If you are looking for WordPress hosting that will double your speed for half the price as other popular hosting competitors, then this Cloudways review is for you.
Cloudways continually shows up as the best managed cloud hosting for WordPress no matter where you search. Nearly every Facebook poll you see on reputable Facebook groups shows Cloudways hosting as being the best WordPress hosting for the money while also giving you extreme performance, unlike shared hosting.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with shared hosting, especially for those just starting out. But once you’re ready to take your site to a new level in performance without breaking the bank, then Cloudways hosting is for you.
In this Cloudways review, I’ll answer some of the most common questions you may have about Cloudways along with a Cloudways setup tutorial to get you quickly on your way to a new speedy-fast website.
Check out the Cloudways review + full walkthrough guide below:
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Cloudways Review Overview
|Ease of Use||★★★|
|Overall:||4.5 / 5|
What is Cloudways?
First of all, you may be wondering “What is Cloudways?”
For starters, Cloudways is a managed cloud hosting platform that guarantees unmatched performance and reliability for the best value while offering 24/7 support and live chat.
Cloudways works by hooking up their services to your choice of five top cloud providers – DigitalOcean, Linode, Vultr, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Cloud.
The cloud providers you choose from supply the infrastructure for your hosting and then you pay a small fee each month for Cloudways to use their platform which makes things MUCH easier to manage and Cloudways then provides support as well.
Could you go directly through these cloud providers for hosting? Yes, but then you would have to do every bit of server management yourself.
If you’re anything like me and don’t want to spend countless hours learning how to do server admin type work, then paying a little bit more by going through Cloudways will be worth every penny (and then some).
All you have to do to get started with Cloudways is sign up, choose your application, choose your server, and choose your server size. I go over all this in the Getting Started with Cloudways section near the end of this Cloudways review.
Within minutes, your server and application will be spun up and Cloudways even hooks you up to a temporary domain so you have a fully working site right off the bat. Easy peasy!
Unlike shared hosting, using cloud hosting gives you a number of noticeable advantages in multiple areas such as better performance, reliability, and security.
With that, you may also be wondering “What is the difference between cloud hosting vs shared hosting?”
Well, shared hosting is when multiple websites are on a single server sharing resources, hence the name “shared” hosting.
This means that multiple websites are all thrown onto the same server and so they are all competing for a limited amount of resources. Although this generally makes things cheaper for the user, it can also mean your website’s performance is throttled.
Cloudways, on the other hand, gives you a dedicated server for your website. This means that your website isn’t competing with other websites for resources. Even better, you are only paying for the resources you use.
Since you’ll have your own dedicated server running your website(s) and aren’t sharing resources with a bunch of other websites, your performance will drastically increase.
You will be able to see the massive improvements in performance when using cloud hosting in the next Speed Performance section.
Cloudways Speed Performance
Easily one of the biggest perks you’ll get by using Cloudways (or switching to Cloudways from another hosting provider) will be the ultra-fast performance.
Not only will your website load faster, your WordPress admin area (backend) will FLY.
Honestly, this was one of the first things I noticed after setting up a new Cloudways trial. The admin area was so fast that I thought I was working with a local version of WordPress.
You don’t realize how nice it is to have a screaming fast WordPress admin area until you actually experience it. Once you do, you won’t want to go back.
Switching between pages and posts, saving your drafts, installing plugins, installing updates… all of it is so much faster than I was getting with shared hosting.
Cloudways gives you five cloud hosting service options to choose from:
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Google Cloud
As I mentioned earlier, Cloudways works by hooking up their platform directly with these five cloud providers which make managing a breeze compared to doing it yourself.
The best performance for the money would be a Vultr HF (High Frequency) server. It’s only $13/month to start and is what I personally use.
I explain the pricing differences in more detail in the Cloudways Pricing section coming up next, but it’s really hard to beat the incredible performance you’ll get out of a Vultr HF server at only $13/month.
Cloudways announced the Vultr HF option in August of 2020, so it’s one of the latest server options they offer. Its popularity has been skyrocketing, and reasonably so.
To show Cloudways speed performance, I decided to get two new domains and run three different speed tests using GTMetrix.
I wanted to include some variation between the three tests to show that Cloudways will provide lightning-fast speeds using the default Cloudways setup (especially when not using Elementor).
For Test 1, this is to show you the speed you can expect with a new site on a Cloudways Vultr HF server.
All three of the Cloudways speed tests are using my favorite lightweight and feature-packed theme on the market right now, the Kadence theme (which Start Blogging 101 is also using).
The first test is using no page builders and no WooCommerce, but it is using the default Breeze optimization plugin that Cloudways has enabled by default.
For Test 2, I wanted to throw a beefier setup at a Cloudways Vultr HF server and see how it handled it.
For the second test, I imported a “Print Store” starter template from the Kadence Starter Templates plugin which is using no page builder (only Gutenberg which is the WordPress block editor), Kadence Blocks, and WooCommerce. I disabled the default Breeze optimization plugin so I could get the raw performance numbers with no front-end optimization.
For Test 3, I imported the same “Print Store” starter template from Kadence as Test 2, but this version included the Elementor page builder instead of Gutenberg. It also included WooCommerce and then, just like the second test, I disabled the default Breeze optimization plugin to get the raw performance numbers with no front-end optimization.
