Cloudways Review: Moving From SiteGround To Vultr High Frequency Resulted In A <200ms TTFB, No More CPU Issues, And $100/mo Savings

Back in 2019, I moved from SiteGround to Cloudways and posted my results. I’m still using them in 2022 and have no plans on moving.

I wasn’t happy with SiteGround because of their CPU limits, increased prices, declined support, and slow TTFB which seems to be a common theme with many hosts, especially shared hosting.

Since then, I switched to Vultr High Frequency on Cloudways and made other optimizations to make my site even faster – so I figured it would be helpful to include them in this review. It also includes workarounds on common questions (email hosting, backups, and using a file manager).

I want to mention that I have almost no coding skills. Some people are scared Cloudways is technical, Launching a server can be done in a few clicks. Add your domain and update DNS records and you’re ready to roll. You can then tweak things in the dashboard to make your site faster or request a free migration if you need help. Besides an extra step to launch a server and getting comfortable in their dashboard, it’s not hard. Everything is pretty much point and click.

My current setup is Vultr High Frequency (server), Cloudflare (DNS and APO), FlyingPress (cache plugin), BunnyCDN (CDN), and Google Workspace (email hosting). You can check my GTmetrix report, core web vitals, or click through my site if you want to test the speed yourself.

Cloudways just released Cloudflare Enterprise which is a big step for speed/security (I’m using it and instantly noticed my site was more responsive). Here’s a screenshot of it in my dashboard. You get the enterprise level CDN, WAF, DDoS protection, image + mobile optimization, and full page caching for $5/month. Here are setup instructions.

Keycdn ttfb performance test
TTFB on Cloudways Vultr HF with Cloudflare APO measured in KeyCDN

 

 

1. Sign Up

Cloudways offers a 3-day trial with a promo code for 30% off 3 months when you subscribe to their newsletter. Or use my OMM25 code to get 25% off 2 months without having to subscribe.

Cloudways promo code

 

2. Launch A Server

The next step is to launch a server. Select an application (WordPress or WooCommerce) and name your app/server. Select a cloud host, server size (1GB is fine for small sites, 2GB+ for WooCommerce/larger sites). Select the data center closest to visitors. Then click Launch Now.

Cloudways launch vultr hf server

Vultr HF is the most popular choice out of the 5 cloud hosts (it’s also what I use). It starts at $13/month, has high CPU clock speeds with 3GHz+ CPUs, and NVMe storage. DigitalOcean (and DigitalOcean Premium) are also popular. Then you have Linode, AWS, and Google Cloud.

Favorite-cloudways-server

Vultr high frequency
Vultr HF uses 3GHz+ CPUs with high clock speeds (read more)
Sata vs sata ssd vs nvme
Vultr HF uses NVMe storage (longer is better, source: PCWorld)

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

 

3. Connect Your Domain

After your server is done launching, you can connect your domain. Cloudways doesn’t offer domains so you’ll need to buy this from NameCheap, GoDaddy, or another domain registrar.

Step 1: Add your domain name under Applications → Domain Management. Add the www version as an additional domain if you want to redirect all www links to the non-www version.

Cloudways domain management

Step 2: Update 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 (or Google instructions for the domain registrar you’re using).

Update dns records

Step 3: Add free Let’s Encrypt SSL (Applications → SSL Certificate) and enable auto renewal.

Cloudways ssl

Cloudways also has a video on this.

 

 

4. Request A Free Migration

Request a free migration (9 squares → Add-ons → Application Migration). First migration is free then it’s $25/site which is cheaper than most hosts. I had them move my site with no issues.

Cloudways-application-migration

Cloudways free migration 1

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

 

 

5. Cloudways Speed Optimizations

Here are a few recommended optimizations for Cloudways. These can depend on whether your website is WooCommerce or low/high traffic. Cloudways also has quite a bit of documentation.

  • Use PHP 8.0.
  • Use MariaDB 10.4.
  • Use a 256MB (or higher memory limit).
  • Activate Redis add-on (installs Object Cache Pro drop-in plugin).
  • Activate Varnish add-on (specifically good for eCommerce sites).
  • Change PHP-FPM memory limit from 32M (mine is set to 1024M).
  • Use FlyingPress (what I use) or WP Rocket (see tutorial), not Cloudways Breeze.
  • Instead of CloudwaysCDN, use Cloudflare or a third-party CDN (I use BunnyCDN).
  • Replace wp-cron with a real cron job (use code below or see Cloudways instructions).
  • Use error logs to find bad bots, URL requests, status code errors, slow pages/queries.
  • max_execution_time: 30-60s, max_input_time: 60s, max_input_vars: 1000 (what I use).

