When it comes to speed and reliability, dedicated servers and virtual private servers (VPS) are always the better choices over shared hosting solutions. While many providers do offer dedicated servers, only a few offers managed hosting support.
For instance, if you go directly with dedicated server providers like DigitalOcean, AWS, or Google Cloud, expect to do the heavy lifting yourself. You need to set up the hosting environment manually or install a cPanel. Besides, you also have to oversee the maintenance and the day-to-day operation of your server. If you don’t have the experience and skills for such tasks, expect to get unfortunate headaches whenever there are glitches, slow loading speeds, or worse, downtimes.
This is where Cloudways comes in. As a fully-managed hosting provider, it will free you from the worries and hassles of operating a server. Cloudways is designed to make things simpler, without costing you a lot or sacrificing the must-have web hosting features.
Key Features of Cloudways Hosting Service
Cloudways is mainly known as a WordPress hosting platform. Whatever you need for your WordPress site, you can expect Cloudways to be able to do that for you, like SSL installations, HTTPS redirects, backups, and other tasks that can be tricky for not-so-experienced users.
Here is a rundown of Cloudways’ features:
Let’s tackle in detail the key features of Cloudways.
1. Custom control panel
After you created an account, you can manage your servers through Cloudways’ control panel. It’s unlike the typical cPanel of most hosts, but Cloudways’ custom control panel is intuitive and modern by itself. Through this panel’s menu, you can access Servers, Applications, Teams, and Projects.
Let’s talk about the settings found under Applications. Once you have set up a server, you can add applications any time; for instance, WordPress.
You will then enter the Applications page. You can set up many things here through the tabs. One relevant tab is for domain mapping.
If you don’t have a domain name to be mapped or you haven’t registered one yet, you’ll be provided a temporary URL by Cloudways. This way, you can start building a website and access the control panel, as shown here.
There’s also a page for one-click SSL installation where you can install free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates. You can also get your certificates then install them here.
Recovery is also a one-click operation, and it’s located under the Restore tab.
Once you’re done with setting up an application, you can now work on running the usual aspects of your website under Servers.
You can check your login credentials under Server Management.
There’s a page for monitoring CPU usage. This is very important as consistently high usages could affect your website’s performance.
The services running on your server are listed under Manage Services. Here, you can start, stop, and restart one or many services at any time.
You can configure PHP settings, PHP and MySQL versions, and other server-level settings under Settings & Packages.
In the Security section, you can block certain IP addresses from gaining access to your resources.
If this isn’t enough, any expert users can log into the server via SSH to check and tweak the settings. Cloudways also provides cloud-based firewall as protection against malware and other types of cyberattacks.
Backups will run daily by default, but you can change the schedule.
Lastly, there’s an SMTP tab for setting up outbound emails from your server.
A great collaboration feature, Team provides you a way to add team members and assign them full or limited access to your website.
2. Cloning and Staging
To implement changes in your website permanently you need to test it first, for this reason, Cloudways’ staging is a handy feature. Deploy a staging area, do the test, and when the changes are final, you can push the changes to your actual website. This way, you won’t need to worry about harmful changes that you can’t reverse.
Cloning is somewhat similar to staging. You can make several clone sites when you’re changing to new servers or showcasing your website to clients.
3. Advanced caching
Cloudways gets its server infrastructure from five cloud providers: DigitalOcean, Linode, Vultr, AWS, and Google Cloud. All these providers provide SSD-based VPS and dedicated servers, which ensure fast server performance.
Apart from this cloud infrastructure, Cloudways takes advantage of several caching mechanisms to optimize servers. The company uses an in-house caching plug-in called Breeze. This plug-in can be easily set up, enabled, and disabled. More importantly, it supports Cloudway’s own content delivery network called Cloudways CDN.
Cloudways CDN adds more speed and reliability by caching your web pages on different servers located across the world. While this feature is not available for the free trial account, you can avail it with any of Cloudways’ paid plan at a low cost. This feature is accessed under Application Management and can be added with just one click.
Cloudflare CDN can also be used on websites deployed on Cloudways; Cloudfare will work alongside Breeze. Other popular caching mechanisms Varnish and Redis are also supported, but Cloudways recommends not to use both.
4. Vertical scaling
If for any reason you need to upgrade your server, you can increase your server resources in just a few clicks through Vertical Scaling. The function is found as a tab under Server Management.
