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Updated: 2022-08-05 / Article by: Jerry Low
Background: Established in 2011, Cloudways is a systems integrator who helps people deploy their solutions on a variety of Cloud platforms. Cloudways' business model is rather unique – instead of being an actual web server hosting provider, they work as a Platform as a Service (PaaS) provider.
Cloudways offers users a fair choice of various Cloud Platforms ranging from the very affordable Digital Ocean to pricey as heck Amazon Web Services (AWS). This means that actual performance is highly dependent on the platform rather than being the onus of Cloudways.
Because of this unique position that they are in, what we will be looking at more closely than actual performance is how they are setup to help you manage the servers you are paying for. This includes things like dashboard UI design, add on features such as firewall and Content Distribution Network (CDN), and of course, customer technical support.
Who Should Use Cloudways?
Cloudways is ideal for certain businesses – such as SaaS providers, start-ups, developers, or businesses that need more than just an informational website. The flexibility of scale in terms of both server power and data transfer is invaluable for elastic sites that demand agility.
My Experience with Cloudways
I have been using Cloudways for years. At this time of writing I host 3 projects in two servers at Cloudways, including this site (WebHostingSecretRevealed.net) you are reading. Hosting on a Managed Cloud Platform like Cloudways is expensive (they are usually cost 100% – 120% more) but it has many advantages that pure cloud hosting or traditional hosting providers can't give.
In this review, I will demonstrate how things work in Cloudways and share my thoughts about their services in detail.
If you are new to Managed Cloud Hosting environment and wonder if it's right for your website – this review should be a good read.
While it is true that I have so far encountered excellent performance from Cloudways servers this is more a result of the infrastructure providers themselves. Each of them is bound to have their own performance advantages (and maybe quirks too!) so again, it is very provider-dependent.
In my case – I am using Digital Ocean infrastructure and managing it via Cloudways platform.
Cloudways Hosting Uptime
2. Integrated Dashboard
The fees you pay to Cloudways are meant to cover their management services and pay for add on features such as control platforms, service migrations, user dashboards and the like.
Because of this unique position that they are in, what we will be looking at more closely than actual performance is how they are setup to help you manage the servers you are paying for. This includes things like dashboard UI design, add on features such as firewall and Content Distribution Network (CDN), and of course, customer support.
Fortunately I was not disappointed. Cloudways' integrated dashboard is powerful, extremely users-friendly, and it's ideal for developers and/or agencies, or even perhaps companies which are planning to manage several of their own sites separately. They can offer each of their customers a choice of hosting platform which they can then manage from a single point.
Because in each Cloudways account users can purchase and setup multiple servers for their websites and applications – we need a systematical way to group these users work. Cloudways group users' work in three categories: Projects, Servers, Applications. I will demonstrate how their platform works in the following screenshots.
3. Powerful Addons
Back again to the point that Cloudways is an integrator, this also means that each platform can come with its own firewall as well as Content Delivery Network (CDN). This is something that can extremely helpful for new sites on Cloudways, which is again reflective of its usefulness for developers. It can literally be a one-stop-shop for them to push on to clients.
However, there is a caveat to this and that is the fact that seasoned sites wanting to move to Cloudways won’t find that helpful. For example, WHSR is already using its own CDN and firewall hence we won’t benefit from moving away from those.
There are however other functionalities that come with Cloudways, for example:
Easy Cloning / Staging / Server Transfers
Auto and On-demand Backup
4. Easy Scalability
One of the main advantages of Cloud-based hosting is that their plans are extremely scalable. This gives site owners the potential for extreme agility, but normally requires going through support or sales channels.
How much you can scale your resources depends on which platform you opt for when you sign up with Cloudways. Each platform has its own little quirks for scaling. For example, Digital Ocean only allows upward scaling. If you want to scale down, it is a lot more involved.
5. Easy for Collaboration
Cloudways has something it calls a ‘Teams’ feature which lets you add members to a collaborative group. This lets you not just combine members on to a project but also separate their access into distinct groups. For example, you might assign members to support or some others to have Cloud Console access.
