Cloudways is a hosting provider that offers managed cloud hosting for your website. In this article, I will be taking a closer look at Cloudways’ pricing, ease of use, performance, security, and customer support.
Cloudways emerged as a Cloud hosting provider not so long ago. But it isn’t offering traditional hosting. It’s actually offering a service that sets up and manages servers from top cloud hosts like Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, and DigitalOcean.
VPS is notorious for being difficult to use if you have no technical background. Well, Cloudways comes in, sets up a single server for you, and gives you an interface that’s as easy to use as with any shared web hosting. As an idea, it sounds great. The catch is that you have to pay more than usual.
Pros and Cons of Cloudways
- Very stable and fast VPS hosting
- Easy VPS hosting management
- Relatively low prices starting at $8.25/month
- No initial prepayments or price increases
- Loads of server locations to choose from
- Pricier than the original provider’s prices
- Basic security tools
- Email hosting comes for an extra cost
- No domain registration option
Cloudways offered plans start at $8.25/month and can go as high as thousands of dollars a month. While it’s a huge gap, it can be explained by the different amounts of disk space, bandwidth, CPU, and RAM each service provider includes.
Each hosting solution has its own pricing but the base features in the basic plans are the same – SSLs are free, unlimited daily backups, and you can host unlimited websites or apps.
|1 Core Processor, 1GB RAM, 25GB SSD, 1TB bandwidth.
|1vCPU Processor, 3.75GB RAM, 20GB SSD, 2GB bandwidth.
|1vCPU Processor, 2GB RAM, 20GB SSD, 2GB bandwidth.
As you can see, the main difference is the server location, but the base resources are quite similar for each provider. Also, features like basic security measures, customer service, or unlimited application installation are included in all plans no matter the provider.
Now the main question is, what is the difference between the original providers’ price and Cloudways? The same base resources with DigitalOcean would be noticeably cheaper than with Cloudways. However, the higher cost comes from added convenience – Cloudways sets up and deploys the server for you. You also get a control panel with numerous useful tools. So in my opinion, it looks like a good option so far.
Talking about premium solutions, the Google Cloud Platform and AWS tend to be even pricier, so if you wish to find something similar for less, check out our lists of AWS alternatives and the best cheap hosting providers.
Now when you make the purchase, you get to choose a server provider, the server’s location, and your server size. No extra stuff in your cart, just the price you see at the bottom.
If you need a little bit more power for a couple of days, you can scale up for that period. Once you don’t need the additional resources, you can go back to the regular plan. At the end of the month, you’ll be charged for what you’ve used – extra resources will only be added for the time that you’ve used them.
Now that we are on this topic, I think that such billing is super budget-friendly.
- You don’t need to pre-pay – no huge stress on your bank account initially.
- You always know what you’re paying for.
- If a busy period comes, you can instantly increase your server resources and decrease them just as quickly after.
More so, Cloudways offers a 3-day free trial that does not require credit card details. It’s a convenient and risk-free way to test if the provider meets your expectations.
Honestly, the pricing department is the strength of Cloudways. They do charge more for added simplicity, but the billing concept and the possibility to scale up and down whenever is just amazing. Not to mention the absolutely free 3-day trial.
Hosting management – Is Cloudways easy to use?
Cloudways hosting uses its own in-house developed panel to manage the servers/applications. The panel itself is clean and comprehensive. Plus, the setting up of the website and installation of SSL certificates is beyond easy. The only thing that may be a little tricky – especially for beginners – is pointing your domain to the server.
What does the Cloudways control panel look like?
Once you are done with verification, this is what the main dashboard looks like:
You do have to wait a few minutes for your server to be added. In my case, I waited around 7-8 minutes.
But this is one of the interfaces you’ll be working with. And it’s straightforward. There’s a flick at the top where you can see either your server(s) or applications.
I can even see WordPress pre-installed for me in the “Applications” window, as I have selected it during the purchase.
But you might want to have more than one site, and there are other steps involved in setting up a professional website. So let’s quickly go through installing an app, setting up a domain name, installing SSL, and creating a professional email account.
How to install WordPress on Cloudways?
While not strictly one-click, the process of installing a new application like WordPress is one that you can do even while being blindfolded.
Head to “Applications” and click on “+ Add Application.”