So, the second and third tests are full-blown WooCommerce sites with a landing page all built with either Gutenberg or Elementor. For those that don’t know, these types of sites usually score very poorly in speed tests. Let’s see how Cloudways holds up.
Here are the Cloudways speed test results:
|Cloudways Speed Test||Test 1||Test 2||Test 3|
|Hosting Server||Vultr HF||Vultr HF||Vultr HF|
|TTFB||165 ms||124 ms||153 ms|
|Largest Contentful Paint||466 ms||0.9 s||1.9 s|
|Total Blocking Time||0 ms||133 ms||226 ms|
|Cumulative Layout Shift||0||0.01||0.03|
Cloudways Speed Test 1 – New website with one blog post (GTMetrix):
Cloudways Speed Test 2 – Full-blown WooCommerce site built with Gutenberg (GTMetrix):
Cloudways Speed Test 3 – Full-blown WooCommerce site built with Elementor (GTMetrix):
WOW! Look at those numbers.
One of the most important numbers to look at first is the TTFB (Time To First Byte) which is 165 ms in Test 1, 124 ms in Test 2, and 153 ms in Test 3.
You definitely want to shoot for under 200 ms TTFB if you can and that’s very easy to achieve when hosted with Cloudways using a Vultr HF server.
I’ve run tests on a lot of sites hosted with Cloudways, and I can say that the TTFB is usually anywhere between 100-200 ms consistently every time.
SiteGround shared hosting, on the other hand, will usually yield around 250-300 ms based on my speed tests. This makes Cloudways about twice as fast when it comes to TTFB due to having your own dedicated server and is one of the big advantages cloud hosting has over shared hosting.
As if the TTFB wasn’t impressive enough, the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) for Test 1 is only 466 ms which is one of the lowest numbers I’ve seen, even lower than many “empty” sites that only have text on them and no plugins.
In Test 2 on the full-blown WooCommerce site using Gutenberg, the LCP was only 0.9 seconds. Considering I did not have any front-end optimization plugin enabled, that is very fast. That’s the power of a Cloudways Vultr HF server.
Talk to anyone using shared hosting running a WooCommerce site without any optimization plugin and I highly doubt they’ll come close to those numbers.
In Test 3, the LCP was 1.9 seconds which could definitely use improvement, but that’s because the site was built using Elementor. Also, keep in mind there was no optimization plugin installed.
For anyone who has used Elementor before and ran speed tests, you’ll know that these numbers are actually very good still compared to most sites built with Elementor. These numbers would be quite a bit worse without Cloudways if you were using shared hosting.
Sites built with no third-party page builders will achieve much faster page speed scores, especially when it comes to mobile scores. That’s why Test 1 and Test 2 have much better numbers.
In fact, this site (Start Blogging 101) is devoted to teaching others how to build fast, beautiful WordPress sites without the use of third-party page builders.
In Test 1, there was absolutely zero Total Blocking Time (TBT) and also zero Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS).
In Test 2 with the WooCommerce/Gutenberg site, the TBT was only 133 ms and the CLS was only 0.01. These are fantastic numbers and “green” across the board according to Google.
In Test 3 with the WooCommerce/Elementor site, the TBT was 226 ms and the CLS was only 0.03. Once again, the TBT could use improvement, but that’s to be expected with a site built using Elementor rather than Gutenberg.
If you’re wondering how to get started with Cloudways, check out the Getting Started with Cloudways Hosting section near the end of the Cloudways review.
I’ll also be creating an ultimate Cloudways setup guide that goes over every step you need to take to achieve maximum performance and will link to it here once it’s complete.
The Cloudways speed performance numbers speak for themselves.
If you’re looking for top-tier performance or you run a WordPress website that demands more power such as a WooCommerce site, then Cloudways is the solution for your hosting needs.
How fast is Cloudways hosting? In my speed tests using a Cloudways Vultr HF server, my average TTFB was only 147 ms which is very fast compared to most shared hosting. In Test 1 using a new website, the LCP was 466 ms, the TBT was 0 ms, and the CLS was 0. In Test 2 using a full-blown WooCommerce site built with Gutenberg and zero optimization plugins, the LCP was 0.9 seconds, the TBT was 133 ms and the CLS was 0.01. In Test 3 using a full-blown WooCommerce site built with Elementor and zero optimization plugins, the LCP was 1.9 seconds, the TBT was 226 ms and the CLS was 0.03. All speed tests were using the ultra-lightweight Kadence theme.
As far as Cloudways Pricing goes, Cloudways has the best performance for the money that I have used for WordPress hosting which is why I rated it a 5 out of 5.
Cloudways offers a very convenient “pay as you go” pricing model. This means that you only pay for the resources that you use.
Another perk to using Cloudways is that you aren’t tied to any kind of contract when you signup with Cloudways and only pay on a month-to-month basis.
Many other web hosting providers only offer yearly plans. Say you sign up for a 3-year initial plan with a hosting provider… You aren’t tied to that hosting provider, but you already spent your money on three years worth of hosting.
If you left and switched to another hosting company, you would essentially be throwing that money away.
With Cloudways, you don’t have to worry about that scenario. You pay on a month-per-month basis and you only have to pay for the resources you use.
Now you may be wondering, “How much does Cloudways cost?”
Cloudways has plans using DigitalOcean that start as low at $10 per month and go up from there.
