Thinking about using Cloudways to host your WordPress site? Then read on to understand in my hands on review to decide if this service fits your needs. Take it from me – you’re on a site currently being served by Cloudways (and using WordPress). 

What is Cloudways?

Simply known as a Platform as a Service (PaaS), Cloudways offers managed hosting for WordPress sites.

You have the option to choose from one of five data providers (Google Cloud, Amazon AWS, Vultr, Linode and Digital Ocean at the time of writing) and Cloudways simplifies the offering allowing you to scale up RAM (memory) and Storage Space as your site traffic demands.

It ultimately makes it much easier to set up and manage a server, taking all the hassle out of the equation.

Load WordPress Sites in as fast as 37ms!

What exactly is Cloud Hosting?

Cloud hosting is great. It’s scalable on demand, it gives more control than a shared hosting server and allows you to expand your business needs without needing to invest in physical hardware or manage the servers yourself.

Benefits of Cloud Hosting

Scalable

The main advantage of cloud hosting is that it’s scalable. Hosting with a provider like Cloudways opens up the ability for you to expand your memory, bandwidth and storage resources at moment’s notice. Which is perfect to deal with peak traffic say if you’re running a promotion or had content gone viral.

Performance

Following from being able to scale up and down as your site traffic demands, Cloud hosting offers much greater performance benefits – all available on demand.

If you’re currently running a site on a shared hosting provider, you may notice days your site goes slow (I used to suffer massive load-time delays on weekends for asantewellbeing.com when it launched). Hosting in the cloud helps eliminate this bottleneck and can improve Google Page Speed rankings.

Cost

Buyer beware. Costs of cloud hosting are more controlled over buying and maintaining your own servers. However managing cloud resources yourself (directly with AWS or Azure) can quickly get out of control if you’re not experienced.

Cloud hosting will cost more than a traditional shared host (which you can get for less than $10 per month depending on the provider) but it is more reliable for your business.

Staging

Not every PaaS cloud hosting provider offers this, but Cloudways does and it’s a great way of testing out plugins and themes before pushing them live.  

One of the biggest dangers of running your site is installing a new plugin or making changes to your source code without being able to test it before pushing live to production. The amount of times something went wrong or made my sites slow was insane.

Looking to integrate with Elasticsearch but don’t want to break your current search which 80% of your users are using? No problem, try it on a staging environment, test and deploy.

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Cloudways Pros

I’ve been using Cloudways for about a month now after switching from Ionos, and have been fortunate enough to gather enough data to really make a considered decision about the pro’s and con’s of the service.

  • Site migrator – this was super friendly and easy to use. This really helped transition my core project over from the shared provider I was using, to Cloudways frictionlessly. They also provide you with a 1 time free transfer handled by their team for new sign ups, at no additional cost.
  • Capacity to serve Magento – Magento is a complicated piece of software which cannot be installed on any old system. Cloudways offers a 1-click solution to install Magento a as well as Joomla and Drupal CMS.
  • Elastic Search – using a bog standard PHP/MySQL full-text search or LIKE operators is really sub-par. Elastic Search is, simply, a more sophisticated search algorithm which indexes and stores your documents, scales better, has advanced feature sets and allows you to control what field should be given more weight (i.e. should the title of your blog post or product be weighted more than the content?). Compared to SQL full-text search which is database intensive, slow (depending on how much data you have) and potentially flagging irrelevant results.
  • Breeze Caching – Cloudways comes with their own caching system called Breeze, which for my WordPress projects at least – is far more optimal than some of the plugins I’ve used and broken sites with
  • CDN – Cloudways offer their own CDN which is a big plus, especially as we’re serving content in different languages and have traffic coming from all over the world
  • Security –The security was in fact so good I had to play around with the settings as it blocked me from accessing my own site. WordPress is prone to being targeted with spam and DDoS attacks, so having this automatic monitoring is great if you’re a one man band without a team to manage cyber-threats.
  • Back Ups – automatic site backs ups are easy to manage and configure
  • Staging – another big win, and one set up I highly recommend (will talk about this in more detail on a separate post). Always, always, always use a staging site to test anything you’re going to do before pushing live. The amount of days I wasted just debugging stuff when I first started is insane.
  • Predictable Costs (with real-time billing) – as with running any business, you need to understand your costs. And Cloudways offers a simple, easy to understand monthly cost with real-time billing.

Cloudways Cons

  • For me, the biggest drawback is that I can’t “host” my python scripts. As someone who builds projects and likes to test new things, the ability to provision a virtual computer to deploy a Python script which I could link to via an API would be a great advantage.
  • There’s no option of using Plesk or cPanel, or even PhpMyAdmin for those who are experienced enough. Cloudways offer their own consoles to help you manage your applications on the server.

Summary & Package Recommendation

Cloudways is ultimately a great hosting platform for your wordpress or basic php web-app needs. You can get a lot from a little with these guys, and have the option to choose from a few reliable, large data providers.

My recommendation is to opt for the Digital Ocean package, 4GB RAM with 80GB SSD (so it’s superfast). Comes with 2core processor and 4TB transfer (bandwidth). For the average site hovering around 20-50k page views per month, this should be more than enough for your needs. At date of post, the cost of this is $42 USD monthly.

Bearing in mind, you can scale up on demand if you need more resources.

If you would like to discuss your site needs, I’m happy to help and you can drop me a line on the contact page or reach out to me on one of the socials.

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