Cloudways Review: I’m Saving $100/Month With 2x Faster Load Times After Moving From SiteGround (And How To Move Your Site)

Everyone’s trying to improve TTFB for core web vitals.

Speed is the main reason I use a host. Features, support, and price are important, but give me those load times! That (and price + CPU limits) are why I moved from SiteGround to Cloudways.

I won’t get too deep into why I left SiteGround, but I did. Since migrating to DigitalOcean, my load times cut in half, I’m paying half of what I was, and I’m not getting those pesky CPU limits.

After being on Cloudways since 2019, I gotta say. Still happy! This Cloudways review shows pros & cons, how to migrate to Cloudways, and how to optimize your server for even faster load times. I also have live websites using DO, DO Premium, and Vultr HF so you can test the speeds.

I want to mention that I have almost no coding skills. Some people are scared Cloudways is technical, but what’s technical about it? Launching a server? Adding a domain and updating DNS? Clicking a few buttons in the dashboard to make your server faster? Requesting a free migration? The dashboard isn’t hard and here are instructions on how to move to Cloudways.

The biggest cons are the cost of Rackspace if you want email hosting, WP Rocket (since the Cloudways Breeze plugin isn’t great), backup costs (just use UpDraftPlus), and there’s no file manager. But for key things like speed, support, and price, it’s really hard to beat Cloudways.

 

1. Moving away from SiteGround

I’ve used SiteGround GrowBig, GoGeek, and cloud.

Every time I upgraded was because of CPU limits. The jump to cloud was expensive and I kept having to add more CPU/RAM to prevent CPU overages. After paying $180/mo for several months, it was time to move. Since then, I also think SiteGround’s slow TTFB, reduced support, price increases, and unethical decisions didn’t do them any favors. I couldn’t imagine going back.

Knowing I was getting ripped off by SiteGround, I decided to downscale my CPU/RAM when moving to Cloudways DigitalOcean to only 4CPU + 8GB RAM for $80/month (I was previously using 6 CPU + 10GB RAM). Even after downscaling, I had zero CPU issues on Cloudways and my site loaded 2x faster. And for the record, my site was optimized for low CPU on SiteGround.

SiteGround-Cloud-Hosting-Sales-Receipt
Paying SiteGround way too much to avoid CPU limits
SiteGround-CPU-Limits
CPU limits are one of the biggest limitations of SiteGround and most shared hosts
Cloudways-Invoice
Downscaling CPU/RAM on Cloudways saved me money
Cloudways CPU Usage
Mysterious CPU overages went away

 

2. Moving to Cloudways (migration results)

Here’s mine:

Cloudways Shoutout
2x faster load times after migrating
GTmetrix Report - OMM
For how long this post is with tons of images/comments, it still loads in about 1s

Part of the reason I moved was because I saw other people posting their results.

SiteGround vs Cloudways Vultr
Source: Oxygen User Group
Cloudways Switch Hosting
Source: Twitter
SiteGround to Cloudways Move
Source: Twitter
Change hosting to Cloudways
Source: Twitter
DigitalOcean to Vultr HF
Source: WP Speed Matters
Cloudways Numbers
Source: Cloudways Users
Cloudways vs Bluehost
Source: Post Removed
Vultr vs SiteGround
Source: WordPress Hosting
Cloudways-Vultr-High-Frequency-Speed
Source: WP Rocket Users

Cloudways-Facebook-Review

WP Engine to Cloudways Switch
Source: SEO Signals Lab
Cloudways Vultr Migration
Source: Twitter
SiteGround-To-Cloudways
Source: Twitter
Moved to Cloudways Hosting Speed
Source: BloggingGyaan
Cloudways With Divi
Source: Divi Theme Users
Cloudways-BuddyBoss
Source: Post Removed
SiteGround to Cloudways Results
Source: WP Speed Matters
WP Engine to Cloudways Migration
Source: WordPress Speed Up
Cloudways GTmetrix Comparison
Source: WordPress Hosting

Cloudways vs SiteGround Post

I ran a simple speed test where I tested 16 hosting plans using the same Astra Starter Site in Pingdom (and other tools). Cloudways Vultr HF and DigitalOcean were #1 in most of the tests. DO Premium wasn’t included (it wasn’t available at the time), but I will add it in the next round.

