Review: Cloudways – UK WordPress Web Hosting
Quick Review: Cloudways offers great WordPress hosting that is fast and reliable. The pricing is fair for a managed service. I haven’t experienced any problems with Cloudways in nearly 3 years of using them to host my WordPress sites.
It has been a rough journey finding a decent hosting service for my UK based WordPress websites. Over the past years, I’ve been with 5 different hosting companies, all of which had their problems. Problems included speed issues, very poor support, and one UK hosting company sent me a bill one month for £6800, when it should have been £62! I’ve been with Cloudways for nearly two years and haven’t experienced any serious issues.
Other than my three UK websites, I also help with two other large international websites that are also hosted on Cloudways. Together, these two websites are getting nearly 200,000 hits per month.
What is Cloudways
Cloudways is a managed web hosting provider, primarily focused on hosting WordPress websites. Cloudways hosts websites on several infrastructure providers, including Amazon Web Server (AWS), DigitalOcean, and Google Compute Engine (GCE). Each of these infrastructure providers has different features, pricing, and has data centre locations in the UK and around the world, catering to various hosting needs and preferences.
This makes Cloudways an intermediary, facilitating hosting services through third-party cloud platforms rather than hosting directly on their own infrastructure. This approach allows users to leverage the benefits of major cloud hosting providers while using Cloudways as a managing interface.
Hosting on Cloudways DigitalOcean infrastructure will be the best option for most UK websites.
Who Is Cloudways Hosting Best Suited For
Cloudways is best for small to mid-sized websites. I think that the ‘managed’ aspect would put off owners of large websites, who would want full control over the environment hosting the website.
Is Cloudways Suitable for Hosting UK websites
Yes, Cloudways is great for hosting UK websites.
- Cloudways has hosting infrastructure based in the UK (London).
- Support is available 24/7
- Cloudways is GDPR compliant
The Pros of Cloudways Hosting
Fast WordPress Hosting
The main reason for moving from my previous hosting company, Siteground, to Cloudways was speed. Having spent months trying to optimise my WordPress websites, logging tickets with Siteground support and messing about with caching, I never got them to get high-speed scores on websites like GTmetrix and PageSpeed.
Once I moved to Cloudways The speed score for all 3 of my WordPress websites increased. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep the before and after screen grabs of the speed scores to show the improvement.
-Tickets \ Chat
I’ve raised 14 support tickets with Cloudways over the past three years and all but one of the tickets were promptly resolved.
Most of the tickets I raised were technical questions about Cloudways settings and services. One ticket I raised was about a problem that turned out to be an issue with Cloudflare caching (nothing to do with Cloudways), but they still helped out.
There was one ticket regarding certificates that took 3 weeks to resolve. Fortunately, the problem was with a new website that was still in staging, so other than being inconvenient, it didn’t cause any problems. I’m unsure why it took so long to resolve, but I’ve put it down to a one-off.
There is good quality Cloudways documentation (with images 🙂 that I’ve found covers the vast majority of topics. Plus, Cloudways has a YouTube channel that also has lots of useful information. Some of the stuff on YouTube is a bit outdated.
Because Cloudways is a popular hosting company, there’s a lot of unofficial documentation that Cloudways users have published.
The process of moving WordPress sites from other hosting companies to Cloudways is straightforward and well-documented. I moved all 3 of my WordPress websites to Cloudways without any issues.
To migrate a WordPress website, it is simply a case of installing the ‘Cloudways WordPress Migrator’ plugin on your WordPress website, setting up your Cloudways hosting service and making some DNS changes.
It only takes about 30 minutes to complete all the migration steps. Obviously, the actual time it takes to copy everything from the source hosting company to Cloudways will depend on the website’s size.
One of the really nice things about Cloudways hosting is that it is a managed hosting service, but it still gives you considerable control.
I consider myself reasonably technical, but would not have a clue how to set up, configure and optimise servers to host a WordPress website. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about all that stuff because Cloudways does it all for me.
Through the Cloudways dashboard, I can manage many features and settings, giving me reasonable control of my hosting environment. All the super technical stuff is done behind the scenes for me. Which suits me perfectly
Although many features and settings are made available, it doesn’t mean that you have to use them. If you’re not particularly technical and just want somewhere to host a WordPress site, that’s fine. You don’t have to manage the hosting settings, as the configuration applied by Cloudways is, by default, secure and optimised.
Because Cloudways is a managed hosting service, it costs a little more than some other hosting providers. However, the price is only slightly higher, and in my opinion, it is well worth the additional cost.
