Cloud-based managed hosting solutions are now quite common, and if you are looking to choose managed cloud hosting for your company or business needs, there are quite a few solutions available in the market. Cloudways is one of them. With so many companies now offering cloud-based managed hosting services, companies need to do interesting things to stand out in a rapidly populating arena.
But, is it worth your time and money? Let’s find out in the following review.
Cloudways – An Overview
First, let’s clear a common misconception: Cloudways is not a managed hosting provider. Instead, it is a managed hosting platform, a PaaS (platform-as-a-service) company that gives you access to a simplified platform, thus allowing you to deploy and maintain servers without going through all of the trouble on your end.
There’s a difference here: the company itself does not provide hosting providers. Instead, they give you a platform from where you can choose your hosting, and they will deploy the servers for you. It’s a very efficient solution for agencies and ecommerce businesses that are often confused about which hosting provider to go with (more on this in the next section).
The company is based in Malta, and was founded by Uzair Gadit, Aaqib Gadit, and Pere Hospital back in 2009. The company also has offices in Spain and Malta, and so far, they have helped more than 100,000 users deploy upwards of 28,000 web apps, and launch more than 13,000 servers. It currently caters to clients from more than 45 countries.
The company says that it wants you to “stop worrying about hosting hassles,” and focus more on growing your business, while they deal with such issues. The managed platform is built for digital agencies, developers, and ecommerce businesses, though almost anyone who wants to take advantage of cloud-based hosting can sign up.
There’s quite a lot to like about Cloudways, and the company does more than enough to set itself apart from the pack. The company serves as a point of integration, letting you manage multiple cloud services from a single console. The company also allows developers to launch containerized PHP applications. There’s a slew of features for app development in PHP as well, making it a very attractive choice for developers.
It’s also important to point out that the company completely revamped its website in 2016, referring to it as “Cloudways 2.0.” Along with all of the advantages that you get when you choose cloud-based hosting, Cloudways gives you a lot more, giving you more control over your hosting and simplifying other tasks.
Key Features of Cloudways
Cloudways is a managed WordPress hosting platform, though it also supports several other CMSs like Drupal, Joomla, Magento, Craft CMS, Moodle, October CMS, AsgardCMS, OpenCart and Prestashop. Several of these are 1-click installs. On top of that, you can also run your own PHP applications, though you won’t get root access to your apps. Laravel is also supported.
Other applications and frameworks that can be installed through the PHP stack include CakePHP, ProcessWire, Symfony 3, X-Cart, and various others. Other PHP based CMSs can be installed, though you have to do them yourself. As you can see, the platform includes a range of web apps that you can deploy almost immediately after signing up.
This can save you a lot of time and help you get your business off the ground right away. But, that’s not all. Here are some of the key features that Cloudways offers.
5 Cloud Hosting Providers
One of the most distinctive features of Cloudways is the amount of choice that it offers. There are 5 cloud hosting providers on the platform. These are as follows:
The fact that you have choices available is always a plus point, especially when we talk about cloud hosting. For instance, if you choose DigitalOcean, you’ll pay $10 per month for a 25 GB server with 1 GB RAM. On the other hand, AWS costs $36.51 per month for a 20 GB server, with 1.75 GB RAM.
You might not want to pay this much in the beginning, so you always have the option of starting with the lowest-priced offering. You can always upgrade your servers or add more space at the touch of a click. All their servers are PHP 7.3 ready.
Moving hosts is often a tedious process, and many hosting companies charge a significant premium from their clients for the service. When you sign up to Cloudways, they give you the first migration for free. Now, it’s common that you might be worried about bugs appearing in your website during migration, and to allay those fears, the company also offers a guarantee that your code will remain in one piece.
Once you sign up for a free migration, their cloud migration engineers will collaborate with you to ensure that your website is moved smoothly to Cloudways. If, like most people, you have a WordPress website, you can also use their WordPress migrator plugin. It’s purported to work 99% of the time, and the company offers free support if it doesn’t.
The CloudwaysBot is a real-time insights assistant that’s designed to make lives easier for the company’s clients. Powered by artificial intelligence, the CloudwaysBot is able to provide real-time updates and notifications about backups, server status, and pending upgrades.
The bot can also offer a range of recommendations and tips, and is also able to answer numerous questions that would otherwise be redirected to their support staff. You can choose to receive messages from the bot through several channels, like email (default), Slack, or HipChat. Developers can also use a custom API to access the bot as well.
You will notifications based on:
- The health of your web stack
- Recommended server upgrades
- SMTP addon
- Auto-scale notifications (whenever your Kyup auto-scales, you’ll receive an alert)
It currently works with Magento and WordPress.
