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Simple, efficient, fast.
Cloudways Charges You per Hour, or on a Monthly Basis.
It’s Extremely Easy to Set up and Use.
Provides Amazing Uptime and Server Speed.
You Have the Ability to Clone Sites With Ease.
While there are many cloud-based web hosting out there, only a handful of them truly stands out based on their features. Cloudways stand out due to the fact that it lets you select from one of five platforms, including Digital Ocean, Linode, Vultr, AWS, and Google Cloud.
Getting Started with Cloudways
Getting started with Cloudways is a process that’s easy, albeit slightly unique. It does require a bit more confirmation than your average hosting website, so let’s see what you actually need to do to get up and running Digital Ocean, Linode, Vultr, AWS, and Google Cloud. Another thing I genuinely love about it is that it has a pay-as-you-go plan, and it even lets you sign up for a three-day trial without the need to create a credit card.
But while all of this sounds good on paper, how well does it actually work, and most importantly, what kind of level of performance can you expect out of it?
Pick up a cloud hosting plan that you can always scale up/down to optimize operational costs.
To test this, I made an account and enabled the three-day trial, let’s see how far I can go with it.
Once you visit the official page, you’ll see not one but two “Start Free” buttons on the screen. Yes, you read that right; two, it doesn’t get easier than this.
All jokes aside, I love the fact that it’s easy to sign up and that anyone could figure their way around the website, but most of all, it actually looks amazing, with a modern material design that just about anyone will enjoy seeing. Eye-candy.
Here’s where things get tricky, as you have to pick between Digital Ocean, Linode, Vultr, AWS, and Google Cloud.
Now, to get you up to speed, think of this as a little crash-course on servers.
- Digital Ocean – an American Cloud infrastructure provider with headquarters in New York City with data centers on a worldwide scale.
- Linode – an American privately-owned cloud hosting company that provides private servers and is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- Vultr – a provider of high-performance SSD cloud servers that is available on a global scale and aims to create the most reliable and efficient hosting service for developers.
- AWS – Amazon Web Services is a subsidiary of Amazon that provides on-demand cloud computing platforms and APIs to individuals, companies, and even governments on a metered pay-as-you-go basis.
- Google Cloud – this is a platform that is offered by Google and is a suite of cloud computing services that runs on the same infrastructure that Google uses internally for its user products.
For this guide’s purposes, I’ll be using Digital Ocean, simply because it’s the first selection. I assume that as many people as possible who quickly set things up will use it, so I wanted to have the clearest perspective.
After clicking on “Start Free”, you’ll be taken to this screen.
Now, you’ll receive an email notification asking you to confirm your account.
After you click on “Activate Account”, you’ll be taken to this screen.
Here you’ll need to verify your email through a phone number, simply select your country and add your number.
After you click on verify, you’ll be sent a code that you have 2 minutes to enter before it expires.
Enter the code and you are good to go.
With all of that out of the way, let’s get started.
Using and Managing Your Website on Cloudways
Now, what I noticed here is that you still have the option of switching from DigitalOcean to any of the other available options, which was quite surprising.
You can also select the WordPress version or just pick between WooCommerce, Laravel, PHP, and Magento.
You can name your managed app, name your managed server and name your project.
Finally, you can select a location.
You’ll see the hourly cost as well as the monthly cost on the pay-as-you-go option on the bottom on the left.
On the right side, you’ll also see a “Launch Now” button, which will begin your configuration.
To summarize, this is what I’ll be using for this example.
All I can say is “wow”.
Not only is everything super clean, and super simple, but you also get a video teaching you how to migrate your WordPress website to Cloudways.
Some people literally pay online courses to learn this, and I just love how it’s already included here.
Now, you have to wait up to 10 minutes for the server to get set up, but you are golden after that.
Once this is completed, you’ll see your IP address and a green live icon on the left side.
When you click on the three dots on the right side, you’ll open up more menu items.
These allow you to stop, restart, delete the server or just add an application, and potentially even clone it.
Now, once you click on application management, you are greeted by quite a lot of menu items.
You have access details, monitoring, bot protection, domain management, cron job management, SSL certification, Backup and Restore, Deployment through Git, application settings, Migration tools, and CloudwaysCDN.
What I really liked seeing here is bot protection, as it ensures that your website remains secure by blocking bots and hackers before they can harm your site.
On the default setting, your console will be open to your Master Credentials, and you can edit your username and password and even manage SSH keys and view your IP address.
Next, you have the monitoring tab.
