In this comprehensive Cloudways web hosting review, I’ll be putting the popular hosting platform through its paces to answer once and for all a question I’ve been asked many times since I first included them in my guide to the best hosting companies for bloggers:
Is Cloudways hosting really as good as everybody says they are?
Since it first launched in 2012, the company has developed a large and loyal fanbase among the WordPress community for its flexible, scalable solutions and powerful, high-performance servers, with users praising them for, among other things, exceptional ease-of-use and affordable, pay-as-you-go pricing?
But can any single hosting company really be all that good?
Over the past few years, I’ve used Cloudways to host a number of the sites that make up my multi-million dollar content website portfolio and I’ll be drawing on this experience to answer this question and finally determine whether Cloudways really are worth the hype.
Below, I’ll offer my own honest, personal opinion on how Cloudways fare when it comes to all of the things that really matter when it comes to choosing a hosting company, including price, performance, security, customer service, and more.
In doing so I hope to arm you with all the information you need to know to decide whether they’re the right fit for your new WordPress website.
Who are Cloudways?
Cloudways are a cloud hosting company specializing in providing scalable solutions for WordPress website owners.
Placing innovation at the heart of its company values, the European-based hosting provider has managed to stand out in a crowded market by offering a unique approach to hosting with several key selling points that other companies don’t offer.
Namely, they give users the freedom and control to choose the cloud service that houses your files, offer flexible, pay-as-you-go pricing plans, and even a try-before-you-buy option where you can test run the company’s entire service before handing over your payment details.
Still, a few innovative features may be a good way to catch people’s attention, but what really counts when it comes to web hosting is quality service and performance, so let’s dive into the review and examine how Cloudways fare in that regard too.
Cloudways Hosting Review
Here we discuss some of the most important aspects of cloudways and what the hype is all about it. We will discuss all about the hosting plans, the pricing and who can benefit from it, and other crucial info.
How Much Does Cloudways Hosting Cost?
Cloudways web hosting plans cover a broad range of prices that are comparable to other independent hosting companies such as WPX.
As I’ve already mentioned, this flexible pricing structure is often touted as one of the company’s biggest selling points, and I do agree that it certainly has its advantages.
This ensures that whether you’re a newcomer starting a small-scale blog or an established enterprise, you’ll find a hosting plan that’s designed to suit your needs and your budget.
On the other hand, there’s also an argument that the sheer number of options available can be pretty overwhelming, while the way that you determine which plan you buy can be a little complicated and confusing for novice users.
First, you have to decide which cloud service you want to opt for, then decide whether you want a premium plan or a standard plan, and then finally pick one of four different plans based on your requirements.
While some may enjoy being able to customize their plan to such a degree, others may well prefer a much more straightforward approach to choosing their web hosting.
The good news is that if you don’t pick the perfect plan the first time out, you’re not tied into it for very long. One of the biggest benefits of choosing Cloudways is that the company offers scalable, pay-as-you-go pricing plans that charge you only for the amount of service you’ve used.
So, if you canceled your plan after seven days, you’d only be charged for seven days worth of service. What’s more, if you need to upgrade or downgrade as your requirements change, you can do so instantly, with the new price range instantly coming into play.
This means that if you’re unhappy with the service you’re getting, you can simply cancel without worrying about long-term fees. It also gives you the freedom and flexibility to start small with a low-cost plan and expand only at the same rate that your site expands.
Cloudways Hosting Plans
So, I’ve talked a lot about how Cloudways structures its pricing, but what you really want to know is how much you’ll actually pay for your hosting.
Since there are so many options, it would take me the rest of this article to cover every single plan, but let me share with you some of the more popular options.
Plans using data centers from either DigitalOcean, Linode, or Vulture start at $1 per month, which includes the following:
- 1 GB RAM
- 1 core processor
- 25 GB storage
- 1 TB bandwidth
After that, you can access six more plans (three premium and three standards) ranging from $22 per month to $96 per month, with each plan doubling the number of resources you get.
For example, the $26 plan offers twice as much storage and bandwidth as the $12 plan, while the $50 offers double what you get in the $26 plan and so on.
If you opt for Amazon Web Services data centers, prices start at $36.51 per month for:
- 26 GB of RAM
- 2) GB of storage
- 2 GB of bandwidth.
Other plans cost between $86.77 and $27.33 per month, with each plan doubling the number of resources from the last one.
Finally, Google Cloud data centers cost between $33.18 per month for 1.7 GB of ram, 20 GB of storage, and 2 GB of bandwidth up to $225.93 per month for 15 GB of RAM and the same amount of storage and bandwidth.
I told you it was complicated, didn’t I?
Cloudways Key Features
Along with bandwidth, storage, and RAM allocations, Cloudways hosting plans include numerous free services, tools, and features, including:
- Free Object Cache Pro for improved site performance
- Free SSL certificate
- Unlimited application installations
- Staging environment
- Automatic backups
- Regular security patching
- HTTP/2 enabled servers
- SSH and SFTP access
- Git and Composer
- Cron Job Manager
- RESTful API
- Error and access logs.
