare, Cloudways can offer its customers some of the fastest loading speeds in the industry.
- Cloudways leverages SSD technology because they are faster and more reliable in terms of performance; a cloud server built on an SSD framework facilitates consistent loading times for your website visitors.
- Server resources launched on Cloudways are dedicated and don't share any limitations of shared servers.
- Cloudflare Enterprise allows the SaaS platform to deliver your website's content via the server closest to your customer rather than increasing bandwidth and latency costs.
Cloudways takes security seriously, which is why they offer thirteen different security features with a Cloudways hosting account to help protect your website.
- Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second verification method, such as a code sent to your phone, in addition to your password.
- IP whitelisting allows Cloudways users to restrict access to their servers by only allowing specific IP addresses.
- Dedicated firewalls for each server blocks malicious traffic before it reaches your Cloudways server.
- Free SSL certificates with all Cloud hosting accounts.
Knowledgable Support Team
If you're ever having an issue with your server or website, Cloudways has 24/7/365 support to help you resolve any problems. The support team is knowledgeable, friendly, and always willing to help you troubleshoot.
- Direct server customization and configuration allow you to quickly deploy and manage complex applications.
- Phone access to your support engineer, live, at any time with Premium Cloudways Support.
- Users can submit online tickets to a Cloudways support agent for more complex issues.
Cloudways is a Flexible IaaS System
Cloudways has created an incredibly flexible system for cloud hosting that is easy to use. The Cloudways platform is perfect for businesses of all sizes. With their services, companies have access to:
- Pay-as-you-go services. Long contracts are a thing of the past, as Cloudways offers pay-as-you-go plans with no long-term commitment.
- Server location and availability make your web pages load quickly; Cloudways has over 60 active data centers with multiple servers worldwide.
Cloudways lets you monitor your server speed and performance in real time.
- Companies gain access to approximately 16 types of server metrics. In addition, the metrics are displayed in an understandable format, making it easy to identify and correct issues.
- Bot notifications are directed by an AI-based virtual assistant that optimizes servers and apps while integrating with Slack and email.
- The software also can identify issues with app performance and troubleshoot bottlenecks.
Cloudways Hosting Performance Testing
We ran performance load tests on Cloudways, WP Engine, Kinsta, and SiteGround, all top-managed WordPress hosting providers. We wanted to see which cloud host had the fastest performance considering each should be hosted using its own infrastructure.
Pingdom Performance Testing
We ran our Pingdom testing using Chrome from Washington, DC, USA. Using Pingdom, we saw that Kinsta performed the best with Cloudways coming in second. Cloudways did have the longest load time at just over one second.
GTMetrix Performance Testing Comparison
We ran our GTMetrix tests using Chrome from Vancouver, CA. SiteGround and WP Engine performed the best overall but none of the cloud hosts completely passed Google's Core Web Vitals.
LoadView Load Testing
Per LoadView testing, SiteGround and WP Engine performed the best, loading in under 1.5 seconds with SiteGround besting the field with a 1.11-second load time. SiteGround also had the lowest number of responses over 82 ms, whereas the other web hosts saw more responses and a longer response time.
Keep in mind, these sites might not use everything at their disposal to speed up the loading and performance of their websites. A WordPress site is going to bring its own challenges to bear for all managed WordPress hosting companies. It's best to use these as part of your review of WordPress hosting, but reviewing other elements is also critical.
Cloudways Review – User Ratings & Reviews
Cloudways has an excellent customer satisfaction rating ranging from 4.0 – 4.8 stars from virtually all product or service rating sites like Trustpilot, DesignBombs, PC Magazine, G2, and more. Generally, most users had great things to say about Cloudways. The most common were:
- Ease of use
- Excellent support team
- Value for the service
- Server Security
Many also commented on the Cloudways free trial, which we believe is necessary when determining if managed hosting is a good fit for your business. A few users mentioned that Cloudways could improve the platform by adding more features, such as including email service with a Cloudways account.