WordPress-Hosting-2020-Pingdom-Test

 

3. Do vs. DO Premium vs. Vultr HF

Cloudways released DigitalOcean Premium and further back, Vultr High Frequency. Gijo from the WP Speed Matters Facebook Group tested DigitalOcean vs. Vultr and here’s what he found.

DigitalOcean vs Vultr
Source: Gijo (WP Speed Matters)

Here are 3 demo sites I setup with the exact same Astra Starter Template, plugins, and Cloudways configuration. Feel free to click through the sites or run your own speed tests.

To use them, sign up through their WordPress hosting page and click the “High Frequency” option for Vultr or “Premium” for DigitalOcean. You’ll select them when launching a server too.

Cloudways Vultr High Frequency

Cloudways DigitalOcean Premium Droplets

 

4. Pros & Cons

Cloudways Pros:

  • Speed (my TTFB is consistently under 200ms).
  • Releases new servers (DO Premium + Vultr HF).
  • Multiple caching levels (Redis, memcached, Varnish).
  • Releases new PHP versions (Cloudways has PHP 8.0).
  • Free migration and 3-day trials make them easy to try.
  • Monthly pricing (no yearly contracts or high renewals).
  • Support is great as reflected in their Trustpilot reviews.
  • Free SSL, staging, bot protection, cron job management.
  • You shouldn’t exceed CPU unless your site actually uses it.
  • They have a Cloudways Users Facebook Group to ask questions.
  • Choice of 5 cloud providers: DO, Vultr, AWS, Google Cloud, Linode.
  • Lots of data centers to choose from between all their cloud providers.
  • Launching a server and using their migrator plugin is straightforward.
  • Their community manager can answer your questions when signing up.

Cloudways Cons:

  • No file manager.
  • Vultr servers can have downtimes.
  • Breeze plugin usually doesn’t perform better than WP Rocket.
  • CloudwaysCDN uses StackPath (other CDNs are usually faster).
  • No email hosting (Cloudways offers Rackspace for $1/email per month).
  • Sometimes, new customers must show ID to get their account approved.
  • Offsite backup storage is $0.033/GB per server (use UpDraftPlus instead).
  • Support used to not be great, but has definitely improved the last couple years.
  • Scaling down CPU/RAM means cloning server and migrating sites (not too hard).

 

5. Rated #1 in numerous Facebook Polls

The WordPress Hosting Facebook Group is a great place to get feedback from non-affiliates. If you dig through polls and conversations, you’ll see a lot of people moving to Cloudways usually because of slow TTFBs, expensive renewal bills, CPU limits, or poor support from their old host.

Moving away from SiteGround
Source: WordPress Hosting
Elementor-Hosting-Poll
Source: Elementor Community
Hosting geared towards France
Source: WordPress Hosting
Favorite SiteGround Alternative
Source: BloggingGyaan
Reliable-fast-hosting
Source: Post Deleted
Hosting Poll 2019
Source: WordPress Hosting
WPX vs Cloudways
Source: WordPress Hosting
Shared Managed Hosting Suggestions
Source: WordPress Hosting
Web server poll
Source: Oxygen User Group
Favourite WordPress Hosting
Source: Twitter

And for the record, DigitalOcean is the only host listed in the WordPress optimization guide.

Digital Ocean Recommendation

 

6. Step 1: Sign up

Here are instructions for launching a new WordPress site on Cloudways (I’ll also show you some features along the way). Or jump to step #12 if you’ll be migrating an existing website.

Sign up for Cloudways and activate your account (you’ll get an activation email).

Cloudways Black Friday Sale 2021
Get 40% off your first 4 months of Cloudways with code OMM40

Use promo code OMM40 to get 40% off Cloudways (first 4 months).

