Cloudways Managed Hosting for WordPress Users

Posted on August 12, 2017 by in Resources | 32 comments

Cloudways Managed Hosting for WordPress Users

You’ve probably heard of WPEngine and Flywheel, two of the more popular managed WordPress hosting companies. (And there are bunches of others, too.) But you might not be familiar with Cloudways, a managed hosting company (though not specifically just managed WordPress).

Cloudways does offers a lot for WordPress users, though. Many of their hosting options are modular, which differs a little from typical managed hosting companies, so if you’ve been holding off on checking out managed hosting, you may like what Cloudways offers.

What is Managed WordPress Hosting?

First off, Cloudways is not just for WordPress. While what we’re discussing is their WordPress management, you can also use them for Drupal, Joomla, Magento, or other CMS frameworks if you want. (But why would you when you’ve got WordPress, right?)

Now, here’s the entry from the Cloudways FAQ:

Through the WordPress Cloud Hosting Platform, you have everything from monitoring, scaling and cloning to backups, restores, and much more under 1-click operation.

Additionally, the Managed Hosting Platform is scalable and is capable of handling WordPress multisite and ecommerce website using WooCommerce. In comparison to other hosting Platforms, Cloudways offers you the opportunity to experience industry’s first, CloudwaysBot. For Developers, you have an option to use the API for integrations, automation, and development on top of the Hosting Platform.

Essentially, you get built-in WordPress features without any of the hassle of configuring it yourself. That means a lot when you use tools like WP-CLI, putting together a multisite network, or getting an SSL certificate set up and working straight out of the box.

Digging into the Cloudways Dashboard

The first big difference you’ll see in Cloudways is the lack of a cPanel. If you’re used to that being your primary dashboard, Cloudways will take some getting used to. I know it did for me. You still get your WordPress admin dashboard through /wp-admin, but you also get a slew of server-side options, too.

The basic dashboard you see on login will be a list of your servers that shows the number of applications (WordPress installs for us, but also other CMSes, too.)

Managed WordPress Hosting Cloudways

You will also be able to see your active installs on that server, easily identifiable by the icon to their left. You see what server they’re each located on, as well as which project folder you’ve sorted them into (fantastic for freelancers or teams, let me tell you).

Managed WordPress Hosting Cloudways

Inside each application, you get a bunch of options, including git integration, SSL management, cron jobs, and FTP/MySQL login info. (FYI: you must use an FTP client to work with your files–there is no file manager like in cPanel.)

Managed WordPress Hosting Cloudways

Overall, that’s what you’ll be interacting with on a daily basis. Like I said earlier, getting to and using /wp-admin is no different than anywhere else.

The Ups

So. Much. Control.

For a managed hosting solution, Cloudways lets you control pretty much every aspect of your account. You choose your datacenter’s location, the individual provider that particular server is with, and the capacity of the server. You also see the base price you’ll pay, which depends on the provider you go with (such as Digital Ocean versus Amazon AWS), and the cost-per-hour that you will pay in terms of scalability. (I think the cheapest base price, as of this writing, is Vultr at around $11 USD per month.)

If you eventually decide to swap to a different datacenter and provider, it’s easy. Let’s say you need to scale up and move from Vultr to AWS, it’s an easy application transfer they handle. If you’ve ever migrated an install, you know how many oodles of headaches that saves. Oodles of bunches of them.

Managed WordPress Hosting Cloudways

New WP Installs are Easy to Set Up

Setting up a new WordPress installation was probably easier than finding a cat video on the internet. You pick whether you want a multisite install, ecommerce based on WooCommerce, or a simple, single instance of WP. Then you set up the admin credentials, and you’re good to go. Easy peasy. It’s pretty much the same as setting up a server (check the above screenshot), but without the server info.

The options Cloudways gave were useful. Over the course of a dev/designer’s career, the time it takes to install and set up WooCommerce can add up. The same for going into the PHP files and setting up the multisite network. This is specifically the kind of utility that you want in a managed WordPress host–simple, useful, quality-of-life upgrades.

Easy to Transfer

The process of transferring to other users is a piece of cake. You just pick the server or application you want to transfer, do a few clicky-clickies, and bada-bing, it’s done. If only everything in the software industry were that painless, am I right?

This capability to transfer between servers and accounts is very handy for designers who need to hand fresh sites off to clients, as well as hosting resellers. It gives you folks a lot of options other hosts don’t.

