Last Updated on
Now that you’ve clicked on this Cloudways hosting review, let me guess- shared web hosting is not your cup of tea. Instead, you’re looking for something more, and VPS or cloud hosting seems like a pretty solid idea at the moment.
Ok, for one, I have to admit you’re right about shared hosting services. Although some of the hosting providers we’ve reviewed offer very decent shared packages, the truth of the matter is, there comes a time when this type of hosting service fails to meet the cut.
Now that’s precisely where cloud hosting comes in. By allocating virtualized servers complete with their accompanying resources, cloud hosting gives you the privileges of dedicated server hosting at a reasonable rate. You end up capitalizing on increased performance and dynamic resource scaling without necessarily committing yourself to a dedicated server package.
Quite a fair deal, I must say. However, finding a good cloud hosting provider you can entrust over the long haul might not be that simple. Just like shared hosting, cloud and VPS hosting happens to be a fairly crowded space, with numerous web hosts specializing in the service.
I’m talking about the likes of Cloudways, which as a matter of fact, has made a name for itself as one of the fastest-growing players in the industry. This specific web host has so far serviced close to 10,000 users from over 43 countries, who’ve been leveraging various features to deploy more than 25,000 web apps, and over 12,000 servers. All that within the last 9 years or so.
Pretty impressive for a cloud hosting provider, don’t you think? But, can Cloudways possibly outdo the league of dominant hosts?
Well, that’s exactly what this Cloudways review helps you find out. It provides insights into Cloudways’ pricing and the main hosting features, particularly when it comes to ease of use, data security, vertical scaling, server management, as well as performance capabilities.
So, without further ado, let’s get right into it…
Table of Contents
Founded in 2011, Cloudways isn’t just any cloud hosting company. Rather, it’s a managed cloud hosting provider based in Malta, from where it continues to deliver managed digital experiences to a wide variety of users.
More specifically, it targets individuals, developers, professional agencies, small and mid-sized businesses, as well as enterprises. Such users then get to capitalize on a range of optimized server technologies to create, roll out, scale, coordinate, and manage different types of web applications.
But, make no mistake. Everything isn’t carried out on one unified cloud infrastructure. Although Cloudways is largely perceived as a single entity, its underlying system framework is set up very differently.
Instead of relying on its own in-house servers, it turns out Cloudways rides on infrastructure provided by five renowned enterprise-level cloud providers- Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Vultr, Linode, and Digital Ocean.
Ok, I know what you might be thinking right now. What’s the point of purchasing a hosting package from Cloudways when you could simply bypass it, and sign up directly with either of the five providers?
That’s a good question, I’ll admit. But, you see, Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Vultr, Linode, and Digital Ocean are fundamentally infrastructure providers. So, in essence, Cloudways adds value to them by combining their cloud resources with its expert-managed services.
The consequent result is a holistically-provisioned cloud network where you could easily develop and roll out a website in minutes. Cloudways’ managed services support PHP, Magento, PrestaShop, Larvel, Drupal, Joomla, and several other open-source platforms.
That means you can go ahead and have the company’s team of experts set up a custom package for your ecommerce site, as well as customize your platform’s architecture, or probably configure your server resources accordingly.
Cloudways keeps a team of well-trained experts to help you with stuff like that. Plus, you can rely on them when it comes to performance optimizations, email and database tweaks, as well as system troubleshooting.
That said, Cloudways is also praised for its all-round flexibility. Apart from giving you the privilege of choosing your preferred cloud infrastructure, this web host applies a very dynamic pricing system.
The services here are purchased based on a pay-as-you-go schedule, which is particularly favorable to businesses and teams on a budget. They can proceed with as low as $0.0139 per hour.
Well, so far so good. This overview description alone is enough to qualify Cloudways as a cloud host worth considering. But, does it ultimately live up to the hype?
Let’s find out…
Ease of Use
Right after you sign up, the first thing you’re bound to notice about Cloudways is that it doesn’t come with the typical Plesk or cPanel control panels. Instead, Cloudways provides its server management functionalities through a custom application called Click&Go.
Now, in case you’re wondering, Click&Go is very different compared to both the cPanel and Plesk control panels.