The list of applications is quite limited – WordPress, WordPress+WooCommerce, Magento, Laravel, and “custom PHP app.” The last one means that you can install any PHP-based app, but you’ll have to do that manually. For me, it looks like an unfinished tool as other hosting providers are capable of offering hundreds of apps automatically.
Thankfully, WordPress is there, and it is the primary choice for many users.
In any case, just choose the wanted application from the list and it will be installed and will appear in the “Applications” section.
How to add a domain name to Cloudways?
To add a domain to your Cloudways-hosted application, you’ll need to point that domain to your server. That’s because Cloudways does not sell or provide domain names. It doesn’t even have its own name servers.
As tricky as it sounds, it’s actually very simple. But to do this successfully, you have to have these things:
- A domain name in any registrar that you like (e.g. GoDaddy, NameCheap, Uniregistry, Hostinger, etc.),
- Possibility to log in to that domain registrar,
- Find your Cloudways server IP address (it’s written in the “Servers” window by your server name).
Head to “Your Application” and select “Domain Management.” Insert your domain of choice here. As for me, I purchased a domain, specifically for this purpose.
Once you have added your domain, click “Save Changes.”
However, for your domain to actually work, you will need to point that domain to the server. For that, you will need to create an A record with your registrar.
I know this all sounds complicated, but in the end, all you’ll do is copy your server IP address, log in to your registrar, find the A record field, and paste that IP address. Don’t forget to save changes! For very detailed instructions, you can start with this article.
It can take anywhere from a few minutes to 48 hours for the DNS to be propagated. For me, it took about half an hour. Which is not too bad.
How to install an SSL certificate on Cloudways?
To Install an SSL certificate with your Cloudways hosted website, you will only need a minute or two. You’ll find the SSL management area under your Application settings in the “SSL Certificate” tab.
All you have to do is choose a certificate – Let’s Encrypt is the free one. Then, enter your email address and domain that you want to protect. Once you click “Install Certificate”, it will be activated in a couple of minutes.
The process of installing an SSL with Cloudways is simple and free. You should do that first thing when creating a website. SSL is what keeps your visitors’ data secure as well as makes your website look professional. You know that little lock symbol in the search bar by the domain name. Yeah, this is it.
How to create a professional email with Cloudways?
Unfortunately, Cloudways does not have its own email service. However, it has Rackspace service integrated and you can get a professional email with them for $1 per mailbox a month.
To start with, simply find the “Add-ons” tab and click on it.
Here you’ll find every add-on available with Cloudways including “Rackspace Email.”
You can add your own email account by clicking on the little “Pencil” icon on the right.
All that you have to do now is create a name for your mailbox and think of a strong password.
Don’t forget to use your domain name – e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org for a more professional look. And that’s it. You’ll be able to use your new mailbox after clicking “Save Changes.”
All in all, Cloudways is easy to use. The only tricky part could be domain management. But even that has a very detailed tutorial, and you can always ask customer support for help. Other than that, Cloudways makes VPS as easy as shared hosting and does that with class.
Performance – is Cloudways fast?
I can confidently say that Cloudways has great performance, especially considering the price that you pay. It aced all the tests I’ve put it through – reliability, speed, and stress. The provider’s stability, speed, and ability to handle traffic spikes are exactly what you’d expect VPS hosting to deliver. For my tests, I was using the cheapest DigitalOcean server.
Cloudways uptime and response time
In terms of reliability and server speed, Cloudways is almost flawless. In 6 months, it was up for 99.98% of the time, which is a great result.
Unfortunately, 2 outages that happened were quite significant and totaled 41 minutes of total downtime. I’m still undecided on whether it’s better to have more but shorter downtimes or a couple of major ones – in any case, some downtime is unavoidable and it will happen even with the most expensive of servers.
Speed-wise, the server was as quick to react as you can expect from any high-performance server. 229ms average server response time puts shared hosting results that are usually around 400-600ms to the sunset.
When talking about speed, Cloudways demonstrated very, and I mean very good results. When tested from the US, where my server resides, the site loaded in 358ms (Largest Contentful Paint). That’s actually one of the best results I’ve ever seen.
Based on Google’s recommendations of keeping sites LCP lower than 2.5s, this site is doing beyond okay. Even in faraway locations such as India.
For the same price range, you usually get 0.5s or 0.6s at best with performance-focused shared hosting providers. This shows that virtual private servers can beat shared hosting any day of the week.
