If you’re thinking of using Cloudways vs. WP Engine, choose the first one.
WP Engine has gotten slower over the years and has restrictions: banned plugins, limited number of websites on each plan, no free migration, and awful support which is reflected in their 3.5/5 TrustPilot rating. They’re also majority owned by GoDaddy (never a good sign) and similar to SiteGround, their TTFB is slow and have gone downhill in recent years. I’m not going to sit here and say WP Engine is amazing because I want commissions. They are not good at all.
Cloudways is just a better host all around. Their Vultr High Frequency plan is very popular in Facebook Groups (it’s what I use and you can check my GTmetrix results). 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, host multiple sites regardless of your plan, and they have fast built-in caching (Varnish, Redis, and memcached). Support is much better than WP Engine with a 4.7/5 TrustPilot rating and they were rated #1 in tons of recent Facebook polls.
Save 25% off your first 2 months at Cloudways when you sign up with code OMM25.
Cloudways vs. WP Engine
- WP Engine has gotten slow
- Majority owned by GoDaddy
- WP Engine bans plugins
- WP Engine limits number of sites
- Cloudways vs. WP Engine speed tests
- Cloudways is faster with DigitalOcean + Vultr HF
- Cloudways is very popular in Facebook Groups
- Cloudways vs. WP Engine’s dashboard
- Better caching on Cloudways
- Cloudways has better TrustPilot reviews
- Cloudways offers a free migration, WP Engine does not
- Neither have email hosting
- WP Engine is expensive, are have monthly pricing
- Get 25% off Cloudways with promo code: OMM25
- Getting started on Cloudways
1. WP Engine Has Gotten Slow
WP Engine isn’t fast anymore.
Many people in Facebook Groups moved away from WP Engine because their servers are slower. This is similar to SiteGround (both SiteGround and WP Engine use Google Cloud servers, but neither are fast). It goes to show you that even if a host uses “fast cloud hosting,” that doesn’t mean your website will load fast. WP Engine also makes some bold claims saying they’re the “unequivocal performance leader in WordPress.” But it’s just not true. The only people recommending WP Engine are affiliates because they pay $200/sale in commissions.
2. Majority Owned By GoDaddy
In 2018, the same private equity firm who bought out GoDaddy invested $250M into WP Engine. Lisa Box (from Endurance International Group), was appointed as Vice President Strategic Alliances and Business Development at WP Engine. So what does this all mean?
WP Engine is largely influenced by GoDaddy/EIG.
And if you know anything about the hosting industry, it’s not a good thing. Both have awful reputations – GoDaddy was rated one of the top malware hosting networks worldwide while EIG is infamous for running companies into the ground. Yoast and StudioPress were also acquired by WP Engine or Clearlake/EIG and people are flocking away like scared sheep to better alternatives like Rank Math’s SEO plugin, Astra, GeneratePress, and even Elementor.
3. WP Engine Bans Plugins
WP Engine’s banned plugins means no 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 extra optimization done by WP Rocket, LiteSpeed Cache, or whatever cache plugin you use.
When hosts ban cache plugins, many people go to Autoptimize which is a great plugin, but it doesn’t have as many optimizations as WP Rocket or LiteSpeed Cache. You’d need to install extra plugins (i.e. Heartbeat Control, WP-Optimize, Pre* Party Resource Hints) to get these.
4. WP Engine Limits Number Of Sites
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.
5. Cloudways vs. WP Engine Speed Tests
I signed up for 16 hosting plans, installed WordPress with the same Astra Starter Site on each, then tested each them in multiple tools. TTFB was measured using an average of WebPageTest, GTmetrix, and KeyCDN (only the US locations since that’s where the data centers are located).
In the tests, I used WP Engine’s Startup plan ($25/month) and multiple plans from Cloudways ranging from $10-13/month (including DigitalOcean, Vultr, Vultr High Frequency, and Linode).
Even though WP Engine used a more expensive plan, it was not faster.
In the Pingdom test, WP Engine loaded in 1290ms while Cloudways Vultr High Frequency loaded in 326ms, a difference of 964ms. These were tested for a 1 week period at 30 minute check intervals, which means 336 individual Pingdom tests were performed on each website.
