Choosing the right hosting provider for your business can be challenging as plenty of options are available. Unfortunately, most of them are unsuitable for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
Dynamic sites such as e-commerce stores, membership sites, and online course businesses need more server resources than simple blogs, as you can't cache everything. Bloggers may benefit from cloud hosting too.
So, whether you're a newbie entrepreneur or a seasoned professional, you'll love this guide's powerful cloud hosting tips!
Let's dive right in.
- Speed as a Google Ranking Factor
- Cloudways by DigitalOcean
- Is Cloudways Right for You?
- Benefits of Cloud Computing for Your Business
- How Does Cloudways Work?
- Main Benefits
- Pros & Cons
- Server Config
- About Cloudways
Speed as a Google Ranking Factor
Google uses site speed as a ranking factor, so if you want to get traffic from Google, you should make your site load fast.
On top of that, people have a short attention span, and if your site loads in more than 2 or 3s, you can be sure that most of your potential customers will leave your site without buying.
Hosting your site on a high-performance cloud infrastructure gives you an edge over your competition and helps you get more sales.
Here is a Pingdom speed test I did on the homepage and a product page of one of my e-commerce stores using WooCommerce. I initially hosted the store on Cloudways with a Vultr high-frequency (HF) server.
Cloudways by DigitalOcean
Important: DigitalOcean bought Cloudways in 2022. DigitalOcean is a leading American cloud provider based in New York with 15 data centers worldwide. In particular, they offer affordable VPS servers for small to medium businesses.
Before the acquisition, Cloudways was a Malta-based company founded in 2011.
They are mainly a WordPress Managed Cloud Hosting platform offering cloud hosting via DigitalOcean, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Their headquarters location is irrelevant; what matters to you is your server's location. You decide this location when you choose your cloud provider via Cloudways.
You can do it easily in your Cloudways dashboard, and plenty of locations are available worldwide. I can't list all of them in this Cloudways review as so many locations are available from the 3 major cloud providers on Cloudways.
It's always good to host your business website close to your audience for speed optimization.
Cloudways Review: Is Cloudways Right for You?
Many business owners worldwide are moving to the cloud, ditching shared hosting to grow and scale their businesses. Indeed, with the cloud, your website will be super fast and always online, even during traffic peaks, and able to handle viral marketing campaigns on social media.
You need a reliable and fast website at all times to keep making money 24/7 and stay ahead of your competition.
Cloudways is a managed cloud hosting platform that allows anyone to easily host their websites in the cloud. You choose the cloud provider, and Cloudways connects its platform to it, making it very easy to manage.
With Cloudways, you pay a monthly premium rather than going directly to the cloud provider. That said, you get the management platform and support when needed.
The service appeals to entrepreneurs, e-commerce store owners, bloggers, and digital agencies using WordPress who want to use the cloud easily. Developers and other very technical people will likely prefer to use the cloud providers directly unless they work for non-techie clients.
I have been using Cloudways to host Ecombridges for a few years on a Vultr high-frequency VPS server, and overall it has been a great journey. I will share the main benefits, pros & cons extensively in this Cloudways review.
Cloudways is the easiest way to host your websites in the cloud at an affordable price
Price / Value
Cloudways' most affordable plan starts at $11/month (DigitalOcean 1GB RAM), but most people go now for the DigitalOcean Premium server at $14/month to maximize speed. You can add as many websites as you want; you pay for server resources instead of having artificial limitations.
1GB RAM is enough to start if you don't have a high-traffic website, and you can always scale up quickly with 1 click. 2GB RAM is much more comfortable, and 4GB is popular as you also get 2 Core processors with DigitalOcean.
Advanced plans are more pricey, and in my opinion, DigitalOcean offers a better value for your money with at least 1TB bandwidth compared to the small 2GB bandwidth of AWS and Google Cloud plans.
Benefits of cloud computing for your business
If you have a business, you want to focus on growing it without managing your server yourself. You have 3 options available: shared hosting, virtual private servers (VPS) in the cloud, and dedicated servers ($$$).
Regarding reliability, scalability, and speed, VPS private cloud servers are the way to go for small and medium businesses.
