Today, in this Cloudways Review, we will show you how choosing the right cloud hosting platform can make a real impact on your business. When you've got a business to run, you really don't have to worry about the what, how and where to manage cloud hosting.
You've got much more important things to do than figuring out how, where and how to grow your platform. You just want it to work. Period.
Let's have a look at whether Cloudways is a good choice as a web hosting service.
How to Decide What Cloud Hosting Is Best for Your Needs
A web hosting platform is an internet service that enables individuals and organizations to launch their websites online simply and quickly.
Making a perfect choice of hosting service can be quite tough, especially when you have plenty of choice. It's usually a question of balancing features and performance against price.
The same goes for choosing the best cloud hosting platform. Besides checking out any other web hosting reviews, some of which you can find in the web hosting section, you should check out all of the features yourself, through a trial. This allows you to understand whether the platform suits your own specific needs.
IT Organizations have invested ostensibly in providing cloud services to individual website builders worldwide; each promising 99% uptime, unlimited resources, and excellent support.
The real challenge lies in cutting through the jargon and choosing the best one to meet your needs, right?
So how do we decide whether a cloud hosting platform is actually good?
Identify your hosting needs
In order to choose the best hosting platform for launching your online presence, you should first identify your hosting needs. Certain factors such as host reliability, uptime, upgrades and hosting features including add-ons are a must.
Pricing can differ depending on the quality of service and stability of the product on the market. An ideal choice would be neither too expensive that it becomes a monthly burden or accounting headache nor too cheap that the service becomes more of a struggle to keep working correctly.
Today we're performing a full Cloudways review and whether it makes sense to use as your platform. Is it all you need to set up an excellent hosting environment?
What Cloudways offers is different than other cloud hosting platforms over the internet because of its ultimate software stack named ThunderStack. We will review all the important features in this web hosting review of the Cloudways platform.
The Cloudways stack is a combination of Nginx, Varnish, Apache, FPM (FastCGI Process Manager), Memcached, Redis, and MySQL. Today we are going to review Cloudways and how Cloudways has eased the hosting headaches of thousands of users over the internet.
7 Essential tips to set up a Reseller Hosting Business Startup: click here to read more.
Cloudways is a managed cloud hosting platform. It provides customers with a solution to launch web applications on different cloud servers. Pricing depends on the provider you choose with DigitalOcean starting at $10 per month. Cloudways' servers are highly tuned for performance and reliability and you'll have support experts ready to help.
Overall, here are our ratings:
|Price||Signup Free, hosting plans start from $10/month with DigitalOcean|
|Free Trial||Yes - 3 days, no credit card required|
|Interface||Tuned for performance|
|What we liked (PROs)||Large option of cloud providers|
|Many top features built-in (backups)|
|Can host any platform and / or application|
|What we didn't like (CONs)||Can get pricey depending on platform provider - however, performance is excellent|
|No CPanel - some might feel this is a disadvantage|
|No ROOT access|
|Ease of use||5/5|
|Website||Visit Website Now|
Before we continue, check out this short 1-minute video of setting up a PHP website (such as WordPress) with DigitalOcean:
There are five cloud service providers that Cloudways offers right now:
- DigitalOcean (3-day free trial)
- Vultr (3-day free trial)
- Linode (3-day free trial)
- Amazon Web Service AWS (3-day free trial)
- Google Compute Engine GCE or Google Cloud (3-day free trial)
We would recommend checking some of the above cloud web hosting and server reviews to see which one would work best for your specific needs. No credit card is required to perform a Cloudways trial.
But remember that with managed hosting, you'll get help with whatever platform you choose.
Before you start launching a server, you will have to select a web application. A web application allows you to create a website based on your business’s needs. From WordPress to Joomla and Drupal, Magento to Prestashop, PHP to CRM, you can easily launch any type of website that fulfills your hosting service requirements. Cloudways offers customers a wide range of web applications to choose from.
(Use coupon code: CR20 for 20% off for 2 months)
This Cloudways review will continue with some details about the actual Cloudways platform.
In order to launch your very own account, follow these really simple steps:
- Sign-Up using your required credentials.
- Once you are done with signing up, you will be prompted for verification. Verify your account to become part of Cloudways.
- Log in to the Cloudways Console, it will direct you to a Launch page. Hit the Launch button to start a new server.
- Setup your server and app details. Cloudways makes WordPress Hosting easy. For now, we will select WordPress. You will have to further provide a name for your application, server, and project.
It is good to note once again, that if you are just running a trial, you don't need to provide your credit card details.
Step #1: Create an Account on Cloudways
First, you need to set up an account with Cloudways. Go to their Sign up page and enter your details.
After you have created an account, log in.
The first thing you'll notice that this is not a CPanel based cloud platform. Cloudways have developed their own custom control panel to allow you to manage the complex functionality available, without necessarily adding too much complexity to the user experience.