Notes

  • MariaDB is comparatively faster than MySQL.
  • PHP-FPM has better memory usage than FastCGI.
  • Configure Varnish rules to exclude URLs/cookies if needed.
  • Use Cloudflare’s DNS (a solid option shown on dnsperf.com).
  • Configure Cloudflare’s settings and take advantage of their APO.
  • Error logs may show lots of requests to xmlrpc.php (you can try disabling it).
  • WP Johnny has several recommended server settings in his WP Speed Guide.
Cloudways settings packages
Use PHP 8.0, MariaDB 10.4, install Redis
Cloudways manage services
Activate multiple caching layers offered by Cloudways
Cloudways php fpm settings
Increase PHP FPM memory limit
Omm gtmetrix report
For how long this post is with tons of images/comments, it still loads in about 1s
*/5 * * * * wget -q -O - 'https://wordpress-413270-1299955.cloudwaysapps.com/wp-cron.php?doing_wp_cron

 

6. Migration Results

Below are my own migration resulting (coming from SiteGround) as well as other people’s results who moved from SiteGround, WP Engine, Kinsta, Bluehost, GoDaddy, and DreamHost.

Cloudways shoutout

Siteground vs cloudways vultr
Source: Oxygen User Group
Cloudways-woocommerce-on-vultr-high-frequency
Source: WooCommerce Help & Share Group
Cloudways switch hosting
Source: Twitter
Siteground to cloudways move
Source: Twitter
Dreamhost-to-cloudways-vultr
Source: WordPress Hosting Group
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
Power-of-vultr-hf
Source: Oxygen User Group
Cloudways vultr migration
Source: Twitter
Siteground-to-cloudways
Source: Twitter
Kinsta-vs-cloudways-speed
Source: WordPress Hosting Group
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

 

7. No More CPU Issues

Moving from SiteGround to Cloudways instantly fixed CPU issues and 503 errors on SiteGround. This is the main reason I moved and haven’t had mysterious CPU issues since.

Cloudways cpu usage

Think twice before upgrading plans because of CPU issues. I upgraded from SiteGround’s GoGeek plan to their cloud hosting and had to add even more CPU/RAM to get rid of CPU issues until I found myself paying $180/mo. Once I moved, I was able to downsize my server with less CPU/RAM for $100/mo cheaper without coming close to hitting CPU limits. I’m not saying CPU issues are impossible on Cloudways, but Vultr HF seems to fix it for a lot of people.

Siteground cpu limits cloudways alternative

Siteground cpu limits move

Siteground to cloudways happy customer

Siteground cloudways cpu usage

Cloudways vs siteground cpu usage

Cloudways backend speed

How Cloudways + Vultr HF Can Reduce CPU Usage:

Tips To Reduce CPU Usage

  • See my guide.
  • Disable Heartbeat.
  • Clean database with WP-Optimize.
  • Disable background tasks + stat plugins.
  • Find slow plugins/queries in Query Monitor.
  • Be careful with security plugins like Wordfence.
  • Use Cloudflare crawler hints, WAF, firewall rules, etc.
  • Enable bot fight mode + hotlink protection in Cloudflare.
  • Use my recommended speed optimizations from step #5.

 

8. Scale As You Wish

You can freely add CPU/RAM without having to purchase an entirely new plan. Most shared hosts trap you into a 1-3 year contract where your plan only has a certain amount of resources. This can be an issue if your traffic grows or you add plugins/features that need more resources.

Cloudways scaling

Cloudways monthly pricing scale

 

9. Monthly Pricing Is Refreshing

Cloudways has monthly pricing with no high renewals.

I saved $100/month coming from SiteGround’s cloud hosting. However, you’re still paying about 2x what it costs on the Vultr HF website. If you want to save more money, you can buy Vultr HF directly from the website and connect it to a control panel like RunCloud/CyberPanel.

Take into account the cost of:

  • Off-site backups ($0.033/GB)
  • Google Workspace ($6/month)
  • Premium cache plugin (FlyingPress or WP Rocket)
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
Saving $100/month with less CPU/RAM needed on Cloudways

 

10. Email Hosting Workaround

Cloudways doesn’t offer free email hosting, so you’ll either need to use their paid Rackspace add-on for $1/email per month or ideally use a third-party service (I use Google Workspace). There are lots of YouTube videos on setting up Google Workspace which starts at $6/month.

It’s a good idea to keep email/web hosting separate since email takes up storage, inodes (files), and resources. Plus, if you ever decide to switch hosts, you don’t have to switch your email too.

Cloudflare also started offering free email addresses, but I haven’t tested it out yet.

 

11. Backups Workaround

Cloudways has free daily backups and local backups.

Local backups can be downloaded via SSH/SFTP, but they only provide 1 copy of the latest backup. It’s always a good idea to have a 2nd backup solution using an external system. Even though Cloudways charges for it ($0.033/GB), you’re better safe than sorry. Many people use ManageWP (very easy and highly recommended), WPVivid with Google Drive, or UpdraftPlus.

