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Our Truthful Cloudways Hosting Review After 16 Months

Cloudways is an extremely fast and powerful website host that can serve your business a multitude of services. We've been using it for well over a year now and wanted to give our thoughts on the powerhouse of a host!
Updated April 24, 2024
Cloudways by DigitalOcean
Cloudways by DigitalOcean

Thinking about using Cloudways for hosting your WordPress or custom made website? After using Cloudways for 16 months, we've decided to put together the ultimate scoop to help you figure out if this popular hosting provider is the one for you.

What makes Cloudways stand out in the hosting game is their unique approach. Instead of using their own infrastructure, they let you pick from three reliable cloud hosting providers – DigitalOcean, AWS, and Google Cloud. Cloudways takes care of setting up and maintaining the server while giving you access to all the tools needed to control your site.

The great part is you can get great performance without spending a ton of money. If you're just trying to host a normal WordPress website, Cloudways might be a bit more complicated (initially) than your average managed WordPress hosting since they don't do that. But you can still 1-click Install WordPress & set up many different types of site structures.

If you're looking for a fast, powerful, and affordable option for your web hosting needs, Cloudways is unequivocally the best casual website hosting provider for those who want reliable and secure websites. Let's get into it!

What Is Cloudways & Who Are Their Hosting Providers?

One of the unique and flexible features of Cloudways is its ability to allow users to choose from three different cloud hosting providers. This gives users the freedom to pick the cloud hosting provider that best meets requirements and financial capabilities while still remaining under the same hosting umbrella.

Basically, Cloudways is the wrapper around these few companies that provide hosting servers. It's all integrated with their dashboards while still letting you 1-click install to set up your servers & sites.

The available options include:

  • DigitalOcean
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Google Cloud Platform (GCP)

All these providers have their own unique strengths & offer as data centers located across various regions worldwide. Their most common provider, Digital Ocean generally has a reputation for being user friendly with affordable pricing plans. Others like AWS provide extensive customization options through its low-level ecosystem (letting you do things at an extremely advanced level.)

We've been using Digital Ocean since the start of our hosting with Cloudways and love it – it's amazing, affordable, and most importantly quick.

Cloudways offers detailed comparisons between each of their hosting platforms. You can evaluate factors like server locations, storage capacity, and bandwidth allowances. By selecting the right provider based on your business needs, you'll be able to maximize the benefits of cloud hosting to ensure a smooth, efficient experience for your website visitors. Are you looking for speed? Capability? Affordability? Once you decide, there's an option for you.

Also no matter what size site you're looking to host, Cloudways offer reliable, secure, and extremely scalable hosting services for both large and small businesses. With the Performance & Caching Layers features, you'll also have an additional platform to help increase website speed and performance.

16 Months Of Cloudways – My Honest Thoughts

I felt like I configured my first server yesterday but I guess that was actually last January. Time flies when you don't have issues with your host! I used to use GoDaddy and can't stand them. They have rude support, mysteriously charge you for things they claim you need, and offer extremely poor hosting.

To be fair, they were decent for getting our company off the ground (especially since we had purchased all of our domains with them), but I would recommend getting away from them once you are better established – even if you don't move to Cloudways.

Truthfully, Cloudways is an excelling hosting provider that efficiently hosts websites, has decent support, and offers very affordable pricing options.

It's truly been a while on Cloudways and I've ran into multiple technical problems (both my personal fault and general tech questions) and they've answered them all. They have a great Chatbot directly on the site that connects you with a representative 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

I will say their support has definitely declined since I began to use them though. They still help me with issues, but it was nothing like when I first joined.

Invoices showing cloudways hosting activated since January of 2022

Cloudways Key Features

The most important thing in a website host should be speed and reliability. Without either of these, there's no website. I've never had a speed issue on any of my cloudways sites regardless of their size. After peeling back the curtain, support & usability are my next review factors in making a solid host. You need to be able to figure things out when you have issues, and great support does that. Cloudways checks every single box.

Reliable Uptime

Cloudways truly shines when it comes to their impressive uptime. Every second of downtime can cost you visitors and revenue, and I've rarely experienced any with them. Only time I've had issues was me accidentally breaking something! I monitor my sites with Uptime Robot & over the last 30 days, you can see pretty much no downtime. Compared to hosts I've used in the past, I've always ran into an hour or two of downtime each month.