Other users were disappointed due to the omission of domain registration, an industry-standard elsewhere. Typically anyone who knows what their doing should have no issue sourcing another provider for registering a domain. If you're curious about where to look, you could check out our complete best domain registrars article for options.
Most of these registrars offered basic hosting packages and website builders along with domain registration. However, these are relatively minor complaints; overall, Cloudways is an excellent hosting platform with great flexibility and scalability.
The support team is friendly and knowledgeable, and the platform is easy to use. However, despite the overwhelming positivity in the reviews, some posted more scathing and critical reviews, especially in earlier years. Most complaints stemmed from customer service issues and billing problems.
However, Cloudways has taken these complaints to heart and worked to improve its customer service and billing processes. In more recent reviews, complaints were due to the lack of a Cloudways CDN or its complicated UI design, which can make certain features, like setting up a WordPress site, more tedious.
Others commented on the hosting provider having a shorter deletion period than they would like; some of these complaints are as recent as early October 2022. Keep in mind that reviews on many of these websites are typically negative.
Critical reviewers provided a detailed explanation of how they arrived at their conclusion; while they noted the above-average server performance, it's a standard for cloud servers and is no better than providers like GridPane or RunCloud.
Ultimately, this reviewer thought the service was over-hyped and expensive for the performance you receive. The lowest legitimate reviews and comments were between 3.0-3.5.
Cloudways Reliability Ratings
As one of the most talked about hosting services, Cloudways is held to a high standard regarding reliability. Uptime and downtime are critical components of hosting, as any time your site is down, you're likely losing out on potential clients.
Additionally, website security is a big concern for businesses; no one wants to be the victim of a data breach. Cloudways does website security well, providing two-factor authentication, firewalls, and DDoS protection.
Finally, site backups are a vital part of any hosting platform; if your site is hacked or experiences an error, you want to be able to restore your site quickly. Cloudways makes automatic backups standard for their platform, using some of the best free and paid plugins, such as BackupBuddy, UpDraft Plus, and Duplicator. However, you also have the flexibility to create on-demand backups.
You can rely on Cloudways to guarantee 99.99% uptime. They also boast incredible page-loading and website speeds but in our tests were not the fastest. Keep in mind, the performance of a website is tied to many more things than just server resources.
In addition, they work diligently to prevent customer dissatisfaction; however, Cloudways doesn’t claim to be perfect. Thanks to vertical scaling, you can adjust server resources when experiencing traffic surges.
Cloudways Review – Performance Ratings
Site performance is one of the most important factors when choosing a hosting platform. After all, what's the point of hosting if your site is constantly down or loading slowly?
Cloudways has some of the best performance in the industry. They also offer a wide range of features to help you optimize your site for performance, including caching plugins, a Content Delivery Network (CDN) through Cloudflare, and SSD storage.
Cloudways is also more transparent regarding the software they use for their servers. For example, the Cloudways ThunderStack is a web toolset that includes Apache, Nginx, MySQL, and MariaDB, giving users reliable website performance.
In addition, Cloudway’s caching is top-notch and includes Memcached, Varnish, and Redis; Cloudways also includes PHP-FPM. FPM allows for quicker webpage delivery and better responsiveness on WordPress websites because it allows PHP processes to run independently from the web server.
Cloudways Hosting Plans Breakdown
Cloudways doesn't offer traditional shared, VPS, or dedicated server hosting. Instead, they use what's known as cloud hosting. The main benefit of cloud hosting is that it's more scalable and flexible than traditional hosting, meaning you can easily add or remove resources as needed.
In the spirit of flexibility and freedom, Cloudways also offers a pay-as-you-go pricing model, which means you only pay for the resources you use. This is in contrast to traditional hosting providers, which typically charge a flat rate regardless of how much you use.
The pay-as-you-go model can save you a lot of money and charges you hourly. Suppose you decide to make any changes to your account halfway through the month; your invoice will immediately reflect those changes. Furthermore, you are billed in the first week for the previous month of usage and are notified of the upcoming invoice.