6. Managed Security
Again, going back to them being a system integrator, Cloudways takes good care of its accounts by overseeing security management. This takes a very big load off site owners who sign on with them. From 1-click free SSL installation to security patches and 2FA, there is pretty much everything most site would need here.
7. Free Trial
When it comes to a move as significant as that to Cloud Hosting, it always helps for you to see for yourself what to be prepared for. In some ways, Cloudways is even more distinct because of the unified dashboard which can link multiple Cloud Platforms.
This makes their free trial even more attractive and you don’t even need a credit card to sign up for it. The trial gives you complete access to all their features, so you’ll know exactly what you are buying in to if you decide to sign on with them.
Exclusive deal: Get free $10 before you pay anything
8. Free white glove site migration
I tried Cloudways site migration support in January 2019. My WordPress site got fully transferred in less than 2 days – all I did was providing my original account info (domain name, SSH login, cPanel login, etc) and the tech support did all other work. It was a smooth process.
Cons: What I dislike about Cloudways
1. Limited Server Control
This is a topic of debate as to whether it is good or not, but personally I find that the lack of control over servers is inconvenient. Since to date everything I have noticed about the Cloudways environment is leaning towards developers, having those limitations is even more baffling.
Even for something as basic as setting up a cron job, I had to go through Cloudways support staff for assistance. There was a pre-set form to fill out which was useful, but still required me to wait for it to be done – a few days of a wait!
For newbies, this is helpful but for me or even many developers it would be a waste of time – time which many of them would be accountable to their clients for.
Cloudways Plans & Pricing
Because Cloudways is not the infrastructure provider, your Cloudways bill prices (as well as everything else) vary depending on your choice. There is a choice of five main platforms – Digital Ocean, Linode, VULTR, Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform.
In raw pricing alone Digital Ocean comes with the cheapest stepping-off plan at $12 per month with 1GB of RAM, single processor core, 25GB storage and 1TB of bandwidth. However, because these are all Cloud Servers the sky is virtually the limit of what you can scale up to.
Cloudways Pricing Model Explained
Regardless of these hosting prices, it is important to note that whatever platform you sign up with through Cloudways you are paying double of what that provider would charge you if you signed up with them direct. This isn’t a scam, but is the price you pay for the many services Cloudways is providing for your convenience.
The biggest reason to opt for an alternative lies in Cloduways pricing. It’s understandable that expertise, research and development, or even hardware costs money. However, this extra cost does not always bring the most benefit for users.
If you need a powerful web hosting solution, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) model such as Cloudways is not 100% always the ideal fit. Consider your needs carefully and see what alternatives exist in the market before leaping into something you might struggle to get out from.
Cheaper Alternatives to Cloudways
For those who were looking for a cheaper alternatives, below are some popular shared hosting services.
Shared hosting is widely accepted as the entry level hosting option as it requires minimum technical knowledge. Unlike Cloudways, which runs on cloud infrastructure, a shared hosting has very limited ability to handle high traffic levels or spikes. Also, website performance can be easily affected by other sites on the same server.
From personal experience I have found Cloudways to be a mixed experience. The best thing about it for me was in terms of performance on the Cloud infrastructure. It was easy to use and there were a ton of tools already in place.
The experience will differ of course, based on your individual situation as well as which provider or plan you are currently on. I feel that the core is there – the Cloud platform and everything else is a hit or miss depending on need.
Who Should Host With Cloudways?
This platform seems ideal for certain businesses, such as SaaS providers, start-ups, developers, or businesses that need more than just a simple “flyer” website. The flexibility of scale in terms of both server power and data transfer is invaluable for elastic sites that demand agility.
At the same time, they have customer support who are ready to spoon-feed you with solutions to any problems you might have.
My two cents is that Cloudways uptake needs to be carefully considered based on need. I can’t see most simple business sites or blogs requiring this level of power to operate.
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Founder of WebHostingSecretRevealed.net (WHSR) - a hosting review trusted and used by 100,000's users. More than 15 years experience in web hosting, affiliate marketing, and SEO. Contributor to ProBlogger.net, Business.com, SocialMediaToday.com, and more.