Having said this, those familiar with Cpanel might find the experience of using a custom control panel overwhelming, at least until you get used to it. Whenever if you feel stuck just get in touch with the Cloudways customer support team who will gladly help you out.
Step #2: Launch Server
Let’s now launch the server from the Control Panel. After you click ‘Launch’, you need to make a few choices.
For the purposes of this exercise, we have selected the following:
- WordPress 4.9.8 as application
- ‘Testing for CollectiveRay’ as the name of our application and server
- Linode as the cloud platform provider
- 1 GB as server size
- Fremont as location
At the bottom, click ‘Launch Now’ button.
In just a matter of minutes, your server will be provisioned and launched. You can then see your server specifications and details by clicking on your server.
The Cloudways Server Management Stack
Server management is one of the most important features of this Cloudways hosting service. It provides the user with server access credentials, monitoring features, service management, security options and much more.
Below are some of the features Cloudways offers. We've looked at them in detail in order to so that you can underset the extensive feature set that the Cloudways Server Management has available.
Setup and access your Master Credentials
First up is Master Credentials.
It contains your server’s public IP, Username and Password. You can upload multiple SSH Public Keys to your server to access it without password prompts. You can also do it manually by selecting SSH Public Keys button and set label and public keys.
Alternatively, you can set it automatically for your websites by simply launching SSH Terminal on your browser by selecting Launch SSH Terminal.
Monitoring the performance of your web application
Another aspect of the Control Panel is the Monitoring feature that enables users to monitor their respective server and application performance.
This Cloudways feature provides 15 different real-time options to monitor your server. You can set your timescale to as low as every hour. As far as the application monitoring is concerned, Cloudways has partnered with New Relic to provide this feature to the users.
In order to access it, you have to enable New Relic from your Manage Services option.
This is something that very few providers give you.
For example, we host this website on InMotion hosting, and you won't find access to such functionality, even if we do believe they are one of the best web hosting services you could opt for.
Use Manage Services to enable different server resources
Speaking of Manage Services, this feature allows users to manage variable services on their server. These services include Apache, Memcached, MySQL, New Relic, Nginx, PHP FPM and Varnish.
There are specific control options available for each service.
Using these control panel options, you can enable and disable your server resources as per your requirements. As for Varnish, it comes with an additional purge option which allows you to clear your cache with just a single click.
Be careful when tweaking these settings. If you know what you're doing, you WILL bring out the best of the resources, but if you're not sure, you may break your setup!
Set your Server package details via Settings & Packages
The Settings & Packages option lets you set the details of your server packages and settings to your website requirements. Cloudways gives you the option to either access the basic server utility or the advanced server utility to set your preferences.
You can also turn on Cloudflare, HTTP/2, Redis, and ElasticSearch from the Packages option in the same section. Before deploying any particular package, please make sure that your applications and its plugins or extensions are compatible.
One needs to note that given that the nature of the platform, Cloudways does not provide root access to its servers. This is because, with root access, one could possibly break the underlying server infrastructure, creating a less reliable platform for both yourself and other customers.
However, most settings that typically require root, can still be managed through the wealth of Cloudways settings available. We don't feel that this is a disadvantage because, in reality, you don't need it.
Customize your application's Security
This feature that Cloudways offers enables you to whitelist your IP addresses in order to safely access your server over SFTP and SSH.
With this feature, you can further check whether your specific IP address is open or blocked. Once you are done with adding IP addresses to whitelist you can simply hit ‘Save Changes’ in order to apply them.
On-demand resources with Vertical Scaling
Cloudways' vertical scaling, is designed such that you can easily increase your server size through the Control Panel without any hassle - it's dead simple.
DigitalOcean and Vultr only offer server upgrades of server size while Amazon and Google Compute Engine allow you to downsize them as well (this would be great if you want to handle traffic spikes such as holiday seasons).
As you scale your server, other attributes of your server such as RAM, SSD Disk and Core Processors are increased accordingly.
Keep your website safe with Backups
The Backup feature that Cloudways offers helps you backup your server and application data at safe data centers so you in case of failures, you don’t suffer any serious data loss.
You can automate your backup frequency up to as low as an hour. Furthermore, you can enable/disable your local backup. At any instance, if you think that you need to back up your data immediately, you get the additional option of Take Server Backup Now.
Cloudways offers customers two server add-ons:
- The SMTP Addon and
- Elastic email Addon.
You will first need to Activate/Subscribe the Add-on from Add-ons Tab to configure Add-on for your server in order to access them. You can use the Elastic Email add-on for transactional email delivery and management service.
The activation of Custom SMTP Add-on will enable the user to configure an external SMTP service for transactional email delivery and management service.
Cloudways' Application Management allows users to manage application queries on your web server.
