“A web hosting server is the lifeline for all sites.” Dr. Chris Dayagdag , a Google partner and technnopreneur. And he couldn’t have put it better. In essence, your website is only as good as the underlying hosting framework.
And so, as part of my journey to establish the best possible lifelines for e-commerce sites, I decided to take a slightly different route this time. Instead of the typical hosting services that we are used to, I tried one of the most renowned for its extensive server abstraction capabilities.
Is Cloudways a reliable ecommerce hosting solution? Well, let’s find out …
Cloudways Review: About the Hosting Service
Considering that it was founded in 2011, Cloudways is relatively young in the hosting space. But don’t let that fool you. It is anything but small. In short, it is a managed cloud hosting solution that allows individuals and teams to create, launch, scale and coordinate a variety of web applications, including the e-commerce site.
Aaqib Gadit (co-founder and CEO) and Pere Hospital (co-founder and CSO) have grown over the years to become an established hosting service with data centers around the world. Combine that with a team of more than 100 experts and you’ll start to get a rough idea of how Cloudways now serves thousands of sites.
All of this is coordinated from its headquarters on the island of Malta, in Europe, as well as complementary offices in Dubai and Spain.
Now this is a very interesting curriculum if you ask me. But then again, we all know that hosting can be quite a challenging task even for well-funded companies. That’s why only a handful of providers can legitimately be proud of widely optimized hosting services.
The problem with this category, however, is this – most of its solutions are not cheap. It costs a good penny to launch servers and extensive e-commerce applications.
Interestingly, Cloudways is among the few players who seem to be deviating from this trend. Their services are comparatively cheaper than their main competitors.
But, thinking about it, could this be a breathtaking tactic? Or is Cloudways a legitimately effective hosting solution?
Well, it only takes a few minutes to find out. This Cloudways review provides the facts with the full truth about its key features, pricing, performance statistics and a platform walkthrough.
Cloudways Review: Hosting Service Overview
The only fundamental thing you can always expect from managed hosting providers is, of course, the servers. And you know what? Cloudways has five cloud providers to back up. You can set up your own cloud server on Google Cloud Platform, Vultr, Linode, DigitalOcean or Amazon Cloud Services (AWS).
Just choose your provider and go! Cloudways will create a dedicated cloud-based virtual server for you in seconds. And if you want to expand capacity, the platform allows you to purchase additional servers or scale your current server at any time in your account.
There are several ways to leverage the resulting resources. You can take advantage of PHP’s capabilities to launch your own containerized applications. Or, of course, run a dynamic e-commerce site.
Now wait. What kind of resources are we talking about here? What should you expect from Cloudways when it comes to e-commerce hosting?
Cloudways Review: Key Features
Okay, let’s start from the top.
After signing up, you will find that Cloudways offers a considerable initial advantage by making four major e-commerce platforms available by default: OpenCart, Magento, Prestashop and WooCommerce. It also offers things like Laravel, Joomla, Drupal and WordPress.
Fair. But, let’s imagine that you are planning to base your online store on another application. What options do you have?
Well, luckily, Cloudways is flexible enough to support any PHP application. This means that you can comfortably install an additional e-commerce platform if you wish.
Managing the e-commerce environment
One thing I liked about Cloudways is this: it holistically optimizes the environment of your e-commerce site to help you sell comfortably and expand dynamically.
As soon as the site goes live, for example, Cloudways will monitor everything around the clock. Consequently, they must be able to quickly fix any problems immediately developed. And, to keep you informed, the control panel continues to take advantage of more than the variable analyzes of 16.
But that is not all. When it comes to keeping track of your e-commerce site, you can trust what they call CloudwaysBot. It is simply an artificial intelligence system that tracks the performance of your website 24/7 and sends relevant updates via text or email.
In case of any problems, you can capitalize on the New Relic integration of Cloudways to discover weaknesses and reduce them accordingly. It is one of many third party applications whose integrations are useful when using Cloudways for e-commerce.
That said, other great features to optimize your e-commerce environment include:
- Pay-as-you-go structure that helps you save money by paying only for what you are using.
- Vast versatility, which allows you to scale your resources based on the changing website needs.
- Dedicated resource environment that protects your site from possible leeches.
- Safe environment well connected in a network, which protects all servers and links them in a way to facilitate the handling of composite, but independent resources.
- Numerous datacenter locations, which are further complemented by CDN solutions for improved website loading speeds.
- Convenient site migration between data centers and servers.
- Replicating your site across multiple servers to reduce the risk of possible downtime.
Recently, it has been proven that cybercrime is becoming increasingly profitable than the illegal drug trade. And you can bet that criminals won’t slow down anytime soon. That’s why, in fact, 66% of IT professionals consider security to be their top concern when it comes to cloud computing.
Well, if they are concerned, then I am afraid of my intelligence. Security is undoubtedly the only thing I can’t afford to compromise, especially after witnessing firsthand the devastating effects of a data breach (but that’s a story for another day). So, I was particularly interested in website security when I evaluated Cloudways.
And this is what I found out that you get:
- IP whitelist
- Two-factor authentication login
- Free SSL certificate that can be installed in a single click
- Regular security patches and firmware updates
- Free automatic backups of your entire website, in addition to your files, with the ability to restore everything in a single click
- Dedicated firewalls
- Possible compensation for inactivity caused by a force majeure event
Optimized site performance
Believe it or not, but the fact is that Google will punish you if your e-commerce site takes relatively long to load your pages.
And even if you still attract traffic with a poor search engine ranking, you will lose quite a substantial fraction of the sales opportunities. Each tenth of a second load delay, on average, translates to a 7% drop in your conversion rates.