Varnish Cache Integration

To optimize website performance, Cloudways offers multiple caching layers that work together to deliver fast loading times even under high traffic loads. These features include Varnish Cache and Redis support, which are integrated with the powerful combination of Apache + Nginx servers.

Varnish Cache is a popular HTTP accelerator designed to speed up web applications by caching content in memory. Cloudways integrates Varnish Cache into its platform, allowing your website to load faster by serving cached versions of pages instead of generating them from scratch each time they're requested. This significantly reduces server load and improves overall site performance. If you have any issues you can purge the entire cache (this normally fixes everything for me).

Redis Support

In addition to Varnish Cache, Cloudways also provides support for Redis, an advanced key-value store used as a database, cache, and message broker. By using Redis alongside other caching mechanisms like Varnish or Memcached on the cloud hosting platform, you can further enhance your website's performance. With these tools working together, you'll be able to handle more concurrent users without sacrificing speed or server responsiveness.

The combination of these powerful caching layers with the robust architecture provided by top-tier cloud providers such as Digital Ocean, Amazon AWS, and Google Cloud ensures that websites hosted on Cloudways perform at their best even during peak traffic periods. So whether you're running an e-commerce store experiencing sudden spikes in sales or managing a blog with viral content, rest assured that your site will remain fast and responsive with Cloudways.

The performance and caching layers of Cloudways are great ways to optimize your website's speed and reliability, allowing you to get the most out of your site host!

Easy Cloning/Staging Process

If you're looking to test new features or updates on your website without affecting the live version, Cloudways has you covered. They provide an easy-to-use cloning/staging tool that enables seamless testing of new changes before pushing them live. Small business owners who are aiming to keep their website running optimally and without any issues while making modifications can benefit from Cloudways' cloning/staging tool.

Staging management for Cloudways, allow you to copy and push data with the click of a button

The process of creating a staging environment on Cloudways is straightforward. From the Applications tab in your account dashboard, simply select the application you wish to clone in "staging management". Click on "Clone App/Create Staging" to generate either a complete clone or just a staging site for testing purposes. Once you have created a clone, you will be able to access an entirely distinct environment where modifications can be made without influencing the active website.

In addition to this convenient feature, Cloudways also offers integration with popular version control systems such as Git, allowing developers more flexibility when it comes to managing code revisions and collaborating with team members.

Free SSL Certificate

A major perk of Cloudways is the inclusion of a free, built-in SSL certificate that keeps your site secure and lets you interact with your customers safely. This complimentary SSL certificate comes with all hosting packages and plans, making sure your website follows Google's suggested security guidelines. As a bonus, adhering to these practices could give your site's rankings a nice little boost. You can install it with a single click & it's sponsored by Let's Encrypt. You can also have it automatically renew so you don't have to visit each of your sites every few months

SSL Management screen for Cloudways digital hosting

Premium Support Availability

Cloudways offers excellent server management support by default, and they also have the option to provide application-specific assistance if users require help beyond basic server issues. This is an additional cost but makes more sense for mission-critical sites where every minute matters. This add-on service includes priority ticket response times, personalized advice from experts and even direct communication with senior engineers via private Slack channels.

It's worth noting that Cloudways also maintains an extensive knowledge base and community forum, where users can find answers to common questions and engage with fellow customers for additional support. Small business owners who are just getting started with cloud hosting may find these resources especially useful for obtaining assistance on various aspects of managing their digital presence.

Cloudways Pricing & Affordability

One of the most attractive features of Cloudways hosting is its pay-as-you-go billing structure. This pricing model ensures that users only pay for what they use, without being locked into long-term contracts. With this approach, Cloudways becomes highly affordable, especially when using lower-resource servers. You can pay by the hour or just opt to pay monthly (the latter is what we do at our agency).

Regardless of the pricing plan you end up going with, you'll get a free 3-day trial with access to nearly all their features. It doesn't require a credit card and carries practically no risk. So if you're on the fence, be sure to check it out!

Here's the starter pricing for Digital Ocean (monthly options). You can start with a server for $14/month and vertically scale instantly. Once your server is set up, if you want to increase your plan you can do so with the click of a button (you just can't go back down so be careful here!)

Vertical Scaling feature for Cloudways hosting (1 click scaling)

Affordable Lower-Resource Servers

If you want to test out Cloudways but don't have the largest budget, you can use the lower resource servers (across a few hosts) for similar prices to other popular hosting providers.

