Cloudways Review 2020: Best Alternative to Shared Hosting

Cloudways is like no other host. A managed cloud hosting platform, Cloudways is so appealing because of its user-friendly and affordable solution to running WordPress and other PHP applications on a cloud server. Having partnered with such world-class providers as DigitalOcean and Google, Cloudways has blended simplicity with cutting-edge technology.

Starting at $10 a month, its entry plans cost as much as many popular shared hosting options. Unlike shared hosting, Cloudways is about truly dedicated resources and being in control. You decide how many websites to host on your server. And on top of it all, once the free trial is over, you pay as you go without lock-in contracts.

It is this idea of empowering the user – backed by the 24/7 expert support – that has impressed us most about Cloudways. Read our in-depth Cloudways review below.

Table of Contents

Cloudways Review at a Glance

Performance
100%
Features
100%
Transparency
95%

Cloudways

Cloudways Performance

We have been testing Cloudways since December 2018. We have been using HetrixTools to monitor both the uptime and load times of our website with Cloudways. The performance of our New Jersey hosted website has been monitored from six locations: New York, San Francisco, Dallas, Amsterdam, London and Frankfurt.

You can see the latest live results for yourself. Below are the Cloudways test results so far.

2019 Uptime:

99.97%

Average Load Time:

384 ms

Cloudways Features

Much of your experience with Cloudways will be shaped by the choice of the infrastructure provider (and you can select as many as you need). The current options are DigitalOcean, Vultr, Linode, Amazon and Google. The first three are more affordable. Their entry plans each include 1 GB RAM and 1 CPU Core and cost $10 (DO), $11 (Vultr) and $12 (Linode) monthly. Amazon’s and Google’s entry plans cost $36.51 and $33.30, respectively. Once your websites attract more traffic, you can smoothly upgrade to a plan with higher resources.

Cloudways Vultr Plans

Plan Specs

We have been testing the $11 entry plan. We chose Vultr because of our prior good experience with the company. It is worth noting that as a Cloudways customer you do not need an account with any of the providers.

Here are the plan specs in detail.

ProviderVultr
Monthly price~ $11
Annual price~ $132
Recurring pricesame
Domainsunlimited
SSD storage25 GB
Bandwidth1 TB
Email accounts$1/m each
Databasesunlimited
Dedicated resourcesyes
CPU Cores1 Core
RAM Memory1 GB

Technical

Cloudways’ platform has a good balance of pre-configured implementations and advanced options. For example, while Nginx is installed as part of the default web stack, you can control further caching by enabling Varnish, Memcached and Redis. You also have database choices between MySQL and MariaDB, and you can set a PHP version.

Because Cloudways manages your server, there are certain things you cannot control. There is predictably no root access. Cloudways also decides on the operating system, namely Debian (rather than, for example, CentOS – the OS used with cPanel). Somewhat regretfully, each server comes with one dedicated IPv4 and no further IP addresses can be purchased. For the vast majority of users, however, these points would not matter.

It is also crucial to add that, because Cloudways focuses entirely on managed cloud hosting, several non-hosting features are offered at a small fee and as paid addons. This includes automated backups stored offsite on Amazon S3 at a very low cost of $0.033/GB. Optional addons include an email account at Rackspace Email ($1/month per account) and CloudwaysCDN ($1 per 25 GB). These addons are offered for convenience.

See more software specs below.

Control panelCloudways platform
Script libraryCloudways app installer
Web serverApache & Nginx
CacheVarnish, Memchached & Redis
Caching pluginBreeze
MariaDB database serveryes
PHP 7.xyes
HTTP/2yes
SSH (advanced)yes
Let's Encrypt SSLyes
SecurityOS-level firewall
Backup softwareCloudways Backups
Backupshourly, daily or weekly

Essential

Cloudways does not just provide the ultimate technology for the best performance. The company also has strong 24/7 support. We have used both its live chat and ticketing system. From our experience, live chat support is helpful but any issues are better resolved via ticketing. Cloudways goes to great lengths when it comes to server management support but provides only basic application level support such as issues with backups and SSL certificates. It is also worth mentioning that Cloudways has very detailed tutorials, an extensive knowledge base, a community forum and an insightful blog.

Among other essentials, Cloudways offers a free 3-day trial and one free website migration. Because of its hosting model, Cloudways cannot guarantee any third-party’s uptime and ensures service availability only with regard to its platform. Fortunately, Cloudways’ partner cloud providers have excellent SLAs and a good track record.

24/7 supportyes
Knowledge baseyes
Instant setupyes
Free migrationsyes (one)
Uptime guaranteeCloudways platform only
Money back guarantee3-day trial

Open Source

Cloudways supports and embraces open-source software, including Joomla and Magento. Its most popular one-click install app is WordPress. Many server optimizations at Cloudways are aimed specifically at WordPress users. Cloudways has advanced caching that includes Nginx, Varnish, Memcached and Redis. It has also built its own caching plugin called Breeze. And for those migrating to Cloudways, the company has its own WordPress Migrator plugin.

Cloudways is best described as a semi-managed WordPress hosting provider. It is a great choice if you want to be in control of your website’s performance while having all the handy tools (one-click installs, caching, website staging and cloning). Its WordPress-specific support is not as advanced as its server-level support but it still includes such issues as domains, certificates and backups.

Transparency

Whether you are looking for web hosting for personal or business projects, you need a host that you can rely on. This is why we always examine the transparency of the company and its practices.

Company

Cloudways is reasonably transparent about its history and operations. Founded in 2011, Cloudways is a partnership business. Registered in the European Union (Malta), the company appears to operate from several locations, including Spain and Pakistan. Cloudways has grown into one of the larger hosting companies with nearly 100 employees. The key people are Pere Hospital, Aaqib Gadit and Uzair Gadit.

As a management platform, Cloudways does not provide its own data center locations. It relies on the data centers of its five infrastructure partners. Combined, there are about 60 worldwide locations to choose from. Some of these locations include Newark (Linode), Paris (Vultr), Bangalore (DO), Sao Paulo (AWS) and Taiwan (GCE).

Pricing

The pricing is generally transparent. The charges are based on the resources used. You can see real-time billing from within the console. There are no lock-in contracts and you pay as you go. You can add funds to your account or you can have your card charged monthly. Cloudways accepts all major credit cards, and PayPal is available upon request.

Cloudways Real-Time Billing

Cloudways Review in a Nutshell

4.9/5

Having eliminated the infrastructure management costs and having focused on just a few applications (particularly WordPress), Cloudways has built an elegant product. Its next-gen platform comes with unparalleled tools and optimizations. Both feature-rich and user-friendly, it is perfect for e-commerce websites, agencies, bloggers and developers alike.

The benefits and limitations of Cloudways are best understood in comparison with shared hosting. Shared hosts ensure these days that your account is isolated from other accounts on the server. With Cloudways, you get your own server. As a result, your websites are much faster and more secure. For new Cloudways users, there is admittedly some learning curve. The platform is, however, intuitive and there are plenty of direct links to the knowledge base articles. You would hardly need much more technical knowledge to use Cloudways compared to shared cPanel hosting.

Cloudways is therefore one of the best hosting solutions today. Because of its low pricing and dedicated resources, it is the best alternative to shared hosting as well as managed cPanel VPS hosting.

We are impressed with the value you get when you use Cloudways. Specifically, what we love about Cloudways is affordable prices, astonishing server performance, a simple backup system, and a choice of 5 leading cloud providers and some 60 data center locations.

Cloudways

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