Now, I did an extensive comparison of decent shared web hosts on my website. These are hosts that can get you started and give you a decent hosting experience if you just want to throw a company site together and forget about it. But what if you’re more technical like me, and you want a more powerful, flexible hosting solution? Up to this point, I have not found a web host I truly love.
I’ve used Amazon Web Services for years. And while the reliability and speed was amazing, it was really overkill for my needs. So that’s when I switched to shared hosting and I had even more frustrations. It was more affordable and a lot simpler, but I had big issues with speed and reliability. To make a long story short, I finally found a web host that I’m in love with. Now, Cloudways is a managed host that gives you the speed and reliability of large cloud platforms, with the simplicity of a scaled down hosting panel.
Cloudways takes an innovative approach to web-hosting that I’ve never seen before. They actually let you choose where your server is hosted, you’ll be getting your own VPS no matter which option you pick, but you can pick whether you want your server at DigitalOcean, Linode, Vulture, Amazon WebServices or Google Cloud Platform. This is what immediately got my attention. Do you mean I can have my own server picked from several reliable cloud providers, and have a simple panel to install applications with one click and manage backups with ease? I just had to try it out.
Now, the amazing thing about Cloudways is that they actually give you a three day free trial. I have never seen a host offer a risk-free trial like this where you don’t have to enter a credit card number,or sign up for hosting first on the promise of some money-back guarantee if you don’t like it.
Now once you have your server set up with Cloudways,you can install as many applications as you’d like. I have a 1 gigabyte server from Digital Ocean with over 10 websites on it, and I can create as many additional websites as I like. Now, Cloudways isn’t guaranteeing the speed or stability of your server. If you put a ton of high traffic websites on a small server, but you can scale the server up at any time. For my needs, the 1 gigabyte server works perfectly and hosts my sites reliably. Where Cloudways really shines is for managing multiple WordPress sites on one server.
You can create new WordPress installations with one click, and you can do one-click staging environments. This is a feature of high-end WordPress hosts like Kinsta and Flywheel that I love, but kinsta charges $30 per month per website for their cheapest plan. This means that if you have 10 websites and you want the features that Kinsta offers, you’re going to be paying a minimum of $300 a month.Oh my gosh, that’s ridiculous! With Cloudways, you can have a 1 gigabyte server for $10 a month and easily run 10 plus WordPress websites on it. If they’re not super high traffic.
Now the staging feature allows you to instantly clone websites to a private area where you can work on it, make changes and completely overhaul your website. When you’re ready to make the changes live, you can just click the ‘push to live button’ and Cloudways instantly switches it over for you to the live domain very smoothly.
Now, when it comes to managing WordPress websites,Cloud-ways goes above and beyond to make it simple. When you create a new WordPress installation, you’ll automatically gain access to a temporary subdomain where you can work on your site instantly. When you want to connect a domain name, you just type your domain in the Cloudways panel, point it to your server’s IP address and you’re done. There’s no need to mess around with WordPress configuration files when you change the domain because everything is handled for you. Now, if you aren’t using WordPress and just want torun a PHP app, the experience isn’t as magical. But, it’s still highly intuitive.
When you create a new PHP app, a SQL database is automatically created and credentials are generated. You can connect your account via SSH or SFTP, and you can choose to set up deployment via Git, if that’s something you’re into. You can edit PHP settings on an application leveland everything is highly customizable. The only downside I can find in PHP apps is that: they don’t have a one-click staging feature, like WordPress does. But, other than that, everything else is basically the same.
Cloudways has a wonderful automated backup system that is highly flexible. I have mine set to take daily backups and retain one week of history. And, I can restore the backup for a single website with one click. Backups can be taken hourly or once a week, but its important to note that offsite backups are mandatory with Cloudways. I think it’s great that Cloudways is pushing offsite backups for everyone’s sanity. But, do keep in mind that this is an additional cost you have to pay for.
Cloudways charges three and a third cent per gigabyte of backup storage you use in a month. So, this will probably add up to three to $5 per month depending on your usage. But, for the most part, my experience with Cloudways has been amazing.
However, there are some significant downsides I’ve discovered that might be a deal breaker for some. First, let’s start with the cost: Cloudways takes the cost of a VPS at the appropriate cloud platform and doubles it. So, let’s say you get a 1 gigabyte Digital Ocean droplet. This will cost $5 per month from DigitalOcean, but at Cloudways, you pay $10 a month. Now, if you only need a small server like I do, paying an extra $5 a month for these management features is highly worth it. I would even pay $10 to $20 per month extra to have access to these powerful features. But, Cloudways starts to get unreasonable if you require a large server.
Let’s say you want a server with 4 GBs of RAM from Amazon web services. That would cost you $86.77 per month! When you can get this directly from Amazon for half the price, it becomes hard to justify the Cloudways markup. And I think this goes to show that Cloudways is best suited for someone like me: an entrepreneur and Freelancer who has a lot of sites, maybe 10 to 20 sites needing hosting and wants a dedicated hosting solution that has a lot of flexibility and options that shared hosting doesn’t offer.
If you’re a large company who requires a lot of power, then I’d imagine you would have a budget to have an IT department who can manage your AWS account full time, thus eliminating the need for the management system that Cloudways offers. But, if you determine the price and value are right for you, and this is speaking your language and you’re like ‘Man, where has Cloudways been my whole life?’, there are still some downsides that I’ve discovered.
While the 24-7 support is helpful, it seems like they’re always in a hurry to get rid of you. I’ve had them briefly answer some questions on a live chat, and then they end the chat abruptly without asking if there’s anything else they can do to help. And it just appears like they’re trying to get rid of me and move on with their night instead of showing me genuine interest to help me and listen to me. But ,the support is decent enough that I’m comfortable using Cloud-ways. I just wish that they were a little more friendly and diplomatic.
So in the end, would I recommend Cloudways for web hosting? Well, the answer really is: it depends. I think you’ll know if cloudways is right for you just by getting the three day free trial and checking it out. If you manage multiple WordPress sites and want intuitive, reliable hosting, I think you’re going to love Cloudways. But, if you just have one or two websites to host, you’ll likely be happier with some shared web hosting. And, if you want complete control over your web server and require more guts and power, you’ll likely be happier going directly to Digital Ocean or Amazon Web services and getting a server from them.
I’ve been using Cloudways for a month now, and I’m absolutely in love. I have no plans to change hosts anytime soon, and I’m so glad I found Cloudways. And again, this host is absolutely not for everyone. Just because I use it, doesn’t mean that you should go and sign up for it immediately and throw your website on it. I think that you’ll know if it’s right for you, if the staging features interest you, and if you’ve been looking for a host like Kinsta or Flywheel without the cost, but with still the reliability and all the flexibility. And for me, that is exactly what I’ve been looking for, and Cloudways is a dream come true. So, which web host do you use? I’d love to know your thoughts down in the comments below.