I’ve used both Cloudways and SiteGround for years.
SiteGround has a slow TTFB and has gone downhill recently. After referring 3,000+ people to them, I stopped recommending them due to CPU limits, DNS issues, price increases, declining support, and being unethical. I used them for 4 years but constantly had CPU issues and was paying $180/mo for their cloud hosting. That’s when I moved to Cloudways DigitalOcean (and eventually to Vultr HF) which saved me $100/mo, cut loads times in half, and fixed CPU issues. Since their community manager + affiliates are admins for several Facebook Groups, they use this to remove negative posts about their company and ban people who speak out about them.
Cloudways is who I currently use (their Vultr HF plan) and my site has a great GTmetrix report with a fast TTFB. You can visit cwvltrhfserver.com to see the speed of a $13/mo Vultr HF plan with no cache plugin or CDN). They’re highly recommended in Facebook Groups and there’s a huge trend of people leaving SiteGround for Cloudways. It’s monthly pricing (no high renewals) with 3-day trials and a free migration. People say it’s more techie mainly because it requires an extra step to launch a server, but it’s really not hard. The main cons are no email hosting (I use Google Wordspace), no file manager, and their Breeze plugin and CloudwaysCDN are “ok” so I recommend using WP Rocket and Cloudflare or BunnyCDN instead – this is my current setup.
Save 30% off your first 3 months at Cloudways when you sign up on this discount page.
- Why I left SiteGround
- 2x faster speeds on Cloudways
- Saving $100/mo + no high renewals
- CPU limits were fixed instantly
- Vultr HF is faster than SiteGround
- Cloudways vs. SiteGround speed tests
- SiteGround is unethical + unpredictable
- Cloudways has 45 data centers vs SiteGround’s 6
- Cloudways support got better, SiteGround’s declined
- Cloudways Breeze vs. SiteGround Optimizer
- Cloudways vs. SiteGround Facebook polls
- Features comparison
- Winner: Cloudways by a longshot
- Getting started on Cloudways
- Reach out to their community managers with questions
Affiliate Disclaimer – I use affiliate links to Cloudways (not SiteGround) since I don’t recommend SiteGround anymore. I try to stay honest and not recommend bad hosting.
1. Why I Left SiteGround
I went from SiteGround GrowBig → GoGeek → Cloud → Cloud (upgraded). Going from $14.99/month (GoGeek) to $39.99 after renewal, then $80/month cloud hosting because of CPU limits, then $180/month because I was still getting CPU issues… this was getting insane.
Why SiteGround isn’t good anymore:
- Slow TTFB – only unbiased sources like Backlinko and the WP Speed Matters Facebook Group admit this, otherwise you might get banned from FB groups.
- CPU limits – very common, often unfixable (even on their cloud hosting), and SiteGround will take down your website until you upgrade to a higher plan.
- Prices – increased twice in 2 years and renewals are about 2.5x intro prices.
- Support has gotten worse (they added a scope of work disclaimer, discontinued live chat, push upgrades, moved priority support from GrowBig To GoGeek, etc).
- DNS was blocked by Google for 4 days resulting in huge drops in rankings and people losing 4 days of revenue. SiteGround never advised to change the DNS.
- Site Tools was “coincidentally” released immediately after cPanel increased prices, but the release was premature and had many lacking features + bugs.
- Controls negative reviews by threatening people who write bad reviews about them, flagging bad TrustPilot reviews, and not taking responsibility for mistakes.
- Their community manager (Hristo) and affiliates are admins of several Facebook Groups (i.e. WordPress Speed Up, WordPress Hosting). They use this to remove posts, recommend their company, and ban people who speak badly about them.
- Cutting costs – they limited the number of sites on each plan, took away free migrations, and banned numerous countries that didn’t generate enough money.
2. 2x Faster Speeds On Cloudways
The graph says it all:
3. Saving $100/month With No High Renewals
What I was paying on SiteGround’s cloud hosting:
Cloudways is a pay-as-you-go monthly service with no yearly contract. You can add more CPU, RAM, and storage as needed for additional costs. Their cheapest DO plan starts at $10/month.
After switching to Cloudways:
SiteGround requires you to sign up for 1-3 years for the cheap intro price, then it renews at about 2.5 times that price. You can’t add more server resources or storage unless you upgrade to an entirely new plan or are using their cloud hosting. So even if their plans start at $6.99 – $14.99/month, you will eventually be paying $14.99 – $39.99/month once it’s time to renew.
4. CPU Limits Were Fixed Instantly
SiteGround’s CPU limits are pretty ridiculous. Even if you do everything to reduce CPU, you should always keep an eye on it (in Site Tools). Otherwise they will send you warnings, then shut down your site. You can reach out to support and request temporary resources, but they will push you to upgrade.
