Cloudways vs. SiteGround – The Ultimate SiteGround Fanboy Migrates To Cloudways For 2x Faster Load Times At 1/2 The Price

Cloudways vs SiteGround

When it comes to Cloudways vs. SiteGround, I have used both for years.

SiteGround’s servers have gotten horribly slow as shown in speed tests. They have gone downhill with price increases, reduced support, and unfixable CPU issues. I used them for 4+ years but outgrew their GoGeek plan (my traffic grew and I had CPU overages). I upgraded to their cloud hosting for $80/month and was still exceeding CPU even though I wrote a tutorial on it. So I added more CPU/RAM until I was paying $180/month. That’s when I decided to move to Cloudways DigitalOcean which saved me $100/month and also cut loads times in half. I have referred over 3,000 people to SiteGround – they’re garbage now and only care about money.

Cloudways is who I migrated to after SiteGround and I have a killer GTmetrix report with a <200ms TTFB. They were the fastest host in my speed test (you can use cwdoserver.com to see the speed of a $10/month DigitalOcean plan) and are highly recommended in the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group. They’re also #1 in most recent Facebook polls with a 4.8/5 star TrustPilot review. Cloudways is monthly pricing which is very rare with hosting. They also do free trials and free migrations, plus they just released Vultr High Frequency which is supposed to be even faster than DigitalOcean. There is no comparison between Vultr HF and SiteGround.

I recommend joining WordPress Hosting Facebook Group to get real, unbiased hosting opinions. The main 2 reasons people are hesitant about Cloudways is that it’s “too technical” and their support isn’t as good. But it’s actually not technical at all (I will show you) and their support is now actually very good which is why their TrustPilot reviews have been going up.

 

1. My Story With SiteGround

I went from SiteGround GrowBig → GoGeek → Cloud → Cloud (upgraded). I used to love SiteGround but they have gone completely downhill. Going from $14.99/month on GoGeek to $39.99 after renewals, then $80/month cloud hosting because of CPU limits, then $180/month because I was still getting CPU issues… this was insane and I can’t believe I was paying for this.

Reasons SiteGround has gone downhill:

  • CPU limits are too common and literally unfixable
  • SiteGround uses this as a way to make you upgrade
  • They discontinued live chat function without warning
  • Support has gone downhill and they’re pushing upgrades
  • Their TTFB is horrific (see my WordPress hosting speed tests)
  • Their cPanel replacement (SiteGround Site Tools) is hit or miss
  • Renewal prices are 3x intro prices and increased twice in 2 years
  • They moved all customer accounts to Google Cloud (privacy issues)
  • SG community manager is an admin of Facebook Groups (corruption)

My conclusion: SiteGround used to be great, but they’re a completely different hosting company now who are trying to milk customers for their money, even if it results in slower TTFBs, poorer service, and simply not listening to complaints in WordPress Facebook Groups.

 

2. Why I Upgraded To Cloudways

The Main Reasons

  • I didn’t want to deal with ridiculous CPU limits.
  • SiteGround’s cloud hosting is expensive and not even fast.
  • I saw tons of positive reviews of Cloudways in Facebook Groups.
  • The Cloudways community manager helped me with the sign up process.

Cloudways-Facebook-Review

 

3. 2x Faster Load Times On Cloudways

The graph says it all:

SiteGround-vs-Cloudways-Cloud-Hosting

Even posts with tons of images load in <2s. Run this post through GTmetrix if you want.

2020-GTmetrix-Report

 

4. Saving $100/month With DigitalOcean

What I was paying on SiteGround’s cloud hosting:

SiteGround-Cloud-Hosting-Sales-Receipt

What I’m paying on Cloudways DigitalOcean:

Cloudways-Invoice

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.

Cloudways Pricing

SiteGround requires you to sign up for 1-3 years which is the period you get their discount promotional price. After this period, the price triples. You can’t add more server resources or storage unless you upgrade to an entirely new plan. So even though 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.

SiteGround Renewal Pricing 1

 

5. Cloudways Vultr HF Blows Away SiteGround

Cloudways just released Vultr High Frequency servers starting at $13/month.

If you know anything about hosting, it’s likely the fastest option available. With 3.8 GHz processors and NVMe storage, Vultr says this is about 40% faster than their standard hosting.

I highly encourage you to clone your website using Vultr HF and see the speed difference. It’s built to handle resource-hungry plugins (WooCommerce, Elementor, etc) with low latency. Vultr High Frequency was also the fastest WordPress host in my performance test (see below).

 

6. Cloudways vs. SiteGround Speed Tests

You can see the actual screenshots of each individual report in this post.

This was a simple Pingdom test I did to measure load times of 16 WordPress hosts. I installed the same Astra Starter Site on each hosting plan while measuring load times in Pingdom for 1 week at 30 minute check intervals. I cancelled some of them because it was getting expensive, but the Cloudways and SiteGround demos are still live (see below). Even when clicking through their pages or running your own tests, you can see a major difference in how quick they load.

WordPress-Hosting-2020-Pingdom-Test

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-vs-SiteGround-Speed
Cloudways was significantly faster than SiteGround in speed tests
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)
SiteGround Reports (Screenshots)

  • GTmetrix – 1100ms
  • KeyCDN – 891ms
  • WebPageTest – 1502ms
  • WPHPC Plugin – 1104ms
  • Search Console – 618ms
  • Pingdom – 2280ms
  • Data center: Council Bluffs, IA
  • Hosting plan used: GrowBig

 

7. CPU Limits: SiteGround’s Biggest Downfall

SiteGround’s CPU limits are pretty ridiculous. Even if you do everything to reduce CPU, you should always keep an eye on it (in your cPanel). 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 to a more expensive plan. It’s a cycle many people find themselves in.

