If you’re deciding between Cloudways vs. WP Engine, choose the first one.
WP Engine has gotten slower with low limits on number of websites, monthly visits, storage, and bandwidth. And if you exceed them, they overcharge and arm and leg. They use SATA SSDs with banned plugins and awful support. Even though I would get $200 in affiliate commissions for referring you to WP Engine, I have a soul and don’t want to steer you in the wrong direction.
Cloudways is better all around and who I used for 3 years. Their DigitalOcean and Vultr High Frequency plan are popular in Facebook Groups. They also have way more flexibility. You can choose which cloud hosting provider you want (DigitalOcean, Vultr, etc), your server size, get a free migration, and host multiple sites regardless of your plan with more storage/bandwidth. Their Cloudflare Enterprise add-on is a powerful way to improve TTFB. Between flexibility and faster technology (and they’re significantly cheaper), Cloudways is obviously the better choice.
|Storage||32GB NVMe SSDs||10GB SATA SSDs|
|Starting Price||$10/mo + 30% off 3 months||$20/mo|
1. CDN – Cloudflare Enterprise (On Cloudways) Has A Faster TTFB
Cloudflare Enterprise makes a huge improvement to TTFB between Argo Smart Routing, prioritized routing, load balancing, and it also includes image optimization (Cloudways will be adding full page caching soon). It also improves security through WAF. This will cost an extra $5/mo per domain on Cloudways, but is worth it especially if your global TTFB is slow when testing your site in tools like KeyCDN or SpeedVitals which measure TTFB in multiple locations.
To add this, follow their instructions.
WP Engine uses Cloudflare with only a few advanced features like Layer 3 & 4 DDoS protection and Polish image compression (both of which are included in Cloudways’ Cloudflare Enterprise.
2. Storage – More/Faster NVMe Storage On Vultr High Frequency
WP Engine uses slower SATA SSDs starting at only 10GB of storage while Cloudways (the Vultr High Frequency plan) uses NVMe SSDs with 32GB storage. There are plenty of speed tests you can find in Google on these (NVMe is significantly faster). Below is a test from Rocket.net before & after they switched to NVMe benchmarked using the WordPress Hosting Benchmarks plugin.
3. Caching – Both Have Multiple Caching Layers
Cloudways and WP Engine both have many caching layers. However, Cloudways uses Redis Object Cache Pro which is faster than WP Engine’s object cache (Cloudways doesn’t blacklist any cache plugins either). While Cloudways has their Breeze plugin, it doesn’t do a great job addressing core web vitals, so I suggest FlyingPress instead (which is better than WP Rocket).
4. Overall Speed – Cloudways Is Faster Than WP Engine
Cloudways is faster than WP Engine between NVMe SSDs on Vultr High Frequency, Cloudflare Enterprise, and Redis Object Cache Pro. This is also shown in people’s migration results below.
Just because a host slaps Google Cloud + Cloudflare on their service doesn’t mean it’s fast. WP Engine makes bold claims saying they’re the “unequivocal performance leader in WordPress.” But most people recommending them are affiliates because they pay $200/sale in commissions.
5. Bandwidth – WP Engine Has Low Bandwidth + Monthly Visits
WP Engine makes you pay an extra $17 per website if you want to host multiple websites, or upgrade to their Professional plan for $49/mo which supports 3 sites. Cloudways lets you host unlimited sites regardless of your plan. You just want to make sure it has enough resources (CPU/RAM) to handle your website’s traffic and CPU usage. Even the cheapest Cloudways DigitalOcean plan for $10/mo with 1 CPU + 1GB RAM should be able to handle 2-3 small sites.
6. Data Centers – Cloudways Has 2x More
Choosing a data center close to your visitors has a big impact on speed. However, if you use CDNs with full page caching, it matters much less. But just in case, Cloudways does have more.
