When people research services like managed hosting for WordPress, WooCommerce, Magento, or their PHP stack, they want certain things to be made clear right from the start. Customers these days expect full cost transparency; after all, if they wanted to do their own resource accounting, they would migrate their projects to the public Cloud directly. They also expect to be able to select from a bunch of different Cloud providers depending on their pricing and service needs: Vultr, Linode, Digital Ocean, and others.
So when a service breaks down costs in easy-to-understand terms, makes spinning up a new server incredibly easy, and gives the customer a choice between five different Cloud providers, it’s time to pay attention. That’s where Cloudways enters the picture.
The contention is that Cloudways can offer a hassle-free, friendly service that will save time and money when compared to the complexities of dealing with individual Cloud providers. They also say that they can eliminate the overhead and system administration that is required by traditional server colocation but still provide high-quality, customizable software stacks.
This Cloudways review puts those claims to the test. We’ll explore how this company handles managed to host for WordPress and other common software stacks like WooCommerce Magento and the expectations that a user should have as far as support and cost.
Who is Cloudways?
That’s how Cloudways describes themselves, and it’s fairly accurate. By default, the platforms they’re able to set up include some of the best managed to host for WordPress, Woocommerce, MySQL PHP stacks, Laravel, and Magento on the market today. They also mention that if a customer contacts support, they can often help with more fine-tuned preinstalled software and app stacks.
As far as the ethos of their platform and business model, they seem to focus on three major aspects:
Cloudways makes several bold, direct comparisons between their costs and the costs of their biggest competitor, SiteGround. For example, their lowest-cost plan is $10 per month, compared to the $100 a month introductory package offered by the competition. On a dollar-for-dollar basis, users get around 2.5 times the system resources at Cloudways as they would under a similar plan at SiteGround. So as far as affordability is concerned, they’re on track to be one of the best.
Ease of Use
Cloudways prides themselves on their automated systems’ ease of use. They say that you can launch the latest WordPress 5.8 site, including their custom speed optimizations, within just a few minutes. And it seems to be true. It’s as simple as selecting which WordPress stack the business wants, which of five different Cloud providers they want to use, and what the primary location of the server should be (London, New York, San Francisco, etc.). After that, it’s as simple as logging into the WordPress web interface and putting the content up. G2 rated their ease of use at 9.5 out of 10, right at the top of their category. And that’s quite believable after observing their interface first hand.
Cloudways makes some bold claims about support, but they seem to be true. As a test, we contacted online support and went through the auto-support chatbot. It was fairly comprehensive. Then, we requested a customer service rep and asked some complex questions. After clarifying our needs, the answers were in our hands within 10 minutes. And more importantly, the answers were correct. Again, G2 has them at the top of the customer support category for hosted services, with a staggering 9.4 out of 10.
So on the surface, Cloudways seems to be exactly who and what they claim to be. But there’s one additional observation to be made, and it isn’t trivial.
The folks at Cloudways are clearly tech lovers. They pride themselves on the clever little tweaks that they’ve made to maximize performance. They went the extra mile to create truly hands-free automation that spins up new servers and installs entire web hosting suites. Their server management console is sleek, and their costs are transparent. Above everything else, this might be the most important factor: Cloudways seems to love what they do, and by reading more deeply into their blogs, potential clients will clearly see that they’re always looking to improve their service.
Cloud Provider Options and Costs
The server selection screen is simple. In fact, it’s nearly foolproof.
There are five different options for sourcing the Cloud server, with DigitalOcean being the cheapest in general. But as a point of comparison, we’re going to compare the pricing of managed hosting for WordPress on one core, 2 GB memory server out of New York (or nearby) with minimal (staging) bandwidth requirements:
|DigitalOcean||2 GB||1 Core||50 GB||2 TB||$22/mo ($0.0306/hr)|
|Linode||2 GB||1 Core||50 GB||2 TB||$24/mo ($0.0333/hr)|
|Vultr||2 GB||1 Core||64 GB||2 TB||$26/mo ($0.0361/hr)|
|Amazon AWS||2 GB||2 Core||20 GB||2 GB||$36.51/mo ($0.0507/hr)|
|Google GCE||1.7 GB||1 Core||20 GB||2 GB||$33.18/mo ($0.0461/hr)|
(*) Google (GCE) & Amazon (AWS): Disk Sizes are configurable, and Bandwidth is on a pay-as-you-go basis.
(**) To compare the differences in prices on Cloudways, refer to the newest Cloudways Pricing list for more.
- Digital Ocean: (NY) $0.0306 Hourly, $22.00 Monthly
- Linode: (out of nearby Newark NJ) $0.0333 Hourly, $24.00 Monthly
- VULTR: (NY / NJ) $0.0319 Hourly, $23.00 Monthly
- Amazon Web Services: (Northern VA) $0.0507 Hourly, $36.51 Monthly
- Google Cloud Platform: (Northern VA) $0.0461 Hourly, $33.18 Monthly
So really, the two payment tiers are Digital Ocean, Linode, and VULTR on the low end, AWS, and Google on the high end. For a more beefy setup, say 8 GB with 4 cores with 50 GB bandwidth… figure $100 a month on the low end, and $180 on the high end.
When we asked support about the availability of preemptible instances like EC2 Spot, which can save a lot of money when dealing with certain applications on a PHP stack or self-healing Kubernetes clusters, they said it wasn’t available by default. If a user thinks they can get away with a preemptible instance, the suggestion would be to talk to support to see what they can swing. If nothing else, it’s a good suggestion for the future.