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.

SiteGround-CPU-Limits

This is a huge problem:

SiteGround-CPU-Limits

 

8. SiteGround Corruption In Facebook Groups

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.

WordPress Speed Up

Hristo Pandjarov

 

9. SiteGround Is Unpredictable, Cloudways Is Innovative

With how much SiteGround changed in the last few years, you never know what you’re actually getting when you sign up to buy their WordPress hosting.

Cloudways actually delivers what their customers want. People initially complained about their support, so they made it better. People wanted Vultr High Frequency, so they gave it to them. Now we want LiteSpeed servers and I hope they will add this soon. Cloudways listens to their customers, SiteGround doesn’t. Instead, they do whatever they can to increase the bottom line.

 

10. Cloudways Support Is Getting Better, SiteGround Getting Worse

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).

Cloudways TrustPilot Rating

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.

SiteGround Trustpilot Reviews

Conclusion: SiteGround’s support used to be better than Cloudways, but that has changed since Cloudways made a big effort to improve support, which is now better than SiteGround.

 

11. 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.

The Cloudways features page outlines everything you get for speed, security, add-ons, etc.

Cloudways-Features

And here’s SiteGround’s features page:

SiteGround-Features

CloudwaysSiteGround
ServerDigitalOcean, Vultr, Vultr HF, Linode, AWS, Google CloudGoogle Cloud
Speed TestFastestVery Slow
CachingVarnish, Redis, MemcachedStatic, Dynamic, Memcached via SG Optimizer on GrowBig+
CDNStackPath (Paid)Cloudflare (Free)
PHP Version7.47.4
BackupsDaily + On-DemandDaily + On-Demand on GrowBig+
SSLFreeFree
StagingYesOn GrowBig+
SupportGreatAverage
DashboardCustomSite Tools
Email Hosting$1/mo via RackspaceYes
# Of SitesUnlimitedUnlimited on GrowBig+
Banned PluginsNoNo
Migrations1 Free Then $25/Site$30/Site
Intro Price$10/mo (DigitalOcean) - $36.51/mo (AWS)$6.99 - $14.99/mo
Renewal PriceNo Higher Renewals$14.99 - $39.99/mo
TrustPilot Rating4.8/54.8/5

 

12. Cloudways Has 25+ Data Centers vs SiteGround’s 6

Cloudways has 25 data centers between all their cloud hosting providers.

Cloudways Data Centers

SiteGround only has 6 data centers (blue dots are Cloudflare’s):

SiteGround-Data-Centers

 

13. Breeze vs. SG Optimizer

A big benefit to SiteGround is their SG Optimizer plugin which is far superior to 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 and I would personally use WP Rocket when hosting on Cloudways.

SiteGround made major improvements to SG Optimizer with 2 big updates and it now includes nearly every single feature in WP Rocket (it’s as almost as if SiteGround copied them to a tee).

Breeze Features

  • Caching
  • Minification
  • Gzip
  • Database cleanup
  • CDN URL
  • Varnish options

Cloudways Breeze Plugin

SG Optimizer Features

  • Everything from WP Rocket, plus it uses server-side caching which is faster.

SiteGround SG Optimizer

 

14. Cloudways vs. SiteGround In Recent 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.

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

 

15. Managed Hosting Makes A Difference

Cloudways is basically the middleman between their cloud hosting partners (eg. DigitalOcean). You are paying Cloudways for the “extra services and performance tweaks” (as well as support) which is not offered by their cloud providers. Otherwise, everyone would go straight to DigitalOcean because it’s cheaper. With Cloudways, managing your hosting is much easier.

Managed Hosting Poll

WordPress also recommends DigitalOcean in their optimization guide:

Digital Ocean Recommendation

 

16. Which One Is Best For WooCommerce?

Both Cloudways and SiteGround come with a free SSL from Let’s Encrypt.

But the major difference for WooCommerce websites is they usually require more server resources since they typically run more plugins, WooCommerce scripts, styles, and cart fragments. SiteGround’s StartUp and GrowBig plan might not have enough resources to support your site, and even on GoGeek, you risk getting CPU overages. Cloudways is best for WooCommerce since their customers don’t experience CPU issues like they do on SiteGround.

With Cloudways, you can scale server resources as needed:

Cloudways-Vertical-Scaling

With SiteGround, each plan has a set number of resources:

SiteGround-Resources-Chart

 

17. 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.

Cloudways Pros

  • 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 Mustaasam Ansari is very helpful

Cloudways Cons

  • No hosting option under $10/month
  • Not always as user-friendly as SiteGround
  • No email hosting (but they do have SMTP + Rackspace options)

SiteGround Pros

  • More user-friendly
  • Cloudflare is 1-click activation
  • You don’t need WP Rocket (use SG Optimizer)

SiteGround Cons

  • CPU limits
  • Very 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

 

18. Getting Started On Cloudways (And A Promo Code)

Step 1: Sign up for a Cloudways free trial.

Cloudways-Homepage

Step 2: Use promo code OMM25 to get 25% off your first 2 months.

Cloudways Promo Code

Step 3: 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: Request a free migration or use their Migrator plugin to move your site(s).

Cloudways Free Migration 1

Enjoy the faster load times.

Cloudways Shoutout

 

19. Reach Out To Their Community Managers With Questions

If you have questions before you sign up, reach out to their community managers:

Mustaasam Saleem Ansari

 

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 has alternative services for email, like Rackspace.

🔵 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 in Facebook Groups while there have been numerous complaints about SiteGround on a daily basis.

Get hosting from Cloudways (Winner)

Cheers,
Tom

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