I also ran tests comparing TTFB, results of the WP Hosting Performance Check plugin, and average time spent download page in Google Search Console. Average TTFB was based off 5 locations: KeyCDN (3 US locations), GTmetrix, and WebPageTest. Only US data centers were used during the test since you would probably choose a host with data centers in your same country, so testing global locations is somewhat pointless. WP Engine’s TTFB averaged 274ms while Cloudways DigitalOcean averaged 159ms, a difference of 115ms. Small, but noticeable.
WP Engine Reports
6. Cloudways Is Faster With DigitalOcean + Vultr HF
DigitalOcean is slightly cheaper starting at $10/month but still performs incredibly well. They also have DigitalOcean Premium starting at $12/month, then Vultr HF starting at $13/month.
The general consensus is that Vultr HF is the fastest choice, but also had some downtimes in the past. Since I moved to Vultr HF in 2020, I can’t remember my site going down at all and they still have a solid 99.9% uptime. Vultr HF uses 3.8 GHz processors and NVMe storage which is supposed to be 40% faster than Vultr’s standard servers. You can read more on Vultr’s website.
Here are migration results from people who moved to Cloudways (click thumbnails to enlarge):
7. Cloudways Is Very Popular In Facebook Groups
Cloudways was #1 in numerous Facebook polls and highly recommended.
Recent Facebook polls show a large shift in people moving away from low quality hosts to Cloudways, LiteSpeed servers, Kinsta, GridPane, and A2 Hosting (click thumbnails to enlarge):
8. Cloudways vs. WP Engine’s Dashboard
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:
9. Better Caching On Cloudways
Cloudways has memcached, Redis, and Varnish while WP Engine has their own caching system. They also don’t block you from using cache plugins. However, the Cloudways Breeze plugin isn’t the best and I would use WP Rocket instead since it comes with a lot more speed optimizations.
10. Cloudways Has Better TrustPilot Reviews
TrustPilot is good for getting reviews about a company’s support.
Cloudways support didn’t used to be great (and neither were there TrustPilot reviews). But Cloudways has definitely made a big effort to improve their support which is why they now have a 4.7/5 star TrustPilot rating. Thanks Cloudways for listening! Support is much better now.
WP Engine support has declined immensely as reflected in their TrustPilot profile. Support used to be good but if you look at recent reviews, you can see how their support went downhill.
11. Cloudways Offers A Free Migration, WP Engine Does Not
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:
12. Neither Have Email Hosting
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.
13. WP Engine Is Expensive, Both Are Monthly Pricing
Both Cloudways and WP Engine have monthly pricing which is nice.
With WP Engine, you can save 4 months by committing to 1 year. Cloudways doesn’t offer a yearly incentive, but it’s nice they both offer monthly pricing that’s not ridiculously expensive.
You can see this on their WordPress hosting page:
Here are WP Engine’s prices:
14. Get 25% Off Cloudways With Promo Code: OMM25
I have a promo code that saves you 25% off your first 2 months at Cloudways.
15. Getting Started On Cloudways
Some people think Cloudways is “too technical” but it’s really not.
Step 1: Sign up for Cloudways using a free trial with the promo code OMM25. They will send you an email to activate your account, then you will be taken into their Cloudways dashboard.
Step 2: You’ll be prompted to launch a server.
Step 3: Name your app/server, then choose a server (I recommend either DigitalOcean Premium or Vultr HF). Select your server size (1GB is only for very small sites, otherwise use at least 2GB). Select the data center closest to your visitors. When you’re done, click Launch Now.
Step 4: Add your domain to Cloudways (Applications → Domain Management).
Step 5: Add a free Let’s Encrypt SSL (Applications → SSL Certificate) and enable auto renewal.
Step 6: 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 tutorial on this:
Step 7: 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 :)
I hope this comparison was helpful. When it comes to WP Engine vs. Cloudways, the latter has much better speeds, support, and better technology which will result in much faster load times and a better overall experience with your site. That’s why the decision is honestly a no-brainer.