Review SummaryUpdated: July 11, 2020
- Pay as you go/no lock-in contracts.
- High performance & scalability.
- Low redundancy platform.
- Free website migration.
- Unlimited hosted applications on all plans.
- Free SSL Certificates on all plans.
- 24/7/365 customer support.
- Premium customer support available.
- Extremely inclusive plans.
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Managed Cloud VPS Hosting
The Cloudways Platform
For those who use WordPress or PHP based architecture as part of the foundation of your website technology, there’s Cloudways; the all in one managed solution for your hosting needs. Cloudways, as the name implies, is a cloud-based hosting company. Essentially, cloud hosting is a service that runs through a network of multiple servers, with many clients sharing multiple server resources on the ‘cloud’ virtual environment.
This type of hosting is more dynamic than traditional hosting environments, where there is a single server and thus a single point of failure. If that server fails, all of the sites running on that server will be affected until it is operational. Cloud hosting, however, allows for your data resource allocation to be bounced around between multiple servers. Given this setup, if one server goes down, there’s another server available to take its place. This type of architecture lends itself to scalability and growth as the traffic load can also be handled by multiple servers. So if your business is projected to grow significantly, cloud hosting may be a viable option for you.
Moreover, there are a lot of security benefits with this technology, as well as the aforementioned load balancing ability to handle traffic spikes on the cloud. Of course, the drawback to all of these features is that cloud hosting is significantly more expensive. If you’re just starting and the bottom line is price, shared hosting is likely the solution for you. On the other hand, if you’re an established e-commerce company with regular traffic or the need for premium security, look no further. Additionally, if you expect rapid growth, or your business experiences extreme traffic spikes, also consider cloud hosting; the load distribution will help keep your site alive in these conditions.
To be fair, there are a lot of WordPress specific hosting solutions out there. The vast majority offer traditional services, including shared, semi-dedicated, virtual private servers, and dedicated hosting, all with their own benefits and drawbacks. Cloudways is unique in that they offer a fully optimized and managed suite of services that make it easy to take advantage of cloud technology. On top of that, their basic plans provide an outstanding amount of features and tools to make your life easier as a business owner.
Cloudways places a great deal of emphasis on the ‘managed’ part of their services; they deliver a solution that is extremely easy to get started with for the layman, and a rich system of support features and tools to make hosting as seamless as possible. At the core of their flagship hosting plans is the ability to choose your own data center, offering the following five options: Digital Ocean, Amazon Web Services, Linode, Vultr, and Google Cloud. Right off the bat, Cloudways provides a level of customization rare in the hosting industry.
The difference between packages
But what are the differences between these five data centers? Let’s start with the data centers for their Virtual Private Servers (VPS) packages. These are Digital Ocean, Linode, and Vultr. All three companies have a wide array of features with significant overlap between them.
Essentially, Digital Ocean is the most straightforward service with data centers located in London, New York, and San Francisco. They are more of the tinkering man’s server with few add ons and features. However, they do offer easy downgrading and extra storage space (although not in terms of Cloudways).
Linode, on the other hand, has more server locations and add-ons, so if you’re after more customizability, go with Linode. Also, in terms of support, Linode goes above and beyond, with tickets resolved very quickly. Users should note that Linode is very Linux dependant, and therefore for more advanced users. If there’s any problem with the data centers, you’ll want this feature.
As for VULTR, the company also does a great job with their geographic coverage, with more locations than either Digital Ocean or Linode. Compared to many other providers, VULTR has industry-leading benchmark results. Also, they offer DDOS protection and custom ISO’s, so a similar level of customizability to Linode.
The three companies above offer what’s known as infrastructure as a Services (IaaS). In contrast, Cloudways two other offerings, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Compute Engine (GCE), are Platforms as a Service (PaaS). The difference is that AWS and GCE offer managed solutions, whereas the other three allow you to customize many things. Moreover, the IaaS targets small startups, while the PaaS options are for businesses that have substantial traffic, as they are targeted towards large applications.