Cloudways hosts four different plans with each of its partners. Cloudways does well listing the exact resources that each hosting plan comes with because these specifications are guaranteed to its users at all times.
Also, unlike shared servers, Cloudways provides you with your own server, so you’re paying for the assets you use, not what you share. Unfortunately, other providers generally don't mention that you share a server with others, and when your neighbor's websites draw more on the servers, it could leave your website to suffer.
Fortunately, Cloudways didn't want their customer base to deal with that concern.
Cloudways Plans & Pricing
Cloudways allows customers to tailor their plans to their business approach. In other words, Cloudways doesn't label its services and expect all businesses to conform; instead, the provider is willing to change according to the customer's needs.
The Cloudways pricing model is very straightforward, and the plans are broken down into four packages per provider:
Standard Plans (Digital Ocean and Vultr Only)
- DigitalOcean: $10, $22, $42, and $80 per month
- Vultr: $11, $23, $44, and $84 per month
Premium/High-Frequency Plans (Digital Ocean and Vultr Only)
- DigitalOcean: $12, $26, $50, and $96 per month
- Vultr: $13, $26, $50, and $100 per month
Other Provider Plans
- Linode: $12, $24, $50, and $90 per month
- AWS: $36.51, $86.77, $176.26, and $274.33 per month
- Google Cloud: $33.18, $73.50, $138.52, and $225.93 per month
When you pay for Cloudways, the price always includes both cloud hosting and Cloudways services–you will never need to make a separate payment. However, it's important to note that as you upgrade your hosting service, the Cloudways fee rises exponentially.
In short, this means that lower-tiered servers are pretty affordable, but as you upgrade, you could be paying five times more for the same platform. This requires businesses to do a cost-benefit analysis to see if the features offered are worth the significant price increase.
Cloudways Pros and Cons
Now let's get more specific and address the advantages and disadvantages.
Automated Backups – Cloudways will automatically back up your website daily, so you don't have to worry about losing data. You also receive server-level backups.
SSD-Based Hosting (Cloud servers) – Cloudways uses SSDs for all its hosting plans.
Real-time Server Monitoring – Customers get detailed insights into their servers; this lets you see your website's performance so you can make changes as needed.
24/7/365 Customer Support – One of the best things about Cloudways is its customer support team, which has shown exceptional improvement recently.
Easy Pricing Structure – Pay-as-you-go plans that are very straightforward.
Free SSL Certificate – A free Let's Encrypt SSL certificate with every account.
Variety of Top Cloud Providers – Cloudways allows you to choose five different hosting providers: AWS, Google Cloud, DigitalOcean, Vultr, and Linode, for easy setup and migration.
High Performance – Cloudways is a high-performing hosting service offering uptime and fast loading speeds.
Complicated Setup Period – Cloudways may tout easy and free migration, but the initial setup can be difficult for those unfamiliar with cloud servers.
Signup isn't as easy as filling out a form on a landing page. It requires a conversation, sometimes multiple conversations with CS, to access your account.
No Email Hosting – Cloudways doesn't provide email access when registering for their services; businesses will have to purchase email elsewhere, which can be frustrating as most providers include it.
To be clear, Cloudways partners with Rackspace to offer an email add-on with their services, but customers have to purchase it separately.
No cPanel – Most companies use cPanel on the backend to manage their hosting account; however, Cloudways has its custom-built control panel. While this isn't necessarily bad, it can be confusing for those who are used to cPanel.
High Prices for Upgraded Plans – As mentioned earlier, Cloudways prices increase significantly as you upgrade your hosting service. This can be a deterrent for businesses that are looking for a long-term solution.
There are a few other things to remember when considering Cloudways as your hosting provider. Intangibles are the little details that make a difference in the web hosting world.
In this case, intangibles that could bend someone in Cloudways' direction include a 3-day free trial, the ability to scale your server when needed, excellent 24/7/365 customer service, backups, security, or uptime. Here is a breakdown of some of the key intangibles Cloudways offers.
