I admit it, I used to be a SiteGround fanboy.
But as my traffic grew, I started getting CPU overages on SiteGround’s GoGeek plan. I eventually upgraded to their $80/month cloud hosting but was still exceeding CPU, so I added more CPU/RAM and started paying them $180/month. Going from $14.99/month on GoGeek to $180/month was insane to me to say the least. So I migrated to DigitalOcean on Cloudways where I’m now paying $80/month for roughly the same amount of CPU/RAM. After migrating, my load times dropped in half, I am nowhere near exceeding CPU, and I’m saving $100/month.
Obviously, I’m happy.
Some of my tutorials have 50+ images and 400+ comments (2.56MB page size and 89 requests) and still load in <2s! Run this post through GTmetrix or click through my posts if you want – they all load instantly. This was the biggest difference I noticed when migrating to Cloudways.
Cloudways is a little more technical to set up (they do offer free migrations) and they don’t support direct email hosting which means you will need a Rackspace account to use email. But the tradeoff in speed and cost savings was definitely worth it for me, and probably for you too.
Aside from my own experience, Cloudways is one of the most recommended hosts in the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group and #1 in most recent Facebook polls with a 4.8/5 TrustPilot rating. Plus, they released Vultr HF which is supposed to be even faster than DO.
My honest review of Cloudways
- I Was Previously Using SiteGround’s Cloud Hosting
- The Money I Saved With Cloudways
- Load Times Cut In Half
- New Vultr High Frequency Is Blazing Fast
- No More CPU Overages
- Free Migration Went Smoothly
- Support Has Gotten Better
- 4.8/5 TrustPilot Cloudways Review
- 5 Cloud Hosting Providers To Choose From
- Speeding Up Your Site On Cloudways
- Using The Breeze Plugin
- Adding Cloudflare
- 25+ Data Centers
- Free SSL
- Cloudways Add-Ons (Extra Services)
- Other Features
- No Email Hosting
- The Benefit Of Managed Hosting
- Conclusion: I’m A Happy Camper
- Cloudways Is #1 In Many Facebook Polls
- Getting Started On Cloudways
Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for Cloudways using my affiliate link or use code OMM25, watch this video. I try to give solid recommendations based on Facebook Group trends, unbiased polls, migration results, and constant research/testing. I also donate to charity ($6,000 to GoFundMe so far) and your support is much appreciated.
1. I Was Previously Using SiteGround’s Cloud Hosting
One problem I have with SiteGround is there’s no “middle” plan between GoGeek and cloud. You’re either paying $14.99/month (or more) or you’re paying $80/month. And if you have to upgrade to cloud because you’re getting CPU issues, chances are the entry level plan won’t fix it (it didn’t for me). I had to pay them about $120/month to stop getting CPU overages and $180/month for my server to be relaxed. 2 CPU + 4GB RAM may not be enough for some sites.
Since writing this, SiteGround increased the entry plan to $100 and it now includes 2x the amount of CPU + RAM. Still, with the amount of complaints in Facebook Groups about their cloud hosting, I would stiill much rather use Cloudways DigitalOcean or Vultr High Frequency.
These monthly invoices were brutal (wpcommanders is just my account name):
2. The Money I Saved With Cloudways
Quick comparison check: 2CPU + 4GB RAM costs $80/month on SiteGround when it’s only $42/month on Cloudways DigitalOcean. Also, SiteGround’s cloud servers can’t handle CPU like Cloudways. In my case, instead of paying SiteGround $180/month for 6 CPU + 8GB RAM, I easily got away with 2 CPU + 4GB RAM on Cloudways with no CPU overages, plus a faster site. Cloudways also does monthly pricing without yearly contracts which was a big bonus for me.
Cloudways DigitalOcean starts at $10/month. I paid more to upgrade my server because I have a decent amount of traffic and am obsessed with making my site fast.
3. Load Times Cut In Half
There’s no arguing the graph:
Here are 22 other people who migrated to Cloudways (click on image to enlarge):
4. New Vultr High Frequency Is Blazing Fast
Once you’ve created an account, add a server than select Vultr High Frequency.
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.
5. No More CPU Overages
CPU overages are one of the biggest limitations of SiteGround.
Keep in mind: I write tutorials on how to reduce CPU and make WordPress sites load faster. I was only using 15 lightweight plugins, a StudioPress theme (now Astra), configured WP Rocket with Cloudflare a CDN, disabled heartbeat, optimized images and third party scripts, and blocked bad bots from Wordfence’s live traffic report. Yet, my site was still getting CPU issues.
My CPU usage averages around 7% on Cloudways. Makes you wonder about SiteGround.
6. Free Migration Went Smoothly
I had Cloudways do this and it went smoothly. You have a couple options for migrating:
Request a free migration from Cloudways – visit their free migrations page to learn more. Once you sign up and set up a Cloudways server, go to Applications → Application Migration.
Then fill out your details:
Do it yourself with the Cloudways WordPress Migrator Plugin – Cloudways has video instructions for moving your websites using the Cloudways WordPress Migrator Plugin.
7. Support Has Gotten Better
Cloudways used to have poor support, but it has gotten much better.
It’s still not the same level of support you would get at Kinsta or WPX. If you have questions, you can always reach out to Muhammed Moeez (the Cloudways community manager) whose #1 job is to make customers happy and answer questions. He is also super activate in the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group. I was in touch with Muhammed during the migration – he answered all my questions and gave me peace of mind. I really like the idea of accountability.
