Cloudways Review

Reviewed by: Jerry Low . .
  • Review Updated: Aug 03, 2021
Cloudways
Plan in review: Cloudways DO
Reviewed by: Jerry Low
Rating:
Review Updated: August 03, 2021
Summary
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.

What is Cloudways?

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 hosting services provider, they work as a Platform as a Service (PaaS) provider.

The company 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 services 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 service.

About Cloudways, the Company

  • Headquarters: Mosta, Malta
  • Established: 2011
  • Services: Managed Cloud-based Hosting, Application deployment, Infrastructure management

My Cloudways Review Summary

Cloudways Exclusive Deal: Get Free $10 Credit

Special deal for WHSR readers – You'll get $10 credit if you use promo code “WHSR10” during signup.

Cloudways exclusive offer
Apply promo code “WHSR10” to get free $10 hosting credits with Cloudways (click here to signup now).

 

 


 

Pros: What I like About Cloudways

1. Impressive Performance – Fast and Reliable

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

Cloudways Uptime for May, June, July 2021
Cloudways Uptime for May, June, and July 2021: 100%, 100%, and 99.93%. July downtime is partly affected by a scheduled maintenance. I have been hosting with Cloudways for years – in overall, their server performance has been great. However do keep in mind that Cloudways does not own their infrastructure. Test site is actually hosted at Digital Ocean and managed via Cloudways.

 

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 services 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 service.

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.

cloudways platform
Projects are logical groups of servers and applications that are somehow related (through campaign, department, geographical location, etc.). It is a convenient way to organize your account if you have many servers and applications. When you first get started with Cloudways – login to your dashboard and add your first project by navigating to the “Projects” tab.
Demo - Cloudways Platform - Adding a Server
Once you have added a project to your account, move on to purchase your first server and deploy an application. In this screenshot I am purchasing a Linode server and deploying a WordPress application on to it. Note that the monthly hosting fee is shown at the bottom of your page. Click “Launch Now” when ready.
Demo - Cloudways Platform - Adding a Server
You'll get different server customization for different infrastructure providers. For Linode, Vultr, and Digital Ocean – the server packages are rather fixed and you only get to choose the storage size and server locations. You'll get more options with Google Cloud Platform and Amazon AWS where your bandwidth, server storage size, database size, and server location are customizable.
Cloudways Platform Demo
Once your server and applications are configured, you can navigate and manage them using the top navigation tabs. Under “Servers” – you'll get to manage Master Credentials, monitor server usages, scaling up (or down) your server, run full server backups and restoration, and basic server security setup.
Cloudways Platform Demo
Under “Applications” – You'll get to link your project to a domain name, backup and restore your database, run cron jobs, monitor apps activities, install SSL certificates, and setup Git deployment. This is also where you can add new team members' access if you are working in a team.
Manage core services for each server using the “Servers” page.

 

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) services. 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

Server Cloning at Cloudways
At Cloudways platform server cloning, server transfer, or application staging setup all can be done within a few clicks. These features are especially useful for developers or agencies.

GIT Ready

Automated Git deployment (plug deployment logs) – I tested deployment via GIT and it works like charm.

Server Monitoring

Server monitoring at Cloudways – Simple chart to determine when it's the right time to upgrade.

Auto and On-demand Backup

There are two types of backup at Cloudways – both features were included in all standard Cloudways accounts. A full server backup – which allows you to backup your entire server in a few clicks; or you can backup or restore a particular application in your server. In this screenshot I am showing the Application Backup & Restore Page. This is where you can easily create an on-demand backup for the application by clicking the “Take Backup Now” button; or to restore your application by clicking “Restore Application Now” button.

 

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.

vertical scaling at cloudways
To scale up your server, go to Servers > Vertical Scaling > Select the desired Server Size.

 

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.

Cloudways Team feature allows you to create Team member(s) with different levels of access to your account, servers and applications.

 

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

Cloudways exclusive offer
Apply promo code “WHSR10” to get free $10 hosting credits with Cloudways (click here to signup now).

 

8. Free white glove site migration

I tried Cloudways site migration service 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.

Cloudways site migration service rocks!

 

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

Cloudways Pricing
Cloudways Plans & Pricing (checked August 2021).

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 service 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 $10 per month with 1GB of RAM, single processor core, 25GB storage and 1TB of bandwidth. However, because these are all Cloud services 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.

Examples

DigitalOcean (DO)Cloudways + DOVultrCloudways + Vultr
Plan 1$5/mo$10/mo$5/mo$11/mo
Plan 2$10/mo$22/mo$10/mo$23/mo
Plan 3$20/mo$42/mo$20/mo$44/mo

 

 

Cloudways Alternatives

Cloud hosting is not necessarily superior to VPS hosting since there is also the possibility of white-glove scaling with a good VPS service provider. VPS plans can also be cheaper than Cloud plans (which means much cheaper than Cloudways). These are the factors you should consider when deciding on switching to Cloudways.

Similar (but Cheaper) Solutions

ScalaHosting Managed VPS as Cloudways Alternatives
ScalaHosting Managed VPS Plans as cheaper alternatives to Cloudways (click here to order).

ScalaHosting offers similar service like Cloudways with their “Managed Cloud VPS Plan”. Equipped with in-house developed software (SPanel and SShiled) and Digital Ocean infrastructure – Scala is selling the same server capacity at a much cheaper rate. As we are getting the same infrastructure from the same provider – it seems no-brainer to go with the cheaper option.

Traditional VPS Hosting

Interserver and InMotion Hosting are two sources of traditional VPS hosting. Both of them offer various tiers of VPS plans that are quite as capable as Cloud hosting plans. For example, SiteGround VPS hosting starts at 2 CPU cores with 4GB of memory and can go up to 4 cores with 8GB memory at $80/mo (same price with DO similar plans at Cloudways).

Cloud Hosting with cPanel

Hostinger and TMDhosting both have shared hosting based on Cloud technology. The former is especially interesting because it allows entry to Cloud hosting at fantastic prices starting from as low as $7.45 per month with 2 CPU cores and 3GB of memory.

Also read – 10 outstanding alternatives to Cloudways

 

 

Verdict: Is Cloudways Right for You?

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.

Yet at the same time, I miss the control I get to have with traditional VPS hosting.

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.

 

About Jerry Low

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.