Cloudways vs Kinsta: Semi- vs Fully Managed WordPress Hosting

Cloudways vs Kinsta at a Glance

  • Entry plan: DO 1GB RAM
  • Pricing: $10+/month
  • Backups: hourly/daily/weekly
  • Cloud: KVM server
  • Uptime (latest): 99.98%
  • Load time (latest): 388 ms
  • Unmetered monthly visits
  • Unlimited WordPress installs
  • 24/7 platform-level support
  • Money-back: 3-day trial
  • Entry plan: Starter
  • Pricing: $30/month
  • Backups: daily (hourly addon)
  • Cloud: LXC container
  • Uptime (latest): 100%
  • Load time (latest): 328 ms
  • 20,000 monthly visits
  • One WordPress install
  • 24/7 WordPress-level support
  • Money-back: 30-day guarantee
Cloudways

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Introduction: Cloudways vs Kinsta

Two most popular providers of managed hosting in the cloud are Cloudways and Kinsta.

The companies have many similarities. Both Cloudways and Kinsta specialize in hosting PHP applications, Kinsta focusing exclusively on WordPress, Cloudways on WordPress and other PHP scripts. Both have built their platforms on top of reliable cloud providers: Kinsta exclusively on Google, Cloudways on Google, Amazon, DigitalOcean, Linode and Vultr. Both Cloudways and Kinsta are global companies and offer hosting locations on 5 continents. And both were established after 2010 and have grown to employ dozens of professionals over the years.

 CloudwaysKinsta
Founded20112013
SizeMediumMedium
OfficesMalta & PakistanHungary, UK & USA
Data centers~ 60~ 23
Cloudways and Kinsta Server Locations Placeholder
Cloudways and Kinsta Server Locations
  • Blue: Cloudways & Kinsta
  • Black: Cloudways only
  • Red: Kinsta only

At the same time, there are significant differences between Kinsta and Cloudways. These differences refer to pricing, the technology used and the level of management and support. We discuss each of these differences below to help you make an informed choice between Cloudways vs Kinsta.

The main question we ask when comparing Kinsta vs Cloudways is:

Is it worth paying more for fully managed WordPress hosting?

Kinsta’s pricing starts at $30 and includes free WordPress-level support and a fully configured environment for WordPress hosting. Cloudways’ pricing starts at $10 and includes platform-level support only and numerous ways to configure your server.

Cloudways & Kinsta Pricing

The plans by both Kinsta and Cloudways give full access to their respective platforms across all pricing levels.

However, Kinsta’s plans differ significantly in terms of the allowed number of websites and unique monthly visits. We have tested the Starter plan which includes one WordPress install and 20K visits.

Cloudways does not have such restrictions. Its plans differ only in terms of such resources as memory, processor cores and storage. Cloudways’ pricing also depends on one of its five providers.

While it may seem reasonable to use Google for both Cloudways and Kinsta to compare them better, it is not necessarily the case. As we show in a moment, Kinsta’s and Cloudways’ platforms are built very differently (containers vs virtual machines).

Also because one of the main appeals of Cloudways is its affordable pricing, we have chosen one of the cheaper providers (Vultr) for our test site. It is also worth noting that Cloudways offers a free trial only on DO, Vultr and Linode, not Amazon and Google. 

 CloudwaysKinsta
PlanVultr $11Starter
Billing cyclesMonthly (Pay as you go)Monthly & Annual
Regular monthly price$11$30
Regular annual price$11/month$25/month
Credit cardYesYes
PayPalUpon requestNo
Money-back3-day free trial30 days

Cloudways & Kinsta Platforms

The most significant difference between Cloudways and Kinsta is the underlying technology that powers the applications. The basic thing they have in common is that they ensure private – not shared – resources across their plans. But what differs is how they achieve this.

When you purchase a Cloudways’ plan, you essentially get a virtual server, more specifically a KVM-based virtual machine. Practically it means that you get a slice of the cloud infrastructure along with dedicated resources such as RAM, CPU as well as a dedicated IP address. Cloudways automatically installs all the software you may need to run WordPress and other apps. You also get many tools to further tweak your server. That is, you are in control and you decide how many apps to install.

Kinsta also utilizes virtual machines created on top of Google Cloud Platform (GCP). But what you get when you host your WordPress site with Kinsta is a container rather than a server. The technology used to enable private resources for each website is called Linux Containers (LXC). Because Kinsta fully manages the container, you can focus entirely on developing your WordPress site. The number of websites you can host depends on your plan. Regardless of the plan, each website is hosted in an isolated container.

You can see other platform differences between Kinsta and Cloudways below:

 CloudwaysKinsta
Web serverApache & NginxNginx
Database serverMySQL or MariaDBMariaDB
Linux distributionDebianUbuntu
CachingMemcached, Varnish & RedisOPcache, Object & Page Cache
Caching pluginBreezeKinsta MU
CDNCloudwaysCDN ($1/25 GB)KeyCDN (50 GB included)
HTTP/2YesYes
BrotliNoNo
Root accessNoNo
Dedicated IPv4YesNo
Resource isolationYesYes
TechnologyKVMLXC
Limiting factorCPU Cores & RAMMonthly visits
Resource limits1 Core & 1 GB RAM20,000/month
Control panelCustomCustom
Apps / ScriptsWordPress & other PHPWordPress
Backups$0.033 / GBFree daily & Paid hourly
Backup frequencyHourly, daily or weeklyDaily
Backup retentionUp to 4 weeks14 days

Additionally, both Cloudways and Kinsta put a strong emphasis on secure hosting. They implement firewalls, provide free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates and keep the essential software up-to-date, including PHP.