When I installed my regular demo website content and ran GTMetrix again, Cloudways kept on impressing me further. Even though LCP increased to 759ms, the Fully Loaded Time is just 0.9s. For best user experience, this time should be under 3 seconds. Cloudways barely needed a 1/3 of that.
Realistically speaking, if your site is on the smaller end, you could get quite similar results with shared hosting plans. An example of that could be Hostinger, which offers a plan for as low as $2.69/month. So why would I pay $11 for Cloudways to offer something only slightly better? Oh well…
But the reason behind this is actually way more logical than you’d think. Cloudways simply does not have as many tools built-in to optimize websites. Meanwhile, Hostinger adds a bunch of stuff to spin them faster. So Cloudways is a fast hosting by default and you can make it even faster by turning on the caching and activating other speed optimization features. Just imagine the speed then…
Cloudways stress testing
To test how well Cloudways can handle the traffic, I’ve sent 50 virtual visitors to the site. And the stress test results are the most beautiful ones (nerd alert, who thinks graphs are beautiful???) I’ve ever seen. They really prove just how capable Cloudways is.
As you can see, the blue line (speed) is super straight. No excessive jumping up and down, meaning the speed did not change when more visitors (grey line) joined in.
This is a perfect result, and there’s no other way to describe it. Cloudways will handle as much traffic as you need it to. No slowdowns whatsoever.
All in all, Cloudways’ performance is as stable and fast as you would expect from the VPS server. It is very fast by default and with few additional tools can be made even faster.
What makes Cloudways fast?
One of the main reasons that make Cloudways fast is that they use VPS from top providers in the industry. But that’s just part of the story, and it is possible to make Cloudways even faster.
- One immediate VPS advantage over shared hosting is that you get dedicated resources. Using advanced virtualization processes, the server is cut into virtual pieces. It’s like getting a dedicated server, but much cheaper. This maximizes the potential and performance of your server.
- As Cloudways uses the servers from different providers, you get to make a choice on where you’d like your server to be located. Each provider has at least 8 locations all across the globe so you can get as close to your visitors as possible.
- Together with server location choice, you can also opt-in for Content Delivery Network services. If your visitors are scattered across the globe, CDN will cache your website’s content across different servers around the world. Cloudways CDN costs $1 per 25GB.
- The company offers Breeze – a free in-house caching plugin. This plugin is developed to optimize WordPress websites. It is pre-configured on your WordPress website and is activated automatically on your WordPress. Alongside standard caching, you can also configure it to minify and group files to reduce file size.
To see other providers that offer incredible VPS hosting, check out our list of best VPS hosting providers.
Altogether, Cloudways’ performance is top-notch. Well, that’s mostly thanks to the providers that Cloudways is partnering with. Nonetheless, you’ll get exceptional reliability and speed for your website.
Security – is Cloudways secure?
When it comes to security, Cloudways isn’t the most bulletproofprovider. Although it does come with some extremely practical security features like SSL certificates, firewalls, automatic backups, two-factor authentication, and bot protection.
- SSL certificates – Every one of Cloudways’ plans comes with a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate. You can set it up via its one-click installation. Besides that, Cloudways also offers a free Let’s Encrypt Wildcard SSL certificate. This allows you to secure your root domain and all subdomains with a single certificate.
- Firewall – All of Cloudways’ servers are protected by OS-level firewalls. This helps to filter out malicious traffic and keep out intruders. What these firewalls do is allow access only to specific ports that are necessary for the applications to function properly. Besides that, Cloudways also offers a paid option: Sucuri Website Security Firewall (WAF), with prices starting from $149.99/year. Also, there are server providers like DigitalOcean or AWS that do have their own security measures in place.
- Bot protection – Cloudways has partnered up with MalCare to offer application-level security protection. Bot protection aims to identify and block all suspicious or malicious traffic like Brute Force, Dictionary attacks, and DDoS to the site. More so, it helps to reduce server resource usage on WordPress applications this way. Just make sure it’s activated. You can find “Bot Protection” in your Application Management menu.
- Automatic backups – Cloudways performs automatic backups at no extra charge. You can even set the schedule for your backup frequency to hourly, daily, or weekly. Plus, on-demand backups are available, too. So if you need to restore your website, you can do so via its one-click restore. For an additional cost, offsite backups are available too.