 

7. Step 2: Launch a server

Once your account is activated, go to you’re Cloudways dashboard and launch a server.

Launch Server on Cloudways

Name your app/server, then choose a server. I generally recommend regular DigitalOcean or Vultr High Frequency. Cloudways also has an article on the differences between their 5 cloud providers. New or low traffic sites can probably get away with 1GB, otherwise I would do 2GB+ especially if you’re running multiple sites or using resource-hungry page builders, plugins, or WooCommerce. Select the data center closest to your visitors. Then finally, click Launch Now.

Cloudways Launch Server

Wait for the server to be created.

Cloudways Server Launched

Cloudways Cloud Platform Comparison

 

8. Step 3: Make your server faster

Cloudways made a YouTube video on this, but here’s the gist.

Click “Servers” on top. This is where you’ll tweak the server settings (PHP version, memory limit, caching), scale the server, configure backups, etc. Below are a few settings I recommend.

Cloudways Server Settings

Increase memory limit to 256MB (Servers → Settings & Packages).

Cloudways Memory Limit

Use PHP 8.0, MariaDB 10.4, and install Redis (Servers → Settings & Packages).

Cloudways Settings Packages

Enable Redis + memcached, then disable Varnish (Servers → Manage Services).

Cloudways Manage Services

 

9. Step 4: Connect your domain and add SSL

Cloudways will assign a temporary domain (i.e. wordpress-5914908.cloudwaysapps.com). You need to add your domain to Cloudways and point it to the temporary domain by updating DNS.

Click the Applications tab.

Cloudways Application Settings

Add your domain to Cloudways (Applications → Domain Management).

Cloudways Add Domain

Update your DNS records. In NameCheap, go to Dashboard → Domain List → Manage → Advanced DNS → Add New Record.  The A Record value is the Public IP found in “Access Details” in Cloudways. The CNAME is your domain name. Use the same formatting as below.

Here are GoDaddy’s instructions.

Update DNS Records
In your domain registrar, add an A record to with your Public IP (found in Cloudways) and domain

Cloudways also has a video on this:

Add free Let’s Encrypt SSL (Applications → SSL Certificate) and enable auto renewal.

Cloudways SSL

 

10. Step 5: Login to your WordPress dashboard

Find your WordPress login details under Applications → Access Details.

Cloudways Access Details

Login to your WordPress dashboard.

WordPress dashboard login

 

11. Step 6: Add Cloudflare

CloudwaysCDN uses StackPath’s data centers. However, Cloudflare + BunnyCDN are usually the more recommended CDNs in Facebook Groups. And if you’re using WP Rocket which also uses StackPath, their RocketCDN ($7.99/mo) is cheaper than CloudwaysCDN ($1 per 25GB).

To add Cloudflare, sign up and change nameservers (you don’t need to do this again if you’ve already done it). Then login to Cloudways → Servers → Settings & Packages → activate Cloudflare’s WAF Module. Use the Claire Chrome Extension to verify Cloudflare is working.

Cloudways Cloudflare WAF Rule

 

12. Request a free migration or DIY

Request a free migration from Cloudways (first one is free, then $25 per site).

You can request it by clicking the 9 squares → Add-ons → Application Migration.

Cloudways Application Migration

Cloudways Free Migration Request
Fill out your migration details

Or use the Cloudways WordPress Migrator Plugin to do it yourself.

 

13. Features

Cloudways has a full list on their features page.

  • Staging – if you want to clone your website to test new designs or plugins, staging is easy. Go to Applications, click the three dots, and click “Clone App/Creating Staging Website.”
  • Backups – set backup frequencies, time, configure local backups, and take a backup on-demand. Shoutout to Cloudways for backing up servers (one time, I deleted a server too early which had a staging site on it, and they were able to recover it). This saved my butt!
  • Add Team Members – grant your team members access and set their permission levels.