The old-fashioned way of hosting a site is via shared hosting, where a server hosts your site on top of hundreds or even thousands of other sites, all sharing the same server resources. It's slow, unreliable, and not scalable.
VPS Private Cloud Hosting
The new way of hosting your business is through the cloud. Indeed, cloud hosting allows you to have dedicated high-performance resources, high reliability, and the ability to scale your business very quickly.
That's super important, especially if you have a dynamic site such as an e-commerce store, a membership website, or an LMS (learning management system such as LearnDash). Indeed, this site requires much more server resources than a simple blog.
For example, you can't cache your cart, checkout, and “thank you” pages or your membership site area. Every time a visitor uses your site, your server will work.
Fortunately, the cloud gives you a fast, reliable, and scalable site regardless of your business type and traffic.
Cloudways Review: How does Cloudways work?
Cloudways is a Platform as a Service that lets you use 3 major cloud providers:
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
They support the infrastructure, and Cloudways is the middleman to ease your way to the cloud.
It's super easy; you choose your cloud provider among these and the VPS you want (Virtual Private Server), depending on the power needed to run your site. Cloudways will then deploy your server, and you can easily manage it from their dedicated admin panel.
You don't need to set up a direct account with the cloud providers, as Cloudways takes care of everything. As a managed cloud hosting platform, Cloudways empowers you to easily host your business in the cloud within a few minutes.
It's not just WordPress hosting; Cloudways also supports Laravel, PHP applications, Drupal, Joomla, Magento, and many other open-source tools.
If this is your first time using the cloud, you can expect to see your site load way faster than anything you have experienced before. Cloud hosting is like renting a Lamborghini instead of using a cheap car. After using cloud hosting, you will probably never go back to shared hosting again!
Why not use the cloud providers directly?
You can go directly to the cloud providers to host your site, but you will have to install and maintain your server as it is “unmanaged.” It includes installing regular security updates on the server. On top of that, you'll have to install a control panel such as cPanel, and phpMyAdmin for your MySQL database.
You'll be alone if you experience technical issues, speed, or downtimes. If you're not a Linux system administrator who enjoys dealing with the Linux terminal and command lines on a black screen, you'll probably want a more straightforward solution. Indeed, you probably want to focus on growing your business and not on dealing with IT issues.
This is where Cloudways comes in, acting as an “intermediary” between you and the cloud providers so you can use the cloud without the hassle and headaches of running a server yourself.
As DigitalOcean acquired Cloudways, even if you choose a DigitalOcean server, you can see Cloudways as an easy way to use the cloud without having to manage the server yourself.
You pay at least double the price with Cloudways compared to going directly with the cloud providers, but they manage the server for you, you have a great admin panel, and you get support too. You know what you pay each month as it's fixed, and you can cancel at any time. That's awesome!
Cloudways Review: Main Benefits
Cloudways manages the server for you with security updates and various maintenance tasks. On top of that, you get access to their support team via chat 24h a day, 7 days a week. They also provide plenty of other services I will list below.
Speed & Performance
Your site will load like a rocket, which is excellent for your customers and Google. You can expect page load times of less than 1s. Your site will also be available more than 99% of the time; cloud hosting is very reliable.
Ease of Use
Cloudways takes care of the server. You don't have to update it yourself with the latest security patches. You can tweak the main server settings, monitor your usage, and deploy new applications quickly with their intuitive admin dashboard.
Even if the service is very easy to use, you will have to understand some technical aspects to optimize your site performance the best you can.
As a business owner, it's much easier to let Cloudways manage your server instead of having to turn yourself into a Linux system administrator if you use the cloud providers directly.
You can scale your server up in 1 click if you need more resources.
Please note that you can scale up or down with AWS and Google Cloud. However, with DigitalOcean, scaling is permanent, so to scale down, you will have to clone your server into another one with lower specs. That's not an issue for me, I prefer to start small and scale up progressively as my traffic increases.
Cloudways offers 24/7 support via chat, so you can contact them whenever you have a technical issue related to your server, and they will try to help you.
They are system administrators, they support the server and their admin panel, but they won't help you with WordPress itself as they don't offer application-level support.
From my experience, their support team is quick to reply and polite/friendly. They helped me to migrate my sites to Cloudways and solve some technical issues.