There are a lot of different graphs as well as options for monitoring your server as well as applications. These include the analytics, where you can see the traffic, PHP, MySQL, running Crons and Disk Usage data, and the logs, where you can see the Access log and the Error log.
Now, I’ll go to projects and see my example project there.
Click on servers and then click on your server.
Here’s where you can really manage your website.
You have master credentials, monitoring, manage services, settings and packages, security, vertical scaling, backups, and SMTP.
What is really interesting here is that on the monitoring tab, you have a summary of your server.
You can clearly see your RAM usage, CPU usage, disk usage, and bandwidth usage.
On the manage services tab, you can see the control core services which allow your applications to run, and by changing these settings, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can genuinely break your app functionality.
The settings and packages tab allows you to manage various server-level settings as well as packages.
Here you can manage the execution limit, the upload size, the memory limit, the display error, the error reporting, and the PHP time zone.
The security tab lets you manage security settings, and even whitelist your IP or IP subnets for SSH/SFTP and MySQL connections.
Vertical Scaling lets you increase your server size, and with vertical scaling on Digital Ocean, you are only allowed to increase the server size, and that scaling down is only possible through the cloning feature.
The backups feature allows you to manage your backup preferences.
You can set the scheduled time for backups, the backup frequency, the backup retention and local backups here. You can even make an on-demand backup at any moment.
Now, the applications tab lets you view your applications, and in my case, I have a WordPress application here.
Now, in order to access your admin panel on WordPress, find it in the menu on Access Details.
And here you can manage your WordPress pages, files, themes, plugins, and so on.
Now, you can also add team members. This is specifically useful when you are working with a team and on multiple projects. From the menu here, you can add your team, edit their access to specific servers and applications, and even restrict the operations with servers that they have access to.
The last thing I have to mention is the CloudwaysBot, Add-ons, Suggest A Feature, and Affiliate Program.
The Cloudways Bot is an intelligently designed server assistant that will keep a close eye on the Cloudways account you have and even notify you about alerts for your Servers, Applications, Security, Billing, and overall performance.
In terms of add-ons, you have the Support Add-on, the DNS Made Easy add-on, the Rackspace Email, Elastic Email, Application Migration, Application Upgrade, and CloudwaysCDN add-ons.
I also have to mention the invite a friend initiative, where you get $20 for each invite. Your friends will also get $15 when they sign up, everyone wins.
Level of Support
Before we begin this section, I have to say that Cloudways does not guarantee that they will give you a refund. Instead, you get a three-day free trial and you will only be charged for the resources you end up using. You don’t even have to insert any credit card details for the free trial, and there is no risk of being billed by mistake. If you decide to upgrade at any point, your account will be charged only then.
However, let’s assume that you want to cancel your account. All you have to do is go to the dashboard and select account from the header bar.
Then, you’ll see a page where you can change your account settings, where you need to scroll to the bottom, click on Cancel Account and tick the checkbox that will indicate that you understand and accept the terms and conditions.
Keep in mind that you have to terminate all of your active servers before canceling the account.
Confirm the cancellation and you are done.
They also have a live chat support system, which initially generates scripted messages for you until you get in contact with a real person. It’s mostly there to assist you with setting things up, which is always a plus, especially if you are a newcomer and might not know what you are doing.
I saw speeds from 300 to 800 milliseconds depending on what I had installed in terms of page loading speeds. Keep in mind that the more WordPress plugin and theme customization you have, the lesser the speed here, in any case, it’s quite solid.
Uptime and Speed
Now, throughout my time testing it, the website uptime was quite fair, and I can rest assured knowing that it lives up to the claims of 99% uptime. The main reason a website hosting provider cannot guarantee 100% uptime is due to the fact that sometimes the servers update, there can be power outages, and by the time the backup generators kickback to speed, you’d be on downtime, and so on, but these are typically measured in milliseconds and are not even noticeable. Still, I saw a solid uptime.
When it comes to the level of security, Cloudways shines due to the fact that it offers free managed backups that allow you to restore your site as it was at an earlier date. The process itself is quick and easy, and backups are a vital part of website security. This is due to the fact that whenever something happens, you can always revert to a previous version of your entire site, which can be restored within minutes.
Cloudways also provide free Let’s Encrypt SSL Certificates, and this adds an extra layer of security to your website or application that will use the HTTPS protocol instead of the classic HTTP.
SSL Certificates are a must-have feature for just about any website, and as the use of SSL is widespread, not using them will make your website seem a lot less credible as a result. Google also confirmed that websites that use an SSL certificate get boosts in their rankings.