Here are the starting prices for each of the five cloud hosting options using Cloudways:
- DigitalOcean – Starts at $10/month
- Linode – Starts at $12/month
- Vultr – Starts at $11/month
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) – Starts at $36.81/month
- Google Cloud – Starts at $33.18/month
Let’s go through the full pricing plans for each of the Cloudways cloud hosting options:
DigitalOcean (DO) – Digital Ocean is a very popular option among Cloudways users. Cloudways DO is the cheapest option they provide starting at $10/month and provides excellent performance. This is my 2nd recommended option behind Vultr HF.
Linode – Linode starts at $12/month, but there are better server options with faster performance for the money, so I don’t normally recommend Linode.
Vultr Standard: Vultr Standard is also a popular option among Cloudways users and starts at $11/month, but Cloudways now offers a new Vultr High Frequency option (shown next) which offers up to 40% faster speeds for only $2/month more than Vultr Standard.
Vultr HF (Recommended) – Vultr High Frequency (Vultr HF) is one of the latest offerings from Cloudways starting at $13/month and is quickly becoming one of the most popular options. It provides the best performance for the money and only costs $2/month more than Vultr HF while providing speeds up to 40% faster. This is my top recommended Cloudways server option.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) – AWS is about 3x the starting price as Digital Ocean, Linode, and Vultr HF starting at $36.51/month. AWS is only recommended for larger enterprise companies.
Google Cloud – Similarly to AWS, Google Cloud is about 3x the starting price as Digital Ocean, Linode, and Vultr HF starting at $33.18/month. Google Cloud is also only recommended for larger enterprise companies.
Here’s a more detailed pricing comparison table showing the starting plan (1st tier of server size) between Cloudways DigitalOcean vs Linode vs Vultr HF with server specifications added:
|Cloudways Pricing||DigitalOcean||Linode||Vultr HF|
|Price per month||$10||$12||$13|
|RAM||1 GB||1 GB||1 GB|
|Processor||1 Core||1 Core||1 Core|
|Storage||25 GB||25 GB||32 GB|
|Bandwidth||1 TB||1 TB||1 TB|
The absolute best performance for your money would be to get a Vultr HF (High Frequency) server which starts at $13/month which I mentioned in the Speed Performance section.
Vultr HF is one of the latest server options added by the Cloudways team and it does not disappoint.
I personally use a Vultr HF server to host a few of my websites and it’s the best performance I’ve experienced with hosting thus far.
For only $13/month, you can get a Vultr HF server set up with 1 GB of RAM which will be more than enough for anyone just starting off.
Even SiteGround’s middle of the line hosting plan (the GrowBig plan) starts at $10/month. Granted, SiteGround has better support and is certainly more beginner-friendly, but you won’t get quite the performance with SiteGround as you will with Cloudways.
Also, after SiteGround’s promotional pricing ends (after one, two, or three years depending on what you purchase to start), the prices go up to the “regular” pricing which is about is 2x more than Cloudways pricing for similar specifications.
This is why I almost always recommend my readers to use SiteGround hosting when you’re first starting off to take advantage of their promotional pricing for 1-3 years (depending on how quickly you plan to grow) and then switch to Cloudways for the best performance and scalability.
Then, as your website traffic continues to grow and you need more resources, you can seamlessly scale your server up using Cloudways.
Cloudways Ease of Use
As far as Cloudways ease of use goes, I rate it at a 3 out of 5.
If you’ve never used Cloudways before, it does admittedly take some getting used to at first. The setup to get started requires a bit more technical knowledge than a beginner-friendly host such as SiteGround.
I go over the exact steps of how to signup for Cloudways in the Getting Started with Cloudways section at the end that any beginner can follow.
Many other hosting companies use cPanel to access various functions and cPanel has been around for a long time, so many people are used to it.
That being said, it’s hard to deny that cPanel is very outdated and certainly does not have the most intuitive interface.
Instead of using cPanel, Cloudways created their own custom control panel which gets easier to understand after you’ve played around with it for a few weeks.
Cloudways breaks their control panel down into two core pieces: Applications and Servers.
Cloudways Applications are where you would install WordPress (or WordPress + WooCommerce) if you’re planning to run a WordPress site.
Cloudways also includes some other non-WordPress applications such as Laravel, Magneto, or a custom PHP app.
When you set up a new Cloudways application, you get a number of options to choose from:
- WordPress Multisite
- WordPress Clean (No Cloudways Optimization)
- WordPress + WooCommerce
- Magneto (with Varnish)
- Magneto (with Elasticsearch)
- Custom PHP App
After choosing your application, you then choose which type of server you would like your application to be hosted on.
I already touched base on these, but the five Cloudways server providers are:
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Google Cloud
Now that you have an application and a server chosen, you then choose your server size.
Lastly, you choose your server location. You should choose a location that’s closest to where you expect the majority of your website traffic to come from.
After that, all you have to do is hit the “Launch Now” button. Within minutes, your entire application and server will be deployed and you’ll be ready to go!
Cloudways Control Panel Walkthrough
As I mentioned earlier in the Cloudways review, Cloudways does not use cPanel. Rather, they created their own custom control panel. If you’ve never seen the control panel before and want a full walkthrough, I have you covered. 😉
Let’s go through a brief description of each of the items under Application Management located in the Cloudways control panel.
The Cloudways Access Details screen shows information related to the several ways you can interact with your application.
