Getting <1 second second load times should be the benchmark for any website you are building. Maybe <1.5 seconds if it’s an e-commerce website with lots of features. As a developer, I’m always on the hunt for something new and cost effective in my techstack, and recently I grabbed a Cloudways Hosting free trial to test out one of their 1GB RAM servers operated by Digital Ocean. This is the cheapest package Cloudways offers which is $10/month for what is considered to be really good cloud hosting. This Cloudways review shows how I increased the speed of my site by 6x when I switched from a top-of-the-line shared hosting package that was actually more expensive. Let me show you all how easy it was to get started and import my existing website in a few clicks using their free migration plugin.
Why Choose Cloud Hosting with Cloudways?
Because = SPEED
Because = SPEED
Speed is probably the main reason for someone to switch to cloud hosting. According to reports, 40% of newcomers leave the window if it takes more than 3 seconds to download. According to Google, your web page should be fully downloaded in less than 2 seconds for a better ranking. But will that be enough? With Google putting more emphasis on speed and user experience, you should try aiming for less than 1 second if you really want to enjoy some SERPs that drive and outpace slower competing sites.
While it’s possible to go into less than a second download time with a shared host, it’s a very difficult and time consuming task. This is how long my site takes when it is hosted on A2 Hosting:
This is how fast this site loads on Cloudways with W3TC plugin & Redis activated:
This is 6x faster than the hosting I had before. Aaaaand I am spending less money. Win / Win. There’s a few caveats in the test as you’ll see above; my performance grade improved considerably and the requests halved in number. This is due to some of features I could unlock in my cacheing plugin which aren’t available on the shared hosting.
Because = OPTIMISATIONS
A lot of the speed improvements I am getting are to do with the features I am able to unlock by moving to Cloudways. I am using W3TC as the cache plugin on this site as I believe it’s the best out there. It gets a lot of bad wrap as being too complicated but I only activated about 6 settings on this plugin, don’t use minification whatsoever and then it becomes a very simple plugin to use. This is the technology stack that Cloudways offers on all servers, even their basic $10/month package which I’m on:
- SSD Storage - HTTP/2 - Nginx, Redis & Memcache - PHP-FPM - PHP 7+ - Varnish Cache - Apache - Free SSL's by LetsEncrypt
My previous shared hosting did have PHP 7.2, but they don’t upgrade as new PHP versions arrive (Cloudways is on PHP 7.4 at time of writing). I did also get free SSL’s with LetsEncrypt but that is where the similarities ended. Cloudways offer a number of top-of-the-line server features including HTTP/2, Nginx, Redis and Memcache as well as server level Varnish Cache. They use SSD storage which is lightning fast and your website is on it’s own dedicated server, not sharing resources with 100 other websites like you do on shared-hosting.
The important ones for me here are HTTP/2 and Redis. Redis is an advanced type of cache and the main reason I use W3TC plugin is that I can link it to the Redis. Redis is not on by default, you need to get your website to talk to Redis and trigger it to work. In all options in the General Settings of W3TC you can select Redis as the method. I choose Redis for everything (Page, Browser, Fragment, Opcode, Database cache) as it’s the fastest option.
Just these 2 optimisations alone improve the site speed incredibly. Cloud hosting obliterates shared hosting for TTFB (time to first byte) and there’s no customisation you can do to shared hosting to make it compete. Period.
What really is Cloud Hosting?
Cloudways is a managed cloud hosting platform that connects you to major cloud infrastructure providers:
- Digital Ocean
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Google Cloud Platform
Cloudways doesn’t have its own hosting network, they just offer managed hosting on the above major hosting companies. All with a super-practical control panel that minimises all the technical knowledge needed to manage a cloud server. I’m using Digital Ocean currently but Vultr and Digital Ocean are the main ones most people are using.
In simple words, you choose your hosting infrastructure, the application you install, pays for it, and Cloudways takes care of all the technical details. You don’t have to deal with a command terminal and spend hours looking for code and tutorials. Instead, Cloudways offers you a friendly, easy-to-manage interface and all complex tasks are just a few clicks away. To sweeten things up, you get one dedicated IP per server, which means only your domains will be on that IP and no other low quality domains.