Cloudways offers a 99.9% uptime guarantee, which is pretty standard for the industry and equates to about 10 minutes per week or under an hour in 30 days.
Furthermore, WordPress sites hosted on Cloudways have a 50% better load time, which is possible because of their VMAN technology that deploys site speed optimization tools.
Cloudways offers several security features to keep your website safe, including a web application firewall (WAF), regular firmware updates, specific application-level layered security, and a free SSL certificate. In addition, the provider offers flexible pricing for enterprises needing bulk protection for their agencies.
Cloudways offers automatic backups for all customers, so you don't have to worry about losing your data. In addition, you can create manual backups anytime and choose how often you want them made (daily, weekly, or monthly). Plus, you can quickly restore your backups with just a few clicks.
Additionally, server-level backups are taken to ensure all server resources are protected and can be restored if needed. Most traditional hosts take this action but some rely on the client to manually initiate the backup.
Cloudways Help and Support
Cloudways support can strike a nerve for those who expect more from their hosting provider; like their pricing structure, Cloudways tries to be unique in offering support, but only in specific areas.
Don’t worry; getting help from CS isn't a chore, and you can reach them via telephone, email, or live chat. However, advanced troubleshooting and in-depth support are only available to customers who opt for the support add-ons.
Cloudways support add-ons aren't cheap, but many companies are willing to pay the extra fee for experts to lend a hand. If you're not ready to pay for additional support, Cloudways support will still help you with your hosting server, the WordPress installer, or the platform itself. Minus the premium support, you'll still get access to:
- 24/7/365 Live chat and ticketing
- Server monitoring (alerts only)
- Infrastructure support
- Access to resources (users can find free articles on the provider's website)
Cloudways Alternatives by Hosting Type
Generally, you can separate the different hosting types into categories: Shared Hosting, Managed Hosting, Cloud Hosting, VPS Hosting, and Dedicated Hosting; there are more specific types but 99% of all hosting falls into one or multiple of these categories.
We've broken down some good alternatives to Cloudways based on the hosting type in case you find Cloudways doesn't quite fit your needs.
- Shared Hosting: this is a great cost-effective option for low-traffic websites where sharing server resources is not an issue. Starter websites and brochureware sites are a couple of examples that fall into this realm.
- Providers: A2 Hosting, FastComet, or Bluehost
- Managed Hosting: Works well for websites that are using platforms where security and scalability are of the utmost concern. These environments can help with assisted security needs and ensure a content management system like WordPress performs optimally.
- Providers: SiteGround or Kinsta
- Cloud Hosting: Cloud providers have environments designed to scale resources up as your website needs increase. They leverage servers in different locations provided by different 3rd parties if not their own.
- Providers: Hostwinds, A2 Hosting, or Hostinger
- VPS Hosting: Virtual private servers are an excellent option for websites bigger than a shared hosting server can manage; tech-savvy businesses who sell products will enjoy the customization.
- Providers: InMotion, Liquid Web, or Kamatera
- Dedicated Hosting: A somewhat expensive option for high-traffic sites that need a private server, scalable resources, unlimited websites, or unique security requirements.
- Providers: SiteGround, A2 Hosting, or Hostwinds
Cloudways Review Wrap-Up
Any business needs a reliable, affordable hosting provider to give them the tools to succeed. Cloudways is an industry-leading option for those looking for managed WordPress hosting, but it's also a good choice for those who need an eCommerce site or a blog. The platform is easy to use with a wide range of features and backed by some of the most popular cloud hosting providers in the industry.
Furthermore, Cloudways has a reputation for having the best Advanced and Premium customer support; the company offers 24/7 support via telephone, email, and live chat. If the associated fees don't deter you, you will surely be more than satisfied with the service.
While it gets more expensive for higher-performing services, Cloudways still offers affordability and great functionality. You shouldn’t try the platform if you're seeking a traditional hosting platform or you're a beginner and don't know how to set up your first website. If you're still on the fence, the 3-day free trial should be enough time to get your feet wet.
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