 

12. File Manager Workaround

Cloudways doesn’t have a file manager, but they do have SFTP.

Also, thanks to Roger for pointing out a workaround in the comments for people coming from cPanel. Since Cloudways doesn’t have a file manager, you can download and upload Tiny File Manager via SFTP which gives you access to functions like Zip, Unzip, Create, Delete, Modify, View, Quick Preview, Download, Copy, and Move files (see more features on the GitHub page).

Tiny file manager

 

13. Navigating The Dashboard

Sign up for a Cloudways demo if you want to check out the dashboard.

The Server tab is where you can change settings for Redis, Varnish, PHP version, MariaDB, memory limit, backups, scale your server, configure SMTP, and monitor CPU/RAM/DISK usage.

Cloudways server settings

The Application tab has your WordPress login details and lets you create staging sites, monitor traffic + errors logs, add domains, configure SSL, manage cron jobs, restore backups or take one on-demand, and tweak Application settings (Varnish, WebP, XML-RPC, PHP-FPM, Varnish, etc).

Cloudways application settings

 

14. Support Got Better But Still Needs Work

I’ve always been happy with the responses from Cloudways support, but they also have some complaints. I suggest reaching out to them since support is something you have to experience.

One thing I suggest (especially if you’re new) is to reach out to their community manager Muhammed Moeez if you have questions. Before I moved, I reached out to them on Facebook so I could have peace of mind more than anything. They also have a CW Users Facebook Group.

Muhammed-moeez-facebook

Cloudways trustpilot rating
View Cloudways TrustPilot reviews

Siteground vs cloudways support

 

15. Pros & Cons

Cloudways Pros

  • Speed (feel free to test my website).
  • Cloud hosting is obviously faster than shared.
  • Vultr HF has high CPU clock speeds + NVME storage.
  • Multiple caching layers (Redis, memcached, Varnish, etc).
  • They use MariaDB which is comparatively faster than MySQL.
  • PHP-FPM tends to use memory more efficiently than FastCGI.
  • Stays updated on PHP versions (currently supports PHP 8.0).
  • Monthly pricing without yearly contracts or high renewal prices.
  • Free migration, 3-day trials, and promo code makes it easy to try.
  • Many reports of Cloudways fixing CPU issues on shared hosting.
  • Support is better as reflected on Trustpilot (but still needs work).
  • More control of specific server settings (see WP Johnny’s guide).
  • Free SSL, staging, backups, etc without having to use higher plans.
  • They have a Cloudways Users Facebook Group to ask questions.
  • 44 data centers to choose from between all their cloud providers.
  • Choice of 5 cloud providers: DO, Vultr, AWS, Google Cloud, Linode.
  • Launching a server and using their migrator plugin is straightforward.
  • Their community manager can answer your questions when signing up.

Cloudways Cons

  • No free email hosting (use Google Workspace)
  • No file manager (use SFTP or Tiny File Manager).
  • No domain names (use NameCheap or GoDaddy).
  • Breeze plugin isn’t great (use FlyingPress or WP Rocket).
  • Scaling CPU/RAM for larger websites can get expensive.
  • Offsite backup storage is $0.033/GB per server (use ManageWP).
  • New customers sometimes have to show ID to get account approved.
  • Support used to not be great, but has definitely improved the last few years.
  • CloudwaysCDN uses StackPath (other CDNs are usually faster + more reliable).

 

16. What People Say In Facebook Groups

Here are a few Facebook conversations comparing Cloudways vs. other hosts. I didn’t post the screenshots since it would make this post too long. You can also see polls and migration results in section 6 of people who moved from SiteGround, Bluehost, GoDaddy, WP Engine, and others.

Siteground slow ttfb

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

It was a good lesson learned for me: don’t stick with the same host just because you’re comfortable with them. Once I switched, I haven’t looked back and am using them to this day.

Omm hosted on vultr

Cloudways promo code
Don’t forget to grab your 30% discount

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.

+1 for Cloudways.
Tom

About Tom Dupuis

Tom 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.

63 thoughts on “Cloudways Review: Moving From SiteGround To Vultr High Frequency Resulted In A <200ms TTFB, No More CPU Issues, And $100/mo Savings

  1. I have been reading from your OMM site for a couple of years. I love this site. Thank you for you excellent content. Most of my choices for website creation come from your site. I am presently using Cloudways DO Premium with the server location in the UK. I am located in Ireland. Now that UK is no longer part of the EU, we are having to take some extra GDPR steps, for instance moving away from Google Analytics and hosting fonts locally via a special script that works with Oxygen. I am migrating to a new Cloudways server. I see that you have moved from DO Premium to Vultr HF. Have you looked at the benchmarks here – https://support.cloudways.com/en/articles/5209613-digitalocean-premium-droplets-at-cloudways. Why did you move to Vultr HF? I also note that you changed cache plugins from WP Rocket to FlyingPress. I bought a LTD from WP Rocket and am resistant to purchasing FlyingPress because of the ongoing costs. Why did you choose FlyingPress over WP Rocket? Thank you very much.