So how does Google Cloud Engine stack up to AWS? They are very similar, so in comparing them, we have to be granular. At a high level, GCE is the newcomer in the space, but In terms of speed and pricing, GCE edges out AWS. In the AWS corner, we have an established company that pushed the cloud industry to where it is now, so they win on redundancy, support, and geographic availability. All five offerings are solid choices. As for Cloudways part in this, it’s quite impressive to see such a thorough array of options plus the knowledge that Cloudways handles any problems with data centers directly.
The combination of these two opposing ideas, highly customizable plans, and a managed plan, is part of what makes Cloudways stand out amongst its peers. This can be a little overwhelming, particularly when we take an in-depth look at the plan features and pricing in later sections. However, for a managed solution, Cloudways offers an industry competitive and comprehensive suite of features regardless of the plan you chose; only a few resources change as you go up in price.
Security and Accessibility
As far as infrastructure and security, Cloudways offers an attractive basic feature set. They provide free SSL, as well as secure shell access and SSH enabled file transfer for the more technically savvy individuals. All servers are HTTP/2 enabled, auto-healing, dedicated firewalls, advanced caching optimization, and regular security patches. You can be sure that the Cloudways team does everything they can to keep their servers healthy and optimized. On your end, you have access to 24/7 real-time monitoring, staging environments, and automated data backups, and unlimited application installations.
Each data center comes with slight variations in prices that arise from the difference in the cost of servers with each data center company. Note that there is a surcharge for all plans of $0.033/GB of offline backup storage.
The Digital Ocean offerings are the cheapest you’ll find with Cloudways, starting at $10 per month. You’ll notice that the plans scale in a predictable linear fashion. It would be nice to see a greater incentive to upgrade in terms of resources, but we’re not complaining as it’s a hosted solution with many other benefits. Looking deeper at the offered plans, you’ll note that Cloudways and Digital Ocean offer a total of 11 different plans, ranging from the $10/month you see here to $1,035 per month; with the specs capping out at 192GB of RAM, 32 cores, 3840GB of storage and 12TB of traffic.
Next in terms of affordability of featured plans is VULTR, only a dollar higher on the starting price. In terms of specifications, the VULTR data center plans have the same server resources, and upgrades per plan, as the DigitalOcean plans mentioned above. VULTR offers seven plans with Cloudways, running from $11/month to $365/month.
The final IaaS offering is Linode with plans almost identical to the last Digital Ocean and VULTR offerings in terms of server resources, something to keep in mind if the price is an issue. While these three data centers may seem similar in every way except the price differences, each company has its pros and cons. You should see the section above outlining the differences between these data centers, as well as research which company is best suited for your needs. As a bonus with Digital Ocean, VULTR and Linode, Cloudways offers a free trial period of three days.
The next set of featured plans and data centers are the PaaS offerings that have a noticeable increase in the base price, starting at $33.30 a month with Google Cloud Compute. In a lot of ways, this plan is comparable to the 2nd tier plan of Digital Ocean, VULTR, and Linode in terms of specs. In total, Cloudways offers 12 plans with Google Cloud Compute, ranging from $33.30 per month to $1290.42/month.
The last data center is Amazon Web services, which follows the same pattern of server resource allocation as Google Cloud Compute. Additionally, Cloudways and AWS offer 14 total plans, ranging from the featured plan at $36.51/month to $3567.98/month.
Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Besides the basic features offered with every plan, Cloudways offers a lot of add-ons; one of the things that set their offerings apart is the Cloudways Content Delivery Network (CDN). The benefit of using a CDN is that when someone goes on your site from halfway across the world, the website will be served by the closest server; this vastly reduces load times and increases the availability of your website. With the Cloudways CDN, you can be sure that your site will load faster regardless of location.
Free Website Migration
All plans come with free migration services, so for businesses with a site hosted elsewhere and looking to make the switch, you will have all of the resources you need, even at the standard level of support. If your site is hosted on WordPress, this process is even more streamlined; Cloudways offers a WordPress plug-in for site migration, as simple as a few clicks. For sites hosted with Laravel or custom PHP, you have the next best option, a dedicated support team ready to help you out. All plans come with 24/7/365 live support, with upgrades to the ‘Advanced’ and ‘Premium’ support packages available to meet any business’s requirements. These are just some of the features offered with the Cloudways support system, which will be covered in depth later.