There are a lot of advanced features here which make Cloudways an excellent choice for developers and more experienced users, but, disappointingly, there are a number of fundamental amenities that the company just doesn’t offer.
For one thing, there’s no option to purchase a domain name from them and have it automatically synced to your hosting, meaning you’ll have to buy one from a third-party domain provider and connect it to your account.
While that does mean that you may be able to get your domain name cheaper, it also means that you have to deal with the hassles and headaches of configuring name servers and directing your web address to your hosting.
If you’re going to do this, I recommend checking out my guide to the best domain name providers to buy your URL from.
No Email Addresses
On a similar note, Cloudways doesn’t offer an option to set up email boxes linked to your domain. Again, that’s something you’re going to have to set up with a third party. Typically, you’d do this with your domain provider, which will often incur extra costs.
While the lack of these features may be off-putting to users who want the convenience of an all-inclusive package, others may prefer the freedom of being able to shop around for the best deals on emails and domains from other suppliers.
Cloudways Performance and Reliability
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:
When it comes to buying quality web hosting, few things matter more than performance and reliability.
If your website takes forever to load or -worse yet- doesn’t load at all, then visitors are only going to leave, and many may be unwilling to give you a second chance.
Fortunately, this is rarely a problem with Cloudways.
The company doesn’t offer traditional hosting solutions such as shared hosting or Virtual Private Servers (VPS). Instead, it uses clusters of servers at multiple data centers to balance a load of your website, resulting in much more stable performance.
The company’s higher-than-average bandwidth allowances (the likes of Kinsta and WPEngine cap their basic plans around 200 GB compared to Cloudways’ 1 TB entry-level bandwidth allocation) mean that your site’s performance is unlikely to be affected if you suddenly experience a surge in traffic.
Overall, this results in better-than-average page loading speeds. Sure, I’ve seen faster with the likes of the aforementioned WPX Hosting, but in all the times I’ve hosted sites with Cloudways, I’ve never had any complaints as far as speed goes.
The same can be said about reliability.
The use cloud of cloud servers vs. traditional servers ensures an almost flawless uptime record, so you never have to worry about your site going offline.
This top-level performance and reliability are thanks in large part to the company’s unique PHP stack, which utilizes a host of leading server software, including
- Vanish Cache
- PHP 8.
The company also offers the use of a Cloudflare Enterprise CDN (Content Delivery Network), which helps to deliver your content faster via a global network.
Elsewhere, the company’s auto-healing feature ensures that even if your site does run into any issues, it will automatically be fixed the majority of the time.
How Secure is Cloudways Hosting?
Along with performance, first-class security is an essential component of any quality web hosting service, and, thankfully, Cloudways delivers on that front too.
The company offers several impressive security features and services designed to keep your sites and your users’ data as safe as possible at all times.
These features include:
Free SSL Certificate
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates encrypt data that is sent between your user’s browser and your website, so that is indecipherable to anybody other than the intended recipient.
In other words, if a user makes a purchase on your website and enters their credit card details, you’ll be the only person able to read those details. Should hackers get hold of that data, it would be meaningless to them.
Other companies charge a fair amount for an SSL certificate, so I’m always inclined to recommend companies like CLoudways, which offer them free of charge.
Web Application Firewall (WAF)
The use of Cloudflare Enterprise CDN means that your site will be protected by an advanced firewall with unique rules designed for maximum WordPress protection.
This firewall identifies attacks and potential threats and immediately blocks them before they can harm your site.
The DDoS (Domain Denial of Service) protects across multiple layers so that hackers who may be trying to ruin your site by slowing it down or rendering it unavailable will ultimately be unsuccessful.
Consistent Security Hardening
Cloudways monitor their servers around the clock to identify vulnerabilities. Once those vulnerabilities are found, the company’s engineers get to work on providing patches, upgrades, and other security hardening measures to block them off and prevent malicious actors from accessing your site.
Other Key Security Features include:
- Brute-force login protection
- Two-factor authentication
- Whitelist IP access
- User role management
- Automatic backups.
There are only two real downsides here.
One is that the company charges $0.033/GB per server for offsite backup storage which it adds to your monthly bill.
While that’s not a huge amount in itself, the cost can soon add up for larger sites and is especially disappointing when you consider that some companies offer this free of charge.
The other issue is that Cloudways is surprisingly lacking when it comes to Malware removal, instead of instructing you to install a top WordPress security plugin to take care of it for you.
While that’s a little underwhelming, Cloudways still holds its own when it comes to quality site security.
How Easy is it to Use Cloudways Hosting?
As you’ll have seen by now, Cloudways certainly has a lot going for it in terms of back-end functionality, but what is it actually like to use?
Honestly, I say that depends on your level of experience.
If you’ve got some level of experience in setting up hosting and running websites, using Cloudways may be a fairly pain-free experience for you.
However, if you’re brand new and need to rely on guides like my how-to-install WordPress tutorial, then you might find the learning curve a little steep for your liking.
