Cloudways vs. WP Engine (with speed tests): it’s a no-brainer

Cloudways-vs-WP-Engine

If you’re thinking of using Cloudways vs. WP Engine, you should choose the first one.

WP Engine has gotten slower over the years and has many restrictions: limited number of sites, banned plugins, no email hosting, no free migration, and their support isn’t what it used to be as reflected on TrustPilot. They’re also majority owned by GoDaddy (never a good sign). Similar to SiteGround, WP Engine has also gone very downhill and I wouldn’t recommend using them.

Cloudways is a much better choice and is who I use. Their DigitalOcean and Vultr High Frequency servers are worlds faster than WP Engine, they don’t the limit number of sites, offer a free migration, and have faster built-in caching (Varnish, Redis, memcached). Cloudways has much better TrustPilot reviews but more important, is one of the most highly recommended hosts in the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group and rated #1 in numerous Facebook polls.

 

1. WP Engine Has Gotten Slower

WP Engine used to be much faster than they are now.

Many people in Facebook Groups end up migrating away from WP Engine (usually to Cloudways) because they noticed their servers are getting slower. This is similar to SiteGround (both SiteGround and WP Engine use Google Cloud servers but aren’t fast). It just goes to show you that even if a host uses what are supposed to be fast servers, doesn’t mean this passes down to the customers. Like many things in hosting, it looks good on paper, but is just not true.

 

2. They’re Majority Owned By GoDaddy

In 2018, the same private equity firm who bought GoDaddy invested $250M in WP Engine. Lisa Box (from Endurance International Group), was appointed Vice President Strategic Alliances and Business Development at WP Engine. And I think you know what that means.

It means WP Engine is largely influenced by GoDaddy/EIG.

And if you know anything about the hosting industry, this is not a good thing. Both hosts have terrible reputations – GoDaddy was rated one of the top malware hosting networks worldwide while EIG is infamous for running companies into the ground. I 100% believe this is why WP Engine is also being run into the ground. Just this fact alone is enough to stay away from them.

 

3. WP Engine Bans Plugins

WP Engine’s banned plugins means no caching or backup plugins.

While WP Engine handles server-size caching, cache plugins do a lot more than just caching (font optimization, database cleanup, heartbeat control, etc). Without a cache plugin, you’re losing out on extra features done by WP Rocket (or whichever cache plugin you were using).

When hosts ban cache plugins, it forces many customers to use a plugin like Autoptimize which is a great plugin, but still doesn’t have quite as many speed optimizations as WP Rocket. You’re forced to install extra plugins to get these optimizations like Heartbeat Control + Prefetching.

 

4. WP Engine Limits Number Of Sites

WP Engine only supports 1 WordPress install on their Startup plan.

You have to pay for their Growth plan ($95/month) if you want to host extra sites.

So if you planned on hosting multiple sites on your hosting account at an affordable price, WP Engine isn’t for you. Unlike WP Engine, Cloudways lets you host an unlimited number of sites regardless of your plan. You just want to make sure it has enough server resources (CPU/RAM) to handle those sites. But even the cheapest Cloudways DigitalOcean plan for $10/month with 1 CPU + 1GB RAM should be able to handle at least 2-3 small websites. No need to pay more.

WP-Engine-Limited-Sites

 

5. Cloudways vs. WP Engine Speed Tests

This was a simple test I did to measure load times, TTFB, and server response times.

I signed up for 16 hosting plans, installed the same Astra Starter Site on each of them, then tested each website in multiple tools. Pingdom is the recommended tool to measure load times as reported by WP Rocket, and TTFBs were measured using a combination of WebPageTest, GTmetrix, and KeyCDN (only US locations since that’s where the data centers were located).

In the test, I used WP Engine’s Startup plan ($25/mo) and multiple Cloudways plans ranging from $10-13/mo (DigitalOcean, Vultr, Vultr High Frequency, and Linode). Even though WP Engine used a more expensive plan, it was not faster.