First, you will see your site URL and WordPress admin URL with your username and password that you can copy and paste to gain access to your WordPress site.
Next, you’ll see credentials for your database if you need to gain access to your database.
Last, you can set up application credentials for SFTP or SSH access to your WordPress application.
Cloudways Application Monitoring allows you to easily monitor and analyze your website’s traffic and health through analytics and logs.
First, this includes being able to see top IP requests, bot traffic, and top URL requests.
Next, you can access various stats about the top requested PHP pages, current running processes, and the top pages that are loading slowly so you can address them.
You can also view your file usage, database usage, and total usage in this tab.
Lastly, there are Apache, NGINX, and PHP access and error logs to be able to troubleshoot any issues that may be going on.
Cloduways Bot Protection ensures that your WordPress website remains completely safe and secure. It blocks hackers and bots before they can harm your site.
If you enable this option, you will see a new plugin called “Bot Protection” get added to your site provided by MalCare Security.
In this tab, you can see all the blocked traffic and blocked logins attempted by bots. It’s recommended that you enable this setting.
You don’t realize how many bots will try to login to your site until you see all the blocked attempts!
Cloudways Domain Management is used to point your domain to your web app.
After you sign up for a Cloudways trial, you’ll be connected up to a temporary domain that Cloudways provides.
In this tab, this is where you will specify your primary domain and provide any additional domains (if applicable).
Cron Job Management
Cloudways provides a Cron Job Manager for your application. Here, you can add new Cron Jobs. A Cron Job is a utility program for repeating tasks at a later time.
This utility is recommended for only technical users who know what they’re doing.
Cloudways SSL Certificate Management gives you the ability to set up a free SSL certificate for your site using Let’s Encrypt. You can easily set up a valid SSL certificate within minutes which will secure your site.
You can also enable auto-renewal of your certificate which is highly recommended so that you don’t have to worry about your SSL certificate expiring.
Cloudways supports free Let’s Encrypt and also custom SSL certificates.
Backup and Restore
Cloudways Backup and Restore allows you to back up and restore application data (files and database).
This section is really convenient as it allows you to create multiple backups on-demand simply by clicking the “Take Backup Now” button.
You can also restore your WordPress application (all files and database) by clicking a restore point from the dropdown and hitting the “Restore Application Now” button.
Deployment via Git
Cloudways Deployment via Git allows you to deploy to your application via Git.
The very first thing you’ll have to do to take advantage of this feature is to generate an SSH key. This is as simple as clicking the “Generate SSH Key” button if you haven’t already.
An SSH key identifies your server without the need of passwords. After pressing the button, you’ll wait a few seconds for Cloudways to generate an SSH key and then you’ll see a new screen.
After Cloudways generates an SSH key for you, you can then hit View SSH Key to download it to then add it to whichever Git vendor you use (such as Bitbucket, Github, Assembla, etc.) There’s also an option to View Deployment Logs.
Then, you need to do is insert your Git Remote Address to authenticate it. This will pull the branch name (master will be selected by default). You can see the Deployment Path is set to
Lastly, in order to deploy the code, all you have to do is click the “Start Deployment” button and you’re done!
From then on, you can pull your latest changes whenever you want.
Cloudways Application Settings provides a plethora of options related directly to your application (in our case, WordPress). I’ll briefly go over each option on the Application Settings page below:
- Folder – This will rename your application folder by creating a symbolic link to the name you give it.
- Webroot – This will change the default webroot for your application to the value you provide. The default is
- From Address – You can set a “From Address” if you are using an email add-on for your server and want to use a custom email address for your outgoing emails. Cloudways doesn’t include email hosting with their hosting, but you can purchase an add-on to get email hosting.
- Reset File/Folders Permissions – This will apply the Cloudways default permissions to all files in your application and also change ownership of all the files to that of your master user or app user.
- Varnish – Varnish is one of several layers of caching that Cloudways provides for your application. It’s recommended to have this setting enabled, but you may want to disable it while developing or testing on a staging environment to make sure you’re seeing all of the latest changes (and not any cached screens).
- SSH Access – This enables or disables application-level SSH access to your Application for your Team members.
- CORS Headers – Enabling this option will allow cross-origin resource sharing by adding the
Access-Control-Allow-Origin: *header to responses.
- Application Access – This will enable or disable access to your Application. If you disable this option, you’ll still be able to see your Application on the Platform. However, SSH/SFTP access to the Application will be disabled, any existing crons for your Application will be stopped, and your Application will serve a “Service Unavailable” status when accessed on the web. You can enable your Application at any time.
- HTTPS Redirection – Enabling HTTPS Redirection forces your application to HTTPS by creating a 301 Permanent Redirection for all domains that are mapped to the application. This enhances application security for all the domains mapped to the application. It is recommended that you have this setting enabled.
- Geo IP – It’s now possible to use GeoIP with your application. GeoIP is a method to track various metrics about your site visitors, such as their geographical location, organization, and other metrics. Once enabled, your application needs to have the inbuilt functionality to operate and process such functionality.
- XMLRPC Access – Disable XMLRPC requests to prevent Brute Force attacks on your application. Unless you are using XMLRPC (which very few people do), it is highly advised that you disable this setting which will help prevent your application from being attacked.
In addition to the General tab, there are also tabs for PHP FPM Settings and Varnish Settings.
