Cloudways Review: I’m Saving $100/Month With 2x Faster Load Times After Migrating From SiteGround’s Expensive Cloud Hosting

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Cloudways-Review

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 very 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.

My honest review of Cloudways

  1. I Was Previously Using SiteGround’s Cloud Hosting
  2. The Money I Saved With Cloudways
  3. Load Times Cut In Half
  4. No More CPU Overages
  5. Free Migration Went Smoothly
  6. Support Is “Decent”
  7. 5 Cloud Hosting Providers To Choose From
  8. Speeding Up Your Site On Cloudways
  9. Using The Breeze Plugin
  10. Adding Cloudflare
  11. 59+ Data Centers
  12. Free SSL
  13. Cloudways Add-Ons (Extra Services)
  14. Other Features
  15. No Email Hosting
  16. The Benefit Of Managed Hosting
  17. Conclusion: I’m A Happy Camper
  18. Cloudways Is #1 In Many Facebook Polls
  19. I Would Use SiteGround If…
  20. I Would Use Cloudways If…

Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for Cloudways using my affiliate link I will get credit for the sale which I would seriously appreciate. It also helps me donate to GoFundMe campaigns ($6,000 so far)! A lot of people don’t like SiteGround’s high prices and strict CPU limits, and most people who move away from SiteGround go to Cloudways. It’s much faster (cloud hosting) and I recommend their DigitalOcean plan.

Get hosting from Cloudways

(save 25% for 2 months with promo code OMM25)

 

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 cut 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.

SiteGround-Cloud-Hosting

These monthly invoices were brutal (wpcommanders is just my account name):

SiteGround-Cloud-Hosting-Sales-Receipt

 

2. The Money I Saved With Cloudways

Quick comparison check: 2 CPU + 4GB RAM costs $80/month on SiteGround when it’s only $42/month at Cloudways on 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 website. Cloudways also does monthly pricing without yearly contracts, which is definitely nice.

Cloudways-Invoice

 

3. Load Times Cut In Half

There’s no arguing the graph:

SiteGround-vs-Cloudways-Cloud-Hosting

The biggest difference was the load time on long/heavy tutorials. This tutorial has around 100 images and 400+ comments, has a page size of 2.56MB and 89 requests, yet still loads in <2s. Of course it’s not an official benchmark, but I did notice a huge improvement in how fast my site loaded just by clicking through my pages. Click my sidebar links if you want to see yourself.

2020-GTmetrix-Report

You can even run this post through GTmetrix and see what you get:

Cloudways-Review-GTmetrix

Other people who migrated to Cloudways (or one of their cloud providers):

Cloudways Response Times

WP Engine To Cloudways

DigitalOcean Pingdom Report

Cloudways Server Response Times

Godaddy to DigitalOcean Migration

Cloudways Load Time Improvement

Cloudways vs WP Engine

Untitled

Cloudways Pingdom Load Times

Cloudways Pingdom Report

Namecheap To Cloudways Migration

Vultr Migration

Cloudways WooCommerce Migration

Cloudways AWS Migration

WPEngine to Cloudways Migration

Get hosting from Cloudways

 

4. 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.

SiteGround-CPU-Limits

After migrating to Cloudways, my CPU usage was literally 1%. Makes you wonder.

Cloudways-CPU-Usage

 

5. Free Migration Went Smoothly

This doesn’t happen for everyone (just trying to be honest).

I have read other Cloudways reviews where people weren’t happy with their support and that included migrating their website. I’d say for 95% of people, the migration goes smoothly. But the other 5% can experience downtimes, long wait times while your site is being migrated, and they might not help you setup SSL, Cloudflare, and anything that isn’t related to their service.

I’ll get more into this in the support section, but in my case, I had to setup SSL myself (which was very easy as it was literally a 1-click activation in the Cloudways dashboard), but I’m still having issues getting Cloudflare to work with Cloudways and will need my developer do this.

Cloudways-Migrator-Tools

Request a free migration from Cloudways

 

6. Support Is “Decent”

Not gonna lie, Cloudways gets bashed for their support.

Migrations can have hiccups, support can be rude, and you will not get the same level of support as someone like Kinsta. So if you have issues or questions, I would reach out to Mustaasam Saleem Ansari (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 Mustaasam during the migration – he answered all my questions and gave me peace of mind more than anything. I liked 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 Mustaasam.