Cloudways Review: Why you need to make the switch
Cloudways is an amazing bang for buck hosting operation and their live chat 24/7 support makes it a no-brainer for me to move all my sites across. On the basic 1GB server there’s enough juice to run 15-20 websites no problem (Cloudways support recommended me 1GB RAM per 10,000 views to all sites combined on each server). You can upgrade RAM at any moment in one click and it only takes a few minutes. Let’s run through all the great things about Cloudways:
- Multiple Server Locations Worldwide
- Simple, Pay-As-You-Go Pricing
- Free Wordpress Migration
- Detailed Website Monitoring
- Backup & Restore
- Staging URL’s
- Free SSL Certificates
- Cloudways Discount Code
Multiple Server Locations Worldwide
You can choose from over 60 server locations around the world. Simply click on your preferred location to deploy your site or application in that region. Isn’t that great?
This feature lets you set priorities for your target audience much better. The result is, of course, better coverage and higher conversion rates.
Simple, Pay-As-You-Go Pricing
Cloudways offers users a crystal clear plan that is easy to understand and use. They follow the Pay-as-you-Go model, which means you will only pay for the features you use.
You can find package plans as well as other requirements you may have. Compared to other hosting platforms, Cloudways offers better rates according to the features provided. Cloudways hosting plans start at $10 per month and go up to $80 per month. I would recommend that you take advantage of the startup package as your cache engines can handle thousands of visitors. They also have a free cache plugin called Breeze that serves their purpose well.
Most recently, in February, good people at Cloudways updated their plans in response to price changes at DigitalOcean. So this is the best time to start hosting WordPress sites with Cloudways at these reduced prices recently. You can see their detailed pricing information on the Plans and Pricing page.
Free Wordpress Migration
Not all cloud hosting platforms offer customers the tools to migrate their WooCommerce sites. Cloudways provides an integrated WordPress Migrator tool to easily migrate websites to your platform.
This tool allows users to migrate their website from any other hosting platform without errors. Your data will be transferred securely, not to mention that the first migration is free.
Detailed Website Monitoring
Site owners spend a lot of money on attracting third-party services to monitor various activities on their site. But with Cloudways Managed hosting plans, this site monitoring function appears. It handles all problems such as inbound and outbound traffic to your site, free memory, free disk, monthly bandwidth, number of MySQL connections, etc.
You can also configure a new Relic application to monitor the digital performance of your website. To configure the application, enable New Relic in the Manage Services section of the server control panel. Then go to Monitoring > Applications to launch the application.
Backup & Restore
Did you just enter the wrong code and are worried that your site might be in danger? With a single click of your mouse Backup & Restore, you can get your hard work back without problems.
With the Backup & Restore feature, you can create multiple backups and restore them in case of errors or incorrect settings. It comes with automated instances that can range from hourly, daily backups to weekly backups. Cloudways provides a backup and recovery service for each application. This service accepts backup files as well as your website database.
You can set up a backup of your site from one hour to 7 days. Backups are valid for between one and four weeks. Any backup that exceeds the backup period is automatically discarded. You can also make a manual backup at any time if you want to make significant changes or update WordPress.
Not all hosting platforms offer Staging URLs. Cloudways is one such hosting platform that gives you the opportunity to have a separate URL for your web application so you can access it before you go live.
This feature gives you the freedom to test your web applications on separate subdomains, provided free of charge. It allows you to find and fix all your bugs and when you are ready, at the click of a button, the scene of your site will be live. Oh and by the way, the staging URL’s have SSL’s installed on them so they are automatically good to go to test payments and secure forms.
Free SSL Certificates
SSL certificates are becoming increasingly common with the “Let’s encypt” function. In companies like Google, which makes sites secure, SSL is a must for WordPress. You can install the SSL certificate on your site and start using Let’s Encrypt with Cloudways immediately.
To do this, go to the Applications section, select your site and open the SSL Certificate section in the settings. You can not only install a certificate from Let’s Encrypt service, but also add custom certificates.
Cloudways Discount Code
If you’re looking for a Cloudways discount code then throw this code in from my work, Brisbane Digital and you can get 20% OFF your first invoice with Cloudways by using code BRISBANEDIGITAL at checkout or clicking the link in the button below.
If you are eager to host your Crazy Shopping Site site, personal blog or client projects, start a free Cloudways – Managed Cloud Hosting Platform account and give it a whirl. If you find this review interesting, please feel free to leave a comment and share your experience with Cloudways in the section below.