In the PHP FPM Settings tab, you can configure a number of PHP settings if you need to make additional tweaks.
In the Varnish Settings tab, you can hit “Add New Rule” and specify pages that you would like to exclude from Varnish caching.
Cloudways Migration Tools offers a download button which will download their WordPress Migration tool allowing you to easily bring your application to the Cloudways Cloud Platform.
Using this tool will help you quickly move all the application data and database to your new cloud server.
Keep in mind, when you first sign up with Cloudways, they offer 1 site migration for free where they’ll do this for you themselves.
If you need additional websites migrated after your first free one, you can either do it yourself by using their Migrator plugin or pay $25 for them to do each additional website.
One nice perk that Cloudways offers is their own Cloudways Content Delivery Network (CloudwaysCDN).
Cloudways paired up with StackPath (formerly known as MaxCDN) and provides a very easy way to activate CloudwaysCDN for your WordPress application.
Simply plug in your Website URL and hit the “Create” button.
After that, you’ll see a screen showing your Website URL, your CDN URL, and a button that allows you to Purge your assets from your CDN to remove stale, outdated content.
**Note: Keep in mind that CloudwaysCDN is not free. You will be charged $1 for 25 GB per application. If you use over 25 GB, you will be charged an additional $0.04 per GB.
I personally just use free Cloudflare instead which is fantastic and also provides DNS services.
Cloudways doesn’t provide DNS services, so you can kill two birds with one stone by using Cloudflare for your CDN and also for DNS.
Now that we’ve gone over all of the Application Management options provided within the Cloudways control panel which covers everything on the WordPress end of things, let’s take a look at all of the Server Management options.
The first section under Cloudways Server Management is Master Credentials. In this section, you will see your Public IP along with your Username and Password for SFTP and SSH access details for all your applications.
Alternatively, you can upload multiple SSH Public Keys to your Cloudways server to access it without any password prompts which you’ll see by clicking the “SSH Public Keys” button.
Lastly, you can launch the SSH terminal in your browser by clicking the “Launch SSH Terminal” button.
Similarly to the Application Monitoring, Cloudways offers Server Monitoring. In this section, you’ll see various metrics about your server health.
For example, you can see RAM Usage, CPU Usage, Disk Usage, and Bandwidth Usage all in the Summary tab.
These numbers are nice to be able to monitor and see where you’re at with your server usage. If you start getting close to reaching your limits, you’ll receive notifications. Then, you can seamlessly scale your server up to give it more resources to use.
In the Details tab, you can see graphs which will show you such as Idle CPU, Free Disk, Reads per second, Writes per second, and Free memory.
Above you will see a graph showing the Idle CPU over 1 hour. The graph shows the percentage of free (not used) CPU. The higher the graph is, the less busy the server is. If this graph is consistently below 10-20%, then you should consider increasing your server size.
Lastly, the New Relic tab under Cloudways Server Monitoring allows you to launch New Relic.
Cloudways partnered with New Relic to offer built-in App Monitoring with its Managed Cloud hosting platform. You can read more about it here.
As long as you enable New Relic in the Manage Services section (which I’ll be covering next), then the “Launch New Relic” button will be enabled and you’ll get access to even more detailed monitoring.
The Cloudways Manage Services screen allows you to control core services that allow your application to run.
Be careful with these settings, as restarting or stopping services could break the functionality of your web app.
That being said, you can easily see which services are running along with having the ability to restart many of them, start or stop services, purge the Varnish cache, or even disable Varnish.
As I mentioned in the previous Server Monitoring section, if you want to use New Relic, you would enable it from this screen and then you would be able to Launch New Relic in the New Relic tab under Server Monitoring.
Here’s a quick description of each of the services in the Cloudways Manage Services section:
- Apache – Webserver serving content for your application(s).
- Memcached – Another caching layer dealing mainly with database queries. If restarted, all the cache is lost and needs to be rebuilt.
- MySQL – Database for your application(s).
- New Relic – Get comprehensive insights with NewRelic Application Monitoring.
- Nginx – Webserver serving static content for your application(s).
- PHP FPM – PHP-FPM (FastCGI Process Manager) is an alternative PHP FastCGI implementation with some additional features useful for sites of any size, especially busier sites.
- Redis – Redis typically holds the whole dataset in memory.
- Varnish – One of the several layers of caching for your application(s). You can disable it (for example, when developing or on a test/staging server). Do not disable this on production servers. If restarted, all the cache is lost and needs to be rebuilt.
Settings & Packages
The Cloudways Settings & Packages section contains an array of tabs that give you the ability to configure Basic and Advanced server-level settings. Additionally, you can view and edit packages, perform Disk Cleanup, and Schedule Server Maintenance.
Let’s go over each tab in the Cloudways Settings & Packages section in more detail.
Settings & Packages – Basic:
- Execution Limit – Set the maximum amount of time a request is allowed to run across the stack.
- Upload Size – Select the maximum allowed size (in MB) of a request across the stack.
- Memory Limit – Set the maximum amount of memory (in MB) that a PHP request is allowed to allocate. I recommend you update this to 256 MB.
- Display Error – Toggle whether to display error messages caused by PHP or not.
- Error Reporting – Choose which level or errors PHP reports.
- PHP Timezone – Select a timezone for PHP.
