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Cloudways vs WP Engine – What’s the Better Option?

Cloudways and WP Engine may look different at first glance. After all, Cloudways markets itself as an easy management conduit for various Cloud hosting providers. Meanwhile, WP Engine is often simply seen as super-powerful managed WordPress hosting.

The truth is that both Cloudways and WP Engine do the same thing. While Cloudways offers a choice of several Cloud brands, WP Engine runs entirely on Google Cloud. The latter also focuses on WordPress alone, so you can’t run any other platform.

WP Engine & Cloudways Comparison

In this WP Engine vs Cloudways review, I’ll compare both web hosts in the following:

Company Background

About WP Engine

WP Engine
WP Engine homepage

Claiming to be the number one platform for WordPress, WP Engine targets a niche platform within a niche industry segment. It’s one of a new breed of web hosting companies that is confident in WordPress and builds its entire business around this sole product.

Learn more in our WP Engine review.

About Cloudways

Cloudways homepage

Cloudways follow a more traditional route, but there’s a key differentiator. It somewhat opens the market by simplifying access to a relatively technical side of web hosting. While that comes at a cost, its success seems clear that many want the more significant potential combined with usability.

Learn more in our Cloudways review.

Notable Features: WP Engine vs Cloudways

Based on similar capabilities, Cloudways and WP Engine each have a unique angle and don’t necessarily compete in a head-to-head scenario. Cloudways aims for simplicity and agility, while WP Engine brings more usable and robust infrastructure to WordPress users.

WP Engine Key Features

The eCommerce solutions can help to setup your store easily.
The eCommerce solutions can help to setup your store easily.

The easy way to interpret WP Engine is as a WordPress specialist. However, don’t mistake this for being an easy job. The company is wholly immersed in the WordPress environment and offers more than just what the average blogger needs.

For example, there are specialized WooCommerce hosting variants available. These combine the agility of WordPress with all the features needed for creating super-powerful online stores. Again, the level of detail is in-depth, with specialized plugins available to support the plans.

WP Engine also caters to the enterprise segment, offering premier plans and even support for headless WordPress hosting. “Atlas” comes with deployable dynamic search, dedicated plugins for schema and API, and an open-source content modeler.

These are all rounded up by support teams that are highly skilled at – you got it – WordPress. You won’t have to worry about a level one tech that doesn’t know RAM from ROM and keeps you waiting for days to get a solution.

Cloudways Key Features

Cloudways server monitoring
Server monitoring at Cloudways is quite detailed and helpful.

Cloudways brings two significant benefits to the table in web hosting. The first is the fact that its management dashboard simplifies Cloud hosting tremendously. Imagine getting the power of Cloud (or VPS) and managing it with a few clicks.

My own experience is perhaps the best use-case demonstration of the effectiveness of the Cloudways dashboard. While I’m pretty good with tech, Cloudways helped me create a server, migrate my data, and launch within ten minutes of sign-up. I can’t imagine any non-managed platform allowing that type of speed.

The second notable feature of Cloudways is the availability of choice. Instead of getting stuck with a single service provider, you can choose between Digital Ocean, Linode, Vultr, Amazon Cloud, and Google Cloud.

One feature many smaller websites website owners will love is “Breeze.” Yes, I know it sounds like the brand of some detergent, but it’s not. Breeze is a plugin for WordPress users that helps with caching. It’s super powerful and easy to use, plus highly effective.

Ease of Use

Honestly, there’s not much to consider from a usability standpoint for these platforms. Their whole business depends on the effort they put into this angle. Everything about Cloudways and WP Engine screams ease of use.

WP Engine Ease of Use

WP Engine Dashboard
WP Engine’s dashboard feels like a complete version of a standard web hosting control panel.

WP Engine offers a unified dashboard that helps you manage your entire account. This area is mission control and lets you build, deploy, and manage multiple servers and websites. You can also handle your payments, users, and more.

The best part of this dashboard is that WP Engine’s made it usable for the average Joe. No technical jargon is involved. Well, not that much anyway. If you’re used to a web hosting control panel, this is similar but easier (in my humble opinion).

Even if you don't understand something, there is extensive documentation that can help familiarize you with the dashboard interface. And yes, it includes clear explanations of the few technical terms that WP Engine simply can’t change.