  • DigitalOcean: Starting at just $11/month, DigitalOcean offers a cost-effective solution with 1GB RAM and 25GB SSD storage space.
  • AWS: AWS's entry-level plan begins at $0.0536/hour and includes 2GB RAM along with 20GB SSD storage capacity.
  • Google Cloud: For those seeking another budget-friendly option, Google Cloud also provides plans starting from $0.0520/hour featuring 1.75GB RAM for 20GB of SSD storage.

Small companies can benefit from the dependability and performance of cloud hosting, even on a tight budget thanks to these cost-effective lower-resource servers. As your business grows, you can easily upgrade to more powerful plans or switch between cloud providers as needed.

With the ability to host multiple websites and handle high traffic volume, Cloudways is well-equipped to meet the needs of growing digital businesses.

Multiple Websites & High Traffic Support

One of the standout features of Cloudways is their ability to accommodate multiple websites on a single server. Small business owners managing multiple projects can benefit from the cost-effectiveness of hosting several websites on one server. Most affordable hosting providers limit you to a site per server, regardless of sizing and capacity.

Add an application to a Cloudways server

Handling High Traffic Volumes

In addition to supporting multiple websites, Cloudways excels at handling high traffic volumes without compromising performance. This is due to their integration with top-notch cloud providers like Google Cloud and Amazon AWS. They offer robust infrastructure capable of scaling up quickly when needed.

  • Data Centers: With access to numerous data centers across the globe, you can choose the location that best serves your audience for optimal load times and reduced latency.
  • Caching Layers: The use of advanced caching layers such as Varnish Cache ensures fast loading times even during peak traffic periods.
  • Scalability: Cloudways' pay-as-you-go billing structure means you can easily scale your server resources up or down as needed, ensuring that your website remains responsive and fast at all times.

Having a hosting solution that can manage multiple websites while still performing well under heavy traffic is essential. With Cloudways, small business owners can rest assured knowing their sites can adapt to the influx in volume.

1-Click Website Installations

We work with WordPress a lot, so having a 1-click install is basically required for us to use any type of host. When adding a new application to your server, you can choose from WordPress, WooCommerce, Laravel, Magento, and PHP sites (for everything else)

Choosing PHP Version

The first decision involves selecting a PHP version. Cloudways offers both 7.x and 8.x versions of PHP, with the latter being the latest release; however, compatibility should be verified before selecting a version for use. While PHP 8.x offers improved performance and new features compared to its predecessor, some plugins or themes may not yet be fully compatible with this latest version. Therefore, it's crucial to verify that all components of your site work seamlessly with your chosen PHP version.

Selecting Installation Type

The next step is choosing between a standard WordPress installation or one optimized for WooCommerce. If you plan on running an online store using WooCommerce, opting for the tailored installation can help improve e-commerce functionality and streamline setup processes specific to this platform. If you don't plan to offer any items through your website, a regular WordPress setup should be enough.

Cloudways Alternatives

Truthfully we don't have a specific alternative we could highlight in our review. The reason being, each hosting provider comes with its own unique set of features and strengths. Although most hosts essentially serve the same purpose, they tend to do so with variations in their offerings and implementations.

In the vast landscape of web hosting, it's crucial to consider what works best for your specific needs, as there's no one-size-fits-all solution. So, while Cloudways has a lot to offer, it's always a good idea to explore and compare other hosting providers to make an informed decision that aligns with your requirements and preferences. (Just don't use GoDaddy!)

Final Thoughts

So that's pretty much it! Cloudways fuses potent hosting with adaptable pricing and a remarkably streamlined setup process, resulting in a top-notch hosting provider.

Their WordPress installation options simplify the process of getting your site up and running in no time, making it convenient for both beginners and experienced users. The cloning and staging tools offer an extra layer of support for site maintenance, security, and seamless updates, ensuring that you can manage and grow your website with confidence.

Cloudways is an impressive hosting solution that strikes a perfect balance between power, flexibility, and user-friendly features. It caters to a wide range of users and delivers a reliable, high-performance hosting experience that makes it a top choice for anyone looking to build and manage their online presence efficiently. Remember to claim that no-risk free trial to see if it's right for you. Hope this helped! Have you used Cloudways before? What are your thoughts?

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Written by Justin Gluska
Justin is the founder of Gold Penguin, a business technology blog that helps people start, grow, and scale their business using AI. The world is changing and he believes it's best to make use of the new technology that is starting to change the world. If it can help you make more money or save you time, he'll write about it!
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