WP Engine was slower in all speed tests while Cloudways had the faster TTFB, load times, server response times, and average time spent downloading a page in Google Search Console.

Cloudways-vs-WP-Engine-Speed-Test
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)
WP Engine Reports (Screenshots)

  • GTmetrix – 186ms
  • KeyCDN – 207ms
  • WebPageTest – 428ms
  • WPHPC Plugin – 1753ms
  • Search Console – 431ms
  • Pingdom – 1290ms
  • Data center: North Charleston, SC
  • Hosting plan used: Startup Plan

In the Pingdom test, WP Engine loaded in 1290ms while Cloudways DigitalOcean loaded in 340ms, a difference of 950ms. This was tested for a 1 week period at 30 minute check intervals, which means 336 individual Pingdom tests were performed on each of the sites.

WordPress-Hosting-2020-Pingdom-Test

The TTFB test averaged 5 locations: KeyCDN (3 US locations), GTmetrix, and WebPageTest. I only used US data centers since you would probably choose a host with data centers that’s in your same country, so testing global locations is somewhat pointless. WP Engine’s TTFB averaged 274ms while Cloudways DigitalOcean averaged a 159ms, a difference of 115ms.

WordPress-Hosting-TTFBs

 

6. Cloudways Is Faster With DigitalOcean And Vultr HF

I wanted to touch on Cloudways DigitalOcean and Vultr High Frequency since these are 2 popular plans on Cloudways.

Cloudways DigitalOcean is slightly cheaper starting at $10/month but performs incredibly well and was their most popular plan (especially in Facebook Groups). However, they just released Vultr High Frequency which is supposed to be faster than DigitalOcean and is only $13/month.

Vultr High Frequency uses 3.8 GHz processors and NVMe storage which is supposed to be 40% faster than Vultr’s standard servers. Cloudways just released Vultr HF on 8/20/2020 and many people have reported a much faster dashbaord. You can read more about it on Vultr’s website.

Take a look at these migrations results:

Cloudways-Migration-ResultCloudways Pingdom Load TimesUntitledGodaddy DigitalOcean Migration
Cloudways Pingdom ReportNamecheap To Cloudways Migration

 

7. Cloudways Is Who Most People Use In Facebook Groups

I always recommend joining both the WordPress Hosting and WP Speed Matters Facebook Groups to get unbiased feedback about WordPress hosting from mostly knowledgeable people.

Cloudways was #1 in numerous Facebook polls and highly recommended.

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

 

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:

Cloudways-Applications-Dashboard

Cloudways Add Ons

WP Engine’s dashboard is pretty straightforward:

WP-Engine-Dashboard

 

9. Better Caching On Cloudways

Cloudways comes with memcached, Redis, and Varnish for better caching.

With WP Engine, you would need to install their Advanced Caching plugin which isn’t always updated with newer WordPress versions. Not only does Cloudways give the advanced caching, but they don’t block you from using cache plugins for other optimizations.

Cloudways-Servers-Dashboard

The Cloudways Breeze plugin is okay but I would still use WP Rocket since Breeze lacks many features included with WP Rocket. You can test it out if you like (more people would use it if Cloudways added more features such as prefetching external domains, heartbeat control, etc).

Breeze Database Cleanup

 

10. Cloudways Has Better TrustPilot Reviews

TrustPilot is especially 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 4.8/5 star TrustPilot rating. Thanks Cloudways for listening! Support is now much better.

Cloudways TrustPilot rating:

Cloudways TrustPilot Rating

Cloudways TrustPilot Review

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.

WP Engine TrustPilot Rating:

WP-Engine-TrustPilot-Reviews

WP-Engine-TrustPilot-Review

 

11. Cloudways Offers A Free Migration, WP Engine Does Not

Cloudways offer 1 free migration, then $25 per site, while WP Engine offers no free migrations. Instead, WP Engine wrote a tutorial and you are 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 will be prompted with a migration form.

