- Very easy to set up.
- Excellent uptime.
- Supports numerous apps.
- Several flexible account tiers.
- Pay-as-you-go plans.
- Can try service for free before signing up.
- Site cloning.
- No domain registration option.
- Email costs extra.
Cloud-based web hosting services are now common, but Cloudways does several interesting things with its cloud hosting that make it stand out in a growing field. It lets you select from one of five platforms, including Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform, offers wallet-friendly pay-as-you-go plans, and even lets you sign up for a trial run without whipping out a credit card. The shine is dulled a bit by its lack of amenities, such as domain registration and included email. Still, this excellent cloud hosting service is well worth considering.
Unlike most other web hosting services, Cloudways lets you build a site without spending a dime. You can sign up for a three-day trial account by creating a username and password, or logging in using either Github, Google, or LinkdedIn credentials, which is a nice touch. After you’ve logged in, you’re tasked with selecting a content management system (CMS) from several popular and respected sources, including Drupal, Joomla, Koken, Magento, Media Wiki, PHP Stack, Prestashop, and, of course, WordPress. There’s a lot of flexibility on display here.
This flexibility extends to the server selection, too, as you can build a site atop one of several infrastructure-as-a-service solutions, including Amazon Web Services, DigitalOcean, Google Cloud Platform, Linode, Stackpath, and Vultr. You also pick one of several server locations scattered around the country.
Cloud Hosting Plans
Cloudways leverages the resources of several clustered servers to balance your website load; it doesn’t dabble at all in the traditional shared, VPS, and dedicated hosting plans. Instead, the company offers several pay-as-you-go, hourly cloud hosting packages that only charge you for the amount of time you’ve used. For example, if you cancel a plan while 10 days into a month, you’ll only be charged for 10 days’ worth of hosting. Hosts like the Editors’ Choice award-winning DreamHost and HostGator bill you for the entire month, even if you cancel just a week into the cycle. Cloudways offers traditional monthly billing, too.
The monthly web hosting plans start at $10 (for 25GB of storage, 1TB of monthly data transfers, 1GB of RAM, and a single-core processor) and scale upward to $1,035 (for 3840GB of storage, 12TB of month data transfers, 192GB of RAM, and a 32-core processor.) The high-end offering outclasses many web hosts’ most powerful dedicated server plans. In fact, Cloudways’ top-level specs have more in common with the SMB-friendly Liquid Web, which lets you outfit a server with an wild 512GB of RAM. If you prefer hourly billing, the aforementioned plans start at just over $0.01 and scale up to slightly more than $1.43.
Unfortunately, Cloudways doesn’t offer domain registration, so you have to secure a domain from NameCheap or some other seller. Another URL-related downside: Cloudways’ unusually designed back end makes it a chore to point that purchased URL to your hosting setup. I didn’t have much issue connecting those dots upon exploring the online documentation, but the process may prove confusing to novices. Furthermore, unless they’re dead set on Cloudways, I can definitely see users simply never returning if they have to go elsewhere just to get started.
The service’s email offering is another issue worth noting, as Cloudways’ plans come with zero electronic mail accounts. Instead, Cloudways—in conjunction with RackSpace—expects you to pay for your email at a $1 per email account per month. That may prove costly, depending on your needs. Most other web hosts provide at least some level of service as part of even the most basic plan.
Building a Website
Cloudways may not possess some of the typical web hosting elements, but building a site is a fairly straightforward affair. WordPress was my CMS of choice in testing, and the service created a server in just seven minutes. I logged in with my Cloudways credentials, selected a theme, tweaked how pages and posts appeared, and added images. It was a trouble-free experience.
This particular WordPress flavor is of the managed variety, so your installation receives the white-glove treatment by auto-updating the CMS, performing automatic daily backups, and providing real-time site monitoring and WordPress-specific security. Cloudways also has useful one-click cloning (so you can quickly create duplicates of your apps and servers) and staging areas (so you can test website elements without placing them live on your site).
Cloudways lets customers separately monitor the applications hosted on a server. This application-level monitoring has two sections: Analytics and Logs. Analytics displays traffic information, PHP requests, MySQL requests, and Disk Usage. Logs, on the other hand, show your website’s access log and error log.
E-Commerce and Security
Cloudways’ app library has many e-commerce tools, including the popular Magento and Prestashop platforms. I used Magento to create an attractive store in just a few minutes by dragging and dropping website elements.
In terms of security, as a managed cloud hosting platform, Cloudways engineers safeguard your installation from attacks by releasing regular operating system and firmware upgrades. In addition, Cloudways offers free Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates, which should be considered essential data protection if you plan to sell product. In addition, the recommended Rackspace email comes with Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) authentication technology for added security.
Website uptime is one of the most important aspects of a hosting service. While your site is down, clients or customers are unable to find you or access your products or services—and they might not come back. That’s why I’m happy to report that Cloudways offers excellent uptime.
For this testing, I used a website-monitoring tool to track my Cloudways-hosted test site’s uptime. Every 15 minutes, the tool pings my website and sends me an email if it is unable to contact the site for longer than one minute. I look at the data for the most recent 30 days for each site’s review. In my latest tests, Cloudways proved very stable. In fact, it didn’t go down once.
For more information regarding our testing procedure, please read How We Test Web Hosting Services.
Cloudways offers 24/7 customer service, so you’ll be able to reach someone around the clock. There’s a catch, though, if you wish with speak to a human being. You must fill out a form to request a phone or Skype call.
You also have the option to speak with a customer service representative via web chat. That way, you can get answers in immediate fashion. I never waited more than a few seconds before a Cloudways rep fielded one of my chat questions. The team is quite knowledgeable, too. The members fed me accurate information about the differences between cloud hosting and traditional hosting and the company’s payment structure. I also received an infrastructure-as-a-service primer.
Cloudways refund policy isn’t the typical 30-, 60-, or 90-day money back guarantee that you find with most other web hosts. In fact, the structure is so detailed that Cloudways’ customer service team simply referred me to this link. It’s a lot to digest.
An Excellent, Focused Web Host
There’s a lot to like about Cloudways. The service has flexible cloud hosting plans, fast setup times, top-notch web-based customer support, and excellent uptime. It’s a company you can count on to keep your site up and running to services that offer those items. Additionally, some people won’t like the odd way of getting a customer service rep on the phone. If those caveats aren’t dealbreakers, however, give Cloudways a chance. You may find it offers just what you need to get and keep your website online.