Cloudways Data Centers:
|San Francisco, USA||Netherland, Netherlands||Hong Kong, China|
|New York, USA||Tokyo, Japan||Miami, USA|
|Silicon Valley, USA||Seoul, Korea||Seattle, USA|
|Paris, France||Bangalore, India||Northern California, USA|
|Frankfurt, Germany||Mumbai, India||Northern Virginia, USA|
|Singapore, Singapore||Sydney, Australia||Northern Carolina, USA|
|Dublin, Ireland||Los Angeles, USA||Ohio, USA|
|London, England||Dallas, USA||Stockholm, Sweden|
|Sao Paulo, Brazil||Chicago, USA||Belgium, Belgium|
|Toronto, Canada||Newark, USA||Oregon, USA|
|Montreal, Canada||Atlanta, USA||Iowa, USA|
|Fermont, Canada||Taiwan, China|
|Amsterdam, Netherlands||Bahrain, Bahrain|
WP Engine Data Centers:
|Google Cloud Data Centers||AWS Data Centers|
7. Free Migration – Cloudways Does 1 Free, WP Engine Doesn’t
Cloudways offers 1 free migration (then $25/site), while WP Engine offers no free migrations. Instead, WP Engine wrote a tutorial and you’re expected to migrate all your websites yourself.
On Cloudways, you can request a free migration once signed up. Just click the Boxes tab in the navigation menu → add-ons → click the pencil icon. You’ll be prompted with a migration form.
Then fill out your details:
8. Banned Plugins – WP Engine Blacklists Plugins
WP Engine bans plugins which means no popular caching or backup plugins.
While WP Engine handles server-level caching, cache plugins do a lot more than just caching (CSS/JS/image optimization, database cleanup, etc). Without a cache plugin, you’re losing out on those extra optimizations. To my knowledge, you can still use both FlyingPress + WP Rocket.
9. Email Hosting – Neither One Has It
Neither Cloudways or WP Engine have free email hosting (a con for both).
With Cloudways, you can sign up for a Rackspace account for $1/email per month which is cheaper than Rackspace’s standard pricing of $2/email per month. It’s not exactly “included email hosting” but at least Cloudways gives you an option for a relatively inexpensive price. You’re still much better off using a third-party email service like Google Workspace (what I use).
Cloudways supports SMTP and so does WP Engine.
10. Dashboard – Both Are Custom
Cloudways and WP Engine both have their custom dashboard.
Cloudways dashboard mainly consists of the Servers, Applications, and Add-Ons tabs:
WP Engine’s dashboard is pretty straightforward:
11. Starting Price – WP Engine Is Expensive!
Both Cloudways and WP Engine do monthly pricing.
However, you’ll end up paying more at WP Engine because of the low storage, bandwidth, and number of sites. And who charges for automatic plugin updates? One of the biggest complaints about WP Engine (shown in their 1 star TrustPilot reviews) is how they’ll charge for extra traffic.
Cloudways is monthly pricing with 30% off 3 months, 3-day trials, and a free migration. Better!
12. TrustPilot Rating – Both Are 4.5 (WP Engine Was Lower)
WP Engine used to have a poor rating, but looks like they’re taking reviews more seriously since it went from 3.5/5 to 4.5/5. I really don’t know who’s writing these since there’s been so many complaints about them going downhill, so they probably solicit a ton of people asking for them.
13. Facebook Feedback – What Facebook Groups Say
I recommend joining Facebook Groups to get feedback, especially about WordPress hosting which is likely the most biased topic on the internet with so many affiliates and fake reviews. You’ll notice a lot of people move from WP Engine to Cloudways, but not the other way around.
14. Winner – Cloudways Is Faster (And Better) Than WP Engine
Speed, reliability, support, and price are the 4 key things I look for in a host.
Cloudways beats WP Engine in pretty much all of these. Does anyone even use WP Engine anymore? Everyone I know moved to Cloudways or Rocket.net (and sometimes Kinsta, but they’re not great either). I went to Cloudways then Rocket.net which is where I’m currently hosted (I suggest looking into them since they’re even faster than Cloudways, but costs more).
15. Getting Started On Cloudways
Some people think Cloudways is “technical” but it’s really not.
Step 1: Sign up for Cloudways and they’ll send you an email to activate your account, then you’ll go to the dashboard. The first step is to launch a server. Name your app/server, then choose a server (I recommend DO or Vultr HF). Select your server size (1GB is only for small sites, otherwise use 2GB+). Select the data center closest to visitors, then click Launch Now.
Step 2: Connect your domain by adding it under Applications → Domain Management.
Step 3: Add a free Let’s Encrypt SSL (Applications → SSL Certificate) and enable auto renewal.
Step 4: 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.
If using GoDaddy, see their instructions.
Cloudways also has a video on this:
Step 5: Go to your Settings & Packages and Managed Services tab. This is where you can upgrade PHP versions, MariaDB versions, increase to a higher memory limit, and install Redis.
Enjoy the faster load times.