Cloudways vs. Bluehost – one has 1220ms faster load times

If you’re thinking of using Cloudways vs. Bluehost, I have used both.

Bluehost is mainly promoted by affiliates who want commissions. Even though they’re cheap (at first), you will end up paying for it with slow servers, poor support, and a slow TTFB. Bluehost was one of the slowest hosting companies in speed tests and is owned by EIG who is notorious for their slow servers. I don’t know any serious blogger who uses Bluehost. Even though they are recommended by WordPress and promoted by every single affiliate, don’t fall for that trap.

Cloudways is who most people recommend in the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group (you will rarely see anyone recommend Bluehost). Their DigitalOcean and Vultr High Frequency plans are lightyears ahead of Bluehost in terms of speed. Pricing ranges from $10-$13/month for their most popular plans (DigitalOcean and Vultr High Frequency) with no yearly contract or higher renewal prices. Backups, staging, and SSL are all free on Cloudways but not always on Bluehost. Plus, Cloudways was rated #1 in numerous Facebook polls while Bluehost falls short.

Overall, Cloudways is a better choice in terms of speed, support, and pricing structure. Whereas Bluehost lacks features in their lower plans, is slower, and requires 1-3 years upfront.

Cloudways vs Bluehost

 

1. My Experience With Bluehost

I was hosted on Bluehost’s WordPress hosting years ago, but since migrated to SiteGround (they went completely downhill) then Cloudways. Now I do speed optimization for a living and get to see people’s websites and their poor hosting choices. If someone comes to me with a slow website on Bluehost, I tell them to switch before hiring me, and afterwards, they don’t need to.

When I was with Bluehost, my website wasn’t fast, I was disappointed with support, and I always got 503 service unavailable errors (as do many Bluehost sites I work on). Not worth it.

Bluehost servers are so slow.

I always joke with my developer and say, “Just move them to Cloudways and project is done.”

Service Temporarily Unavailable

 

2. I Eventually Moved To Cloudways

SiteGround was an improvement at the time, but Cloudways was even faster.

And when I can cut the load times in half and save $100/month, it’s a no-brainer.

I pay for an upgraded server because I have a fair amount of traffic, but you should have a similar result whether you’re paying $10/month or $80/month on Cloudways. I’ve been with Cloudways since 2019 and it’s great to see them evolve by improving their support, adding Vultr High Frequency, and stay active in Facebook Groups by listening to what people actually want. Bluehost is just way too stagnant and they don’t keep updated with latest technologies.

Cloudways Shoutout

 

3. Cloudways Loads 1220ms Faster Than Bluehost

I ran a simple speed test where I setup 16 different hosting plans then installed the exact same Astra Starter Site on each of them. Then I used Pingdom, GTmetrix, KeyCDN, and other testing tools to measure key speed indicators like TTFB (time to first byte) and load time. You can view the full speed test here which includes screenshots of each individual reports used in the tests.

Cloudways-vs-Bluehost-Speed
View test comparing 16 hosts with screenshots of reports
Cloudways Reports (Screenshots)

  • GTmetrix – 130ms
  • KeyCDN – 131ms
  • WebPageTest – 215ms
  • WPHPC Plugin – 157ms
  • Search Console – 205ms
  • Pingdom – 340ms
  • Data center: San Francisco, CA
  • Hosting plan used: DigitalOcean (1 CPU)
Bluehost Reports (Screenshots)

  • GTmetrix – 800ms
  • KeyCDN – 623ms
  • WebPageTest – 1048ms
  • WPHPC Plugin – 728ms
  • Search Console – 485ms
  • Pingdom – 1560ms
  • Data center: Provo, UT
  • Hosting plan used: Plus Plan

Here is the Pingdom report for a period of 7 days with 30 minute check intervals. Bluehost loaded in 1560ms while Cloudways DigitalOcean loaded in 340ms (a 1220ms difference). Of course, the results obviously depend on your site (this was an Astra Starter Site out of the box).