Fortunately, Cloudways offers a wide range of features to prevent this. It optimizes the overall performance of the web through:
- Autohealing server technology, which automatically fixes your server immediately, begins to experience reduced performance.
- The Content Delivery Network system, created based on high quality servers around the world, accelerates the global transfer of content from the site.
- Support for PHP 7, which is currently the best performing version of PHP.
- Support for Redis, which is combined with Varnish, Nginx and Apache to increase the effectiveness of your website’s database.
- Free advanced caches like Full Page Cache and
- Dedicated environment structure, which reserves server resources exclusively for your website.
Dynamic Project Coordination
Chances are you won’t be running your solo online store. You will probably hire some professionals from time to time to handle multiple projects. And that’s exactly where Cloudways team collaboration features come in.
In summary, you can allocate tasks to multiple team members, replicate servers and applications, transfer servers to others, and migrate your site accordingly.
When you need to move a WordPress site from a third-party host to Cloudways, for example, you can take advantage of the Cloudways Migrator Plugin for WordPress to make things much simpler.
And, if you’re dealing with multiple sites, you may want to take advantage of Cloudways’ secure SSH and SPTP access, unlimited storage areas and the automatic Git environment. Consequently, all team members will be able to review and improve their projects before publishing everything.
To help you efficiently configure, launch, manage, run and coordinate your website, Cloudways provides a multichannel support system.
In the worst case, you can capitalize on your well-detailed knowledge base to learn just about everything from application management to server provisioning. And if you have any difficulties, you can always seek clarification from the active community of members that Cloudways enjoys.
Alternatively, you can also seek support directly from the Cloudways team of experts. Well, phone calls have always been my favorites because of their convenience. Unfortunately, however, it turns out that Cloudways only goes as far as facilitating call requests. You basically make a request and then the agents call you during working hours.
While it is commendable that the platform offers telephone support, I hope that, in the final analysis, they will consider updating everything to facilitate free and uninterrupted user-to-agent calls.
Otherwise, the best option you currently have is undoubtedly live chat. Sending an online ticket can also be convenient if they return to you quickly enough.
Cloudways review: using the platform
If you consider experimenting with Cloudways , the place you’ll start with is probably the pricing page …
Okay, things can get a little tricky here, especially if you’re used to the same hosting pricing schedule for four or five subscription plans.
Well, interestingly, Cloudways doesn’t offer six, seven or eight options. They are so much more, and you may feel overwhelmed at first. But, after a closer look, you should be able to discover all the pricing methodology that the service uses.
Here’s the thing. Cloudways basically bundled subscription offerings based on its five cloud server providers. Come to think of it, it all makes sense, considering infrastructure services are usually priced differently.
Now, Cloudways goes further to offer multiple plans for each provider. Therefore, what you pay in the end depends not only on the chosen provider, but also on the corresponding server specifications.
And to give you a rough idea of what to expect, here’s the price range:
- Google Cloud Platform plans range from $ 33 / month for 1.7GB RAM and 1 CPU to over $ 1,290 / month for 120GB RAM and 32 CPUs.
- Amazon Web Services plans range from $ 36 / month for 1.75GB RAM and 1 CPU – to over $ 3.567 / month for 384GB RAM and 96 CPUs.
- Vultr’s plans range from $ 11 / month for 1GB RAM and a 1-core processor to over $ 385 / month for 64GB RAM and a 16-core processor.
- Linode plans range from $ 12 / month for 1GB RAM and a 1-core processor to more than $ 1.205 / month for 192GB RAM and a 32-core processor.
- Digital Ocean’s plans range from $ 10 / month for 1GB RAM and a 1-core processor to more than $ 1,035 / month for 192GB RAM and a 32-core processor.
The best thing about all of these options is the simple fact that you are bound to find the perfect one with the right features.
Managing your account
After signing up and confirming your email address, you can choose your e-commerce application.
The next step is to select your preferred infrastructure provider from the list of five options: Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services, Vultr, Linode or Digital Ocean. Then, choose a server size suited to your e-commerce needs, followed by a server location closest to your target audience.
Finally, click on “Launch Now” and voila! That’s all it takes to start your server.
From your account’s control panel, you can purchase a domain, configure SSL, get email accounts, control server services, update PHP versions, access the command line, use the bank manager data and more.
Cloudways e-commerce hosting performance benchmarking
Cloudways can be loaded with all the performance enhancement features we cover. And yes, it also goes ahead to complement this with a guarantee of compensation in case of server downtime.
Well, admittedly, it all sounds good. But let’s face it. It is only admissible if it can be proved. And so, thanks to my curiosity, I decided to conduct the tests for the good of everyone.
Now, as we have established, the best metric for evaluating hosting servers is Time to First Byte (TTFB). It is basically the amount of time it takes the server to process a request before it starts using the website data. In other words, it measures the overall response of the server.
For accurate results, I ran TTFB tests on sites hosted on Cloudways WooCommerce , PrestaShop , Magento , plus OpenCart . And the final results were as follows:
The website based on WooCommerce published 573ms, while its Prestashop equivalent registered 598ms. So sites based on Magento and OpenCart, on the other hand, generated 556ms and 598ms, respectively.
Okay, it’s fair. But what does it mean?
Well, if you checked out some of my previous TTFB tests, then you know what a 500-600ms reading translates to. Although it is not the fastest interval we recorded, it is still very impressive.
So, all things considered, Cloudways is actually a great provider of high performance e-commerce hosting.
Who should consider using Cloudways?
Now, having explored the basics, key features, prices, performance levels and various weaknesses, I would say Cloudways is a reliable host for small, medium and business e-commerce sites. And, as it is particularly effective at expanding resources, it should be an excellent option for fast-growing sites.