Best Managed Hosting Server : Part 1
What is Cloudways?
Cloudways is a managed cloud hosting provider. This means that they provide and manage servers which can be used for a range of web applications.
They offer these applications pre-installed and ready to use, so all you have to do is design your site and create the content.
In terms of web applications, Cloudways offers WordPress, as well as other popular applications like Magento, Joomla, Laraval and Drupal. Cloudways handles all the technical aspects of managing the servers and installing this software.
In this post, I’ll be talking specifically about Cloudways as a WordPress host. WordPress is a piece of software which is used to power over 450 million websites, or over 23% of the internet.
WordPress makes it easy for content creators to publish and manage content, and is suitable for everything from static business websites through to blogs, ecommerce shops and more. It’s almost infinitely customisable, and can also scale to handle millions of users.
Cloudways Hosting Details
Cloudways offers users what is known as a Virtual Private Server, or VPS. There are three main types of server hosting — shared hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated hosting.
Shared hosting is best for those with low traffic websites (generally less than 10,000 visitors a month), VPS is for medium to high traffic (10,000+ visitors a month), and dedicated is for very large sites (in the millions of visitors a month).
A VPS such as Cloudways offers a significant step up from the cheaper shared hosting that many WordPress site owners start with through providers like Bluehost.
A VPS has multiple advantages over a shared server. The main one is that you have a specific number of resources dedicated to your website.
On shared hosting, a number of websites compete for the same server resources, which means that one website being overloaded can quickly overload the other sites on the server.
With a VPS, you are allocated a specific set of resources and your site is much more robust as a result. You also usually have a lot more control and access to the server if you want it.
If you are on shared hosting, we would recommend moving to a VPS once you reach around 10,000 t0 20,000 visitors a month. Depending on your website design, you can scale a VPS to in excess of a million users per month.
What Features Does Cloudways Offer?
You can see a full list of features on the Cloudways site here.
Here are some of the main features of Cloudways that we like:
- Managed hosting. Cloudways offers a choice of various web applications on their platform. Whilst we use WordPress, and this review is based on using Cloudways for WordPress hosting, we could also use Cloudways to run a number of other applications like Laraval, Drupal, Joomla or Prestashop should we choose.
- Managed WordPress hosting. Those of you running, or looking to run a WordPress site, will likely use Cloudways managed WordPress hosting. What this means is that you don’t need to worry about the server itself or the software on the server. Cloudways manages that for you. All you have to do is the website management (design, plugins etc), as well as creating content.
- Choice of providers. You can pick from a range of VPS services to pick the one that best suits your budget and audience location
- Optimized WordPress Stack. Cloudways have built a technology stack that works to give you a fast WordPress installation with minimal work required on your end if you use WordPress
- Choice of software. WordPress requires PHP and a database, and Cloudways lets you choose which PHP version and database provider you prefer. If you use WordPress, I recommend PHP 7.x and MariaDB 10.1+ for the best performance.
- Scalability. You can easily scale a server up in size, and even switch providers if you wish, all with just a few clicks.
- Hourly billing. You only pay for what you use, so if you spin up a VPS, use it for a few hours and then delete it, you only pay for the hours it was in use.
- 24/7/365 support. If you have a problem, live chat is always there to help out
- No contract. If you stop using Cloudways, you stop paying.
- Unlimited Applications. There are no limits to how many sites you can run on your server, even on the cheapest plan. You just pay for the server. All you are limited by are the resources you use. So if you have lots of low traffic sites, you don’t have to pay more to host them.