But, don’t get me wrong. Although it can be a bit intimidating while you’re getting started, Cloudways’ custom control panel is actually easy to use. Even a novice user should be able to figure out its functions in a few minutes, as the whole interface is elegantly-designed with straightforward controls.
From this vantage point, you can use the powerful array of tools to customize your server settings, deploy web platforms like WordPress, Prestashop, and Magento, troubleshoot issues, scale seamlessly, as well as track resource usage.
But that’s not all. Experienced developers’ on the other hand, get to use the control panel to coordinate app webroot, manage WordPress via WP-CLI, schedule cron jobs, migrate websites, transfer server ownership rights, clone servers, add team members for collaboration, plus manage a wide range of server parameters.
Don’t let the technical bits scare you though. Launching your own virtually-dedicated server is a very straightforward process than shouldn’t take you more than 10 minutes.
The first step is selecting your preferred server infrastructure. And as we’ve established, Cloudways offers Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Vultr, Linode, and Digital Ocean at varying rates. So, what you pick depends on not only the network capabilities, but also your cloud hosting budget.
Once you’re done, you can proceed to configure your server. Cloudways’s control panel allows you to dive deep into the server settings, and customize various parameters based on your preferences.
You can, for instance, manually set the amount of server storage space, RAM, and bandwidth you need, as well as specify an ideal number of corresponding core processors.
But, if determining the right balance of resources is a challenge, you might want to take advantage of Cloudways auto recommendations. You’ll find a slider on the panel that prompts you to specify the volume of page visits you expect on a monthly basis. Then using the data, Cloudways proceeds to suggest a set of server parameters that would be a good fit for your website.
That’s all it takes and Cloudways will eventually launch the server, complete with your resource specifications. You’ll then be allowed to install your preferred content platform from the “Application Management” tab.
And when it comes to that, Cloudways saves you the trouble of setting up everything from scratch. It provides one-click auto-installers for over ten of the most popular web platforms.
Hence, you should have an easy time launching your online store, and then integrating a free Let’s Encrypt certificate, after which you can leave the technical stuff to Cloudways’ experts.
Considering Cloudways is a cloud hosting provider, one thing you can expect from its servers is dedicated resources. Every single user gets a virtual server with its own isolated resource allocations. Quite a sharp contrast compared to what you might have experienced with shared hosting providers.
Now, the best thing about such a dedicated resource environment is increased performance and unlimited scaling. The server responds to your site’s bandwidth load in real-time without sharing the resources with other users.
And speaking of performance, what numbers are we talking about here?
Well, as it turns out, Cloudways reportedly maintains page loading times of 400 to 600 milliseconds, plus an uptime rate of at least 99.99%.
Fairly impressive. But, of course, we had to confirm everything for ourselves to make a well-informed judgment call.
Now, the best approach when it comes to that is running both uptime and TTFB tests.
And for the sake of clarity, a TTFB test measures the Time to First Byte. Or in other words, the length of time it takes the server to respond and relay the first byte of data. It’s admittedly a much more accurate system of assessing relative web performance as opposed to just measuring the page load times.
That said, here are the numbers we recorded from three different sites hosted on Cloudways:
217 milliseconds, 521 milliseconds, and 170 milliseconds. These are undeniably some of the best figures we’ve recorded in our hosting service reviews. So, we can agree that Cloudways is indeed a high-performing web host.
But, that notwithstanding, we still had to assess the corresponding uptime rates. The test itself ran for 90 days on Uptime Robot, after which all the three sites we had been monitoring registered an average uptime of 100%.
That basically means you can rely on Cloudways to keep your site online and accessible at all times, without experiencing any noticeable downtime.
Quite commendable, I must say. But then again, how exactly does Cloudways manage to achieve such numbers?
Well, for starters, the biggest assets here are Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Vultr, Linode, and Digital Ocean. By riding on their networks, Cloudways manages to unleash five of the most powerful cloud infrastructures on the globe.
You see, each of the five services boasts of an expansive network of data centers, which are spread across all the core web traffic regions.