Cloudways-Features

Cloudways Staging Clone

Cloudways-Backups

Cloudways-Team-Members

In the dashboard, the add-ons tab lists their paid services:

Cloudways-Add-Ons

  • DNS Made Easy – NameCheap and GoDaddy’s DNS are slow. Cloudways offers DNS Made Easy for $2.5 per 5 domains, but Cloudflare is free and is a fast DNS (just use that).
  • Rackspace Email – you’ll need this to use email hosting which costs $1/email per month.
  • Elastic Email – great if sending out sensitive email (see Cloudways’ email comparison).
  • Application Migration – Cloudways will migrate 1 site for free, then $25 per site after.
  • Application Upgrade – if you’re worried about updating WordPress, plugins, etc, you can pay Cloudways $50/month to do this for you, but I really don’t know anyone who does it.
  • CloudwaysCDN – use StackPath’s data centers and costs $1 per 25GB (I use Cloudflare).

 

14. Support

Cloudways support used to be mediocre, but it’s gotten much better.

It’s not the same level of support you would get at someone like Kinsta, but it’s still very good. They helped me several times when I needed help with moving my websites, backups, SSL, and Cloudflare. If you have questions, you can always reach out to Muhammed Moeez (Cloudways community manager) whose #1 job is to make customers happy and answer questions. He is also active in the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group. I was in touch with their community manager during my free migration. Above anything, it gave me peace of mind + accountability.

Muhammed-Moeez

Their improved support is directly reflected in their TrustPilot reviews. I always like to go through other Cloudways reviews to see what people are saying and I suggest you do the same.

Cloudways TrustPilot Rating

Cloudways in a nutshell:

Cloudways TrustPilot Review

 

15. Breeze

Breeze – the Cloudways Breeze plugin is worth testing, but it’s missing prefetch and heartbeat control which can easily be added with a few simple lines of code, or with plugins like Heartbeat Control and Pre* Party Resources Hints. I still use WP Rocket, but like all cache plugins, they react differently based on the site. If using Autoptimize, keep all minification and file grouping settings off in Breeze. There have also been complaints about version 1.2.0 breaking websites. Cloudways also has a tutorial for setting up Breeze, or you can use my recommended settings.

Breeze Settings (click thumbnails to enlarge):

This tutorial aligns with the settings I recommend:

But like I said, I recommend WP Rocket instead of Breeze:

 

16. Cons: Vultr downtimes, email, backup costs

No File Manager – Cloudways does not have a file manager.

Vultr Downtimes – in the Cloudways incident history, Vultr has a lot more incidents than most hosts. This isn’t Cloudways’ fault, but it’s something to be aware of if you’re using a Vultr server.

Cloudways Vultr Incidents

Email Hosting – Cloudways does not provide email hosting, but they’re partnered with Rackspace to provide it for $1/email/month instead of $2/email/month (Rackspace pricing). And for transactional or outgoing emails, they are also partnered with Elastic Email to provide an easy setup, or you can setup your own SMTP provider like Gmail SMTP, SendGrid, Mailgun.

Cloudways-SMTP-Settings

Backup Costs – Cloudways charges $0.033 per GB for backups which will be included in your monthly bill. Or you can use your own backup solution like UpdraftPlus to avoid these charges.

Vertical Scaling – scaling up is easy (drag the circle to however much CPU/RAM you want to add). However, scaling down requires a few extra steps to clone the server and move your site.

Cloudways-Vertical-Scaling

 

16. Managed hosting makes a difference

Other than a large performance improvement, managed hosting also takes care of software updates, security patches, and hardware management. But performance is the biggest draw.

The difference between shared hosting and managed cloud hosting is huge. GoDaddy, Bluehost, HostGator, Hostinger, and really any shared host will get blown away by Cloudways. If you’ve never experienced good cloud hosting before, you will see improved server response times (TTFB), load times in GTmetrix, and a noticeable difference when clicking through your pages.

And now that GTmetrix includes Lighthouse recommendations, your core web vital scores should improve too (since many Lighthouse items are correlated with how fast your server is).

Shared Hosting vs Managed Hosting

 

17. Monthly pricing with no high renewals

Most hosts lock you into a yearly contract (or more).