Don’t just take my word for it, though. Let me show you what it’s like to sign up with Cloudways and install a WordPress site so that you can decide for yourself how easy (or not) you’re likely to find it.
Onboarding With Cloudways
After heading to cloudways.com – click the “Start Free” button on the homepage, which will bring you to a basic sign-up form.
You can log in using your credentials from Linkedin, Google, or Github. Alternatively, you can create a basic account from scratch by entering your name, email, and password and answering a few simple questions.
So far, so simple.
Next, you have to configure your account to meet your needs.
First, you choose the application you’re using (with options for WordPress, WooCommerce, Magento, or a standard PHP site), give your new installation a name, and choose which company’s datacenters you want to host your files.
If you want to take advantage of the 3-day free trial, you’ll only be able to pick DigitalOcean, Linode, or Vulture, though Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform are also good options for larger-scale sites.
Next, you need to select your required server size.
This may be a little hard to gauge if you’ve yet to start your site and don’t know exactly how much space you’re going to need, but you can always start small and immediately expand if you find you didn’t choose a big enough size.
Finally, Cloudways asks for your location so that it can better serve visitors in your country.
With all that done, the platform gets to work on setting up your server and automatically installing WordPress onto it.
This takes around 7 minutes, which can be a bit of a chore to wait for, though on the plus side, it’s the easiest WordPress installation I’ve ever come across and avoids the need to go through the usual WordPress installation that most hosting providers use.
Once your server and WordPress installation are installed, you’ll need to go to the Applications tab at the top of the page.
This brings up your new WordPress installation.
In order to access it, you’ll first need to click on the name you gave that installation in order to bring up the Application details.
From here, you’ll find your login credentials under ‘Admin Panel.’
Cloudways automatically generates a secure password for you, but if you prefer to change it to something more memorable, you can do that by clicking the edit pencil next to your password.
With that done, you simply need to click the box with the arrow next to your URL in order to open your WordPress dashboard, and with that, you’re ready to start editing and building your site.
All being told, this isn’t the most straightforward way to set up a web hosting account, and I still say that newcomers may prefer a simpler approach, but experienced users who prefer to be as hands-on with configuring their hosting server and applications as possible, there’s certainly a lot to like about Cloudways’ usability.
Cloudways Customer Service
If you do decide that Cloudways is the right fit for you, but you still run into the occasional bit of difficulty, or if something completely unexpected happens that affects your site’s performance or functionality, you’ll naturally need access to quality customer service.
Fortunately, this is one area that Cloudways typically excels at.
In keeping with their flexible pay-for-what-you-really-need approach to web hosting, the company currently offers three different support plans:
Standard Support – Free of Charge
This is the basic level of customer support that is offered to all users.
It allows you to contact a support agent via ticketing or live chat, with no phone support available.
In my experience, the live chat support agents typically take 2-3 minutes to respond. This is far from the fastest support response I’ve ever seen, but once you do get through, you’ll be helped by knowledgeable, experienced professionals who are polite, patient, and, most importantly, know what they’re doing.
100% of my customer support requests were resolved at the first point of contact, and although it wasn’t the fastest process ever, it certainly got the job done.
Advanced Support – $100 P/M
For users with more technical problems to address or those who need much faster response times to ensure their mission-critical websites are always performing at their best, the Advanced Support plan may be more suitable.
This gives you access to priority live chat and ticket support so that you get to jump the queue and have your requests dealt with much more quickly.
It also means that you’ll be able to access help for things like server customization and WordPress-specific issues, neither of which you’ll get on the free support plan.
Premium Support – $500 per Month
The premium support plan provides you with everything in the Advanced Plan, albeit with the additional option to contact support via telephone and a private Slack channel.
Cloudways Hosting Reputation
So, you’ve seen what I think about Cloudways, but what do other users have to say?
The company is currently ranked as “Excellent” on TrustPilot with a 4.6 rating and 1,302 reviews, the majority of which are overwhelmingly positive.
The majority of positive reviews focus on Cloudways’ excellent customer service and blazing-fast performance speeds.
The negative reviews seem to focus on the difficulty of using the service, though there are a number of customer service complaints as well.
Cloudways Hosting Pros and Cons
Is CloudWays Web Hosting Worth the Hype? My Final Verdict
So, is Cloudways really as good as everyone says it is?
My honest answer is that it all depends on who you are and what you need.
If you’re a developer, an experienced WordPress user, or a business owner looking for more advanced features than you’d normally get with a regular shared hosting platform, then absolutely, Cloudways is a tough one to beat.
What’s more, you’re guaranteed to get powerful performance, remarkable reliability, and the benefit of only ever paying for the resources you need.
If that sounds like just what you’re looking for, then be sure to check out Cloudways hosting today.
However, if you’re a beginner, a small business owner, or simply someone who just needs an easy, uncomplicated way to host your new WordPress website, there may be better options out there.
In that case, check out my reviews of Kinsta web hosting and WPEngine to see if they’re more suitable.