If you’ve ever been with a cheap host, you’ll know that a lot of pain is involved. The speed of your site will be slow, the support will be slow and features will be minimal.
As your website grows, it is easy to increase hosting resources by scaling up (aka vertical scaling) using a slider in the dashboard.
It should be noted that going with DigitalOcean servers for hosting does mean that you can only scale up. You can’t scale back down. It is possible to scale back down, but it involves cloning the server and is more hassle than just moving a slider down.
The Cons of Cloudways Hosting
Support Chatbot Not Great
When using the live chat to get support, it is initially responded to by an automated chatbot. The bot provides links to articles that it thinks might be useful to the question being asked. Unfortunately, I’ve never found the links suggested by the bot to be useful to my query. I always have to progress to human support.
Scaling Down Can Be Difficult
Using the DigitalOcean servers for hosting makes it very easy to scale up, but not so easy to scale down.
Scaling down requires that the existing server is cloned to a new lower resourced (scaled down) server and updating DNS to use the new server. Cloning a server in Cloudways is not that difficult, but it is a bit of a faff.
Bespoke Management Dashboard
Unlike the vast majority of hosting services that use cPanel for management, Cloudways have their own bespoke management dashboard. This means that if you’ve been using cPanel, you now have to learn how to use a new management dashboard.
The Cloudways dashboard is fairly straightforward to use but is slightly limited in what can be done. This is because the service is ‘managed’, and there are things that have been intentionally restricted to prevent users from making breaking changes.
No Dashboard Access To Server Files
All the hosting companies I’ve used previously, used cPanel for hosting management. Cloudways uses their own proprietary management dashboard, which is good, but the one thing I’ve found missing is no file manager.
This means you can’t edit or upload files directly from the dashboard to the hosting server.
The solution for me was to install a file manager plugin into WordPress. I use one called WP File Manager, which allows me to do everything I need. But it is another WordPress plugin. The more WordPress plugins you have, the slower your site runs and the less secure it is.
It is also possible to access files using SSH & SFTP access, which is something I’ll probably look at doing when I have time.
Conclusion: Cloudways Review
In the three years I’ve been using Cloudways, I’ve found them fast, reliable and cost-effective. I’ve not had any problems with their service, and my support issues have mostly been resolved very quickly.
If you’re unhappy with your existing hosting service or looking to start a new WordPress website, I highly recommend you give Cloudways a shot.
They have a free trial, and as the service is pay-as-you-go, it’s easy to move away from them if they don’t work out for you.
Frequently Asked Questions: Cloudways Review
Is Cloudways a good hosting platform for a beginner?
Whichever hosting provider you use, some basic technical knowledge around hosting is required. To get a WordPress website up and running on Cloudways is fairly straightforward.
In answer to the question, Yes Cloudways is a good hosting service for a beginner
Is Cloudways better than SiteGround?
SiteGround is cheap and I found it generally a fairly good hosting service. However, I always experienced speed issues with my websites on Siteground, which went away when I moved to Cloudways.
I’d say that Cloudways is better than SiteGround
Is Cloudways any good?
The short answer is ‘Yes’. In the two years that I’ve been using Cloudways I’ve not had any significant issues or concerns.
What applications can be hosted on Cloudways?
Cloudways main focus is on hosting WordPress websites. However, hosting other applications like Joomla, Magenta, Laravel or any other PHP application is perfectly possible.
How many websites can I host on Cloudways?
Cloudways don’t limit the number of websites that can be hosted on a hosting server. Obviously, the more websites that are hosted on a server, the slower the websites will run.
I have a very low-specification (1CPU, 1RAM) test server that’s hosting 7 websites. The performance of all the websites is perfectly acceptable. However, they are test sites and don’t get much traffic.
Which Cloudways server should I use for my website?
One of the great things about Cloudways is that it is really easy to scale up a server. This means that you can start your website on a low resourced server and easily increase resources if required.
Cloudways has a monitoring tool in the dashboard that makes it easy to see how a server’s resources are being used. If I see one of my server’s resources is regularly high, I will scale the server up to the next level.
Is it easy to move websites between Cloudways hosting servers?
Yes, Cloudways has made it easy to move websites between different Cloudways servers using tools in the Cloudways portal.
Can I host my Joomla website on Cloudways?
Yes, you can host Joomla websites on Cloudways. There is no option to quick install Joomla. However, you can select PHP and then manually install Joomla.