“ThunderStack” is the term used by the company for its PHP hosting stack. It combines a range of caching and server technologies that are launched by default when you deploy a Cloudways server. The Cloudways ThunderStack consists of:
- Varnish Cache
These components combine to improve load times. It’s important to note that Varnish is permanently enabled on the Cloudways hosting stack. It significantly boosts load times and is ideal for content-rich websites.
One thing I’d like to mention here is the CloudwaysCDN, which can be integrated in a hassle-free manner on your website. It starts from $1 per 25 GB, and costs $0.04 per GB additional. This is in stark contrast to the various other CDN services out there, which charge exorbitantly high rates. Subscription to the CDN further improves load times
Security is a big concern for many people, and rightly so. Needless to say, it’s important to address the security features on offer at Cloudways. Apart from dedicated firewalls and auto-healing servers, you also get bot protection which protects your site from traffic congestion and DDoS attacks.
The built-in Let’s Encrypt SSL further adds a layer of security with a SSL certificate. More importantly, while you can easily launch multiple applications on the same server, you should know that they are isolated from others. This way, you don’t need to worry about application level issues compromising your entire server.
Cloudways also uses Debian because of its timely patch management system. Their engineers follow up regularly with the Debian community and patch the servers as soon as a new patch is made available. Backups are made on a daily basis, though you have the option of changing the frequency.
The company also has a 24/7 live chat feature, or you can request a call at your convenience. They also offer priority support add-ons (Advanced and Premium). Advanced starts from $100 per month, and Premium costs $500/month. Here’s how they compare:
The Cloudways Console
Now, let’s talk about the Cloudways console, the main control panel that you will get access to when you sign up to Cloudways. It’s sleeker, more intuitive, and definitely looks better than cPanel, which is a standard offering from most hosts. The console gives you access to Applications, Teams, Servers, and your Projects.
Cloudways allows you to add applications at any time once you have launched a server. You can also do it when launching a server. Here’s how it looks:
The applications in the drop-down menu are available as one-click installs. Once it’s launched, you can set up several things through the available tabs, such as mapping domains. If you don’t own a domain name, Cloudways offers a temporary URL as well.
You can also get Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates from a separate page, and there’s another option for backups and recovery. It’s a pretty convenient menu that allows you to access everything quickly.
As mentioned, deploying a server is incredibly easy. You choose your requirements, select a location, the cloud hosting provider, and click on “Launch Now” at the bottom. Once you have launched a server, it will take around 7-10 minutes to launch (tested on DigitalOcean, 2 GB server). In the Server settings, you have a bunch of options, as shown below:
You can check your login credentials, monitor CPU usage, check the services running on your server, and do a lot more. You can also configure settings for PHP, select MySQL versions and configure other details in the Settings & Packages menu. The Security section allows you to block traffic from specific IPs.
Vertical scaling is also incredibly easy, allowing you to upgrade whenever you like. You can also downgrade if you want with the same level of convenience.
A nifty feature in Cloudways, Teams allows you to add or remove team members and decide the level of access you want to give them to your website.
Pricing – An In-depth Look
Cloudways offers Pay as You Go pricing, so you only pay for the resources that you consume. On top of that, payments are charged in arrears, so you don’t need to pay anything immediately. One of the things that really stands out is that Cloudways doesn’t require you to give up your credit card information on sign-up.
You get a three-day trial period, and if you are satisfied, only then do you pay the company for further use. You can choose monthly or hourly billing. Pricing generally varies depending upon the cloud hosting provider you choose, and the server specifications you decide to go with. It starts from $10 per month for DigitalOcean, and can go all the way up to $274.33 per month on AWS. Here’s a brief breakdown:
DigitalOcean – starts from $10 per month.
Linode – starts from $12 per month.
Vultr – starts from $11 per month.
AWS – the lowest offering is $36.51 per month.
GCE – starts from $33.33 per month.
The company accepts payments from most credit cards and other processors like PayPal. Keep in mind that infrastructure services are charged on top, and will be billed in arrears monthly.
Pros and Cons
|Setup is incredibly easy||cPanel or Plesk support is not provided|
|Flexible account options available||No option to register domain names|
|Pay as you go pricing||Email costs extra|
|Convenient site staging and cloning||No ROOT access|
|Free trial for three days before you sign up|
|Install as many WP sites as you want|
|Free migration for your first site|
|Automated site backups|
|1-click installation for several apps|
|5 cloud hosting providers to choose from|
Is It Worth It?
In our opinion, Cloudways is definitely worth the money. There’s a lot to like here, and the cons can all be easily circumvented. You can count on them to keep your site up and running, and the flexibility that they offer is unparalleled when you consider the alternatives. It’s one of the few PaaS companies that is able to create a balance between functionality, scalability and affordable pricing.