Getting started with cloud requires some degree of technical expertise. For the general, non-technical audience, cloud and its associated technologies can be too much to consume. If someone is coming from the route of shared hosting, it is specially difficult to be convinced of the benefits offered by managed cloud hosting. This is true for startups, small businesses, and agencies that need to be focused on creating customers, rather than managing their servers.
For startup industry, there lies a great opportunity. The need for a cloud-based hosting service was necessary, and Cloudways Managed Cloud Platform executed it in a great way. Cloudways aims to deliver different cloud hosting services to a more general audience, including, but not limited to, SaaS Vendors, design and development agencies, startups, and small and medium businesses.
When I tried DigitalOcean to set up a proper WordPress installation, I needed to go through a bunch of tutorials. The tutorials introduced me to different facets of cloud and also taught me on how to install WordPress on the cloud.
Coming from a non-technical background, I found the whole information to be overwhelming. The uncertainty that anything can go wrong is terrifying. All this time, I was wondering when a random error will pop up, requiring me to fix it. Fixing the issue is not at all pleasant. It can take up many hours before I search for a service that helps me do everything.
However, then I found Cloudways. Cloudways is how general consumers can work with ease on the cloud platform. It can be used by anyone including Agencies, Designers, and Developers. It is user-friendly, comes with 150+ features, top cloud infrastructures, 24x7x365 support, and the first of its kind, CloudwaysBot. What is more fascinating about Cloudways? Many things. Let’s have a look in detail.
For the sake of this review, I will try to create a WordPress instance on DigitalOcean.
Cloudways lets you create a single instance on their Free Trial account. You need to buy their services if you want to create more instances. Upgrading your account is smooth and beneficial; I did that in a few minutes of testing the service.
So, why the wait? Let’s get started. Sign in to Cloudways and click on Launch.
- Selecting Your Application
After going inside Platform, the first step is to select your desired application. Currently, Cloudways offers 12+ web applications that can be deployed in 1-click. They are as follows:
- PHP stack
After selecting your desired application, you need to give a name to your application, server, and your project.
The version number can change according to the latest one available. The most stable versions are updated as and when they arrive.
- Selecting an Infrastructure
The next step is to select the cloud service you want to use. Currently, Cloudways support five cloud provider. They are:
- Amazon Web Services
- Google Cloud Platform Live
- Auto-scalable Kyup
For this review, I am choosing DigitalOcean, because I am a bit accustomed to it and fulfills my purpose.
- Selecting the Server Size
Just move the slider to your desired server size, and you will be done. Also, don’t worry about the wrong selection. You can always change the server size and processing capabilities later. Scalability has always been the biggest strength of clouds.
If your website receives 0-30k pageviews/month, it is recommended that you go with at least a 1GB server. Please take note that the 512MB server size is only recommended for testing purposes.
- Selecting Location
The last step is to select the location. Currently, eight locations are supported for DigitalOcean. I chose London for testing purposes. Make sure to select a location for your website that is nearest to your target audience.
At the bottom of the page, you will be shown a “Pay as You Go!” meter. For a 1GB server, it only costs you $0.02 per hour or $17.00 monthly. Highly affordable for a number of features you are getting!
Click on “Launch.”
Now you need to wait for ~10 mins to let Cloudways setup everything for you. It goes through two stages — Server configuration and optimization.
The final Result
The server is now up and running. You can go to manage server to alter with settings or add a new app.
Managing Server — The Dashboard
Cloudways review will not be complete if we do not discuss how the server management works. It does not matter which application you are using; the server management screen stays the same.
Let’s go through different sections of Cloudways server management and try to understand what they have to offer.
This section has few actions available for users. You can stop, restart, delete, add App, Share, or clone the server instance.
Master Credentials: In this section, you can get hold of the master credentials to successfully take control of your server instance. Both the username and password can be edited according to your needs. It is advisable that you change the username and password once, before using them to alter the server.
You can also launch the SSH terminal for better control. The SSH terminal starts in the browser for easy usage.
Monitoring: Monitoring enables you to see server performance. You can check tons of performance metrics by using the drop down menu. For example, you can check CPU usage for the past 1 hour. If the CPU is throttling at 100% for most of the time, you can easily assert that a server upgrade should be done. Other vital metrics include reads per second, writes per second, free memory, incoming/outgoing network traffic, etc. I love how Cloudways makes it simple for anyone to monitor their server. The health of the server is important as it enables the administrator to take proper actions in critical situations.
Managed Services: A server is a collection of services running together. Within Manage Services section, you can play with the services, stop, restart and do other hosts of actions. For example, you can purge the cache built by Varnish. Some services require adding credentials or API keys to work properly.
Vertical Scaling: Don’t think that the initial server size fits your requirement? With vertical scaling, you can increase the server size and hence its capacity. You need to pay more for the server selected and also downscaling (on Vultr & DigitalOcean) is not that easy as upscaling. For downscaling, you need to clone the instance and then make the change.
Server Settings & Packages: In this section, you can change basic and advanced settings of the server. It also lets you modify the packages that are installed on the server. The parameters are critical for operational purposes. Many tools, software or packages require some settings to be changed, and this section can help you perform that operation. For example, I was installing a theme on my server, and I failed to install it because of low execution time. I was on shared hosting at that time, so it was of no use to contact the customer support as there is no way they could have changed the execution time. If I would have used a cloud setup at that time, I could have easily changed the settings. That is another major difference between using a shared server and a cloud-based server.