Google Cloud, for instance, offers Cloudways data centers in multiple locations across the US, Europe, plus Asia-Pacific regions. Then Amazon Web Services, on the other hand, throws in additional servers based in cities like Montreal in Canada, Sydney in Australia, London in the UK, Seoul in South Korea, etc. And the same applies to Digital Ocean, Vultr, plus Linode.
Cloudways combines all these data centers to give you more than 60 server locations to choose from. Hence, you should be able to quickly relay your site data from servers positioned conveniently close to your principal traffic sources.
What’s more, the five infrastructure providers offer much more than just basic servers. Each of them continues to optimize its server and network performance using advanced technologies.
The servers themselves, for instance, utilize SSD disks instead of the regular HDD storage. This alone improves the data retrieval speeds by about three times.
Other notable performance features from the infrastructure providers include flexible IP networking, consistent availability, low-latency, container-based deployment, in-memory caching, cluster placement groups, seamless resource scaling, fully bisectional networks, powerful multi-core processing, automatic load balancing, granular-level control, plus CPU-optimized, memory-optimized, storage-optimized, and compute-optimized instances. But that’s not all. The list goes on and on.
Then get this. If you thought Cloudways stops there, you’re in for a huge surprise. It turns out the company supplements provisions from the five infrastructure providers with its own performance-optimization tools.
Top among which is Cloudways CDN, which is a global Content Delivery Network with servers across numerous cities. So, by integrating it, you get to expand the reach of your website through multiple data relay points.
The only problem here is, Cloudways CDN is not a free tool. But then again, on the brighter side, at least it’s available at a low price that starts at $1 per 25 GB of each application.
Cloudways further tops that off with various advanced caching technologies. Apart from a proprietary WordPress caching plugin, it comes with multiple built-in caches such as Redis, Varnish, and Memcached.
They work hand in hand with the latest versions of PHP 5.6 and 7, HTTP/2, Nginx, Apache, plus MariaDB and MySQL databases. All these form a comprehensively-optimized stack for each of the supported web applications.
And in the unlikely event your site crashes, you can rely on Cloudways to flag up the issue, and then resolve all the outstanding problems with its server auto-healing tools.
Cloudways is a cost-effective web host that gives you the chance to purchase only the features you need. It doesn’t throw in extra server resources to standardize the cost of its packages.
But what happens when you need additional resources before your subscription period lapses?
Well, it turns out you still won’t have to stretch beyond your acquired resources, thanks to Cloudways’ pay-as-you-go pricing system.
You see, such a payment structure allows you to reconfigure your server resources at any time. You just need to log into your Click&Go control panel, and then upscale or downscale your RAM, disk space, CPU core, and bandwidth allocations. The changes will subsequently reflect on your service pricing.
But, here’s the kicker. While upscaling is fairly easy and straightforward, downscaling your server resources can be a bit challenging.
For starters, only Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services are flexible enough to freely accommodate resource downscaling. Digital Ocean happens to operate differently, as its system can only support upscaling. And the same applies to Vultr as well as Linode.
That, however, doesn’t mean it’s smooth sailing for AWS and Google Cloud users. While it’s possible to scale up your server resources quite easily without experiencing downtime, downscaling requires a different approach. You have to clone your website before proceeding.
Well, of course, that only complicates the process of scaling down. But, all in all, Cloudways remains one of very few web hosting solutions that support free vertical scaling of server resources without the possibility of experiencing downtime.
Although Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Digital Ocean and Linode have secured their networks accordingly, Cloudways reinforces the entire cloud framework with multiple protective layers to seal all the potential system vulnerabilities.
As soon as you roll out your website, for instance, Cloudways grants you a Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate for free. You can easily embed it to protect your site by encrypting the data during transmission.
And in the meantime, the subsequent HTTPS loading protocol will boost your online store’s credibility and trustworthiness.
However, data encryption is not the only strategy used to combat potential intruders. Cloudways manages to also apply application-level security measures to mitigate all the possible vulnerabilities arising from the web apps it supports.
The server operating systems themselves come with strong firewalls that repel suspicious visitor requests and potential attacks. Then to safeguard everything here over the long haul, Cloudways further updates its protection through regular operating system patches.