WordPress-Hosting-2020-Pingdom-Test

People who migrated to Cloudways:

Cloudways Response TimesCloudways-Migration-Result
Cloudways Google PageSpeed
WP Engine To Cloudways
DigitalOcean Pingdom Report
Cloudways Server Response Times
UntitledWPEngine-To-Cloudways
Godaddy DigitalOcean Migration
Cloudways Pingdom Load Times
Cloudways Pingdom ReportNamecheap To Cloudways Migration

 
I continue to pay for the Cloudways DigitalOcean live demo (cwdoserver.com) so you can click through the pages to see how fast they load. I cancelled Bluehost and many other hosting plans because it was getting expensive between all of them. But you can check this one out yourself!

Cloudways DigitalOcean Test Site

 

4. Vultr High HF And DigitalOcean Are Far Superior Servers

Let’s look at 2 most popular plans from Cloudways: DigitalOcean and Vultr High Frequency.

DigitalOcean ($10/month) and Vultr HF ($13/month) use much better speed technology than Bluehost’s in-house servers. DigitalOcean was always Cloudway’s best (and cheapest) plan. But Cloudways recently released Vultr HF which uses 3.8 GHz processors and NVMe storage and are faster than any “standard” CPU or SSDs offered by Bluehost and other hosting companies.

This results in faster CPU processing and better performance. You can read more about High Frequency on Vultr’s website, but this is what the majority of people are migrating to including Adam from WPCrafter. For speed, even Bluehost’s Managed WordPress won’t hold a candle.

Even the $13/month option is super fast:

Cloudways Vultr High Frequency Plan

 

6. Better Support At Cloudways

I think I don’t need to comment on Bluehost’s support (it’s not great).

Cloudways support used to be not great either, but they have been working hard on improving it and there is a huge difference from the level of support in 2019 and 2020. This is reflected in each host’s TrustPilot reviews which is more of a review of their support more than anything.

Cloudways TrustPilot rating:

Cloudways TrustPilot Rating

Cloudways TrustPilot Review

Bluehost TrustPilot rating:

Bluehost TrustPilot Review 1

Bluehost review on TrustPilot

 

7. Cloudways Custom Dashboard vs. Bluehost cPanel

Bluehost uses cPanel (once again, you know what you’re getting).

Cloudways uses their own dashboard. A lot of people are hesitant to migrating to Cloudways because “it’s too technical” but in reality, their dashboard is actually very user-friendly. Taking backups, installing SSL, creating a staging site, and cloning servers are all easy in the Cloudways dashboard. Yeah, some people think it’s a little more techie than cPanel, but it’s really not hard.

Plus, Cloudways offers a 3-day free trial so you can take an hour to get comfortable.

Cloudways dashboard (Servers and Applications are main area):

Cloudways-Servers-Dashboard

Cloudways-Applications-Dashboard

Bluehost’s cPanel:

Bluehost cPanel

 

8. Cloudways vs. Bluehost WordPress Features

The main thing to note here is that you get every single feature to matter which Cloudways plan you have (unless it’s something specific to the server you choose). With Bluehost, you have to pay more to get things. I like how Cloudways doesn’t entice you to pay more (it’s already there).

CloudwaysBluehost
ServerDigitalOcean, Vultr + Vultr HF, Linode, AWS, Google CloudIn-House
SpeedFastestVery Slow
CachingVarnish, Redis, MemcachedNone
CDNStackPath (Paid)Cloudflare (Free)
PHP7.47.4
SSLFreeFree
BackupsFree DailyFree Daily
StagingYesOn Managed Plans
SupportGreatPoor
DashboardCustomcPanel
Email Hosting$1/month via RackspaceYes
# Of SitesUnlimitedUnlimited On Plus+
Banned PluginsNoNo
Migrations1 Free Then $25/SiteFree on "qualifying accounts" (otherwise $150/Site)
Intro Price$10/mo (DigitalOcean) - $36.51/mo (AWS)$3.95 - $13.95/mo
Renewal PriceNo Higher Renewals$7.99 - $23.99/mo
TrustPilot Rating4.8/51.6/5

 

9. Bluehost Has Strict CPU Limits

One major con about Bluehost is they have strict CPU limits.

This can be found on their user agreement and acceptable use policy page. This means your hosting plan only comes with a certain amount of server resources and if you exceed them, Bluehost will slow down your website (starving it from resources) which often results in 503 errors. This is pretty common if you run high CPU plugins like WooCommerce or Elementor. If you plan on using a resource-hungry theme or plugin(s), or even AdSense, I would skip shared hosting all together.