Settings & Packages – Advanced:
- PHP Settings
- MySQL Settings
- Apache Settings
- Nginx Settings
- System Settings
- Varnish Settings
Settings & Packages – Packages:
- PHP – Choose which PHP version your server will run. Upgraded versions can later be downgraded and vice versa. I recommend you use PHP 7.4 for the best performance while still maintaining good compatibility.
- MySQL – Choose which MySQL version your server will run. Once upgraded, you will NOT be able to downgrade. I recommended you use MariaDB 10.4 for the best performance.
- Elasticsearch – Disable Elasticsearch or enable and choose the version.
- Redis – This will deploy Redis cache. I would recommend you install Redis. Make sure to activate Redis in the Breeze caching plugin (if you’re using it) or through the Redis Object Cache plugin (which is what I use).
- Supervisord – This will install Supervisord. Supervisord is currently being supported for Laravel Applications. You do not need this for WordPress.
After you install Redis, install the Redis Object Cache plugin on WordPress and activate it. This is a screenshot of what it will look like activated:
Settings & Packages – Optimization:
In the Optimization tab, you’ll see a section for Disk Cleanup and a toggle for Automatic Disk Cleanup.
The Cloudways Disk Cleanup options include the following:
- Remove all files from the ‘tmp’ folder for all Applications
- Remove all files from the ‘private_html’ folder for all Applications
- Remove all files from the ‘local_backups’ folder for all Applications
- Remove archived files from the ‘logs’ folder for all Applications
- Remove archived files from ‘/var/log’ folder
At any time, you can check whichever of these boxes that you want and hit the “Run Cleanup” button and your files will be cleaned up, opening some more free space on your Cloudways server.
Additionally, there is a toggle for Automatic Disk Cleanup which I would recommend you keep on.
Automatic cleanup will run with the last saved custom options. Running an ad-hoc cleanup will not impact the stored selection for automatic cleanup.
Settings & Packages – Maintenance:
The last tab under the Cloudways Settings & Packages section is the Maintenance tab.
Here, you can easily Schedule Server Maintenance which is a planned activity for improving the security and stability of your Cloudways server. The server maintenance includes updates of installed operating system packages and applying security patches.
You can simply Select Day from a dropdown and Select Time and hit “Save” and your scheduled server maintenance will happen during that time each week.
The Cloudways Security section under Server Management gives you a couple options to help improve the security of your Cloudways server:
- Allow all IP addresses, except those blocked by the Cloudways security system.
- Block all IP addresses, except those on the Whitelist.
The first option will allow all IP addresses through except ones that have been blocked by Cloudways themselves.
The second option blocks all IP addresses except for the ones you specify in the Whitelist IP section.
Both of these options have to do with SSH/SFTP access to your server. There’s also a MySQL tab that works similarly and deals with accessing your MySQL database through a remote connection.
So, if you know that you’re only going to be accessing your server from a few IP addresses, you could block everything and add the IP addresses of each device you will use to access Cloudways.
Under Cloudways Server Management, you’ll see a section for Vertical Scaling. This is where you can seamlessly vertically scale your server up if you need more resources.
Cloudways will notify you if you’re getting closer to exceeding your resources, and if you decide to scale up, this is where you can do it.
As I mentioned in the Speed Performance section of this Cloudways review, I’m currently using a Vultr HF server.
Keep in mind that certain servers can only be scaled up, meaning that if you do decide to scale up (in this case, from 1 GB to 2 GB), you won’t be able to scale back down unless you use the cloning feature and clone your current server to a new one.
However, if you’re doing everything right, your website will only keep getting more traffic as you add more content, so you should only ever have to scale up. 🙂
All you have to do is click and drag the slider to your desired server size and hit the “Scale Now” button – done!
Cloudways provides a section for Server Backups which is very straightforward.
All you have to do to start getting regular server backups is set a few preferences.
First, set your Schedule Time of when you want the backup to happen.
Next, choose a Backup Frequency (anywhere from once an hour to every 7 days).
Third, set your desired Backup Retention which is how long you want the backup to be retained (anywhere from 1-4 weeks).
Lastly, you can either disable or enable local server backups. If you enable this option, Cloudways will make an additional copy of your backup to your server (in the ‘local_backups’ folder) so you can download it via SSH/SFTP.
The next section on the right is Off-Site Backup Size which shows the current size of your backup and when it was last updated.
The last section is for On-Demand Backup which will perform an on-demand backup of your Cloudways server. Plus, if you have enabled the Local Backups options, this will also create a downloadable copy of all the applications present on your server.
To perform an on-demand server backup, simply click the “Take Backup Now” button.
The last section under Server Management is for Cloudways SMTP.
In this section, you can configure a SMTP service to setup outgoing email delivery on your Server. You have two options when it comes to Cloudways SMTP:
- Your Own SMTP Server
- Elastic Email (which is a paid service that can be subscribed to in Cloudways Addons)
If you want to use your own SMTP server through Cloudways such as Mailgun, Sendgrid, or others, choose your desired option from the dropdown, provide your Username and Password and Save your changes.
Once your email addon has been activated, you can test out that your SMTP settings are working by hitting the “Send Test Email” button to verify you receive an email.
That covers every section in the Cloudways custom control panel – if you have any additional questions, feel free to leave a comment at the end of this article or join the Start Blogging 101 Facebook Group and ask the community!
Cloudways Team Collaboration
One really nice benefit that Cloudways offers is team collaboration.
