cloudways-hosting-review

CloudWays Web Hosting Review

CloudWays Review

There are just so many hosting options available these days that finding the right one can be a bit of a chore.

Well, don’t expect things to get any easier with Cloudways!

Why you ask? Because this managed cloud hosting platform also lets you choose between 5 different data center providers.

Each of these providers has at least 10 different plans. And, you can even decide to pay monthly, or hourly. So that’s more than 100+ options to choose from!

For some, it will be a minefield. For others, it’s a great benefit to be able to pick exactly the features they need, like at a web hosting buffet.

So let’s dive in with this review to see who should use Cloudways and who should look elsewhere.

Cloudways Prices

Ok, as mentioned above, the first thing to understand about Cloudways is that you can choose between the five different data center providers: DigitalOcean (which we used for our tests), Linode, Vultr, AWS (from Amazon), and Google Cloud.

Every provider has a minimum of 10 plans, but for simplicity’s sake, I’ll only mention the four key featured plans from each provider. Let’s call them Entry, Standard, Advanced and Pro to make things easier. This is what it looks like in table form:

Entry Standard Advanced Pro
Digital Ocean $10 / month

1GB RAM

1 Core Processor

25GB Storage

1TB Bandwidth

$22 / month

2GB RAM

1 Core Processor

50GB Storage

2TB Bandwidth

$42 / month

4GB RAM

2 Core processor

80GB Storage

4TB Bandwidth

$80 / month

8GB RAM

4 Core processor

160GB Storage

5TB Bandwidth

Linode $12 / month

1GB RAM

1 Core Processor

25GB Storage

1TB Bandwidth

$24 / month

2GB RAM

1 Core Processor

50GB Storage

2TB Bandwidth

$50 / month

4GB RAM

2 Core processor

80GB Storage

4TB Bandwidth

$90 / month

8GB RAM

4 Core processor

160GB Storage

5TB Bandwidth

Vultr $11 / month

1GB RAM

1 Core Processor

25GB Storage

1TB Bandwidth

$23 / month

2GB RAM

1 Core Processor

55GB Storage

2TB Bandwidth

$44 / month

4GB RAM

2 Core Processor

80GB Storage

3TB Bandwidth

$84 / month

8GB RAM

4 Core Processor

160GB Storage

4TB Bandwidth

AWS $35.51 / month

1.75GB RAM

1 vCPU

20GB Storage

2GB Bandwidth

$86.77 / month

3.75GB RAM

1 vCPU

20GB Storage

2GB Bandwidth

$176.26 / month

8GB RAM

2 vCPU

20GB Storage

2GB Bandwidth

$274.33 / month

16GB RAM

4 vCPU

20GB Storage

2GB Bandwidth

Google Cloud $33.63 / month

1.70GB RAM

1 vCPU

20GB Storage

2GB Bandwidth

$75.29 / month

3.75GB RAM

1 vCPU

20GB Storage

2GB Bandwidth

$142.48 / month

7.5GB RAM

2 vCPU

20GB Storage

2GB Bandwidth

$232.80 / month

15GB RAM

4 vCPU

20GB Storage

2GB Bandwidth

Then, don’t forget that you can always go up one level. For instance, with Google Cloud, you can go up to $1332.65 per month. This would give you an insanely performant 120GB of RAM and 32 vCPUs.

(Vultr also has special High Frequency plans, which are slightly more expensive than the ones listed above, but give you extra storage.)

Also, Cloudways is the only affordable provider I know who lets you buy hosting on an hourly basis.

For instance, with DigitalOcean, the entry plan would be $0.0139 per hour; Standard is $0.0306 / hour; Advanced is $0.0583 per hour, and Pro is $0.1111 per hour.

This is obviously best for agencies and resellers that manage client websites, or website owners who know when traffic spikes are coming.

Now I know it’s a lot to take in, so the best place to compare all the prices is probably directly on the pricing page of the Cloudways website.

What can you expect from each Cloudways plan?

This is the nice thing about using Cloudways, they offer all the same features on all plans. So whether you use the cheapest Linode plan or the most expensive AWS, you will get:

  • 24/7/365 Support
  • Free SSL
  • One free migration
  • Unlimited application installation
  • Team management
  • Dedicated firewalls
  • 24/7 real-time monitoring
  • Automated backups
  • Staging environment
  • Optimized with advanced caches
  • Regular security patching
  • HTTP/2 enabled servers
  • SSH and SFTP access

And the main advantage, of course, is that you can use the services from multiple providers without being locked into a contract with them.

There’s just one extra thing worth mentioning about the individual server providers, and that’s the datacenter’s locations:

This can be useful to know in advance if you plan on targeting certain specific markets worldwide. And as you can see, Amazon, for instance, is the only one with data centers in South America.

Cloudways Pros

So with all the above in mind, when exactly does Cloudways shine?