Remember how I mentioned that Cloudways has features that makes it stand out? Well, one of these features is block storage. This is a network-based block storage device that is used to power the server with additional storage volumes. It is the hardware that provides space to store data and perform read and write operations, just like any traditional storage solution, including Solid State Drives, Hard Disk Drives and so on.
You can also manage the server the way you want to, through renowned IaaS providers, Block Storage, Seamless Vertical Scaling, without any long-term contracts, and you can even launch over 10 apps with a single click. ALl PHP apps are supported, and you can even install multiple PHP versions, with MySQL and MariaDB support. Best of all, it is available on a global scale.
In terms of convenience, you have server settings and packages through the UI, 1-click backup and restore options, a Cron Job Manager, WP-CLI Pre-installed, 1-click Stop App, apps settings that are accessible through the user interface, advanced and custom varnish settings, and supervisord queue manager with the ability to change application Webroot. This means that you essentially have full control of what is happening, when it happens.
Discussing the integrations and add-ons, you have the CloudwaysBot Channels, the Cloudways API, the Application Migration Add-n, the SMTP Add-on, the Rackspace Email Add-on, the Application Upgrade Add-on, the DNS Made Easy Add-on and the Cloudways Support Add-ons, truly a lot to pick from.
Okay, so, for the pricing tab, I’ll let the images do the talking for me, but generally:
- For Digital Ocean, it starts from $10 up to $80 per month.
- For Linode, it starts at $12 per month up to $90 per month.
- For Vultr, it starts at $11 per month up to $84 per month.
- For AWS it starts at $36.51 per month and goes up to $247/33 per month.
- For Google Cloud, it starts at $33.18 per month up to $225.93 per month.
Pros and Cons of Cloudways
- Excellent Array of Choices
- Supports Many Applications
- Many Account Tiers
- Pay-As-You-Go Plans
- 3-Day Free Trial
- Site Cloning Options Available
- Solid Support
- No cPanel implementations
- Requires Some Prior Knowledge
So, with all of that being said and done, would I honestly recommend Cloudways as a way for you to host your website? Are the clouds really the way?
Well, I honestly would, but only if you have a bit more technical know-how to set everything up. If you don’t really know what you’re doing, it will take hours for you to actually get anything done as you’d have to constantly ask the support team for tips as well as tricks on how everything works.
However, if you’re good with tech and can find things around the simplistic user interface, you are getting quite a lot with your money here. The thing I love most about it is that it is easily scalable, as you just pull a slider from left to right indicating how much more resources you actually need.
Cloudways Prices, Plans & Features - 2021
Cloud Hosting Plans
|DigitalOcean Starter Plan||20 GB||1 x 1.00GHz||1 GB||1 TB||AU$14.00||9.1||Details|
|Vultr Starter Plan||25 GB||1 x 1.00GHz||1 GB||1 TB||AU$15.40||8.9||Details|
|GCE Starter Plan||20 GB||1 x 1.00GHz||1.7 GB||2 TB||AU$46.61||9.6||Details|
|AWS Starter Plan||4 GB||1 x 1.00GHz||1.75 GB||2 TB||AU$51.11||8.6||Details|
|Linode Starter Plan||25 GB||1 x 1.00GHz||1 GB||1 TB||AU$16.80||7.1||Details|
|DO 2GB||50 GB||1 x 1.00GHz||2 GB||2 TB||AU$30.80||9.4||Details|
|DO2GB||50 GB||1 x 1.00GHz||2 GB||2 TB||AU$30.80||9.5||Details|
|Linode2GB||50 GB||2 x 1.00GHz||2 GB||2 TB||AU$33.60||10||Details|
|VULTR2GB||55 GB||1 x 1.00GHz||2 GB||2 TB||AU$32.20||8.8||Details|
|DO4GB||80 GB||2 x 2.00GHz||4 GB||4 TB||AU$58.79||9.8||Details|
|Linode4GB||80 GB||2 x 2.00GHz||4 GB||4 TB||AU$69.99||10||Details|
|VULTR4GB||80 GB||2 x 2.00GHz||4 GB||3 TB||AU$61.59||6.0||Details|
|AWS Medium||20 GB||1 x 1.00GHz||3.75 GB||2 TB||AU$121.78||9.3||Details|
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A few words from Cloudways
Cloudways also offers the following features;
-Free Cloud CDN and HTTPS support
-Vertical scaling of servers
-Staging area for testing websites
-Git integration for instant deployment
-One-click stop for applications and servers
-Folder-like structure for managing multiple projects
-Support for Multiple PHP versions