Cloudways Ease of Use

New users may scratch their heads for some parts of the Cloudways dashboard.
New users may scratch their heads for some parts of the Cloudways dashboard.

While Cloudways offers a similarly robust dashboard, I have to say that it isn’t entirely as user-friendly as what’s available at WP Engine. There are some areas I found that clearly could be simplified. For example, will regular users understand the term “Vertical Scaling?”

I managed to get several websites transferred and running within minutes. But I highly doubt this scenario is easily repeatable for a beginner in web hosting. Thankfully, new customers get free migration and hand-holding from Cloudways. After that, it’s just a matter of acclimatization.

However, if you have some hold over the basics, Cloudways does an excellent job of keeping the experience consistent. For example, once you learn it, you can easily create other servers and websites on any Cloud platforms available via Cloudways.

Customer Support

Customer support for many companies seems to be touch-and-go. Perhaps due to the nature of technology, it can be challenging to replicate a consistent experience across an entire userbase. That’s even more so when companies today have such a massive audience.

WP Engine Customer Support

Trustpilot users reviews on WP Engine.
Trustpilot users reviews on WP Engine.

Speaking to individual customers can give a skewed view of certain brands. When assessing companies like this, it helps to cast a wider net. One such net is TrustPilot. Sadly, WP Engine customers seem to be split in their opinion.

While most of their customers seem to feel it’s an excellent service, a fair number also hate them. There’s very little in-between, which indicates some issues going on that may be unseen by the general public.

There is one vital issue in customer support here that needs special mention. As a specialist in WordPress, WP Engine can onboard expert support teams in this niche. That means you are more likely to get the specific assistance needed for your WordPress websites.

Cloudways Customer Support

Trustpilot users reviews on Cloudways.
Trustpilot users reviews on Cloudways.

Cloudways customer service got a first-hand review from Jerry Low (since I haven’t been with them long enough to have many problems). He reports that they’re quick to follow up and able to resolve basic issues rapidly.

They also offer comprehensive support documentation that covers several key areas, including getting started, managing your account, server monitoring, etc. My biggest issue with their documentation is that little of it is helpful when things go wrong.

I also dislike the format it’s presented in, but that’s just me. It probably makes perfect sense to someone else. 

Plans and Pricing: WP Engine vs Cloudways

WP Engine Cloud Pricing

WP Engine Pricing
WP Engine prices start from $20/mo and quickly scale upward.

WP Engine plans are not cheap, especially when taken in context with most other WordPress hosting service providers. While they have several plan categories, the two you’ll most likely focus on are WordPress and eCommerce.

WordPress hosting starts at $20/mo and runs to $193/mo. Anything higher, and it becomes a specially customized plan. If you plan to build an eCommerce website, then plans start from $50/mo and stretch to $233/mo.

There are also other fees you may need to consider if you want to change some parameters. For example, automated plugin updates cost $3/mo, site monitoring $4/mo, etc. These fees can quickly stack up.

Cloudways Pricing

Cloudways pricing
Pricing on Cloudways depends on which cloud platform you choose.

Like WP Engine, Cloudways offers tiered pricing but in a more simplified manner. It follows the traditional route of providing more resources as your plan scales up. Prices vary depending on which Cloud service provider you choose.

The cheapest in the Cloudways stable is Digital Ocean (DO). With DO, you can start with $10/mo. Amazon Cloud and Google Cloud occupy the premium space for those who prefer stronger brands. These start at $36.51/mo and $33.18/mo, respectively.

I’ve run the high-frequency version of DO, which costs $12/mo, and performance so far is pretty great. The only thing I dislike is Cloudways nagging about how my plan is meant for testing rather than to support a production website.

Verdict: Should You Choose Cloudways or WP Engine?

Cloudways and WP Engine both offer highly-capable and robust web hosting plans. Where performance is concerned, I doubt you will have issues with either platform. However, pricing is a significant pain point you should consider with WP Engine.

From high fees to extra charges for almost anything, I feel that using WP Engine can quickly become too painful for most website owners. Unless you run a commercial website, there is no clear incentive to sway you to this platform.

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Article by Timothy Shim

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