2021 January 8
Cloudways is a web hosting provider offering high-speed virtual private servers. Their solution is meant to cater to even the most inexperienced users with easy to use control panel and server management taken care of.
ABOVE AVERAGE. PROS OUTWEIGH THE CONS.
ABOVE AVERAGE. PROS OUTWEIGH THE CONS.
SPEED — 384ms
great, the provider is way faster than average.
UPTIME — 100%
the perfect score, your site will be live at all times.
PRICING — 7.2/10
On the higher side, there are many cheaper options.
Cloudways is a web hosting company like you’ve never seen before. They are selling hosting without having a single server themselves. And not just simple shared hosting. No, they are selling Virtual Private Servers with each of dozens of plans that they have.
That’s an interesting business model, to say the least. Although nothing that hasn’t been done before. But from what I’ve seen in this Cloudways review, their solution is by far the most convenient.
Cloudways takes the servers of top dogs of VPS hosting – Digital Ocean, Google, Amazon, Vultr, and Linode and resells them to you. Of course, the catch is a higher price.
For example, the cheapest plan Digital Ocean has is $5 a month when you buy directly from them. With Cloudways, it’s $10 per month. The same goes for every provider.
But wait a second. That’s not a good deal at all. Why would you pay double the price?
This is where the Cloudways solution comes in.
You see, when you buy a virtual private server, it comes completely bare. No user interface. If you want to use it, you have to know how to operate the command line. It’s like using a computer without a monitor or mouse.
What Cloudways does is they purchase your chosen server, launch it, and give you a control panel with all the easy one-click installations, updates, and more. Now, you can have that fast server and the ability to use it. Even if you’re not experienced in managing a VPS.
Cloudways has a variety of pricing options depending on the server supplier you choose and your needs. So the cheapest option is the Digital Ocean entry server for $10/month while the most expensive one is Amazon’s AWS 24XL for more than $3500.00 a month.
But even that price is not set in stone.
Cloudways advertises monthly pricing but they actually charge hourly rates. This means that you only pay for the resources you use.
So, you can pick the cheapest plan, get more resources when you need them, and come back to the cheapest plan once the busy period is over.
Once you first sign up, there’s no initial cost. You’ll be billed next month for what you’ve used. In fact, Cloudways even has a free 3-day trial period for Digital Ocean, Vultr, and Linode. You can try out the servers for free before committing to them.
This is where the supplier choice comes in. You can choose from DigitalOcean, Linode, VULTR, Amazon, or Google. All having different pricing.
I personally picked Vultr – it’s a good value between price and performance. However, it all depends on what you need. So while the cheaper plans can handle medium-sized websites with moderate traffic levels, more expensive ones will support much more – really popular online stores, dynamic news sites, and web-based applications.
Just keep in mind that the bill will be modular. So if you use extra services like backups, emails, or CDNs, that will be added to the total. You pay for what you use and there’s no flat fee that would cover it all.
To keep track of your bill, there’s a convenient “Real-Time Billing” tab on the control panel. I recommend keeping a close eye on it as you might accidentally activate some paid service.
As you can see, I have a Rackspace email and 1 server activated.
So all in all, Cloudways won’t offer much value if you have good technical knowledge. The better value is buying straight from the source and managing the server yourself. But if you’ve never managed a VPS before, it seems to offer quite a good solution.
Let’s see what Cloudways adds in terms of value when you buy through them.
Getting started and managing your website with Cloudways is easy. The launch of my server took less than 5 minutes.
I’ve registered an account and selected WordPress to be pre-installed. I filled in my server details. These will be used to keep track of all of your servers on the dashboard.
All I needed to do then was to pick which provider to use. I picked the smallest Vultr server and selected the New York data center.
That’s one of the best thighs about using Cloudways. Across all providers, it has 60+ server locations all across the globe. This means you can get as close to your target audience as possible giving them the fastest page load times.
Once I pressed on the “Launch Now” button, Cloudways took around 5 minutes to get my server ready.
Now I can explore the rest of the control panel.
Switching between servers and what’s hosted on those servers is easy. Right now, I have “Servers” mode on but flicking the switch will activate the “Applications” mode where I can manage the already pre-installed WordPress or add more applications.
To add a new app, all you need to do is click the “Add Application” button and follow the instructions. First, you’ll need to select the server on which to install the app. As I only have one server, it’s pre-selected for me:
Now you can choose from plenty of different options. Several versions of WordPress, PHP, Laravel, Magento, and other apps are available. For this review, I went with a simple WordPress and WooCommerce installation.
I needed to name my new application and click on “Add Application.” It took a couple of minutes for Cloudways to install a new WordPress website with WooCommerce on my server.
The next step is managing the website you created. For that, you’ll need to access your “Applications” tab. It lists every app that you’ve installed.
If you want to manage a particular app, you’ll need to click on the name of the app and you’ll be redirected to the management page.