While the differences between Cloudways’ and Kinsta’s platforms are crucial, the real question that matters is how these differences translate into performance. Is Cloudways faster? Is Kinsta more reliable?

Cloudways & Kinsta Performance

We have used HetrixTools to test both Cloudways and Kinsta. We take a closer look at our test sites’ uptime and load time in August 2019.

Uptime: Neither host had any issues with uptime. Kinsta had a perfect result of 100%, while Cloudways had only seven minutes of downtime (99.98% uptime), potentially caused by our use of the website.

Load Time: Similarly, there was a barely visible difference between Kinsta and Cloudways in terms of load times. Kinsta’s average load time in August 2019 was 328 ms, while our site hosted with Cloudways loaded at 388 ms. It is worth noting that we tested Cloudways from six locations (three in the US and three in Europe); therefore, the load times are slightly higher than if we had tested it from three closest locations as we did for Kinsta.

Semi- vs Fully Managed WordPress Hosting

Both Cloudways and Kinsta are perfect for WordPress hosting. However, Cloudways provides what can be called Semi-Managed WordPress hosting, while Kinsta provides Fully Managed WordPress hosting.

The major difference between semi- and fully managed WordPess hosting is certainly the scope of support, with Kinsta delivering WP-level human support and further website assistance such as fixing a hacked website.

But there are plenty of other differences that go beyond the specific cases of Kinsta and Cloudways. These include the number of WordPress installs, server optimizations and, all things considered, pricing.

Semi-Managed WordPress vs Fully Managed WordPress

  • WordPress sites: unlimited
  • Monthly visits: unmetered
  • Apps: WordPress and others
  • Target optimizations: PHP apps
  • All plugins allowed: yes
  • Firewalls: platform-level
  • Content delivery network: optional
  • WP migrations: one free, more paid
  • WP-level support: minimum or paid
  • Money-back: 3-day trial
  • Pricing: lower
  • WordPress sites: limited
  • Monthly visits: metered
  • Apps: WordPress only
  • Target optimizations: WordPress
  • All plugins allowed: no (caching)
  • Firewalls: GCP/hardware-level
  • Content delivery network: included
  • WP migrations: yes (based on the plan)
  • WP-level support: maximum
  • Money-back: 30-day guarantee
  • Pricing: higher

Because Cloudways provides semi-managed WordPress hosting services based on virtual machines, it would be more accurate to compare Cloudways to managed cPanel VPS hosting and other cheap VPS services.

And because Kinsta focuses entirely on WordPress and includes free WordPress-level support, it would be more correct to compare Kinsta to other fully Managed WordPress hosting providers.

Cloudways Pros and Cons

Cloudways Pros

  • Affordable pay-as-you-go pricing
  • Excellent load times
  • Above-average uptime of 99.98%
  • Scalable private resources
  • Cloud server with a dedicated IP
  • Server & app monitoring tool
  • Unlimited WP installs & monthly visits
  • Custom-made control panel
  • In-house WP caching plugin
  • Hourly, daily or weekly backups
  • Free website migration
  • Handy inexpensive addons (e.g. email)
  • Locations on five continents
  • 3-day free trial (DO, Linode & Vultr)

Cloudways Cons

  • Limited or paid application-level support
  • No provider-level uptime guarantees
  • No discounts on long-term billing cycles
  • No free trial on Google & Amazon plans

Cloudways

Kinsta Pros and Cons

Kinsta Pros

  • Perfect uptime of 100%
  • Excellent load times
  • Auto-scaling private resources
  • Custom-made control panel
  • In-house WP caching plugin
  • Free WordPress specific support
  • Support in five languages
  • Hack-fix guarantee
  • Google Cloud Platform firewall
  • Free website migration
  • Premium DNS & CDN included
  • Visitor & data transfer stats
  • Locations on five continents
  • Discount on annual billing cycle
  • 30-day money back guarantee

Kinsta Cons

  • High cost-per-visit ratio
  • Several WP caching & backup plugins not allowed
  • Potential overages (CDN & monthly visits)
  • Ecommerce sites starting $100/month

Kinsta Managed WordPress Hosting

Conclusion: Kinsta vs Cloudways

The most obvious difference between Cloudways and Kinsta is pricing. Without any addons, Cloudways is about three times cheaper than Kinsta. If you add such features as premium DNS and CDN (included with every Kinsta plan), Cloudways will still be at least twice as cheap as Kinsta.

Beyond pricing, you would need to consider how much managed support you may need. If all you need is a managed platform with intuitive tools, Cloudways likely has what you need. If you require WordPress specific support and a hack-fix guarantee, Kinsta is going to be worth the price.

And finally, there are differences in terms of resource limits. Cloudways is a better option if you prefer to be in control of your server and resources, including the number of WordPress installs. Kinsta is a better option if you do not wish to worry about server optimizations and resource limits: your website is hosted in a fully optimized container with auto-scaling resources.


Key Similarities

  • Locations on 5 continents
  • Custom control panel
  • Website staging & cloning
  • In-house caching plugin
  • Very fast load times <399 ms
  • Above average uptime >99.98%
  • Free website migration

Key Differences

  • Pricing: $10+/month
  • Backups: hourly/daily/weekly
  • Cloud: KVM server
  • Unmetered monthly visits
  • Unlimited WordPress installs
  • 24/7 platform-level support
  • Money-back: 3-day trial
  • Pricing: $30/month
  • Backups: daily
  • Cloud: LXC container
  • 20,000 monthly visits
  • One WordPress install
  • 24/7 WordPress-level support
  • Money-back: 30-day guarantee
4.9/5
5/5

Cloudways

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