However, I'm not fully satisfied with the technical support I got: sometimes it was good, and other times not so much. The quality of the technical support you get depends on who you talk to.
Cloudways Review: Pros & Cons
Here is an exhaustive list of the pros and cons you can expect to get with Cloudways. However, the cons listed in this Cloudways review are not blockers for me. Indeed, they are not really important in my case: they are either irrelevant, or I fixed them as I'm a bit of a geek.
- Speed: your site will load super fast as you get access to cloud VPS servers from leading cloud providers. Vultr High-Frequency servers were blazing fast and DigitalOcean Premium VPS servers are now replacing them at Cloudways.
Most plans come with Cloudflare Enterprise and Object Cache Pro for speed optimization.
- Simplicity: Cloudways manages the server for you, and their admin dashboard is super intuitive. You can create a staging site, clone your server, restart it, monitor, and change its config, all from the admin dashboard.
- Support: 24/7 support via live chat. Please note that they offer support for the server and their admin panel but not your WordPress plugins and themes.
- Pricing: DigitalOcean servers are super affordable, with plans starting from $11-$14/month for high-performance VPS cloud servers. You pay a fixed price per month with these plans, so no surprise. They operate with a “pay-as-you-go” pricing and you can leave them whenever you want, with no commitment.
- Freedom: you can host as many sites as you want on your server. You pay for the resources. So as soon as you don't exceed your RAM, bandwidth, CPU, and storage space allocated, you can use all your server's resources. This limits the cost per website!
- Scalability: increase your server's resources in 1 click when you get more traffic. E-commerce store owners and other business owners love this feature. You're always doing business, no matter how popular you become.
- Performance: Cloudways has optimized your server configuration for maximum performance. If you were to use the cloud providers directly and bypass Cloudways, it would be hard for you to configure the server for optimal performance via the command line (black screen!).
- Flexibility: you can switch from 3 cloud providers in 1 click: DigitalOcean, AWS, and Google Cloud.
- Free Let's Encrypt SSL certificate.
- Agencies-friendly: transfer the site you created to your client account in 1 click from your Cloudways dashboard.
- Support: Even if they are friendly and reactive, I'm not always happy with the technical level of support I get from them. It depends on who you talk to and your own level of technical expertise. Also, if you're not technical at all, their support can seem too technical. If you're a bit of a geek, it won't be a problem for you!
- Pricing: Even if it's affordable, Cloudways puts a 100% markup on entry-level servers. For example, if you go directly to DigitalOcean, you can get a 1GB RAM VPS server for $6/month. Cloudways bills the same servers at $11/month. They even increase their markup for more powerful servers.
However, Cloudways is a managed cloud hosting platform. If you're not so technical, you don't want to maintain the server yourself and prefer to get more support, Cloudways is the way to go. They can't work for free, so it explains the markup. It's definitely worth the peace of mind.
- Security: Cloudways secures the server and offers a “Bot Protection” service, but I wished they could do more. I faced CPU spikes with bots attacking my WordPress sites, so I had to improve the security myself, adding Cloudflare (for bots + DDoS attack protection) and the Wordfence plugin to my websites for free.
- Emails: it's not included by default but they offer this service as an add-on (Rackspace starting from $1/mailbox/month or Elastic email). It's not really a con for me as I prefer to buy a professional email service elsewhere, separated from the hosting. Indeed, in case of a problem with Cloudways, my emails still work.
- No domain name registration: you'll have to buy your domain elsewhere (Namecheap,…) and link it to your Cloudways server IP. That's easy, and to be honest, it's a best practice to keep your domain name separated from your hosting account.
- No root access: they give you a master user with lots of privileges on the server, but you don't get root access. It means that you can't do whatever you want; you don't have all the permissions. It's not an issue if you're a business owner; you will never need root access.
However, developers would probably prefer to go directly to the cloud providers to get root access and complete control of the server.
You get an Apache server with Nginx to serve static content to your application(s) and MySQL (MariaDB) for the database.
You can install an SSL certificate easily in your Cloudways control panel to secure your site in HTTPS. On top of that, you can schedule automatic backups in 1 click. They have the option for local and off-site backups.