There you’ll find login information and a bunch of settings – domain management, SSL, backups, and more.
For example, I really liked that SSLs are included for free with every domain that you add. You’ll simply need to enter your email and select a domain on which to install the SSL. Super simple.
Also, Cloudways does not limit how many websites you create. You’ll only pay for what you use and as long as you don’t go above server limits, it’s not going to be terribly expensive. I’d say, you can quite comfortably host 4 or 5 websites with moderate traffic even on the cheapest plan.
Overall, the user interface is intuitive and easy to use. It’s one of the things that justifies Cloudways’ higher prices.
To test the performance of Cloudways, as always, I’ve simulated a website that could pass for the real deal. I then put it through 3 tests – speed, stress, and stability. All of which the provider passed with no issues.
First, I’ve used the GTMetrix tool to see how fast my website loads. Cloudways managed to load my website in 1.4 seconds.
In comparison, providers like SiteGround, Hostinger, and A2 Hosting show similar results with plans that cost around $15 to $20 per month. This makes Cloudways around 30% faster than the most expensive shared hosting plans I’ve tested. And let’s keep in mind that this is the cheapest server configuration costing up to $11 per month.
But this test shows how fast the website is without any visitors on it. The more people log in at the same time, the more the server has to work. Once overloaded, the server slows down.
So this is what I tested next – put some stress on the server using K6 Cloud software. It sent 50 virtual users and analyzed server performance.
50 visitors at the same time did not make any difference to Cloudways. See that blue line? It’s completely stable despite more and more virtual users coming in.
And I’m not surprised that this cheap virtual private server outperformed expensive shared hosting. You get the whole server to yourself and don’t need to share resources with other websites. Also, the problem of difficulty managing these servers is solved by Cloudways providing you with an intuitive control panel.
But I’m not done testing.
For the last test, I wanted to see how stable the provider is. Using Pingdom, I monitored it for over 2 months.
The result? Absolutely 0 downtime.
You always want your uptime to be as close to 100% as possible and Cloudways makes this possible. Of course, server maintenance will have to happen at some point taking it down for a couple of minutes. But overall, the current result is promising.
All in all, Cloudways passed every test I’ve thrown their way. The host loads websites quite quickly, it can handle a bunch of traffic on the cheapest plan, and is 100% stable for the time being.
You get 24/7 customer support with all of Cloudways plans. That covers live chat and ticketing as well as an extensive knowledge base. However, phone support is only available for billing and sales, and to get technical assistance via call, you’ll need to purchase a premium support add-on.
From the first look, all that sounds reasonable. But in my opinion, Cloudways support is not that great.
For example, to chat with a support agent, you’ll first have to talk to a robot. I described my problem but the chatbot was not able to help me, suggesting almost random Knowledge Base articles. To talk to a real human, you’ll have to answer even more of the chatbot’s questions selecting “other reason” over and over again.
Once the robot agreed to connect me to the actual human, the wait time was not that long. It was around 10 or 15 minutes.
But… When the agent joined, there was complete silence.
I took initiative and explained my problem, again. And waited. Just to be told that everything’s fine.
Obviously, if I am contacting the support, everything is not fine. So the agent wasn’t helpful at all.
Overall, I felt like the support agent wanted to get rid of me as soon as possible. So in total, I spent over 30 minutes trying to reach and chatting with support and got absolutely nothing out of it. This could be the worst support I’ve seen this year.
On the other hand, I read through a bunch of Cloudways reviews to see if that was a common experience that I had. Apparently not as most of the users are praising the support agents for their helpfulness.
So where the human factor is concerned, experiences will be different. Maybe, my agent was just having a bad day.
All in all, Cloudways support is there and available 24/7. And while I had a bad experience, it might not be a regular thing.
At this point, Cloudways hosting does not look like the best deal you’ve ever had. But it surely has its user base. So to quickly sum up, what is it good for and when should you avoid it?
To start with, Cloudways solution is great for beginner users. Imagine if you don’t have much technical experience but your blog explodes. You need much more than shared hosting can offer but managing VPS all by yourself requires a lot of technical knowledge. This is where Cloudways steps in managing everything for you. It’s cheaper than a professional developer.
The provider also has servers in more than 60 regions worldwide. This makes it a great option if you need to get as close to your target audience as possible. Businesses might particularly like the location choice as it will improve page loading times.
However, not all is perfect.
If you have hosted a website before and learn quickly, buying a server directly from the supplier will be much cheaper.
And as I found out previously in this Cloudways review, you should not lay all of your trust on their support team.
But all in all, the good things of Cloudways really outweigh the bad ones. You are actually getting a really good deal for the money that you spend in terms of performance, ease of use, and stability.
I hope my review helps to make a decision and you end up with the right hosting plan for you. Consider making a purchase using one of the links in this review to support my work and get a discount. Happy hosting!