Cloudways Application Migration

Then fill out your details:

Cloudways Free Migration Request

 

12. Neither One Has Email Hosting

Neither Cloudways or WP Engine offer email hosting.

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.

Cloudways supports SMTP and so does WP Engine.

 

13. WP Engine Is Expensive, Both Are Monthly

Both Cloudways and WP Engine have monthly pricing which is nice.

With WP Engine, you can save 2 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 the Cloudways WordPress Hosting page:

Cloudways-Pricing

Here are WP Engine’s prices:

WP-Engine-Pricing

 

14. Get 25% Off Cloudways With Code OMM25

I have a promo code that gives you 25% off your first 2 month at Cloudways: OMM25

Cloudways Promo Code

 

15. Getting Started On Cloudways

Step 1: Sign up for a Cloudways using a free trial with promo code OMM25.

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

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.

Cheers,
Tom

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

Cloudways Review: I’m Saving $100/Month With 2x Faster Load Times After Migrating From SiteGround’s Expensive Cloud Hosting

Cloudways-Homepage

I admit it, I used to be a SiteGround fanboy.

But as my traffic grew, I started getting CPU overages on SiteGround’s GoGeek plan. I eventually upgraded to their $80/month cloud hosting but was still exceeding CPU, so I added more CPU/RAM and started paying them $180/month. Going from $14.99/month on GoGeek to $180/month was insane to me to say the least. So I migrated to DigitalOcean on Cloudways where I’m now paying $80/month for roughly the same amount of CPU/RAM. After migrating, my load times dropped in half, I am nowhere near exceeding CPU, and I’m saving $100/month.

Obviously, I’m happy.

Some of my tutorials have 50+ images and 400+ comments (2.56MB page size and 89 requests) and still load in <2s! Run this post through GTmetrix or click through my posts if you want – they all load instantly. This was the biggest difference I noticed when migrating to Cloudways.

Cloudways is a little more technical to set up (they do offer free migrations) and they don’t support direct email hosting which means you will need a Rackspace account to use email. But the tradeoff  in speed and cost savings was definitely worth it for me, and probably for you too.

Aside from my own experience, Cloudways is one of the most recommended hosts in the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group and #1 in most recent Facebook polls with a 4.8/5 TrustPilot review. Plus, they released Vultr HF which is supposed to be even faster than DO.

 

1. I Was Previously Using SiteGround’s Cloud Hosting

One problem I have with SiteGround is there’s no “middle” plan between GoGeek and cloud. You’re either paying $14.99/month (or more) or you’re paying $80/month. And if you have to upgrade to cloud because you’re getting CPU issues, chances are the entry level plan won’t cut it (it didn’t for me). I had to pay them about $120/month to stop getting CPU overages and $180/month for my server to be relaxed. 2 CPU + 4GB RAM may not be enough for some sites.

SiteGround-Cloud-Hosting

These monthly invoices were brutal (wpcommanders is just my account name):

SiteGround-Cloud-Hosting-Sales-Receipt

 

2. The Money I Saved With Cloudways

Quick comparison check: 2CPU + 4GB RAM costs $80/month on SiteGround when it’s only $42/month on Cloudways DigitalOcean. Also, SiteGround’s cloud servers can’t handle CPU like Cloudways. In my case, instead of paying SiteGround $180/month for 6 CPU + 8GB RAM, I easily got away with 2 CPU + 4GB RAM on Cloudways with no CPU overages, plus a faster site. Cloudways also does monthly pricing without yearly contracts which was a big bonus for me.

Cloudways-Invoice

Cloudways DigitalOcean starts at $10/month. I paid more to upgrade my server because I have a decent amount of traffic and am obsessed with making my site fast.

 

3. Load Times Cut In Half

There’s no arguing the graph:

SiteGround-vs-Cloudways-Cloud-Hosting

The biggest difference was the load time on long/heavy tutorials. This tutorial has around 100 images and 400+ comments, has a 2.56MB page size, 89 requests, yet it can load in under 2s.

