The subject of today’s review, Cloudways, is a rather unique case. Instead of being an actual web hosting services provider, Cloudways is instead a systems integrator who helps people deploy their solutions on a variety of Cloud platforms.
In other words, they are 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.
Of course, you are making the payment to Cloudways and part of those fees are meant to cover their management services and pay for add on features such as 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.
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While it is true that I have so far encountered good 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.
Cloudways hosting uptime record
This is ideal for developers and/or agencies, or even perhaps companies which are planning to manage several of their own sites separately for some reason. They can offer each of their customers a choice of hosting platform which they can then manage from a single point.
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 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 Cloudflare, Sucuri and MaxCDN (StackPath) and won’t benefit from moving away from those.
There are however other functionalities that come with Cloudways, for example:
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.
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.
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.
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, Cloudflare 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.
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.
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.
Having said the nice things about having support as in the case above, they also have their off days. While in general their live chat staffs are very helpful and knowledgeable, there were not always able to resolve some issues.
Waiting for support via the ticket system is like pulling teeth, except that your teeth will come out faster than you will get help via the ticket you submit. Support tickets can take up to a week to get a response.
Even when the issue is resolved, there is usually silence as to what happened or how it was fixed. That left me with many questions in my mind like; was it my fault? What did they do? Did they mess with something that would break something else I don’t know about?
As with having their own firewall and CDN, Cloudways also comes with caching in the form of their Breeze WordPress plugin. Again, while this may seem like a good thing it is of dubious benefit to seasoned site owners.
I tested Breeze out and found it not exactly to my expectation. In fact, it caused issues with my site on several instances.
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.
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.
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.
|Cloudways + Digital Ocean||Digital Ocean||Cloudways + Vultr||Vultr|
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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.