I wrote a popular tutorial on reducing CPU, yet I still had them myself. I was using lightweight plugins, SG Optimizer, a lightweight theme, enabled heartbeat control, blocked bad bots, etc.
This is a huge problem:
5. Vultr HF Is Faster Than SiteGround
Cloudways released Vultr High Frequency servers starting at $13/month (what I use).
It uses 3.8 GHz processors + NVMe storage, and Vultr says it’s about 40% faster than their standard hosting. It can handle high CPU plugins and WooCommerce better than SiteGround. It’s also one of the most popular hosting plans in Facebook Groups and what I’m currently using.
6. Cloudways vs. SiteGround Speed Tests
This was a simple Pingdom test to measure load times of 16 hosting plans. I installed the same Astra Starter Site with the same 6 plugins and no cache plugin or CDN. Then I measured each website’s load time for 1 week with 30 minute check intervals, meaning 336 individual tests were done on each.
Here are the other tests (I attached screenshots of the reports below). The average TTFB for Cloudways DigitalOcean was 159ms and SiteGround averaged 1164ms, a 1005ms difference.
Cloudways DigitalOcean Reports (click thumbnails to enlarge):
SiteGround GrowBig Reports (click thumbnails to enlarge):
SiteGround won’t admit their TTFB is slow, but see for yourself:
7. SiteGround Is Unethical + Unpredictable
SiteGround’s community manager is an admin of the WordPress Speed Up Group.
If you dare mention SiteGround’s slow TTFB or anything very negative about SiteGround, chances are the post will be deleted and you’ll be marked as a spammer. This happened to Gijo (admin of the WP Speed Matters Group) when he was called a spammer for mentioning SiteGround’s slow TTFB. This is nonsense and corruption. Just like I warn people about Hostinger’s fake reviews, SiteGround is also doing something shady and it’s just not ethical.
SiteGround’s Response When Googlebot Blocked Their DNS – in 2021, Googlebot blocked SiteGround’s DNS for 4 days.
This cost customers a lot of money and drops in Google rankings. Instead of advising them to move to an external DNS, they said “there is no blocking on our end” but then just 2 days later said “we have implemented a fix.” In typical SiteGround fashion, they claimed no accountability.
Status Update: We are glad to inform you that we have implemented a fix for the Google bot crawling issue experienced by some sites. Websites are already being crawled successfully. Please allow a few hours for the DNS changes to take effect. Thank you for your patience!
— SiteGround (@SiteGround) November 12, 2021
The lack of responsibility you are taking here is incredible. If this was simply Google’s fault, surely other hosts would be facing issues? Clearly something has changed on your set-up that has caused an issue. Are you aware just how damaging this is to many of your customers?
— Kim Snaith (@ichangedmyname) November 10, 2021
You should be advising people to move to an external DNS to resolve the issues if it is causing them massive losses in business. I have just sorted our connectivity issue in around 25 minutes by moving to googles DNS. If you had let us know 4 days ago, we wouldnt be £20k+ down!
— Jon Bunce (@thejonbunce) November 11, 2021
If you move to your Google Search Console > SETTINGS > CRAWL STATS you will, if unlucky like me, see something like this :-( pic.twitter.com/ocBEkWKsaw
— Tristan Haskins (@trishaskins) November 12, 2021
8. Cloudways Has 45 Data Centers vs SiteGround’s 6
Cloudways has 45 data centers between all their cloud hosting providers. Choosing a data center close to your visitors has a big impact on TTFB, so this is a nice bonus for Cloudways. SiteGround has 6 data centers (blue dots are Cloudflare’s). Both let you choose the location.
9. Cloudways Support Got Better, SiteGround’s Declined
Cloudways Support – I admit, Cloudways support didn’t used to be good. But they have made a huge effort to improve support and it’s actually great now. It’s probably not the same level of support you get with Kinsta/WPX, but I would consider it as good as SiteGround (if not better).
SiteGround Support – SiteGround’s support used to be great, but not really anymore. They push upsells, disabled their live chat without warning, and moved priority support from GrowBig to GoGeek (a couple years ago). All these “moves” are a clear attempt to milk money.
10. Cloudways Breeze vs. SiteGround Optimizer
A big benefit of SiteGround is the SiteGround Optimizer plugin which is better than Breeze in terms of being comparable to plugins like WP Rocket. SG Optimizer can easily replace WP Rocket, but Breeze has a long way to go – I would use WP Rocket when hosting on Cloudways.
SiteGround made major improvements to SG Optimizer with 2 big updates and it now has nearly every single feature in WP Rocket (it’s almost as if SiteGround copied them to a tee).
11. Cloudways vs. SiteGround Facebook Polls
SiteGround used to be #1 in most Facebook polls.