Similarly, slow archival storage options like Amazon S3 Glacier and other deep storage for backups were not available through the default interface. Again, it is suggested that if there’s a need for Glacier or similar products, talk to support and see what can be arranged.
Otherwise, all of the options are there. For more complex installations, huge databases and massive bandwidth and storage can be set aside… at a cost of course. The user simply has to play with the sliders when they request the instance to see what the hourly and running cost will be for provisioning such things.
Commonly, you can use a Cloudways Coupon while signing up your account to claim free credit and a percent off for your bill. Also, Cloudways gives you a chance to have a 3-day free trial for any provider you prefer without a credit card or payment needed, so it will be easier for you to choose a cloud provider that fits your application at best after the trial period.
Cloudways Support Options
There are three support options with a lot of different features available, depending on the service level agreement (SLA) the user wants to pay for.
Standard Support is free with all paid accounts. It includes 24/7/365 access to Live Chat guidance through any operation on the Cloudways Platform, which we tested before writing this review. The chatbot features were pretty in-depth, answering the most common questions. The front-line support staff is clearly working off of scripts, but they’re pretty good scripts. Only when we threw them a complex curveball did they have to go digging around. But in a short time, they got the right answers.
At this level, support tickets have a 12 hour response time or 3 hours for high-priority tickets. Basic monitoring and alerts are included.
Advanced SLA is $100 per month. This would be appropriate for small businesses that have some DevOps needs that require a bit more application and customization support. This gives you Senior Engineer access, skipping most of the frontline support queue and jumping the user into the priority queue where the situation is briefly assessed and routed to the advanced engineer who can help. This SLA also comes with a dedicated account manager.
At this level, support tickets have a 6 hour response time or 30 minutes for high-priority tickets. Advanced proactive monitoring and alerts are included.
Premium SLA is $500 per month. This tier is appropriate for medium and large businesses that have a lot of DevOps needs that require a heavy application and customization support. For critical, high uptime environments, this is the level of support that puts the user into the high priority queue. Like the Advanced level, it comes with an account manager. But it also comes with a 24/7/365 private Slack channel, and phone support options.
At this level, support tickets have a 2 hour response time or 10 minutes for high-priority tickets. Advanced proactive monitoring and alerts are included.
Most individual users that have some technical chops will be fine with the free tier, at least until they’re making enough money to consider higher levels of customization and deep app integrations. At that point, they can consider the Advanced SLA.
Other Features at Cloudways
Cloudways offers so many features on its hosting platform, and all are free of charge. Their UI interface is very easy to use and clean, so you don’t need to be an expert but still will easily control your application like a pro. Otherwise, For many people who are trying to find the best Managed Hosting for WordPress or eCommerce sites, this won’t be their first rodeo. They may already have some experience with other managed hosting providers.
Those users can make use of the free website migration offer for their first website. After the instance is migrated over, Cloudways can apply their custom speed and optimization plugins and apps (in most cases, one would assume there are exceptions to this if the old site was particularly ‘funky’).
Once everything is ready, Cloudways provides free SSL certificates so that people visiting the site can do so securely. The setup process is easy.
Instances have dedicated firewalls that can be configured to allow certain types of traffic. Cloudways is also partnered with Malcare, who uses machine learning to detect and mitigate bot attacks and provide early alerts and mitigation for DDOS attacks.
At the account level, two-factor authentication can be used to make sure that anyone trying to make modifications is the real deal. The easiest way to set it up is to scan the provided QR code with Google Authenticator and use a mobile device for the second authentication source.
Launching multiple applications is fine, as each app is sandboxed with their application isolation technology. This means a problem with one app usually won’t take down the whole server.
As far as file level access and editing, SSH and SFTP are available to directly manipulate a server at the file level. Windows users can use an application like Putty, or anyone can use a Git compatible client. Cloudways has full guides of back end access and managing credentials for SSH and SFTP.
Cloudways’ Track Record
Testimonials can get a little boring, but statistics never get old.
Cloudways has a 91% customer happiness score on Trustpilot, which is impressive for any hosting company. A score that high usually means that when things go wrong, they’re handled with speed and grace.
They have over 250,000 managed websites in their portfolio, which means they aren’t fly by night. It takes time and effort to accrue that many clients and properties. This also means that their ingress rate far outpaces the number of clients who leave every year. They’re benefitting immensely from the economy of scale, which is probably how they keep prices so low and maintain such a high level of customer service.
What’s Under the Hood
This one is for our fellow nerds out there. If you want to know the open-source technology stack that Cloudways uses to power their Cloud servers, look no further.
This is a LAMP stack with a few extra layers. It’s good to see Redi’s high availability infrastructure being used in a broad deployment like this. They’ve made a lot of excellent decisions here and avoided license fees and complex end-user agreements in the process. It’s a really nice stack, at the end of the day.
Every managed hosting service is going to appeal to different people. But Cloudways has done its best to appeal to a broad audience, from the technically timid to the DevOps experts.
Our trial period was flawless, our tech support test went very well, and the available documentation and community help are impressive. Cloudways is an easy 5 out of 5 stars with tests.
It’s rare that we can give a wholehearted endorsement of a site like this, but Cloudways has proven to be exceptional. If you really love this managed hosting provider like us and want to get started with them today, don’t forget to use Cloudways Promo Code to get a few months extra free on your hosting plan order.
I wish you all succeed with Cloudways 🙂