2020-GTmetrix-Report

Other people who migrated to Cloudways (or one of their cloud providers):

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

 

4. New Vultr High Frequency Is Blazing Fast

Cloudways just released Vultr High Frequency servers on 8/20/2020 which are supposed to be even faster than DigitalOcean. Visit the Cloudways Vultr Hosting page to see the option for HF.

Cloudways-Vultr-High-Frequency-Plan

Once you’ve created an account, add a server than select Vultr High Frequency.

Add-Server-To-Cloudways

Vultr-High-Frequency-Option

I ran a simple speed test where I tested 16 hosting plans using the same Astra Starter Site in Pingdom (and other tools). Cloudways Vultr HF and DigitalOcean were #1 in most of the tests.

WordPress Hosting 2020 Pingdom Test

 

5. No More CPU Overages

CPU overages are one of the biggest limitations of SiteGround.

Keep in mind: I write tutorials on how to reduce CPU and make WordPress sites load faster. I was only using 15 lightweight plugins, a StudioPress theme (now Astra), configured WP Rocket with Cloudflare a CDN, disabled heartbeat, optimized images and third party scripts, and blocked bad bots from Wordfence’s live traffic report. Yet, my site was still getting CPU issues.

SiteGround-CPU-Limits

My CPU usage averages around 7% on Cloudways. Makes you wonder about SiteGround.

Cloudways CPU Usage 2

 

6. Free Migration Went Smoothly

I had Cloudways do this and it went smoothly. You have a couple options for migrating:

Request a free migration from Cloudways – visit their free migrations page to learn more. Once you sign up and set up a Cloudways server, go to Applications → Application Migration.

Cloudways Application Migration

Then fill out your details:

Cloudways Free Migration Request

Do it yourself with the Cloudways WordPress Migrator Plugin – Cloudways has video instructions for moving your websites using the Cloudways WordPress Migrator Plugin.

Cloudways-Migrator-Tools

 

7. Support Has Gotten Better

Cloudways used to have poor support, but it has gotten much better.

It’s still not the same level of support you would get at Kinsta or WPX. If you have questions, you can always reach out to Mustaasam Saleem Ansari (the Cloudways community manager) whose #1 job is to make customers happy and answer questions. He is also super activate in the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group. I was in touch with Mustaasam during the migration – he answered all my questions and gave me peace of mind. I really like the idea of accountability.

Of course, there are plenty of customers who think Cloudways support is great (including me). I actually reached out to Hristo Pandjarov (SiteGround community manager) about an affiliate question with SiteGround, twice, and he never responded. Every person is different – it depends who your rep is. But if you have questions or issues, try reaching out to Mustaasam.

Mustaasam Saleem Ansari

My personal experience; they migrated the site successfully with no errors, downtimes, and they even configured their Breeze plugin for me. Maybe they knew I was writing this review :)

 

8. 4.8/5 TrustPilot Cloudways Review

Their improved support is directly reflected in their TrustPilot reviews. I always like to go through other Cloudways reviews to see what other people say and I suggest you do the same.

Cloudways TrustPilot Rating

Cloudways in a nutshell:

Cloudways TrustPilot Review

 

9. 5 Cloud Hosting Providers To Choose From

With Cloudways, you can choose from 5 cloud hosting providers. Just to confirm, Cloudways is the middleman who manages your server. DigitalOcean and the other providers are the ones hosting your website (through their partner, Cloudways). I personally don’t feel like managing my server – ain’t nobody got time for that! But if you do, you can go straight to DigitalOcean.

Cloudways-Managed-Cloud-Hosting

Cloudways has an article describing the differences in each plan:

Cloudways Cloud Platform Comparison

Their most popular plan is DigitalOcean which is also the least expensive (and the one I use).