Now, in case attackers attempt to infiltrate the system through your account front-end, Cloudways will still have your back. It prevents possible unauthorized access through its Two Factor Authentication (TFA) login protocol.
Then when it comes to team collaboration, you get to clear authorized individuals by whitelisting their IPs. This should consequently grant their networks uninterrupted access to your system SFTP and SSH.
So, all things considered, it seems Cloudways runs a well-secured network of servers. That’s why, as a matter of fact, it has never been infiltrated by hackers since it was created.
Quite an admirable record. So, of course, you should feel pretty safe here.
Not 100% safe though, because let’s face it- no IT system can possibly guarantee ultimate security. Data loss is always an imminent risk to all site owners.
Hence, Cloudways employs automated data backup as the final resort. It then goes ahead and keeps each backup instance for up to four weeks in an offsite location.
Therefore, in the event of a complete system crash, you should be able to recover all your data by simply restoring one of your past backups.
To maintain smooth user experience, Cloudways has hired a large team of technically-skilled customer support agents. You can access them for assistance at any time of the day or night via live chat and email ticketing.
Another contact channel you could use here is a phone. But, unlike email ticketing and live chat, phone support is not available 24/7. You can only speak with Cloudways’ agents during standard business hours.
But, make no mistake. Cloudways doesn’t offer you a phone number to dial. Instead, you’re supposed to make a call request and wait for one of the company’s agents to reach out.
If that sounds a bit hectic, you might want to try out a new tool called CloudwaysBot. And just like the name suggests, this is an AI system that offers personalized assistance. It derives insights from your server’s overall performance records, as well as the accompanying application parameters.
Then using all that, it subsequently attempts to help you configure your server and application settings for increased performance. What’s more, you can set CloudwaysBot to drop relevant notifications via external messaging channels like email, Slack, and social platforms.
That said, the only other customer support option is Cloudways’ knowledge base, which I found to be pretty comprehensive. It provides a rich variety of informative articles and video tutorials, which should come in handy when you’re trying to learn the ropes, figuring out how to optimize your servers accordingly, or perhaps when you need to troubleshoot a common problem.
In other words, the knowledge base here can get you from novice to expert-level within a relatively short period of time.
Cloudways uses a pay-as-you-go billing system that applies varying rates depending on your service resources, as well as the infrastructure you select.
It’s worth noting, however, that all the packages offer more or less the same tools and system privileges.
They include; SSH and SFTP access, HTTP/2 enabled servers, regular security patching, auto-healing, advanced cache optimization, staging environment, automated backups, 24/7 real-time monitoring, dedicated firewalls, team management, unlimited application installation, free migration, built-in CDN, free SSL, plus 24/7/365 customer support.
That said, the corresponding cloud hosting packages for each infrastructure provider are as follows:
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Cloudways offers a 3-day trial period in order for you to get familiar with the platform. The time period starts with the creation of trial server. We advise our customers to upgrade their account before the trial is expired.
Yes, Cloudways provides free Let’s Encrypt SSL and it can be installed very easily.
Cloudways provides its own powerful platform which is very easy to use and you can manage your server through it easily. For File Manager, you will be required to access your web application through SFTP or SSH (such as Filezilla, Putty etc.).
Although we haven’t reviewed all the possible cloud hosting providers, we can confidently say we’ve tested a heck of a lot of them. And from the look of things, Cloudways is increasingly proving to be a serious contender in the managed cloud hosting space.
This Cloudways review has confirmed that this web host is not only high-performing, but also manages to add value to the infrastructure it leverages from Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Digital Ocean, Linode, and Vultr.
All in all, we can agree that Cloudways is a great option for individuals, businesses, agencies, and enterprises that need optimized and well-simplified versions of either Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Digital Ocean, Linode, or Vultr. The accompanying managed services will handle the tech stuff for you.
But, if you’re working with a team of extensively-experienced developers, you can go ahead and bypass Cloudways by directly leveraging either of the five infrastructure services.
I blog about the tools I use every day because everyone hates hype-mongers. Don't be a hype-monger. I build web assets every day and I know the struggle with choosing the right tools. From SEO to website creation, to sales funnels tools, I've used them all and now I'm here to tell you about them.