- Free migration. If you are coming from another WordPress host, Cloudways will migrate your site for you, and even provide advice as to what size server you need based on your current traffic levels
- No restrictions. Unlike many managed WordPress hosts, Cloudways doesn’t restrict what plugins you install on your server
- Advanced features. If you want advanced features, Cloudways has them and doesn’t charge extra. Features like Redis, memcached, and Varnish, as well as full SSH and SFTP access to your server
- Security. Cloudways offers two factor authentication to protect your account, you can set up IP whitelists so only specific users can access your database or filesystem, and they have bot protection to help protect your site from hack attempts
- Easy, cost-effective incremental backups. Backing up the site happens automatically, on a schedule of your choosing, from every few hours to every few weeks. You can also set how long backups are stored from, from a week to multiple weeks. And because the backup is incremental, it’s very cost effective even if you run it every few hours.
- Staging environment. When a major plugin update or WordPress version is released, being able to test it on a non-production version of your website can save you the headache of crashing your main site
Of course, there are many more features, but these are some of the most important in our opinion.
How Much Does Cloudways Cost?
Cloudways pricing currently starts at around $10 a month, and then the prices go up depending on the size of the server you require.
We have an exclusive promo code for Cloudways, which will avail 30% off for 6 months and up to 30 free website migrations on all Cloudways hosting plans. Just use the code SUMMER306 when you sign up. This code will be valid till 31st August 2022.
One thing to be aware of is that Cloudways don’t actually run their own servers. They provision servers from well-known VPS providers, then set them up for optimal WordPress performance. This includes managing the security updates, and giving you technical support.
I’m telling you this because the cost of Cloudways depends on the size of the server you choose, as well as the actual server provider you go for.
Currently, there are five providers to choose from if you use Cloudways. They are Vultr, Digital Ocean, Linode, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Amazon Web Services (AWS).
The first three of these offer easy to understand pricing. There is a fixed monthly cost for each server, which increases based on the capabilities of the server.
Pricing starts at $10/mo for the lowest cost Digital Ocean server, $11/mo for the lowest cost Vultr server, and $12/mo for the lowest cost Linode server.
They also offer higher powered versions of the Digital Ocean and Vult servers, known as Digital Ocean Premium and Vultr High Frequency respectively.
Even their low-cost servers offer a generous 1TB of bandwidth, which should be enough for most users especially when paired with a free content delivery network (CDN) like Cloudflare.
A CDN stores copies of your most commonly used files, such as images, on servers around the world. This improves the performance of your website to users located further away from your server, and also reduces your servers bandwidth use.
If you exceed the included bandwidth on Cloudways, you do pay an overage fee, which is detailed here. However, I feel that most users are unlikely to exceed the included bandwidth on these plans.
Google Cloud Platform and Amazon Web Services have a slightly different pricing model. Whilst there’s a similar price scale based on hardware, bandwidth is billed on a pay as you go basis. At time of writing, AWS charges $0.12 USD per Gigabyte, and GCP charges $0.14 USD per Gigabyte. You can see these details here.
For most users, I think Vultr, Digital Ocean, or Linode will likely be the best option as the pricing is easy to understand and the performance is good.
Note that whilst pricing is quoted monthly on the Cloudways website, it’s actually billed hourly. So if you start a server, use it for a few hours, and then delete it, you are only billed for the hours you actually use rather than the whole month.
There are some other charges to be aware of with Cloudways. First, backup costs $0.033 USD per GB, which is rounded up to the nearest $0.50. Backups are incremental, so having regular backups won’t cost you a great deal.
As an example, with our three websites our backup is around 25GB in total (we have a lot of images!) and so costs us a rather insignificant $1 USD per month ($0.825 rounded up).
Given that we take a backup of all three sites every 6 hours and keep them for a number of weeks, that is remarkably cheap for the peace of mind it offers.
In addition, Cloudways doesn’t offer built-in email services. However, you can pay for the Rackspace email service through Cloudways for $1 a month if you don’t have your own email solution already. Again, not exactly a big cost.
In summary, I think you’ll find Cloudways offers remarkable value for WordPress hosting, whatever size of website you have.
In addition, the ability to scale servers up and down in size as your needs evolve, and the fact that you are billed on an hourly basis, makes it an excellent platform for the long term.
Impressed ? Want to go ahead and use cloudways as you hosting server ?
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