Cloudways-DigitalOcean

 

10. Speeding Up Your Site On Cloudways

Cloudways made an YouTube video which includes tweaks you can make in your Cloudways dashboard to make your site faster. The video is 40 minutes, so I listed the instructions below.

Step 1: In Cloudways, go Servers → Manage Services, then enable the following:

Cloudways-Services

Step 2: Go to Settings & Packages and upgrade to PHP 7.4, MariaDB 10.3, and install Redis.

Hosting-Speed-Optimizations

Step 3: Also in “Settings & Packages” (Basic tab), increase memory limit to 256MB.

Cloudways Memory Limit

That’s it!

 

11. Using The Breeze Plugin

Cloudways’ Breeze plugin won’t replace WP Rocket and other top cache plugins since they have more features. Breeze only comes with caching, minification, Gzip, database cleanup, CDN URL, and Varnish options. But it’s worth trying out – you never know when cache plugins will do a better job at optimizing specific things than others, as each website is different. Also, most bad reviews are because of issues related to WooCommerce – in which case, be careful.

Cloudways also has a tutorial for setting up Breeze.

Cloudways Breeze Plugin

Basic Options:
*Avoid duplicate functionality with other cache plugins!

Cloudways Breeze Basic Options

Advanced Options:

Cloudways Breeze Advanced Options

Database:

Cloudways Breeze Database Options

CDN:

Cloudways Breeze CDN Options

Varnish:
*There have been reports that activating Varnish does more harm than good (again, be careful).

Cloudways Breeze Varnish Options

 

12. Adding Cloudflare

Sign up for a free Cloudflare plan, you will go through a set of pages, then see 2 namesevers:

Cloudflare Nameserver Change

Login to where your domain registrar (eg. GoDaddy) and change nameservers to Cloudflare’s:

Godaddy Cloudflare nameservers

Login to Cloudways, go to “Settings & Packages” then activate Cloudflare’s WAF Module:

Cloudways Cloudflare WAF Rule

Cloudways also has a paid CDN (StackPath) which is $1 per 25GB:

Cloudways-CDN

 

13. 525 Data Centers

Cloudways has 25 global data centers if you combine all their cloud providers.

Cloudways Data Centers

When choosing your plan, scroll through their locations.

  • DigitalOcean: 8 data centers
  • Linode: 8 data centers
  • Vultr: 15 data centers
  • Vultr High Frequency: 16 data centers
  • AWS: 14 data centers
  • Google Cloud: 14 data centers

Cloudways 59 Data Centers 1

 

14. Free SSL

Free Let’s Encrypt SSL is included with Cloudways. All you have to do is click to activate it.

Cloudways-Free-SSL

 

15. Cloudways Add-Ons (Extra Services)

Cloudways offers a few add-ons (paid services):

Cloudways-Add-Ons

DNS Made Easy – I love the idea of a premium DNS, until I was told you can’t use it with Cloudflare. Although I’m not using it now, I may have to give it a whirl in the near future.

Rackspace Email – you will need this to use email hosting.

Elastic Email – great if sending out sensitive email (see Cloudways’ email comparison).

Application Migration – Cloudways will migrate 1 site for free, then $25 per site after.

Application Upgrade – if you’re worried about updated WordPress, plugins, etc, you can pay Cloudways $50/month to do this for you, but I honestly don’t know anyone who would do that.

CloudwaysCDN – this is the same as StackPath (Cloudways and StackPath are partners) and costs $1 per 25GB. I use both Cloudflare and StackPath which has saved me lots of bandwidth.

StackPath-CDN-Analytics

 

16. Other Features

Cloudways has a full list on their features page:

Cloudways Features

Staging – if you want to clone your website to test new designs or plugins, this is super easy. Just go to Applications, click the three dots, and click “Clone App/Creating Staging Website.”

Cloudways Staging Clone

Vertical Scaling – scale your server any time to include more resources or storage.

Cloudways-Vertical-Scaling

Backups – easily take a backup any time you want.