Mustaasam Saleem Ansari

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 :)

 

7. 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-Managed-Cloud-Hosting

Cloudways has an article describing the differences in each plan:

Cloudways Cloud Platform Comparison

Their most popular plan is DigitalOcean which is also the least expensive (and the one I use).

Cloudways-DigitalOcean

 

8. Speeding Up Your Site On Cloudways

A couple Cloudways customers made an optimization video which includes tweaks you can make in your Cloudways dashboard to make your site load faster. It can easily take 1s off your load time. The video is 40 minutes long, so I’ll save you time and listed the instructions below.

Step 1: Upgrade to PHP 7.3, MariaDB 10.3, and install Redis in the “Settings & Packages” tab.

Cloudways-Speed-Upgrades

Step 2: Increase memory limit to 256MB also in the “Settings & Packages” tab.

Cloudways-Memory-Limit

You can also check their WordPress hosting page to see the speed technology they use: solid state drives, PHP 7.3, MariaDB, PHP-FPM, Breeze plugin, and Cloudways CDN (paid service).

Cloudways-Performance-Features

That’s it!

 

9. 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.

Cloudways Breeze Plugin

Basic Options:
*Avoid duplicate functionality with other cache plugins!

Cloudways Breeze Basic Options

Advanced Options:

Cloudways Breeze Advanced Options

Database:

Cloudways Breeze Database Options

CDN:

Cloudways Breeze CDN Options

Varnish:
*There have been reports that activating Varnish does more harm than good (again, be careful).

Cloudways Breeze Varnish Options

 

10. Adding Cloudflare

Sign up for a free Cloudflare plan, you will go through a set of pages, then see 2 namesevers:

Cloudflare Nameserver Change

Login to where your domain registrar (eg. GoDaddy) and change nameservers to Cloudflare’s:

Godaddy Cloudflare nameservers

Login to Cloudways, go to “Settings & Packages” then activate Cloudflare’s WAF Module:

Cloudways Cloudflare WAF Rule

Cloudways also has a paid CDN option which is $1 per 25GB:

Cloudways-CDN

 

11. 59+ Data Centers

Cloudways actually has 59 data centers if you combine all their cloud providers, not 25.

Cloudways-Data-Centers

When choosing your plan, scroll through their locations.

  • DigitalOcean: 8 data centers
  • Linode: 8 data centers
  • Vultr: 15 data centers
  • AWS: 14 data centers
  • Google Cloud: 14 data centers

Cloudways 59 Data Centers

 

12. Free SSL

Free Let’s Encrypt SSL is included with Cloudways. All you have to do is click to activate it.

Cloudways-Free-SSL

 

13. Cloudways Add-Ons (Extra Services)

Cloudways offers a few add-ons (paid services):

Cloudways-Add-Ons

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.

StackPath-CDN-Analytics

 

14. Other Features

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.”

Cloudways Staging Clone

Vertical Scaling – scale your server any time to include more resources or storage.

Cloudways-Vertical-Scaling

Backups – easily take a backup any time you want.

Cloudways-Backups

GIT – used to implement development workflows (they have a tutorial about it).

Cloudways-GIT

Add Team Members – love that you can set permissions for people who have access.

Cloudways-Team-Members

 

15. No Email Hosting

Cloudways does not provide email hosting, but they are partnered with Rackspace to provide email hosting for as low as $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

 

16. 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, TSOhost, 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, load times in GTmetrix, and a noticeable difference when clicking through your pages.

Managed Hosting Poll

 

17. 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.

Cloudways-Facebook-Review

 

18. 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.

Hosting Recommendations Facebook

VPS Cloud Hosting WooCommerce Poll

Elementor Hosting Recommendations

2017-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

VPS Cloud Hosting Poll

WordPress Hosting Suggestions

Favorite Hosting For Elementor

2016-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

 

19. I Would Use SiteGround If…

  • You aren’t savvy with managing your site
  • You haven’t sign up for their promo prices yet
  • You know how to optimize your site to reduce CPU
  • You want to be with a reputable host who has been around for many years

 

20. I Would Use Cloudways If…

  • You want pure performance (by far the biggest reason)
  • You want staging and GIT no matter what plan you choose
  • You are more savvy when it comes to managing your website
  • SiteGround isn’t cutting it (either because of CPU or renewal prices)

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

Digital Ocean Recommendation

Get hosting from Cloudways

(save 25% for 2 months with promo code OMM25)

 

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 think that just because SiteGround’s hosting is still good, there aren’t more powerful servers available. Once I finally pulled the trigger, there was no looking back.

+1 for Cloudways
Tom

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