Team Management Software
Additionally, users have access to team management software, with team members able to work and collaborate on multiple projects and subprojects simultaneously. This is ideal for people managing various websites and project managers. A lot of the team management suite is geared to make the developer’s workflow more intuitive and seamless. For example, rich feature sets such as Github integration for developers, a staging area for testing and one-click cloning of applications, databases and servers. Another useful feature here is Cloudway’s one-click server ownership transfer, which allows you to transfer the keys of an application to a client once completed.
Aside from the offerings above, Cloudways has yet another tier of services. The ‘Enterprise’ solutions are built for high traffic, explosive growth websites. The kind of client that would find this type of service useful, for example, would be a business that has gone viral and consequently is seeing exponential increases in visitors. Unfortunately, the specifics about data for the ‘Enterprise’ plans, as far as server specifications, resources, and prices are only available via direct contact with Cloudways; so at best, we can extrapolate on the limited information given on the site.
Essentially, the ‘Enterprise’ solution is based on being the most robust and agile package, regardless of circumstance. This is what Cloudways’ means by automatic scalability, high availability, redundancy, and security. This plan uses a cluster of nodes on the Google Cloud Platform, with each node able to host the site and handle high traffic loads. This architecture allows for your business to be ready and highly available on multiple nodes in the case that one fails. You can picture it as cloud technology taken to the next level.
You also get a lot of the perks that come with Cloudways, such as managed security and the ‘advanced’ tier of support. Set up customization is also a feature, meaning that the ‘Enterprise’ plan has a lot of configuration in terms of resources and add-ons; likely with a similar structure to the featured plans. We can then assume that Cloudways determines what you need with these high tier plans, thus completely custom solutions available. Of course, all of these benefits come with a price tag, so you should only consider this plan if you anticipate massive growth, virality or your business needs require more resources than the featured plans offer at the highest level.
As far as scalability, Cloudways offers fluid, reactive, automatic, and independent scaling. Whether it be an unexpected traffic spike or a marketing campaign that sparks more consistent traffic. Proactive monitoring means that Cloudways will be running diagnostics on your system in real-time, allowing for the monitoring systems to catch any bugs or problems as they happen, which means less downtime and more secure infrastructure.
Cloudways Server Performance
To test Cloudways’s hosting performance we used a few Pingdom reports. Over the span of a year, Pingdom’s probes (located across North America) performed daily checks, on a basic website (less than 100KBs) hosted on Cloudways’s shared server environment. Additionally, there was no throttling added to these checks, so slower response times can be expected for 3G or 4G connections.
Yearly Server Performance:
Average Response Time
Data shown as monthly Uptime averages for a basic Cloudways website
Server performance can affect all aspects of your site. Case studies have consistently found that customer wait times (page load and response times) directly affect everything from SEM, revenue, and traffic growth. By a lot too, here’s just one example:
For Mobify, every 100ms decrease in homepage load speed worked out to a 1.11% increase in session-based conversion, yielding an average annual revenue increase of nearly $380,000.
The technology behind cloud hosting lends itself to better security and multiple points of failure, meaning more uptime and, usually, an additional layer of protection. In contrast to cloud hosting, with traditional hosting, you only have the physical server security layer. On the other hand with cloud hosting, there is an additional layer of security protecting the virtual network. Moreover, in traditional hosting, your internet presence is reliant on a single server, and therefore a single point of failure; if the server goes down, your site does too.
Cloudways offers managed security with multiple virtual servers in the cloud backed by multiple physical servers. So if something goes wrong with one server, there will always be another to take its place. Unfortunately, specific security practices are not documented, so we can’t comment on that. Still, it’s great to see that they value security and look for novel ways to bolster their security infrastructure. For example, Cloudways is partnered with BugCrowd, a crowdsourcing platform that pays developers to proactively hunt bugs and implement vulnerability patches. Also, Cloudways adheres to the European Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) protocol, speaking volumes for the level of importance they place on customer data.
All that being said, Cloudways does have security features on top of the inherent benefits of cloud hosting, such as dedicated OS-level firewalls and end-to-end data encryption. It’s also good to see regular security patching as part of the Cloudways server monitoring regimen. Keeping your servers up to date with the latest OS updates is fundamental to the security of your data and the availability of your website.