Scaling works both ways, which is a good thing. You can downgrade if you need to revert to your previous hosting plan.
5. Customer support
Cloudways has 24/7 live chat support to provide you with instant assistance. You can also request a call, send an email, check the blog and knowledge base, or visit the community forum and Cloudways’ social media platforms. Cloudways also has CloudWays Bot that monitors the servers and gives notification whenever there is an update or any issue.
Cloudways offers flexible pricing plans and operates on a “pay-as-you-go” model. You may find the pricing complicated at first, as Cloudways has several plans based on its five different partners—DigitalOcean, Linode, Vultr, AWS, and Google Cloud. Here are the plans:
The basic plans under DigitalOcean and Linode are enough for starters. However, if you’re a heavy user, you should get one under the AWS or Google Cloud plans.
You may ask yourself: If Cloudways is using the infrastructure of these cloud providers, why can’t I go directly to these five companies? While you could get a lower price if you set up directly with these five providers, remember that you’ll be left to set up everything by yourself. With Cloudways offering managed hosting support, you’ll be free from the burden of doing complicated tasks.
If you want to give Cloudways first a try, then take advantage of the free three-day trial. It’s short, but you can build servers and test Cloudways’ features right away without providing your credit card details. This trial, however, is only available for DigitalOcean, Linode, and Vultr plans.
I liked the flexibility and affordability of these offered plans. With the “pay-as-you-go” structure, you will only need to pay what you need and avoid locking yourself into costly plans that can run for a year or more. Better yet, if you need to upgrade, you can easily do so with Cloudways’ Vertical Scaling.
Cloudways accepts payment through major credit cards and PayPal. The company will also refund unused funds if the request is made within three months of fund addition.
Cloudways: What I Liked About It
Cloudways is quite easy to use. Building websites and adding apps are done with just a few clicks. WordPress, Magento, and other apps can be automatically installed. If you have an old site, Cloudways can quickly help you migrate through the custom plug-in.
Some users who are more familiar with using cPanel, however, may get some surprises here. However, I’m sure they won’t get lost with Cloudways’ control panel. The Monitoring and Vertical Scaling tabs under Server Management are worth the mention. These two will let you monitor your server’s performance at a glance and provide insights when it’s high time to scale up.
Unlike shared hosting, Cloudways is a managed hosting provider so you won’t have to worry about your website all the time. It uses several technologies, like its own CloudwaysCDN, to ensure speedy page loading and site performance. Moreover, staging, cloning, and temporary URL are features that should be welcomed by new users.
Lastly, there’s the flexible, “pay-as-you-go” pricing which you can tailor depending on what you need. You can scale up or scale down your hosting plan as desired. There’s also a free three-day trial which, while short, should be enough to test Cloudways’ features.
Cloudways: What I Don’t Like About It
Cloudways is a fully-managed hosting platform. So if you want to have control over how your site runs (like having root access), then Cloudways might not be suited to your liking. Moreover, you’re out of luck if you want to create a custom app in a programming language not named PHP. However, I think these issues would only affect developers and advanced users.
Cloudways also doesn’t have domain name registration, though you’ll be given a temporary URL for a start. Some people may not like the fact that Cloudways doesn’t have email hosting, though lacking such a feature is arguably beneficial in some situations.
While there are several support channels, this is one area where Cloudways needs to improve. During those times I contacted support, I am getting an inaccurate or a too technical response, or my ticket takes a long time to get resolved.
Cloudways: Final Thoughts
Cloudways is a scalable, fully-managed, cloud-based web hosting provider. While the pricing can be confusing at first, the plans offer great flexibility so you can choose the right plan that will meet your demands. The “pay-as-you-go” model makes Cloudways ideal for businesses and users who have a limited budget for hosting their websites. Moreover, such a pricing structure ensures you won’t get locked up in a lengthy, expensive subscription plan.
The custom control panel of Cloudways makes things easy for users who are unfamiliar with command lines and are entirely new to website building. While Cloudways offers several one-click integrations, it still lags behind some of its biggest competitors.
Overall, Cloudways is one of those cloud-based hosting companies that strike a nice balance between affordability and features. By partnering with five of the top cloud providers out there, Cloudways offers cloud-based hosting services that are made for speed, performance, and reliability. If you’re still unsure about Cloudways, there’s always a free three-day trial for you to test out its services.