Of course, there are plenty of customers who think Cloudways support is great (including me). I actually reached out to Hristo Pandjarov (SiteGround community manager) about an affiliate question with SiteGround, twice, and he never responded. Every person is different – it depends who your rep is. But if you have questions or issues, try reaching out to Muhammed.
My personal experience; they migrated the site successfully with no errors, downtimes, and they even configured their Breeze plugin for me. Maybe they knew I was writing this review :)
8. 4.8/5 TrustPilot Cloudways Review
Their improved support is directly reflected in their TrustPilot reviews. I always like to go through other Cloudways reviews to see what other people say and I suggest you do the same.
Cloudways in a nutshell:
9. 5 Cloud Hosting Providers To Choose From
With Cloudways, you can choose from 5 cloud hosting providers. Just to confirm, Cloudways is the middleman who manages your server. DigitalOcean and the other providers are the ones hosting your website (through their partner, Cloudways). I personally don’t feel like managing my server – ain’t nobody got time for that! But if you do, you can go straight to DigitalOcean.
Cloudways has an article describing the differences in each plan:
Their most popular plan is DigitalOcean which is also the least expensive (and the one I use).
10. Speeding Up Your Site On Cloudways
Cloudways made an YouTube video which includes tweaks you can make in your Cloudways dashboard to make your site faster. The video is 40 minutes, so I listed the instructions below.
Step 1: In Cloudways, go Servers → Manage Services, then enable the following:
Step 2: Go to Settings & Packages and upgrade to PHP 7.4, MariaDB 10.4, and install Redis.
Step 3: Also in “Settings & Packages” (Basic tab), increase memory limit to 256MB.
11. Using The Breeze Plugin
Cloudways’ Breeze plugin won’t replace WP Rocket and other top cache plugins since they have more features. Breeze only comes with caching, minification, Gzip, database cleanup, CDN URL, and Varnish options. But it’s worth trying out – you never know when cache plugins will do a better job at optimizing specific things than others, as each website is different. Also, most bad reviews are because of issues related to WooCommerce – in which case, be careful.
Cloudways also has a tutorial for setting up Breeze.
*Avoid duplicate functionality with other cache plugins!
*There have been reports that activating Varnish does more harm than good (again, be careful).
12. Adding Cloudflare
Sign up for a free Cloudflare plan, you will go through a set of pages, then see 2 namesevers:
Login to where your domain registrar (eg. GoDaddy) and change nameservers to Cloudflare’s:
Login to Cloudways, go to “Settings & Packages” then activate Cloudflare’s WAF Module:
Cloudways also has a paid CDN (StackPath) which is $1 per 25GB, but I would personally lean towards Cloudflare or BunnyCDN.
13. 25 Data Centers
Cloudways has 25 global data centers if you combine all their cloud providers.
When choosing your plan, scroll through their locations.
- DigitalOcean: 8 data centers
- Linode: 8 data centers
- Vultr: 15 data centers
- Vultr High Frequency: 16 data centers
- AWS: 14 data centers
- Google Cloud: 14 data centers
14. Free SSL
Free Let’s Encrypt SSL is included with Cloudways. All you have to do is click to activate it.
15. Cloudways Add-Ons (Extra Services)
Cloudways offers a few add-ons (paid services):
DNS Made Easy – I love the idea of a premium DNS, until I was told you can’t use it with Cloudflare. Although I’m not using it now, I may have to give it a whirl in the near future.
Rackspace Email – you will need this to use email hosting.
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 updated WordPress, plugins, etc, you can pay Cloudways $50/month to do this for you, but I honestly don’t know anyone who would do that.
CloudwaysCDN – this is the same as StackPath (Cloudways and StackPath are partners) and costs $1 per 25GB. I use both Cloudflare and StackPath which has saved me lots of bandwidth.
16. Other Features
Cloudways has a full list on their features page:
Staging – if you want to clone your website to test new designs or plugins, this is super easy. Just go to Applications, click the three dots, and click “Clone App/Creating Staging Website.”
Vertical Scaling – scale your server any time to include more resources or storage.
Backups – easily take a backup any time you want.
GIT – used to implement development workflows (they have a tutorial about it).
Add Team Members – love that you can set permissions for people who have access.
17. No Email Hosting
18. The Benefit Of Managed Hosting
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 / TTFBs, load times in GTmetrix, and a noticeable difference when clicking through your pages.
And now that GTmetrix includes lighthouse recommendations, your scores should improve too (since many Lighthouse items are correlated with load times).
19. Conclusion: I’m A Happy Camper
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 4.5/5 stars with 500+ 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.
20. Cloudways Is #1 In Many Facebook Polls
SiteGround and Cloudways are usually the top 2 hosts in Facebook polls. SiteGround was actually rated #1 in 30+ polls, but that’s because they’ve been around forever, more people have used them, and they’re cheaper (until you have to renew). But there is a huge shift of people moving from SiteGround to Cloudways, mainly due to SiteGround’s renewal prices.
Facebook polls on the best hosting (click on image to enlarge):
And for the record, DigitalOcean is the only host listed in the WordPress optimization guide.
21. Getting Started On Cloudways
Step 1: Sign up for a Cloudways free trial.
Step 2: Use promo code OMM25 to get 25% off your first 2 months.
Step 3: Add a server.
Step 4: Name your app/server name, select a server (I recommend DigitalOcean or Vultr HF), then select your server size data center closest to your visitors. When done, click Launch Now.
Here’s a GIF showing the process (a little outdated, but it’s still same process):
Step 5: Do the speed optimizations from step #10.
Enjoy the faster load times.
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.
+1 for Cloudways