Very Fast and Reliable

Cloudways touts high-speed servers, and you get high-speed servers. They’re fast, and they’re awesome. When testing my site speed, I went from a B- grade to an A. In the months I had my sites hosted on Cloudways, I didn’t experience any downtime, nor did I have any real hiccups in terms of reliability. They provided exactly what they said they would, and I really, truly appreciate that.

The Downs

Not Everything is Managed

If you expect everything to be handled by Cloudways because it’s “managed” hosting, you may be disappointed. Because of the modular setup, you’re going to be outsourcing and almost cobbling together your suite of features. For instance, email is not handled by Cloudways in any shape, form, or fashion. None. They just don’t have email support. You will be required to purchase what they call “addons” to manage them.

They don’t even transactional emails from contact forms or password resets. You have to purchase an addon (a cheap one, admittedly–$0.10 USD per 1,000 emails) to send it out. And even then, I had to contact support because they included my home address in the footer of every email sent. I was less-than-happy about that one.

(While other managed WordPress hosts like WPEngine and Flywheel do not offer hosted email accounts, they do handle transactional emails through their service, thankfully.)

Support is Meh

On the upside, each and every time I contacted support, I got a friendly and prompt reply. On the downside, each and every time I got that friendly and prompt reply, it contained something along the lines of “I’m sorry, but we don’t handle that ourselves. You’ll have to contact [insert addon or company name here].”

That’s fine. I get that they don’t make those products, but it’s still a little off-putting because I am giving them my money, my account is through Cloudways, etc. Felt a lot like a runaround to me. Especially when my home address was being sent out all willy-nilly.

Configure This, Configure That

One of the benefits of being “managed” is having stuff handled. Being in total control also means you’re in total control, all the way down to adjusting the CNAME and A Records for your DNS. If you’re not willing or able to shell out for addon service, you’re going to be configuring stuff by hand. Even when you’re using the addons (such as DNS Made Easy), there may or may not be any automation.

It may be just me, but when setting up multiple installations across multiple projects that all needed this stuff, it all took so much configuration, I didn’t see it helping me gain any productivity or ease any headaches–which is what I look for in managed WordPress hosting.

The Verdict

For what I personally needed, Cloudways didn’t work. It was a great experience and a wonderful experiment, but in the end, I realized that what I needed was really a VPS or Cloud Host. I never thought I’d say it, but I didn’t have the time to deal with the total control that Cloudways offered.

The service itself, though, is great. It’s fast and does exactly what is offered. The scalability is through-the-roof and migration can be handled with just a few clicks. Users can collaborate with teammates, transfer ownership and hosting to clients, and it’s easy and straightforward to use. Like every other hosting solution on the internet, there are pros and cons you have to weigh to make your decision, but it’s definitely in your best interest to at least check out Cloudways to see if they’re a good fit for you.

Article thumbnail image by pixome / shutterstock.com

32 Comments

  1. Nice review of some of the watch-out’s with Cloudways. I’m considering it for a multisite install to manage a group of client sites. The price is low enough to try it without feeling stuck if it doesn’t work out.

  2. I migrated from a HostGator reseller account to CloudWays and love it. The easy Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate is great — but it definitely takes a little more management.

    My current economical stack is CloudWays / KeyCDN / Mailcheap.co (for email).

  3. This doesn’t sound promising at all, i’d hate to deal with them by the sounds of this article.
    Was this an article because you ran out of ideas to meet your blogging schedule or is it a warning?

  4. Sorry B.J.,
    Although you spent time writing this article, why would you even suggest a company to the Divi Community, that you obviously are not using yourself. After reading your article, I would not recommend this service to any Divi or WP user. You should also check your spelling before you post an article, etc.
    Just saying…

    • Agree with the above in more ways than 1. Plus a company with no support or sending emails out with home address in the footer. This is a pointless areticle and one that shouldn’t have been published.

      • Dam spot my spelling mistakes 😂😂😂😂

    • I agree with you Rob. He could of at least ended the article with some suggested alternatives. This article did neither the reader nor Cloudways any good.

    • Exactly. Just wasted 5 minutes reading this.

    • Articles like this are a solid addition. If articles were singularly positive, then one would have to wonder what is not being written about. This article presents an unbiased evaluation, and the author makes the conclusion that the service did not fit his needs. However, there may be others who feel Cloudways is an excellent choice for them. This article explores that alternative and gives them a starting point for evaluating it more fully. I had never heard of Cloudways, and I am grateful for it being presented to me.

      • I am grateful too, because I was thinking of going to give it a try.
        I am happy with this artical!