In order to take advantage of this feature, all you have to do is click the “Team” tab in the primary navigation menu.
From there, you will see a message letting you know that you can invite your team members and assign different roles on your chosen servers and apps.
To add a team member in Cloudways, click the “Add New Team Member” button.
You’ll be brought to a Create New Member page where you provide information about the team member you want to add such as their Email, Status, Member Name, and Job Title.
Then, the really nice part is you can assign permissions to various sections within Cloudways for that specific team member:
- Billing Access – This option will give the team member access to all billing functionality: view, download, pay invoices, manage funds, and add/update payment details.
- Support Access – This option will give the team member access to the Support Area. The team member will be able to create and manage support tickets on your behalf.
- Console Access – This option will give the team member access to the Server and Application Management areas in the Cloudways Platform. If you check this box, you can either give them Full Access to everything or choose Limited Access and choose various sections you want to give them access to.
Add various people to your Cloudways hosting account and you can have a full team helping to manage your websites!
Cloudways Support and Documentation
Cloudways support is rated a 4 out of 5 for me from what I’ve experienced so far.
I only switched some of my sites to Cloudways in late 2020, so I admittedly haven’t had a ton of experience with Cloudways support to this point, but I will continue to update this as time goes on.
I haven’t needed to contact Cloudways for any emergencies, yet, so that’s a good thing. 🙂
Cloudways offers 24/7 support after signing up with their cloud hosting platform and offers four different options:
- Knowledge Base
- Live Chat
- Create a Ticket
The Cloudways Knowledge Base contains a huge array of documentation articles in various areas such as Server and Infrastructure, Application Management, and Platform and Account.
I have to say, the Cloudways documentation that I’ve run into so far has been very good. It’s been detailed, easy to understand, and contains plenty of screenshots to better show you how to solve your problem.
Also, there is a lot of Cloudways documentation. Simply type “Cloudways [topic]” on Google and you’ll likely be met with pages of documentation articles directly from Cloudways themselves. It’s wonderful.
As for Cloudways Live Chat Support, it’s pretty good.
When you first launch Cloudways Live Chat, it’s not exactly “Live Chat” right from the get-go. It connects you up to a “Support Agent” AKA CloudwaysBot which is an automated system that tries to find a solution for you through a documentation article first.
You can choose whether you want help with Getting Started, Technical Help, or Billing.
If you choose an option such as Technical Help, you will see the following screen:
Once you tell CloudwaysBot enough information, it will point you to an article from the Knowledge Base that should lead you to the right answer.
All the automated live chat essentially does is “guides” you to one of their documentation articles if it can find one which is understandable as they don’t want to use precious support staff for simple things that could be answered through documentation.
However, if the system is exhausted of ideas or doesn’t have an article to point to, then you will be connected up to a live person and actually have true “live chat.”
Cloudways support has reportedly been getting better in the past few years which is promising to hear.
A third option for Cloudways support is to Create a Ticket.
When you hit the “Submit a request” button, you’ll get a form where you can fill out all the details about your ticket including priority, description, and more. All you have to do is submit the ticket and wait for the Cloudways support team to get back to you.
The last Cloudways support option is Community which is a support forum where Cloudways users can submit inquiries and others can comment on them.
I’m personally not a big fan of support forums at least for immediate support. When I need to contact support from my web hosting company, I want support now (as in live chat) and that piece could be a little more polished on Cloudways’ end.
How good is Cloudways support and documentation? I rate Cloudways support and documentation at a 4 out of 5. Their documentation is really good. Their live chat option is a little confusing to figure out, especially for new users. Various areas such as live chat, submitting a ticket, and the support forums could use a little polishing to make the UX even better. That being said, many reports have mentioned that Cloudways support is increasingly getting better with time which is great news for anyone switching to Cloudways.
Getting Started with Cloudways Hosting
Now that I’ve gone through my entire Cloudways review, I’m going to teach you how to get started Cloudways hosting.
I’ll be creating a much more detailed setup guide for setting up Cloudways the right way for ultimate performance and will link to it here when it’s complete.
A nice perk that Cloudways offers is a free 3-day trial, so you can spin up your own server, install an application, and then throw your site on Cloudways to see the speeds you can achieve before you commit to paying.
1. Sign Up for Cloudways
In order to get started with Cloudways, first go to the Cloudways site.
Once there, click the button that says “Get Started Free“.
After that, you’ll see a sign up modal where you can fill in your information.
Once you’ll filled out all the required information, click the “START FREE” button.
2. Add a Server and Application
After you signup for Cloudways, the next step is to add a server and application.
Follow the steps below to learn how to add a Vultr HF server with a WordPress application:
- Choose your WordPress application. You can choose either standard WordPress (with Cloudways optimizations), WordPress Multisite, WordPress + WooCommerce, or clean WordPress (with no Cloudways optimization). I chose standard WordPress.
- Name your managed application. I usually give this the same name as my website.
- Name your managed server. You can give this whatever name you want.
- Click on the Vultr tab to choose Vultr as your server.
- Click the dropdown and make sure to choose High Frequency. The other option is Standard, but Vultr HF (High Frequency) will give you the best performance.
- Choose your server size. For anyone starting out, 1 GB will be plenty and can even hold multiple websites.
- Choose your server location. One advantage of Vultr HF is that it provides a great list of server locations all over the world. Choose a server location that is closest to where the majority of your visitors will be accessing from.