Access Details provides you with information related to different ways in which you can interact with your web application.
There are three sections within the Access Details control panel;
- Application URL,
- Admin Panel and
- MySQL Access.
By simply clicking the link under the admin panel will lead you to your web application (WordPress) login page. The username and password are available so you can store all the credentials here.
Enable your own domain with Domain Management
Domain management allows you to point your domain to Cloudways hosting platform.
Domain pointing will link your domain with the web application that you have launched. You can add a primary domain and further add additional subdomains depending on how many websites you wish to link to your web application.
Automate tasks with Cron Job Management
Cron Job tool is a task scheduler that can used to perform certain periodic tasks.
It allows individuals to schedule tasks that can take place on your website. In order to use a cron job for your website, you have to add new cron job to the Cloudways hosting platform. Settings for Cron Job are categorized as following; Basic and Advance.
Depending on the design of your website, you can set attributes for both accordingly.
Install an SSL Certificate to enable secure transmission
SSL certification provides secure transmission of data to and from your website.
Cloudways has enabled the free SSL provider Let’s Encrypt SSL Certification. You can switch between using the pre-default SSL Certification available at Cloudways or a custom SSL certificate of your choice. You can use the custom SSL tool on the platform to install and configure your free SSL certificates.
All the different cloud hosting service providers Cloudways integrate with offer the option of free SSL certificates.
Restore your website backup
Restore option allows you to restore your web app from available backups.
If automated backups are up and running on your server, you will have several restore points to go back to. Once you have successfully selected the restore point you wish to shift to, just select Restore Application Now.
Deploy your application via Git
Another sweet feature that Cloudways offers is the ability to deploy changes on your website via Git. Your Git repository should support Git over SSH. SSH Keys identify your server without the need of passwords. You will first need to generate and download SSH Keys. It's very easy. In order to do so, you just have to click the button Generate SSH Keys.
Configure your applications via Application Settings
With the Application settings option, you can configure settings in accordance with your preference. You can configure as many applications as you like with specified settings. Application Settings is available in two different categories at Cloudways; General and PHP settings.
You can even enable/disable Varnish for your web application and reset it as well.
Migrate Websites Using the Migrator Tool
Cloudways also comes with a built-in tool for Migrating WordPress websites to its hosting platform called the WordPress Migrator.
It is available in the Application Management Tab and you can use to migrate data from your WordPress Dashboard to the one that you have launched.
Use CloudwaysCDN for Enhanced Website Performance
CloudwaysCDN is a content delivery network developed by the Cloudways team to enhance a website’s performance for a wider audience. It is a geographically distributed server system that stores copies of static assets of the website.
This means that it is able to reduce traffic loads and page load times of websites.
Enable additional Application Add-Ons
Cloudways also offers several Application add-ons for your web application. You can go to the ‘Add-Ons’ section from the dropdown menu at the top.
Here are the 6 add-ons that Cloudways offers:
- DNS Made Easy,
- Rackspace Email,
- Elastic Email,
- Application Migration,
- Application Upgrade, and
Cloudways has recently integrated a new feature to its platform, CloudwaysBot.
CloudwaysBot is your very own personal server assistant that helps you to optimize your server and application settings at Cloudways. It is intelligently designed to keep track of your server and application sending any notifications about security, settings, billings, and upgrades.
It also keeps an eye out on the overall performance of your account.
Cloudways is constantly developing and optimizing the CloudwaysBot to make it as user-friendly as possible.
Besides, it will also send tips and tricks on how one can improve their Cloudways server performance. You can further set Channels on which you want your CloudwaysBot to send notifications. For example, you can send notifications to personal social platforms such as HipChat, Slack or simply, your email address.
Work with Teams & Projects
At Cloudways, you can now create Teams and do Projects with them. The platform offers you both options. You can assign team members, share project details with them and so much more. Join individuals working separately under a single platform and work together.
Support and Documentation
Customer support comes in various forms but comes primarily through the Support dropdown where you'll find access to the Knowledge Base, the Community Forum, the blog, and the Contact Us page.
The sales and billings teams can be contacted via the enquiry form, or via telephone.
For regular customer support, you can log in to the platform, which will immediately bring up the CloudwaysBot live chat. Once you send in your query a number of articles will get displayed to try to answer your query immediately, otherwise, the live chat will get assigned to a customer support agent, who will resolve your query.
We didn't have too many issues ourselves, but we did test out the support chat in general. You'll find that they have a great customer support team that will strive to ensure your query is resolved in a timely manner.
Pricing / Coupon Code
When it comes to pricing, we believe that given the flexibility, the service is very nicely priced. Starting at $10 per month for 1GB (on DigitalOcean) and 1 core and going up to a very fair $22 per month for 2GB, we believe the pricing is great and accessible to anybody who is running a site which is monetized or core business process.