  5. Thank you! I found this extremely helpful. It definitely could be useful to some developers or others who don’t mind or need the missing or frustrating features that proved to be cons for you.

    It’s just great to have someone else thoroughly test a product or service in ways I may not even have thought of, and deliver a well thought out and thorough review, so I can then decide, now or in the future, if it’s something that could be a fit for a particular project or business.

    Thanks again! They seem to have an interesting, unique model.

    – Amy (Dreamhost VPS user)

  6. Very disappointed the team at Elegant Themes allowed this to be published.

  7. I recently moved my site as well as a few clients over to Cloudways. True the interface takes a bit of getting used to, but I was very impressed with how much my performance improved. And for a very reasonable price.

    • on cloudways which you have selected?
      digital ocean , Vultr , amazon webservice, etc

    • B.J. Keeton

      The performance I got from them is just fantastic. I have absolutely zero complaints on the speed or uptime. Since migrating away, I can say it’s been my only real regret because it was so impressive (I was on a Vultr server, myself).

  8. Another paid review just like the post!

  9. I’ve been using Cloudways since the beginning of the year. It’s been pretty good to me. I currently have about 20 websites there. Support has been great, I haven’t gotten any runaround to contact anyone else so far.

  10. I <3 Cloudways.

    As for the 'downs' the author mentioned.
    -Email accounts are not really an issue. They can be easily set up elsewhere. Besides, if one is serious about emails they would use other solutions like gsuite or rackspace. Note: A rackspace email account is just 1$ through CW.
    For transactional emails, mailgun is your friend. Configuring both mailgun account + mailgun plugin takes between 5-10 minutes, tops.

    -Support, yeah I'll give you that chat support may have some drawbacks, I don't think they are native english speakers (neither am I). But the tickets support is better and tends to solve everything pretty fast. So far.

    -DNS records are done with your registar, how is that a negative for cloudways? What other configurations are you doing that takes your time? If it improves, I would like to know to make those in my servers as well.

    If CW doesn't work for you, which is a totally legit statement, I'm curious to know with what hosting did you end up with. I really like the price/quality ratio CW offers

  11. I have used them for the last 3 years! They are really good except when it comes to billing! And it’s darn right scary.

    However, what I don’t like about them is the following.

    Events:

    August 1st, they send you email and saying that your invoice has failed to be paid. Now we all know that mail order transactions can be flagged by banks. It’s common.

    August 2nd, not even 12 hours laster, you get this email:
    Subject: Cloudways- Your servers will be STOPPED (unpaid invoice)

    “A while ago we sent you an email about an unpaid invoice in your account.

    We haven’t been able to charge it and you still haven’t cleared it from your end.

    Remember that you can settle your invoice via Paypal if you are having issues with your card.

    If the invoice is not paid in the next 48 hours, your server(s) will be first stopped and then deleted. Additionally, all your subscribed add-ons (if any) will be removed.”

    Now, a while ago is less than just one day! But to send a threatening email like this is just absurd. I would expect an email like this after 7 days, not less than 24 hours. And they threaten to stop your machine and delete all you data? What happens if you are in the hospital, or on a business trip?

    Again, I have been a customer for 3 years, and I just starting getting emails like this.

    I wouldn’t recommend this service to anyone based on these emails I have gotten.

  12. WPOven is my choice over Cloudways.
    Great support!

  13. Cloudways software is pretty heavy on server resources, leaving you with less sites to run on a server. I would really recommend to give Serverpilot a try together with any VPS/Dedicated server. It’s lightweight, fast and there’s a free option which should be good enough for most people.

  14. I’ve been a web developer for a decade+ now and one thing I learned very early on is to take control of the hosting platform (lets face it you get nothing with some hosting companies and your client doesn’t understand why suddenly you can’t get certain functions to work properly). I didn’t want to deal with limitations and different server policies so I decided to get a virtual private server and offer my clients a more or less the same environment I am comfy with while they get a ton of bang for the buck. I’ve been hosting with Liquidweb for ages and its been fantastic. They aren’t the cheapest but you get what you pay for (starting at $70/month for a virtual private server). You will get 800 support with unix sys admin always answering the phone and basically working with you till something is solved. I firmly believe their support is the best in the industry. On top of that you get solid monitoring, servers that don’t go down and then some. The best thing I like about them is when you ask for some unusual support, they don’t nickel and dime you. They will work with you and try to help out.

