Cloudways is a cloud hosting provider that’s built on top of DigitalOcean, Linode, Google Cloud, AWS, and Vultr cloud providers.
It helps you leverage the power of these cloud providers without the fuss of dealing with server-level stuff – so that you can focus on your business rather than with all the technicalities.
They offer an easy to use dashboard and interface to handle all the server-related tasks like application installation, resource monitoring, crons, IP whitelisting, SSL configuration, PHP, MySQL, caching (Varnish and Redis), etc.
Along with this, they also offer 24x7x365 customer support to help you deal with technical issues (coming to this later).
For their interface and support, you’ll be paying 2x the money that services like DigitalOcean, Vultr, etc. charge you.
For example, DigitalOcean’s $5/month plan costs you $10/month.
But is the additional cost worth it for the ease of use and support they offer?
I’ll help you decide in this review on Cloudways.
Cloudways pros and cons
- The infrastructure is managed by DigitalOcean, Vultr, Linode, AWS, and Google Cloud.
- They have really feature-rich management features built-in to their interface.
- You get SSH access to your servers.
- They have really good project and team management features.
- Their technical support lacks understanding and is not helpful at all. For “prompt customer support” (they call it), they charge you $100/month and $500/month.
- Only suitable for people who’re comfortable with Linux commands and server-side of things.
- Not more than a cloud management panel built on top of already existing servers.
- Their migration plugin is full of bugs and unreliable.
- No DDOS protection
- They don’t support the email feature – you need to pay extra.
- The visual file manager is not there. You need to make use of SFTP.
- They don’t have a free backup mechanism.
I recently decided to migrate from WPX to Cloudways in the hope of more speed and power.
Although I got good speed upon moving, I faced many bugs, and my sites were down for 2 days. I spent sleepless nights and their tech support was clueless and failed to help me.
With that being said, let’s dive into the review.
Cloudways was founded by Uzair Gadit, Pere Hospital, and Aaqib Gadit in 2011. It has offices in Mosta (Malta – headquarters), and Karachi (Pakistan).
They started this with an intention to provide the best of both worlds – managed hosting and unmanaged hosting (ease of use and performance).
The greatest advantage of Cloudways is that they offer really flexible pricing, and also the option for you to choose from a wide array of cloud hosting solutions like DigitalOcean, Vultr, Linode, AWS, and Google Cloud.
Unlike other traditional hosting providers like HostGator and Bluehost, it offers you an excellent speed and also uptime for the price (as it is built on top of the world’s best cloud hosting infrastructures).
When you are starting with Cloudways, you need to first set up a server. And then, inside that, you can install multiple applications.
Any server can have multiple applications in them. You can select its size (which you scale later), and also the location.
As of writing this review, Cloudways offers applications like WordPress, Magento, Laravel, PHP, etc. for quick installation. However, if you have developmental knowledge, you can install pretty much any app.
When it comes to migration, it has a feature called “staging URL”, it helps you a lot to develop your website, even before changing the nameservers of your domain. This process eases out the migration and installation process.
When it comes to migration of your site, they have a WordPress plugin called “Cloudways WordPress Migrator”, it does the job well, but it has some bugs.
For example, in my case, when I migrated my live sites to Cloudways and changed the nameservers, the live sites had all the internal links as their staging URL – “https://wordpress-xxxxxx-xxxxxx.cloudwaysapps.com/”.
I failed to properly identify this issue. I realized this only after seeing my analytics and people visiting those non-existent URLs.
I started losing traffic.
Once I realized the issue, I quickly ran search-replace to replace all the staging URLs to live URLs.
When I reached the technical support regarding the bug, they told me that there is a bug in the plugin (which seems to be not fixed for a long time – me seeing the old forums).
Bottomline: The migration was not smooth. I highly recommend not to try migration on your own as the plugin has bugs. And also, after the migration does a complete audit of your site as their plugin and support are completely unreliable.
As I told you before, you’ll be having servers, and under them, you have the applications.
Now in this section, let’s look at all the management options available at both server and application levels.
As you can see here, you have various options. First, you have the section to manage your “Master credentials”, resource monitoring, managing the services (like caching), settings and packages, security, scaling, backups, and SMTP.
Resource management is the feature I used countless times, as the servers were going down frequently due to unexplained CPU spikes (more on this later).
Sometimes, even if no processes were shown as causing CPU spikes, the CPU usage was shown as 100% (even on my very low-traffic portfolio sites) and when I reached support they insisted me to upgrade the plans (that didn’t help).
This didn’t give me peace of mind. Who knows when the CPU spikes will reoccur and spoil my vacation?
These are all the options available for Application management.
The main ones are domain management, SSL certificate, application settings, and also CloudwaysCDN (that costs you additional money).
Overall, you have a lot of options. But at times, you need to login to your SSH or SFTP for issuing commands and making server-level changes.
Coming to UI/UX, the speed of the interface can be improved a lot. It bugs a lot when making urgent changes.
Bottomline: You have a lot of options to conveniently tweak the stuff. You also get access to SSH and SFTP.
Here are the main security features that it comes with are:
Firewalls – It allows access to only specific ports to make the applications function. Does not substitute plugins like say WordFence firewall.
- Bot Protection – It protects your website from malicious hosts, brute-force attacks, and much more. But as per my research, this feature doesn’t really completely protect your sites against DDOS attacks. You may need to make use of Cloudflare for this.
- Database security – Databases can’t be accessed remotely, you need to whitelist the IP addresses for database access.
Other general features are SSL certificates, user role management, two-factor authentication, etc.
Bottomline: Security is really not up to the mark. Still, true DDOS and malware protection needs to be incorporated.