Pros:

  • Flexibility: the main reason to choose Cloudways would be to hop on a different hosting plan whenever it suits your needs, making it a true pay-as-you-go provider. It can be a great solution for website owners that need flexibility and expect traffic peaks.
  • Uptime: all of the hosting options will stay online virtually 100% of the time.
  • Server features: all servers launched on Cloudways have SSD-based hosting, PHP7, and built-in caches, amongst others.
  • Security: The dedicated firewalls and 2FA options are also good.
  • Backups: manually backup your site with their dedicated plugin, or let their system do it automatically on an hourly or daily basis.
  • Server locations: This may depend on the provider you choose, but at least you have the choice and complete control.
  • Collaborators and users: team management is thorough and easy to do.
  • Hourly pay-as-you-go: I can’t think of any other provider that lets you pay for hosting by the hour.

What is Cloudways used for?

Cloudways is definitely geared towards for more tech-savvy users. It’s for businesses who understand their traffic cycles, the kind of performance they need, and where they need to deliver content. Agencies and resellers will know how to make the most of the performance and options.

The performance, by the way, is excellent and ideal for websites that need to auto-scale based on seasonal traffic spikes, like online stores.

The pay-as-you-go nature of their plans can also be a benefit for those who don’t want to commit to a year-long plan with some of the big-name providers out there, like AWS or Google Cloud, or expect peaks of traffic.

Cloudways Backups

The Backup section is easily accessible in the left menu of your main dashboard. As you can see, the main options are to do with the frequency of the backups. It’s nice that you can schedule the timing yourself.

The local backup option lets you create one copy of your site. For some puzzling reason, CloudWays doesn’t let you download it directly from the dashboard – you’ll have to use SSH or SFTP to access it. And more importantly: it isn’t free. CloudWays charges $0.033 per GB of data that you backup offline.

Cloudways Vertical Scaling

One of the key benefits of having so many options is that you can scale your resources based on traffic spikes.

With Cloudways, this is done via what they call “vertical scaling”. You can increase your server size, but also CPU and memory, depending on the provider you have chosen.

It is a cost-effective solution, because you can keep all your data and web applications in one place, without having to migrate anything.

But there are a few things to note:

  • Storage scaling is permanent: so you won’t be able to scale back down if you only want to increase disk size. The workaround is to clone your server and move it to a scaled down plan, then cancel the upgraded one.
  • Scaling will take your server offline: make sure you do it during off-peak hours.
  • Different providers have different options: AWS and Google Cloud let you scale your server CPU and RAM independently. DigitalOcean, Linue and Vultr only let you scale the entire size of your server, including CPU, RAM and disk space.

Testing Cloudways’ hosting

As you can guess, measuring Cloudways’ performance is a bit tricky due to the number of server options. Still, this is what we found from our independent tests.

Uptime tests

Only a few month’s worth of uptime monitoring, but Cloudways did well there, never dropping below the 100% rate.

Note, however, that Cloudways doesn’t offer an uptime guarantee, unlike some of its competitors.

Is Cloudways fast?

Yes! Once again, note that we’ve only used the DigitalOcean data centers, but according to our series of independent tests, the average page loading speed was perfectly acceptable.

Provider Gtmetrix Pingdom Google Speed Average
SiteGround 2.00 0.82 3.48 2.10
Kinsta (3 months) 1.82 0.80 3.88 2.17
WP Engine 2.36 0.9 3.22 2.17
A2 Hosting 2.68 0.90 3.30 2.29
GreenGeeks 2.66 0.82 3.48 2.32
Dreamhost 2.5 1.48 3.08 2.35
Cloudways 2.52 0.66 3.92 2.37
GoDaddy 3.32 0.99 3.20 2.50
HostGator 2.96 1.64 4.32 2.97
Bluehost 3.04 3.76 2.84 3.21
iPage 3.90 1.60 5.20 3.57
Hostinger 2.64 1.98 6.28 3.63
InMotion 3.10 1.38 6.66 3.71

Results in seconds

Remember that with the page loading speed, you’re always aiming under the 3 seconds mark, which is when users start getting frustrated. 2.37 isn’t the fastest, but it certainly does the trick.

Key takeaways: is Cloudways right for you?

Well, if you’ve been confused by any of the more technical terms in this review, such as CDN, staging, or server customization, you should probably look elsewhere. There are simpler alternatives that will host your site with good performance, and much fewer technical options. SiteGround or DreamHost comes to mind.

If you’re after WordPress hosting, CloudWays is good, but there are also alternatives like WP Engine or Kinsta, where you get support and infrastructure built especially for WordPress.

Now, CloudWays is probably one of the better options for managing and getting the most out of a hosting stack. That is if you’re an agency with hundreds of sites in your portfolio, or a reseller, you’ll be able to move sites to the best data centers, hop on a different hosting plan when needed, and use the scaling options to meet the demands of huge traffic spikes.

> Try Cloudways