You can see some more details about their pricing plans below.
But to make the pricing even more accessible, we've partnered with this company to give you an additional 20% OFF for the first 2 months. Just use the coupon code CR20 when checking out to automatically have 20% OFF for your first two months.
Managed Hosting Platforms
Cloudways is essentially a platform that allows you to plugin to a number of cloud hosting provider services. As at the time of writing this article, their primary providers are the following:
- Digital Ocean - one of the pioneers and one of the most popular providers. The cheapest plan is priced at $10 per month.
- Linode - this provider is known for its high performing servers at very good prices. Prices start at $12 per month.
- Vultr - another popular provider, with plans starting at $11 per month.
- AWS - Amazon Web Services - this is absolutely the most popular cloud infrastructure provider, but in general, they are more expensive than other providers. The lowest plan starts at $36.51 per month and bandwidth is limited compared to the other providers above.
- GoogleCloud - another very popular provider for managed hosting. Once again, they are not particularly cheap. Again, the price starts at $33.30 per month with bandwidth limited to 2GB.
In general, if you're looking for good performance and good resources, but don't need too much bandwidth, go for AWS or Google Cloud. If bandwidth and price is an issue, go for the DigitalOcean, Linode or Vultr.
One needs to note that the above are some of the best web hosting services available out there. Any hosting plan you choose will surely give you great results, such is the nature of the Cloudways platform.
It is important to note and understand the difference of Cloudways hosting service from shared hosting. When you apply with Cloudways and one of the providers, the plan you select will give you dedicated resources to your own application or website. So if you opt for a DigitalOcean $42 per month plan, your website will have 2 dedicated CPU cores, 4GB of dedicated RAM, 80GB of storage and 4TB of bandwidth.
With shared hosting services, you'll find that each server could be shared with anything from 500 to a 1000 other websites, which will absolutely kill the performance. This is a key difference in why websites on managed hosting perform so much better.
One also needs to know that typically managed WordPress hosting starts at a much higher pricing than the above. For example, Kinsta and WPEngine, two other services which we've reviewed here and here start at a price point which is several multiples higher.
The plans above are suitable for small business websites, where you can start with the lower tier plans and then scale up as your business grows without having to go through a migration.
While we've done extensive test ourselves and found this web host more than suitable, we're going to share with you some of the other Cloudways reviews we've seen and what they think.
Adam from WPCrafter thinks the servers are insanely fast and then says the following:
PCMag, a very reputable source for Cloudways reviews and software in general thinks this is an excellent platform:
On Capterra, you'll find that out of 25 Cloudways reviews, they have an average 5/5 star rating, which is a great testimonial to the quality of this company.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Cloudways?
Cloudways is a platform that offers managed cloud hosting through a number of different vendors. Essentially, you can pick from a large variety of different cloud hosting services such as Digital Ocean, Linode, Vultr, AWS or Google Cloud to host your own service. Cloudways extracts the complexity of going directly to these services and makes it easy to use these cloud services to host your websites and application infrastructure.
Where is Cloudways based?
Cloudways is based out of the tiny Mediterranean island of Malta. It is incidental that CollectiveRay.com is also based on this island! In terms of the actual hosting infrastructure, you can choose from a huge number of data centers around the world. You can choose the data center location that is most convenient for you and that offers the best performance for your customers.
How does Cloudways work?
The way Cloudways works is by creating a platform through which you can use from some of the most popular cloud hosting infrastructure providers. The benefit of using the platform is that Cloudways has implemented a number of optimizations on top of these platforms, such as easy access to latest PHP versions, backups, caching, application monitoring, managed security and many more.
Is Cloudways worth it?
Yes, we do believe that Cloudways is worth it. While the cost of going direct to the cloud providers might be "cheaper", you are not getting the same level of features available easily at your fingertips. The advantage of using Cloudways is that most sysadmin tasks are done for you, so you get all the advantages of hosting with a premium provider, without the difficult technical stuff that you would typically have to handle.
Conclusion - is it worth the money?
Is the Cloudways platform the best-managed cloud hosting provider? We haven't tested all of them, but we've worked with quite a few and this is a whole different ballgame. If it's not the best, it's definitely a contender.
One can find a number of hosting platforms over the internet, however, some are lacking when it comes to customer service, some have an incomplete feature set, some have high pricing while others are so low that they put quality at risk.
Our Cloudways review shows how it is a complete single click solution, offering you a complete feature set at very good prices. The customer support is great. The user-friendly interface makes it a breeze to work with, unlike CPanel powered hosts.
But who are we to make the decision for you. Try Cloudways yourself today and see whether this is the right hosting service for you.
Launch your very own Managed Cloud Server and host a web application and see how it works. Whether it be a design of a blog, a business website, an online web store or a social forum, Cloudways make hosting as easy as it gets.
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