Cloudways comes with a paid backup service, both at the server and application level.
Many of you guys are better with “Server-level backups” as they are quite reliable and cover all the applications hosted on them.
Added to that, the scheduling feature is available with server-level backups.
I highly recommend you schedule the server backup when there’s less traffic congestion as the websites can be quite sluggish when the process is running depending upon your server resources.
Bottomline: They have a good backup mechanism at a quite affordable price of $0.033 per GB of backup storage. The price increases as the daily retention will be there and also it depends upon the number of sites and their sizes.
Your website performance will be good with Cloudways as they have Varnish, Redis cache, and also CDN (paid addon).
As someone coming from WPX, I needed a much superior speed. Cloudways delivered it as I hosted my sites on their high-speed cloud servers.
As you can see there’s a slight difference in the speed as we have more RAM for the price with Cloudways than with WPX (that offers a meager 128MB RAM).
The actual speed improvement can be found on the backend of the website, where it really shines.
Bottomline: The website load speeds with Cloudways is pretty impressive.
If you are a non-technical person or even a techy person (with no strong Linux background), don’t go with Cloudways.
Because their technical support sucks big time.
First of all, it’s really hard to get in touch with a human representative.
You end up wasting lots of time with their dumb CloudwaysBot. It takes around 5 mins to connect with a human and another 10 minutes with a support agent that doesn’t understand your problem.
As I told you before I got these unexplained CPU spikes.
When I reached them with unexplained CPU spikes, they complained to me that it’s the GoogleBot that is responsible for these spikes.
The support guy told me that Google is exhausting all the resources on my server. I asked him not to block it!
Here are some more examples.
This is just some examples out of dozens of chats I had while I struggled to get my site back on track for straight 48 hours. I even spent a sleepless night (after boating) to finally fail, and went back to WPX (amidst 100% CPU and slow migration).
I failed to take screenshots of their non-sense responses and also they don’t have the chat log preserved (for a reason)!
Almost all their technical representatives are from either Pakistan or Africa and are clueless about the server-side of things.
They don’t even assist you with server-level issues, rest alone application-level, or WordPress issues.
I’m even upsoclld to their premium support addon for “prompt support”.
Their premium support costs you $100 – $500/month.
Bottomline: Their technical support is really bad. If you want “prompt” support, you need to shell out another $100 – $500 per month.
As I told you before, you’ll pay double the price of these cloud storage solutions with Cloudways.
If you go directly to the DigitalOcean website, you can get the $42 plan for $20.
You’ll pay extra money for their support and the server management interface. Their plans don’t come with free backups, email hosting, domain names, DDOS protection, CDN, etc.
Considering their support is really poor, you may want to get their addon – a $100/month subscription. Let’s keep it aside.
Coming to their addons, here are the prices suppose you have two websites of 5GB each:
- Backups – $0.033 per GB of backup storage. One copy of a backup of both the websites costs you $0.33/month. Considering you have daily backups scheduled, for 4 weeks retention set, it would be an extra $9.9/month for backups.
- Email hosting – You may need to get their Rackspace email hosting that costs you $1/mailbox/month. Say you have 5 inboxes for your sites, $5/month extra.
- Domain name – $20/year total for both of your sites
- CDN – $1 PER 25GB (per application ). Considering both of your WordPress applications have 100GB CDN traffic in total (conservative) – it would cost you $4/month.
Now if you go with their $42/month plan, and add all the above costs – it would total to $52/month (excluding domain names).
Again this price may increase based on how many websites you have, their size, traffic, and what plan you choose.
Most of the people end up paying 20%-25% extra on the prices listed on Cloudways websites.
Again, I’ve not counted the $100/month that you need to pay for technical support here.
Bottomline – Cloudways is not at all worth the price (for a non-techy or a non-Linux techy). The bugs they have (that needs fixing with SSH) and the poor support we receive don’t really justify the price.
If you’re like me, you need a complete solution that comes with:
- The power of cloud and SSD (like DigitalOcean and Vultr) with simplicity in management.
- Good technical support (preferably WordPress support too).
- Free hands-off backups.
- DDOS protection from malicious bots.
- Free malware scanning and security so that you don’t need to use Sucuri or use plugins like WordFence that slow down your sites.
- Platform optimized for WordPress.
- Good frontend and backend speeds.
- Peace of mind that your site won’t go down (say when on a vacation) – by causing unexplained CPU spikes.
After getting disappointed with Cloudways multiple times, I finally moved back to WPX Hosting (review). It’s a really good hosting – except for a downside that lower plans come with really low RAM causing backend speed issues.
So after moving back to WPX, I migrated all my sites to Rocket.net (after testing them out for a month).
I’m presently hosted with them. They are performance-focused WordPress hosting with all the things I wanted (including optional SSH access).
Do note that the latter 3 services won’t offer live chat support, but they offer reliable ticket-based support with really good turnaround times.
The interface and features presented by them are similar to Cloudways – if not they have a more intuitive and straightforward interface.
There are three kinds of people who’ll be using hosting:
- Web developers
- Techies (but not necessarily developers)
I won’t recommend Cloudways for both techies and non-techies, as it has really poor customer support (unless you pay $100/month). You’d be rather better off with hosts like Rocket.net, WPX Hosting (quite affordable), Cyber Hosting, etc.
For developers, who are comfortable with SSH and server-side of things and want good resources for money, they can go with Cloudways. But I want them to seriously consider services like RunCloud, Closte, GridPane, etc. which I’ve already mentioned.
The technical support and the bugs they have in their products are the only two things that are preventing me from recommending Cloudways for all people irrespective of their development background.