Users get a 1-click free SSL installation, SHH, and SFTP access. Also, Teams can whitelist IPs, which gives you even greater control over who has access to your data and increases the ease of collaboration between developers.
Finally, client-side two-factor authentication and device login control afford you peace of mind, as any suspicious login is intercepted. Given the sheer number of features offered, overall Cloudways predisposition to data protection, and the benefits provided with cloud technologies, it’s a safe bet to trust Cloudways to manage your business’s data security.
Customer Support Review
Cloudways really shines with their support plans, offering multiple tiers of support and a generous basic level to boot. The first level, ‘Standard’ support, is free of charge and includes live support chat and a ticketing system available 24/7/365. There’s also a wealth of information in their forum and knowledge base. Moreover, Cloudways engineers will go out of their way to guide you through the platform, all the way from the various tools available to optional features, add-ons, and where to find information. They also offer infrastructure support for free, meaning that if there are any server problems with the data center partners, Cloudways steps in and works with the support engineers to take care of any issues.
Cloudways is also transparent with its Server Level Agreements (SLA). From the get-go, you will know what type of support to expect, and the duration that supports feature is available to you. For the ‘Standard’ support plan, you can expect 20 minutes max chat duration with a live support specialist, and a 3 hour maximum of high priority ticketing review, meaning that on average a ticket will take 3 hours to either resolve or get looked at.
Moving on from the ‘Standard’ package, we have the ‘Advanced’ support plan, costing $100 per month. The most significant difference is the response time, as you will have priority over those in the free plan in terms of the Live chat queue and ticketing system. Beyond this, users will have the ability to customize their plan with add-ons, as opposed to only a guide offered for the ‘Standard’ support level.
Essentially, this means you can rent out an engineer for one-on-one support. They can help with issues such as troubleshooting of plug-ins and themes, investigation of server error messages, database related issues, proactive monitoring for servers, stack issues, and Cloudways API troubleshooting.
At this support tier there’s also server-level customization too, including the deployment of additional packages and configurations. These server tweaks are also compatible when you clone, transfer, or restore the server. It’s good to see that the SLA agreement offers a significant improvement. With a 30 minute cap on live support chat duration and a 30 minute average response time on tickets. This is a massive decrease in response time from the 3 hours you’d have to wait with the free support plan. It’s easy to see how all of these added features justify a $100 per month price tag.
The final tier of support is the ‘Premium’ level, offered at a price tag of $500 per month. With this support level, you absorb all of the benefits and features provided in the ‘Advanced’ and ‘Standard’ solutions, but with some significant additional benefits. First of all, you get a private slack channel created for you and your team, which is ideal at this level of business operation since there’s going to be a lot of people working together. The most important benefit here, however, is 24/7 phone access to senior engineers year-round. This means your problems get solved faster. The wealth of knowledge that the Cloudways senior engineers possess is at your fingertips. This is incredibly valuable. Of course, there is also a significant improvement in the service level agreement.
At this level, you have unlimited access to the live chat support with no time limit and a 10 minute average wait time for ticket support. Industry-wide, this is lightning fast. Coupled with the slack benefits, this level of support is exceptional.
Overall, Cloudways does a fantastic job at tailoring to everyone’s needs; the general plan offers more features than is the industry standard, with reasonable and transparent wait times for the ticketing service and live chat. It’s also good to see three distinct options for customers as far as support, further highlighting the variety offered by Cloudways as a whole. Note that they go a step beyond, and allow customization in terms of application support as well. Very few hosting platforms offer this level of flexibility as far as support, so definitely consider this aspect as one of Cloudways defining positive features
Cloudways promises a maximum response rate of 12 hours as standard.
Cloudways professionally trained, chat support team offer assistance for up to 15 minutes as standard.
Tutorials & Guides
Cloudways offer a rich knowledge base, resource center and blog.
Premium Support Options
Cloudways paid customer support options to promise faster response and issue resolution times.
Cloudways have an active community forum for customers to discuss services or report problems.
Cloudways offer sales & billing support via phone.
Other than English, Cloudways also offer support in Spanish, German, and Portuguese.
Cloudways does not offer free or paid website migration support for any plans.
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