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Cloudways review

Managed cloud hosting, ideally suited to those with some technical skills

Cloudways' homepage
(Image: © Cloudways)

Our Verdict

Cloudways offers managed web hosting that is affordable, reliable, and scalable, but may not suit beginners.

For

  • Easy to set up
  • Free trial with no credit card
  • Selection of platforms

Against

  • No domain names
  • Email not included
  • Unfamiliar control panel

Cloudways is one of the new breeds of web hosting providers that combine the best features of traditional hosting and enterprise-focused cloud hosting. Cloudways doesn’t own its own data centers, but rather provides a bridge between its customers and cloud hosting providers. 

This means it can offer fully managed web hosting with the scalability and attractive pricing offered by the likes of DigitalOcean and Amazon Web Services (AWS), and with the simplicity and user-friendliness of traditional hosting services.

This approach makes Cloudways one of the best web hosting services for those who want high-performance, hassle-free cloud hosting. In this Cloudways review, we take a closer look at its pricing, features, usability, and support.

Cloudways: Plans and pricing

Cloudways' pricing plans

Cloudways pricing varies depending on which provider you choose (Image credit: Cloudways)

One of the good things about Cloudways is that you can try the service completely free for three days without the need to enter any credit card details.

Paid plans vary in price depending on which hosting provider you choose. Cloudways offers servers provided by DigitalOcean, Linode, Vultr, AWS, and Google Cloud. The prices increase depending on the amount of RAM (random access memory), storage, bandwidth, and processors that you require.

Prices range from $10 a month for a Standard DigitalOcean droplet - with 1GB of RAM, a single-core processor, 25GB of storage, and 1TB of bandwidth - to $274.33 a month for an AWS instance, with 16GB of RAM, 4 CPUs, 20GB of storage, and 2GB of bandwidth.

All prices include the hosting charges that you would pay directly to the providers themselves. All plans have 24/7 support and monitoring, free SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates, one free migration, and automated backups. If you want offsite backups, it will cost an additional $0.033 per GB per server.

One thing not included by default, however, is email. If you want that, you’ll need to purchase the Rackspace Email Add-on, which costs $1 a month per mailbox. Cloudways also doesn’t sell domain names.

Features

Cloudways's webpage discussing its features

Cloudways aims to make your hosting experience as simple as possible  (Image credit: Cloudways)

All Cloudways features aim to make your managed hosting experience as simple and convenient as possible, with many functions able to be carried out with a single click. This includes the scaling of your servers to increase RAM, CPUs (computer processing units), and storage.

There is also a selection of apps that you can install, including two varieties of WordPress (one with and one without Cloudways optimizations), WooCommerce, Laravel, and Magento, or you can create a custom PHP app.

Performance is a key concern when choosing web hosting, and Cloudways promises fast speeds with dedicated environments hosted on SSD (solid state disk) servers, advanced caching, and access to Cloudways’ own CDN (content delivery network).

The provider offers 24/7 real-time monitoring, with all the data being available in your account dashboard. There is also New Relic integration and an AI-based Cloudways bot that can send notifications about events on your server via email or Slack.

Interface and in use

Cloudways' user dashboard in use, showing managed services

Managing your server’s services is easy with Cloudways (Image credit: Cloudways)

Immediately after signing up for the three-day trial, you’re prompted to create your first server and application. You select your regional cloud hosting provider, choose how much RAM and other resources your server should have, and its location, with North American, European, and Asian options available.

In our testing, it took seven minutes to create a server. Afterward, we were able to access the server management features. Cloudways has its own custom dashboard rather than the popular cPanel or Plesk, so it may take a while for some people to get used to it. But one of the things that we liked was the easy-to-use Manage Services page, where we could easily restart services including Apache, MySQL, or Nginx.

We created a WordPress app with our test server, and the default installation included a page with several useful links on how to migrate from other hosts to Cloudways, performance, and other general topics.

Support

Cloudways' pricing plans for support

Cloudways offers paid support add-ons (Image credit: Cloudways)

Every Cloudways plan comes with a Standard support plan, which includes 24/7 access to live chat and monitoring alerts. If you need support for customizations and applications and proactive investigation of any alerts, the Advanced support plan starts at $100 a month. If you want access to a private Slack channel and phone support, prices start from $500 a month.

Security

Cloudways' webpage discussing its security features

Cloudways implements various security methods across its platform (Image credit: Cloudways)

Cloudways takes security seriously and implements several measures on all accounts. All managed servers have firewalls with access only to specific ports. SSH (Secure Socket Shell) and SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) logins are rate-limited to combat brute-force attacks. 

Databases can only be accessed remotely after whitelisting IP addresses, and all applications are isolated from each other to prevent any issues with a single app affecting the whole server. Cloudways also offers two-factor authentication, end-to-end encryption across its platform, and a suspicious device login control that will send you an email alert if any suspicious activity is detected.

The competition

Cloudways isn’t the only option when it comes to companies that offer hosting with the big cloud providers like DigitalOcean and AWS.

ServerPilot offers access to servers with AWS, DigitalOcean, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure. Its pricing starts at $5 per server a month, plus $0.50 per app a month, and goes up to $20 per server a month plus $2 per app a month.

Laravel Forge connects you to servers with AWS, DigitalOcean, Hetzner, Linode, and Vultr, and costs from $12 a month for a single server to $39 a month for unlimited servers with database backups and monitoring.

Final verdict

Cloud hosting does require a certain level of technical expertise, but Cloudways makes it easier than dealing directly with the cloud hosting providers themselves. It is more of a middle ground between the beginner-friendly offerings from the likes of SiteGround and the technically-demanding services of others, like AWS. It would suit people who have some technical knowledge but lack full sysadmin skills.

Just be aware that if you’re only used to using cPanel or Plesk, Cloudways might take some time to get used to. That said, its pricing is reasonable for the level of performance and security that you get from its servers and the quality of its support.

John Faulds

John is a freelance writer and web developer who has been working digitally for 30 years. His experience is in journalism, print design and web development and he has worked in Australia and the UK. His work has been published in Future publications like TechRadar, Tom's Guide, and ITProPortal.