    1. Hey Tim,

      I tried DO Premium when it came out but I honestly didn’t see that much of a difference between standard DO. So when Vultr HF came out I went to that and stayed with it based off testing my website (and maybe a little because I saw it was getting popular in FB groups). I actually haven’t seen those benchmarks but I’ll check it out, thanks.

      I switched to FlyingPress because I was having issues with core web vitals and was open to trying new things. WP Johnny was helping me at the time and recommended I try Swift or FlyingPress, so I tried FlyingPress not thinking it would make that much of a difference, but I was wrong. Browsing through the site was much quicker and when Gijo (plugin developer) shared that I switched to it in his WP Speed Matters FB Group, a couple other people commented that my site seemed quicker too. It didn’t really improve “scores” but a major difference in real-world browsing.

      Hope that helps clarify (lmk) and I appreciate you reading the content.

        1. I have my site connected to uptime robot and have 100% in the last 30 days.

          But one person’s experience means very little since there are so many data centers which can be seen here. There are definitely some complaints out there but I feel like most of the really bad ones are from 2-3 years ago. Maybe they improved it in the last couple years? I’m not sure. I haven’t had any major issues and worth the speed improvement IMO.

          1. Thanks for the tip on UptimeRobot. I am with DO Premium right now, but going to take a chance on Vultr HF and connect it to UptimeRobot. Fingers crossed. I am in Ireland. Right now I have a DO Premium server in London, but with England no longer being part of the EU (Ireland is), I am concerned that my site may not be GDPR compliant any longer, thus I am going to go with a Vultr HF server in Frankfurt. Do you think that is a good idea? I have also had my web developer who has been a blessing for us, go with alternatives to Google Analytics and Google Fonts (locally hosted). I am now looking at Google Maps alternatives. Any recommendations?

          2. If your visitors are primarily in Ireland I might just keep the server there unless you’re planning on using something like APO with Vultr HF. Hard to say which one would be “better” when comparing geographical distance, use of APO, etc. If Ireland isn’t the main target then I would probably move it to the Vultr HF server.

            I saw you posted in the WP Speed Matters group about Google Maps alternatives… you’ll probably find better answers there than me since I don’t use Maps.

          3. Yep! Cloudflare APO stores HTML on their edge servers while page caching is stored on the web server (different services). Just published my APO guide on a few hours ago. I need to ask Gijo a couple questions about the page cache/minify settings. For now I’m going off what Cloudflare recommended but wanted to clarify this before publishing the FlyingPress tutorial.

          4. I decided on Vultr HF. Visitors to my clinic site are primarily Irish. My understanding is that it is safer to have the server within the EU from a GDPR perspective, and thus I made the move to Frankfurt, Germany Vultr HF. There are no DO Premium or Vultr HF servers in Ireland. The UK is no longer part of the EU and thus I made the move away from a server in London, just in case that it brought up GDPR questions in the future. I note that you use BunnyCDN. Have you looked at FlyingCDN as an addon to FlyingPress? Does FlyingCDN use BunnyCDN technology?

          5. I’m currently using FlyCDN and trying it out. Was previously using BunnyCDN. Don’t have a direct comparison of the two other than their features page and here. I’ll be covering it more in the FlyingPress tutorial and is one of the questions I had for Gijo. Just waiting for his response, but it was a long email I sent.

          6. I am considering replacing WP Rocket, even though I have a LTD on this plugin. We are using ShortPixel for webp images and BunnyCDN at the moment, but if BunnyCDN and ShortPixel could be replaced via FlyingCDN, that would make FlyingPress more appealing to me. Do you know if that is so?

          7. That’s the exact same switch I did so I would say yes. I’m using FlyingCDN at the moment which seems to be working out just fine. The only reason I would consider switching back to BunnyCDN is because I have a ton of credits with them.

  2. Regards that Cloudways doesn’t offer a filemanager – because the don’t. They really don’t!! <– People coming from cPanel ;)

    But my short fix for this, to not have to learn Putty and Linux commands – is downloading and uploading via SFTP this small little great thing:

    https://github.com/prasathmani/tinyfilemanager

    Tinyfilemanager gives you most – if not all – the functions you normally need the filemanager for in cPanel. It has been a "lifesaver" for me.
    – Zip
    – Unzip
    – Move
    – Copy
    – etc.

    Enjoy :)

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