    As a web developer I pay around $100/month for a server where I host 40+ sites. They monitor my server, tweak if and when need be, and everything just runs smooth. I charge my clients an annual fee for hosting, provide them with A-Z and make a few nice bucks doing this; a win-win if you will. I think all web developers should follow this model when they have a nice amount of sites under their belt; standardized and powerful server environment with solid support at whatever annual fee you deem is appropriate for your clients to pay.

  15. Interesting take on one of the best Managed Hosting Platform available today. I am complete noob when it comes to hosting, WordPress, or handling Apache and stuff. A few years back, I didn’t even had a clue about these technologies. However, I learned and am still learning. And I must say, Cloudways played a huge part in helping me. All my sites are now hosted with them! It is as simple as their new caching plugin, Breeze. Lets have a look at your Downs:

    Emails: I was using Rackspace before and then moved to namecheap’s email service. Now I have both. Because Cloudways is offering Rackspace at $1! As for the configurations, I am sure you can easily configure an email when a noob like me can do it. Or if you really want high level simplicity, you can use G-Suite. I think Cloudways does itself a favor by not indulging in handling emails and focusing on providing an exceptional platform.

    Support: Yes, I admit it is a bit sloppy at times. However, how many hosting providers can you name that actually provide 24/7/365 support? Being trained in Customer Support, I feel that just being there eases the pain of the customers. And besides, ticket support is really awesome. And if you are not down with that, Cloudways have some of the best community members. They now also have a forum-community.cloudways.com.

    DNS: Correct me if I am wrong, but don’t you actually configure your CNAME, A Record, TXT Record or your other DNS configurations with your registrar? I do it myself with Namecheap with the help of a knowledge base article that was published on Cloudways support.

    And I think you wrote the article in a haste. You forgot to mention CloudwaysBot, the first of its kind support bot from a managed hosting provider. You didn’t mention much about KYUP, the auto-scaling provider. You did not mention the fact that you don’t need to have much technical expertise if you are on Cloudways. And most importantly, they are always partnering with different theme and plugin providers for discounts. And the affiliate program, I feel, is one of the most under rated programs around!

  16. I don’t recognize your story at all. I’m with Cloudways, both for my own websites as for those of my clients. Could not be happier. Setting up a new website is a matter of 10 minutes (including the 5 minutes time needed for letting Cloudways spinning up a new server and new install on this server). It’s easy and I’m definitely not a hosting wizard. And whenever you’re in trouble, it happens with all hosting environments, cheap and expensive, at least, you have your own control.

  17. I dont see why this article dissappointed some. While the solution was not the authors own choice – I found the setup very interesting and may give it (or a similar approach) a try down the road. The cost is higher than the options I pay to manage the 65+ sites I manage, but I am always looking for ideas when it comes to the perfect balance of cost and performance.

  18. I have a few sites on a Cloudways server and I have found their support to be quite good. One thing I really like is their migration plugin. You add the plugin to the site you want to migrate to Cloudways, press a few buttons and then, after a bit, your site is ready on a staging url at Cloudways. Of course though, the plugin doesn’t help you migrate your site off of Cloudways 🙂

    • B.J. Keeton

      I loved the plugin to get my stuff there–you’re totally right. I had to do a little more to get my stuff off, like you said. I can really understand why they don’t build that in, but the WordPress import/export plugin works well for me in most cases.

  19. Hi B.J, I think you gave quite a balanced review. I was impressed with the idea that you could have one click backups and restores and you rated migration as being relatively easy. these are all tasks that can chew up time.

    I can understand that for many website owners the lack of a CPanel and the fact that they may have to do a lot of the basic setup themselves may not be that appealing but from what you have said about the Cloudways offering it is definitely worth considering if control and the ability to be able to scale are important.

  20. Personally I’ve never encountered this “run around” from support. They’ve been extremely helpful to me, even helping need to troubleshoot issues that were related to my web app specifically (not their platform). I think if you’re looking for a set it and forget it host, Cloudways may not be your first choice. However many of us left “Set It and Forget It” hosts so that we could have not control over it WP sites. For this I’m so grateful that Cloudways exists!!

    • Woops typo above:”so that we could have more control over it”

  21. Just throwing in my opinion. I’ve used Cloudways with the digital ocean option for a few years. I have both WordPress and Prestashop sites hosted with them. The setup is great and the speed of the servers has been brilliant cutting out some backed responses issues I had with shared servers. Support have always been great and helpful. I agree with another comment on the billing, I’ve had a payment fail and was lucky That I checked my account as I didn’t get a payment warning, so this could be improved, that’s my only worry.

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