Cloudways-Backups

GIT – used to implement development workflows (they have a tutorial about it).

Cloudways-GIT

Add Team Members – love that you can set permissions for people who have access.

Cloudways-Team-Members

 

17. No Email Hosting

Cloudways does not provide email hosting, but they are partnered with Rackspace to provide email hosting for as low as $1/email/month instead of $2/email/month (Rackspace pricing).

And for transactional or outgoing emails, they are also partnered with Elastic Email to provide an easy setup, or you can setup your own SMTP provider like Gmail SMTP, SendGrid, Mailgun.

Cloudways-SMTP-Settings

 

18. The Benefit Of Managed Hosting

Other than a large performance improvement, managed hosting also takes care of software updates, security patches, and hardware management. But performance is the biggest draw.

The difference between shared hosting and managed cloud hosting is huge. GoDaddy, Bluehost, HostGator, TSOhost, and really any shared host will get blown away by Cloudways. If you’ve never experienced good cloud hosting before, you will see improved server response times, load times in GTmetrix, and a noticeable difference when clicking through your pages.

Managed Hosting Poll

 

19. Conclusion: I’m A Happy Camper

First off, nearly every hosting company blocks Facebook reviews (probably because so many people use it to bitch). Cloudways is one of the few hosts that allows Facebook reviews. And last time I checked, they had 4.5/5 stars with 500+ reviews, which is pretty damn good for Facebook. Having the great experience I did, I decided to leave them my own gem of a review.

Cloudways-Facebook-Review

 

20. Cloudways Is #1 In Many Facebook Polls

SiteGround and Cloudways are usually the top 2 hosts in Facebook polls. SiteGround was actually rated #1 in 30+ polls, but that’s because they’ve been around forever, more people have used them, and they’re cheaper (until you have to renew). But there is a huge shift of people moving from SiteGround to Cloudways, mainly due to SiteGround’s renewal prices.

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

 
And for the record, DigitalOcean is the only host listed in the WordPress optimization guide.

Digital Ocean Recommendation

Get hosting from Cloudways

 

21. Getting Started On Cloudways

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

Here’s a GIF showing the process (a little outdated but same process):

Cloudways Setup

Step 5: Do the speed optimizations from step #10.

Step 6: Request a free migration or use their Migrator plugin to move your site(s).

Enjoy the faster load times.

Cloudways Shoutout

 

Frequently Asked Questions

🔵 Is Cloudways fast?

Cloudways gave me about 2x faster load times than SiteGround's cloud hosting and I'm paying 1/2 of what I was. My site loads instantly and you can click through my pages to see how fast they load. They use latest PHP versions, MariaDB, and a very fast infrastructure.

🔵 Which 5 cloud hosting providers do they use?

DigitalOcean, Vultr, Linode, Google Cloud, and Amazon (AWS). Their DigitalOcean plan is the most popular, and cheapest.

🔵 What is Cloudways' pricing structure?

Cloudways has a monthly pricing structure with no yearly contracts or upfront fees.

🔵 Does Cloudways support email?

Cloudways does not provide email hosting directly, but they are partnered with Rackspace who offers it for as low as $1/email/month instead of $2/email/month (Rackspace pricing).

🔵 How does Cloudways compare to SiteGround?

They have a better value especially once you reach SiteGround's renewal prices, but they're also a little more technical. SiteGround is good for shared hosting, but if speed is important, Cloudways is the way to go.

🔵 Is Cloudways a middleman?

In a way, yes. Their hosting is marked up about 200% because it's managed hosting. If you have time to configure and maintain your own server, you can buy directly from the cloud hosting provider. Otherwise, Cloudways will manage the servers for you.

Ready to experience the powerful servers on managed cloud hosting?
Don’t be like me and think that just because SiteGround’s hosting is still good, there aren’t more powerful servers available. Once I finally pulled the trigger, there was no looking back.

+1 for Cloudways
Tom