- Click on the “Launch Now” button to launch your server and application!
That’s it! Super easy, huh? Cloudways will take a few minutes and spin up your server and application (usually takes less than 5 minutes) and then you’ll have access to the Application and Server sections in the Cloudways control panel.
3. Point Your Domain to Cloudways
If you haven’t already purchased a domain name, I would recommend you use Namecheap.
Once you have a domain, you’ll need to point your DNS to Cloudways. I plan to make a more in-depth tutorial to show this, but in the meantime, Cloudways has a great tutorial on how to take your website live from Cloudways that you can follow.
4. Activate Speed Optimizations
Upgrade your server to use PHP 7.4, MariaDB 10.4, and install and activate Redis as described in the Server Packages section.
Also, update your Memory Limit to 256 MB as described in the Basic Packages section.
5. Activate Optimization Plugin
If you chose standard WordPress for your application in Step 2, you will see that Cloudways adds its Breeze plugin to your website.
Feel free to activate Breeze (if it isn’t already) and see what it does for your page speed.
I personally don’t use the Cloudways Breeze optimization plugin because it was actually making my pages slower due to some problems.
If you decide to not use the Cloudways Breeze plugin, all you have to do is deactivate the plugin and delete it.
I highly recommend purchasing WP Rocket ($50/site per year) for your optimization plugin to use with Cloudways.
WP Rocket has tons of advantages over Breeze and is the best caching plugin out there with unmatched ease of use. It’s extremely hands-off. Activate it, enable the optimizations, done.
I’ve been using WP Rocket for years on sites and of all the optimization plugins I’ve tried, it’s caused the least amount of trouble on my websites. It just works.
You’re all set! That’s the quick and easy “Getting Started with Cloudways” tutorial. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or join the Start Blogging 101 Facebook Community and ask there. 🙂
Which Cloudways Add-Ons Do I Need?
I’ve mentioned some various add-ons that Cloudways provides throughout this Cloudways review. However, the question is, “Which Cloudways add-ons do I need?“
The right most option in the Cloudways primary navigation menu is a grid with nine boxes. If you click that, you will see the option for Add-ons. Click that and you’ll see the list of Cloudways add-ons as shown below:
I’ll go over each Cloudways Add-on below and let you decide which ones you need:
- Support Add-on – Cloudways offers three levels of support. Right off the bat with any account, you’ll already have access to Standard Support by default. You can pay $100/mo for Advanced Support or $500/mo for Premium Support. Let me save you some money. Stick with Standard Support. 🙂
- DNS Made Easy – Cloudways does not offer DNS services (that is, an environment to control the DNS records for your domains). However, Cloudways will take care of everything if you need them to. I wouldn’t recommend this service. Just use Cloudflare for your DNS. It’s free and much better than almost anything out there.
- Rackspace Email – Cloudways doesn’t offer email hosting through their platform. In order to use email hosting through Cloudways, you have to use Rackspace which is $1/month per mailbox. I don’t use email hosting through Cloudways. I recently switched over to using FluentCRM which is email marketing directly within WordPress and plan to use Amazon SES.
- Elastic Email – You can use Elastic Email for transactional email delivery and management service. Transactional emails are the ones that send “automatically” such as when someone purchases an item from your website or confirms a newsletter subscription, etc. As I said in the last section, I personally use FluentCRM and don’t use Elastic Email for transactional emails.
- Application Migration – Cloudways will migrate 1 website for free when you sign up and then it’s $25 per website if you want them to handle the migration after your first site. Otherwise, it’s easy to do it yourself.
- Application Upgrade – You can request the Cloudways team to upgrade your application (for example, say you want your WordPress version upgraded) and it costs $50. Why would anyone pay this? Hosts like SiteGround do this automatically. And upgrading your WordPress version takes one click on your part. $50 for this service? That’s an expensive click.
- CloudwaysCDN – As I mentioned in the specific CloudwaysCDN section earlier in the Cloudways review, Cloudways partnered with StackPath to provide their own CDN. This costs $1 per 25 GB and then $0.04 per GB after that. You probably don’t need this. Just use Cloudflare which is free and also provides DNS services.
Cloudways Review – Frequently Asked Questions
Here is a list of FAQs related to Cloudways hosting based on all the sections from my detailed Cloudways review.
How Much Does Cloudways Cost?
Cloudways pricing plans start at $10/month for a Digital Ocean server and go up from there.
Is Cloudways Worth the Money?
Yes, Cloudways hosting is worth the money. My recommendation would be to use a Vultr HF server which starts at only $13/month. This will provide the best performance for the money and is definitely worth it.
How Long is Cloudways Free Trial?
Cloudways offers a 3-day free trial in order for you to test out their services. After the free trial has expired, your services will stop working or you can then choose to upgrade your plan and start paying for a server to continue using Cloudways.
Is Cloudways Shared Hosting?
No, Cloudways is not shared hosting. Rather, it is managed cloud hosting which provides top of the line performance, reliability, and security compared to shared hosting due to dedicated cloud servers.
Cloudways Review 2023: Is it the Best Managed Cloud Hosting?
If you are looking for WordPress hosting that will double your speed for half the price as other popular hosting competitors, then this Cloudways review is for you.
Price Currency: $
Operating System: Web
Application Category: WordPress Hosting
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