Furthermore, you can use this tab to enable HTTP/2 inside the ADVANCED panel. You can also enable the Cloudflare option as well from the panel.
Security: Security is crucial for any website. It does not matter what type of technology or hosting you need. A section on the safety is always welcome, but it does not present anything special. In this section, you can check a particular IP address for blocking status. You can also utilize the section for whitelisting the different IPs.
Backups: Cloudways enable the user to backup their whole server for a particular frequency. The backup frequency starts from just one hour to seven days. I opt for a backup every seven days, but if your website is frequently updated with new content or blog post, it is a good idea to backup daily.
You can also create local backups. Local backups are for users who want to download a backup to their local machine or save it to other cloud storage services. You can also take server backup manually by clicking on the “Take Server backup now” button.
Server Add-ons: This section handles server add-ons. Server add-ons improve the functionality of the server.
Application management is offered for handling your application. In this case, we will manage WordPress application. The application management section is divided into many sections. Check out the image to understand how it works.
Let’s go through each section briefly.
Access Details: Access Details offers all the information related to your application. It includes access details for the application, admin area, and MySQL area.
Domain Management: You can add the primary domain to your server instance. It also lets you add additional domains for future usage.
Cron Job Management: Cron Job Management allows you to schedule tasks for your server to execute. You can create new Cron jobs easily inside the Cloudways Platform.
SSL Certificate: Add SSL certificate to your website/application. You can also use the free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate by adding the email address and domain name.
Restore: Restore section offers backup of your files and databases for restore purposes.
Git: For developers, Git is like a playground, and Cloudways supports Git development from within the Platform. All you need to do is generate SSH keys and push the stable version to the cloud.
Application Add-ons: You can add new add-ons to the list by adding them.
Migrator Tools: Migrator tool helps you to migrate your existing application website to the cloud easily. On Cloudways, you can easily migrate your WordPress website in just a few clicks.
This ends a brief tour on how to get started with Cloudways. These are only some of the features it has to offer. Let’s now have a look at some major offerings from Cloudways.
Cloudways pricing is very simple and straightforward. Currently, there is no separate pricing for all the plans. The pricing depends on which cloud service you choose. The most economical cloud service is Vultr (3 Day Free Trial), followed by DigitalOcean (14 Day FREE Trial). Kyup, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Platform fall on the higher side of the budgets and come with three days of FREE trial.
Plan at Cloudways start from $7 and go up to approx. $3,300 per month. It all depends on what you want to host. The plans are based on Pay as You Go. If you are satisfied with what Cloudways has to offer, you can upgrade your account immediately and avail their Free migration service. Free migration is only available for one website.
You can check the detailed pricing by clicking here.
How reliable is Cloudways service? That is a million dollar question, and different viewers will have different answers to Cloudways. When you go through their social media presence, on Facebook, they have an average rating of 4.7/5. For a B2B Cloud Platform provider, this is a big number. Cloudways basically, acts as a mediator between you and the different cloud service providers. The Platform makes it easier to host on top of the cloud infrastructures, and, you also get 24x7x365 support and managed services. All these are a great sign of reliability. Moreover, it all depends on the cloud service you choose.
Cloud services are not only reliable in nature, but they are also superior to other traditional hosting services, owing to its ability to scale and persevere traffic influx. For Cloudways, on a scale of 5, I would rate it 4.75.
In the above section on how to get started with Cloudways, I only introduced some of the features offered by the Platform. Let’s find out more about what they have to offer.
- One-Click Hosting: Launch, start, stop, delete, share, scale, clone, backup, restore, and a lot of other functions, can be performed in 1-click on Cloudways.
- 99.99% Uptime: With a Special formula, dubbed Thunderstack, Cloudways makes sure that the speed of your website is never fast and your users do not abandon their visit.
- CloudwaysBot: First of its kind, CloudwaysBot is an integrated agent within the Platform that provides insights about the server performance. Users choose their preferred channels to receive instant notifications.
- Cloudways API: Cloudways is all about you and your application. With the Cloudways API, you will have full control over the server settings, files, integrations, and, automation.
- Powerful Console: The console for Cloudways is the best place to control your server. You can manage every aspect of your server from the console. It is easy to use and is based on responsive designs.
- 15+ Key Metrics Monitoring: Get hold of your server performance and behavior with 15+ metrics. Always know when there is a problem with your server.
- Migration With Ease: Migrating is a nightmare for a big website. With migration tools and free migration service, you can relax and enjoy your website get migrated by Cloudways. Yes, migration is also managed.
Ease of Use
I have a personal experience of setting up a managed WordPress instance on DigitalOcean manually. It took me more than 5 hours to setup the cloud server correctly. In contrast, I was able to setup the same instance using Cloudways under 10 minutes. All I did was Sign up, select, and click on launch.
The above experience speaks volume about the ease of use. Any novice user can setup the server under 10 minutes using the Platform. Handling of the server is also user-friendly.
If you are an advanced user, you can easily use the SSH access to make the changes yourself. It is that easy and simple.
Customer Support is top-notch with round the clock support. Support comes in the form of online chat, email support and ticket support. Phone support is still not available, but it is being worked upon.
They also have a well-documented knowledge base that is constantly updated. All these only add up to the ease of use.
Cloudways is an excellent choice for hosting your next WordPress website. If you are an independent developer, agency, or a designer, and is looking for a platform that will automate your cloud creation process, Cloudways is the right choice for you. In its truest sense, it fills the demand in the market by providing great service to the end users.
So, what do you think about Cloudways? Have you experienced Cloudways as well? Let me know in the comments sections below.