- Two-factor authentication – Regular password protection is proving to be less and less effective, therefore two-factor authentication is crucial for the website’s security. It guarantees that whoever is trying to access your site will be met with an additional layer of security – a code only you have access to.
All things considered, Cloudways does seem to take security seriously. It offers quite a range of security options to protect the website against the most common threats. Just don’t expect anything too fancy.
Will Cloudways customer support help me?
Cloudways offers several support options, the main ones being 24/7 live chat and online ticketing. If you have an advanced or premium support add-on, you can also contact it through the 24/7 Slack channel and phone. Besides that, Cloudways also has a rich knowledge base and a community forum.
You can quite easily get in touch with customer support by clicking on the “Need a Hand?” box on the right of any page in your control panel. However, before you can chat with a human customer support agent, you will first need to chat with a bot. When you want/need to immediately fix your issues, this is a tad bit annoying. But oh well. Welcome to the future!
In fact, if the chatbot has the option “Guide Me,” and with that you can even get instructions on how to perform a certain task right on the live chat window.
Helpful? Yes, for simple tasks it can be more efficient than scrolling through a vast knowledge base.
But I had more questions and desperately wanted to talk to some real people. After seeing a ton of Cloudways reviews that say how AMAZING the support is, I wanted to experience it firsthand.
And my experience was bittersweet.
The agent joined in a couple of minutes, which is great. To begin with, the interaction went amazingly well. We got through some pleasantries, and I got an answer to a simple question about SSLs. Then I wanted to know more about vertical scaling.
I got a very vague answer, something about cloning. I asked for more details.
The agent took their time and provided me with an elaborate answer. Well, they are not writers, so I won’t judge coherency there. So I decided to dig deeper. And bumped my head into a wall.
After asking a billing-related question that I thought was easy, the agent did not answer. They just suggested that I transfer to the billing department.
So it’s bittersweet. I kind of got my initial questions answered, although it did feel like I was bothering the agent. Then they took the first opportunity to get rid of me. The agent was polite and all that. But it definitely isn’t the experience described in all those Cloudways reviews. Which makes me question if they are legit.
Anyway, you’ll get help from Cloudways, but don’t expect it to be this super-friendly-amazing experience where they do all the stuff for you. Uh-uh, for that, go to Hostinger.
By the way, live chat or tickets are not the only options. You can also use the knowledge base or community forum.
The knowledge base is just great. It covers many topics from getting started to more advanced stuff. Tutorials there are easy to follow.
The community forum has some interesting topics as well, although it’s not super active. I guess, it will get so once more users start using Cloudways.
As a whole, Cloudways’ customer support is okay. Agents are helpful and polite but they won’t go out of their way to help you and more than likely use the first opportunity to say goodbye. However, the knowledge base is seriously good and you’ll find most of your answers there.
Cloudways – for workflow management
Cloudways provides a couple of extra useful tools for managing your workflow and a team if you work with more than one person. You can easily create multiple staging environments to match your needs, as well as assign different roles and permissions to an unlimited number of people.
One of Cloudways’ most popular and handy features is its staging environment. The provider allows you to create as many of your site’s copies for staging as you need. The actual process is also pretty straightforward.
You just need to find the application of which you want to create a staging copy and after clicking on 3 dots, select “Clone App/Create Staging.”
You’ll be able to choose where to create the environment if you have multiple servers and it will be created in less than a minute.
If you want to be able to push the changes to the original site – check that “Create as Staging” box. Otherwise, you’ll create a clone which is just a second website.
To manage the staging environment, simply click on its name and the new window will open.
This is an application management area, almost the same as for your live website. The difference – “Staging Management” tool. To pull (from the live version) or push (to the live version) the changes, all you have to do is click one button.
While extremely helpful, staging is not something offered by every provider. Therefore, Cloudways’ allowance for unlimited staging environments is definitely one of its bigger appeals. Plus, the fact that you can push changes to the live site with just a click only serves to sweeten the pot.
Team – access manager
To facilitate collaboration, Cloudways allows you to add team members to your account. This nifty feature is particularly useful if you work closely with other developers, employees, companies, or clients.
With this feature, you can add team members and assign them different roles on your servers and applications.
On top of that, you can also configure permissions to allow the team members either full or limited access. This way, you can work closely with them without compromising security.
All things considered, both staging and teams are great features designed for the convenience of website development. Staging is irreplaceable if you’re constantly tweaking your site while Teams is great for collaborating with multiple people.