But ever since June 18th when they increased prices, I don’t think I’ve seen 1 single poll where SiteGround was rated #1. In fact, most of the polls I see related to SiteGround are “alternatives to SiteGround” in which most people recommended Cloudways, DigitalOcean, and A2 Hosting.
Cloudways was #1 in most recent Facebook polls (click thumbnails to enlarge):
12. Features Comparison
All Cloudways features come included no matter which plan you choose. With SiteGround, GrowBig and GoGeek have more features than StartUp. For example, if you want to use all 3 levels of caching with SG Optimizer (static, dynamic, memcached) instead of just static cache, you would need GrowBig+. Staging is also only included with GrowBig+. Similar to Cloudways, as you upgrade plans, it comes with more server resources which makes your site load faster.
|Server||DigitalOcean + Premium, Vultr + HF, Linode, AWS, Google Cloud||Google Cloud|
|Speed Test||Fastest||Very Slow|
|Caching||Varnish, Redis, Memcached||Static, Dynamic, Memcached via SG Optimizer on GrowBig+|
|CDN||StackPath (Paid)||Cloudflare (Free)|
|Backups||Daily + On-Demand||Daily + On-Demand on GrowBig+|
|Email Hosting||$1/mo via Rackspace||Yes|
|# Of Sites||Unlimited||Unlimited on GrowBig+|
|Migrations||1 Free Then $25/Site||$30/Site|
|Intro Price||$10/mo (DigitalOcean) – $36.51/mo (AWS)||$6.99 – $14.99/mo|
|Renewal Price||No Higher Renewals||$14.99 – $39.99/mo|
13. Winner: Cloudways By A Longshot
Overall, Cloudways is faster, cheaper, and support is just as good as SiteGround. Cloudways also has a better reputation in the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group.
- Speeds are faster
- They’re usually cheaper
- Monthly payments, no yearly contract
- You shouldn’t have to worry about CPU limits
- Choice of 5 cloud hosts, not just Google Cloud
- You can add server resources and storage as-needed
- Choice 25+ data centers between all cloud hosting providers
- Support is very helpful as reflected in their TrustPilot reviews
- Cloudways community manager Muhammed Ansari is very helpful
- No file manager
- Breeze plugin isn’t amazing
- No email hosting (I use Google Workspace)
- Launching a server + custom dashboard is a little “techie”
- CloudwaysCDN uses StackPath (use Cloudflare or BunnyCDN)
- More user-friendly
- Cloudflare is 1-click activation
- You don’t need WP Rocket (use SG Optimizer)
- CPU limits
- Slow TTFB
- High renewal prices
- Frequent price increases
- Requires 1-3 year contract
- No plan between GoGeek and cloud
- Their cloud hosting is complete garbage
- Site Tools can be hit or miss if you don’t like it
- Support pushes upgrade more than they used to
14. Getting Started On Cloudways
Step 1: Sign up for Cloudways using a discount and free 3-day trial.
Step 2: Launch a server. Name your app/server and select a server (I recommend Vultr HF). Choose your server size as well as the data center closest to your visitors. I recommend at least a 2GB server if you’re using WooCommerce or page builders (Elementor/Divi). Click Launch Now.
Step 3: In Cloudways, go Servers → Manage Services, then enable the following:
Step 4: Go to Settings & Packages and upgrade to PHP 8.0, MariaDB 10.4, and install Redis.
Enjoy the faster load times.
15. Reach Out To Their Community Managers With Questions
If you have questions before you sign up, reach out to their community managers:
- Cloudways community manager: Muhammed Ansari (always responsive)
- SiteGround community manager: Hristo Pandjarov (didn’t respond to me)
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does Cloudways cost?
Cloudways starts at $10-$36.15/month depending on whether you use DigitalOcean, Vultr, Vultr High Frequency, Linode, AWS, or Google Cloud.
How much does SiteGround cost?
SiteGround's shared hosting starts at $6.99/month - $14.99/month for a 1-3 year promotional period. After that period, the price nearly triples. SiteGround's cloud hosting starts at $80/month.
Is Cloudways or SiteGround faster?
Cloudways is faster than SiteGround (Cloudways is cloud hosting, and SiteGround is shared hosting). Cloudways is also faster than SiteGround's cloud hosting.
Does Cloudways provide email hosting?
No, Cloudways does not provide email hosting but offers Rackspace email hosting for $1/email per month. Or you can use Google Wordspace.
Do SiteGround and Cloudways come with Free SSL?
Yes, you get a free Let's Encrypt SSL with both Cloudways and SiteGround which can be activated in 1-click.
Is SiteGround Or Cloudways Better?
Cloudways has a better reputation than SiteGround in Facebook Groups and is better in terms of speed, support, CPU limits, and ethics.