Cloudways lets you set up cron jobs on the server for more advanced users to schedule tasks.
In this Cloudways review, I can't show you all the details about the Cloudways platform as it's a vast topic. However, I will create another tutorial showing you exactly how you can start your journey with Cloudways, set up your server, and enjoy the benefits of the cloud!
On top of that, you can now use the Cloudflare Enterprise CDN Add-on offered by Cloudways in partnership with Cloudflare. It's a fully managed CDN with all the Enterprise features provided by Cloudflare, which would be very expensive if you had to buy it yourself.
A CDN is handy if you want your site to load fast worldwide as it stores copies of your static files locally, close to your visitors. I prefer to use the free version of Cloudflare CDN, it's easy to use with Cloudways, and I can set my own firewall rules.
You can change your server packages and settings from their custom control panel; it's very convenient. Indeed, it would be a nightmare to do it yourself on your server directly via the cloud provider, playing with the Linux command-line interface.
Update: DigitalOcean bought Cloudways in 2022. DigitalOcean is a leading American cloud provider based in New York with 15 data centers worldwide.
Before its acquisition, Cloudways' headquarters was in Birkirkara, Malta, an island country in the European Union. The company was founded in 2011 by Aaqib Gadit, Uzair Gadit, and Pere Hospital.
According to LinkedIn, more than 160 employees work at Cloudways, many of whom live in Karachi, Pakistan. However, they also have staff working remotely in various countries such as the Philippines, India, UK, USA, Malta, Croatia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Egypt, and El Salvador.
This allows them to cover different time zones and support customers worldwide while keeping attractive prices for their cloud hosting offers.
Before its acquisition by DigitalOcean in 2022, Gaditek owned Cloudways. Gaditek describes itself as “the biggest product-based tech company in Pakistan.” The company was founded in 2008 by Aaqib Gadit, Uzair Gadit, and Umair Gadit. Gaditek's headquarters is in Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan, in the province of Sindh.
Gaditek is a relatively big company with 500+ employees registered on LinkedIn, and their official website mentions 700+ “Gaditians.” This parent company owns many brands spread over 7 industries, from cloud hosting to VPN (PureVPN brand), security, gaming, e-commerce, retail, and lifestyle.
They have customers in 150+ countries, and Cloudways was one of their brands.
Conclusion – Cloudways Review
In this detailed Cloudways review, I showed you why the cloud is a game-changer for your business and how Cloudways could be the right fit for you.
Cloudways is the leading managed cloud hosting platform that helps entrepreneurs, bloggers, and agencies start and grow their businesses easily.
In a nutshell, with Cloudways, you get high speed, reliability, simplicity, and scalability at an attractive price, especially with DigitalOcean. If you come from shared hosting, you'll be very impressed with the speed you get with a private cloud VPS server.
Cloudways, a Managed Cloud Hosting Platform
Cloudways manages the server for you. Sure, you can go directly to the cloud providers, but in that case, you'll have to manage your server, which is very challenging if you're not so technical.
Hosting your site with Cloudways is not just sunshine and rainbows: it's good to be a bit techie, and their support is not always the best, depending on who you're talking to. However, they are working on that to level up the quality of their support team.
You may also want to improve the security of your server under Cloudflare's umbrella, use a firewall such as the free Wordfence plugin and activate Cloudways bot protection. That's the best practice to prevent hackers and bad bots from targeting your site and using your server's resources.
High-Performance Cloud Infrastructure
In conclusion, with Cloudways, you can easily host your sites on a high-performance infrastructure that can scale your business. You get support, and you let Cloudways update the server so you can focus on growing your business.
What I also love about them is that you pay for the server resources, so you can store an unlimited number of sites on the same server to decrease costs. However, it would help if you kept an eye on your allocated RAM, CPU, bandwidth, and disk space usage.
Cloudways competitors are much more expensive, and they all artificially limit the number of sites you can host on the server.
Try Cloudways Today
In this Cloudways review, I showed you what you need to know about Cloudways and the pros and cons to make an informed decision.
You can get started with Cloudways for free, try it at no risk, and see if it's the right fit.
What are your main questions and feedback on Cloudways? Leave a reply below!