Cloudways can handle resource-intensive plugins and tasks much more efficiently. While heavy plugins will always slow down your website, you won’t have to worry about this nearly as much.

 

10. Bluehost Is Only Promoted By Affiliates

The only people who “endorse” Bluehost are affiliate trying to make a commissions.

Search “how to start a blog” in Google and 7/10 of the first page results refer you to Bluehost with an affiliate link. Bluehost’s high commission affiliates are the only reason they’re popular.

How To Start A Blog With Bluehost

 

11. Bluehost Is Owned By EIG

You might be familiar with EIG.

They own over 80+ different hosting companies and Bluehost/HostGator are their 2 most popular brands. Anything EIG touches turns to poop. They overcrowd their servers, reduce support, and run the company into the ground. That’s why HostGator used to be good, but not anymore. I wouldn’t trust EIG with any of my sites. They’re a public company with shareholders.

EIG Facebook
EIG Twitter

 

12. Cloudways Has 19 More Data Centers

Cloudways has 25 data centers between all their cloud provider, while Bluehost only has 6.

With Cloudways, the data center locations depend on which cloud provider you choose (DigitalOcean, Vultr, Linode, Google Cloud, AWS). I would still try to use DigitalOcean or Vultr HF if you can, but it’s also important to select a data center that’s fairly close to your visitors.

Cloudways Data Centers

 

13. Cloudways Pricing Is More Straightforward Than Bluehost

Cloudways is monthly pricing whereas with Bluehost, you have to sign up for 3 year to get their advertised pricing (and then higher renewal prices kick in). I am personally tired of prices that make you fall into a trap, especially for 3 years, and a trap is exactly what it is. Don’t fall for this.

Cloudways pricing is monthly with no yearly contract or high renewal prices.

Vultr-High-Frequency-Option

  • DigitalOcean: $10/month
  • Linode: $12/month
  • Vultr: $11/month
  • Vultr High Frequency: $13/month
  • AWS: $36.51/month
  • Google Cloud: $33.18/month

Bluehost makes you pay 1-3 years upfront (3 years for lowest price), with high renewals prices. Their cheapest plan has very little resources and can’t handle high CPU tasks, so since you would probably need to pay more for decent hosting anyway, Cloudways is the better choice.

Bluehost Pricing

 

14. Get 25% Off Cloudways With Promo Code OMM25

This promo code gives you 25% off Cloudways for 2 months: OMM25.

With free trials, free migrations, monthly pricing, and a promo code, you should be all set.

Cloudways Promo Code

 

14. Getting Started On Cloudways

Here’s how to setup your Cloudways servers plus some some tweaks I made in the Cloudways dashboard to make your website even faster (as recommend in Cloudway’s optimization video).

Step 1: Sign up for a Cloudways.

Step 2: Add a server.

Add-Server-To-Cloudways

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.

Vultr-High-Frequency-Option

Step 5: In Cloudways, go Servers → Manage Services, then enable the following:

Cloudways-Services

Step 6: Go to Settings & Packages and upgrade to PHP 7.4, MariaDB 10.3, and install Redis.

Hosting-Speed-Optimizations

Step 7: Also in “Settings & Packages,” increase memory limit to 256MB.

Cloudways Memory Limit

Enjoy the faster load times :)

This post is huge with 70+ images and 400+ comments yet can still get a 1.4s load time.

OMM-2020-GTmetrix-Report

In case you’re still not sure whether to pick Cloudways vs. Bluehost:

Bluehost-Managed-WordPress-Hosting

Join Facebook Groups and do your research! Cloudways was #1 in most recent Facebook polls.

Hosting-Recommendation
Moving-From-WPX
SiteGround-Alternatives
Preferred-Web-Hosting
Elementor-Hosting
Web-Hosting-France
SiteGround-Alternative
VPS-Cloud-Hosting

 
Or just look at this Facebook thread.

Get 25% off Cloudways with promo code OMM25

I hope this helped you make a decision! Comment if you have any questions at all.

Cheers,
Tom

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