Cloudways is monthly pricing with no higher renewals. And at least in the last 5 years, I don’t believe Cloudways has changed the price of their hosting. With companies like SiteGround increasing prices and sticking you with high renewals, monthly pricing is a breath of fresh air.

Cloudways PlanCPURAMStorageBandwidthPrice
DO1 CORE1GB25GB1TB$10/mo
DO1 CORE2GB50GB2TB$22/mo
DO2 CORE4GB80GB4TB$42/mo
DO Premium1 CORE1GB25GB1TB$12/mo
DO Premium1 CORE2GB50GB2TB$26/mo
DO Premium2 CORE4GB80GB4TB$50/mo
Vultr1 CORE1GB25GB1TB$11/mo
Vultr1 CORE2GB55GB2TB$23/mo
Vultr2 CORE4GB80GB3TB$44/mo
Vultr HF1 CORE1GB32GB1TB$13/mo
Vultr HF1 CORE2GB64GB2TB$26/mo
Vultr HF2 CORE4GB128GB3TB$50/mo
Linode1 CORE1GB25GB1TB$12/mo
Linode1 CORE2GB55GB2TB$24/mo
Linode2 CORE4GB80GB4TB$50/mo
AWS1 vCPU1.75GB20 GB2 GB$36.51/mo
AWS1 vCPU3.75GB20 GB2 GB$88.77/mo
AWS2 vCPU8GB20 GB2 GB$176.26/mo
Google Cloud1 vCPU1.7 GB20 GB2 GB$33.18/mo
Google Cloud1 vCPU3.75 GB20 GB2 GB$73.50/mo
Google Cloud2 vCPU7.5 GB20 GB2 GB$138.52/mo

 

18. What people are saying in Facebook Groups

First off, nearly every hosting company blocks Facebook reviews (probably because so many people use it to bitch). Cloudways is one of the few hosts that allows Facebook reviews. And last time I checked, they had 5/5 stars with 400+ reviews, which is pretty damn good for Facebook. Having the great experience I did, I decided to leave them my own gem of a review.

Cloudways-Facebook-Review

What other people say about Cloudways:

Cloudways-Feedback-in-Facebok-Groups

Cloudways vs SiteGround Opinion

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Cloudways fast?

Cloudways gave me about 2x faster load times than SiteGround's cloud hosting and I'm paying 1/2 of what I was. My site loads instantly and you can click through my pages to see how fast they load. They use latest PHP versions, MariaDB, and a very fast infrastructure.

Which 5 cloud hosting providers do they use?

DigitalOcean, Vultr, Linode, Google Cloud, and Amazon (AWS). Their DigitalOcean plan is the most popular, and cheapest.

What is Cloudways' pricing structure?

Cloudways has a monthly pricing structure with no yearly contracts or upfront fees.

Does Cloudways support email?

Cloudways does not provide email hosting directly, but they are partnered with Rackspace who offers it for as low as $1/email/month instead of $2/email/month (Rackspace pricing).

How does Cloudways compare to SiteGround?

They have a better value especially once you reach SiteGround's renewal prices, but they're also a little more technical. SiteGround is good for shared hosting, but if speed is important, Cloudways is the way to go.

Is Cloudways a middleman?

In a way, yes. Their hosting is marked up about 200% because it's managed hosting. If you have time to configure and maintain your own server, you can buy directly from the cloud hosting provider. Otherwise, Cloudways will manage the servers for you.

Ready to experience the powerful servers on managed cloud hosting?
Don’t be like me and try to stick with the same host just because I was comfortable, even though their TTFB got slower. Once I finally pulled the trigger, there was no looking back.

Get 40% off your first 4 months with promo code OMM40

+1 for Cloudways
Tom

About Tom Dupuis

Tom Dupuis 2017Tom Dupuis writes WordPress speed and SEO tutorials out of his apartment in Denver, Colorado. In his spare time, he plays Rocket League and watches murder documentaries. Read his bio to learn 50 random and disturbing things about him.

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