Cloudways Review: 2x Faster/Cheaper After Using SiteGround’s Cloud Hosting (Bought By DigitalOcean But I Prefer Vultr)

Cloudways review

Back in 2019, I moved from SiteGround to Cloudways and posted my results.

I went from an upgraded version of SiteGround’s cloud hosting to DigitalOcean on Cloudways, then later to Vultr High Frequency with NVMe storage and Redis Object Cache Pro. I also tested Cloudflare Enterprise which I’ll get into later (it’s great for improving TTFB but needs full page caching and less challenge pages). It costs an extra $5/month per domain, but it’s still worth it.

Cloudways is awesome and a big step up from shared hosts like SiteGround, Hostinger, A2, or WPX. They make it easy to launch a server and connect your domain. Then it’s just a matter of getting comfortable in their dashboard (I’ll cover some speed tweaks to make your site faster). Some people are scared it’s too technical, but everything is pretty much point & click. Vultr HF also includes 1TB of bandwidth + 32GB of NVMe storage on their lowest $16/mo plan which is nice (it’s probably the main reason people won’t try – the host I recently moved to).

The main cons are the learning curve (lots of settings in the dashboard), support can be hit or miss, it get expensive as you scale, and the Breeze plugin needs work (use FlyingPress instead). You’ll also need a third-party email service such as Google Workspace, which means the “ideal setup” would be Cloudways Vultr HF + Cloudflare Enterprise + FlyingPress + Google Workspace.

Cloudways does 3-day trials along with a free migration (and here’s a coupon for 30% off 3 months). Feel free to comment with any questions or reach out to their community manager.

Cloudways vultr high frequency
Get 30% off 3 months


1. Cloudways vs. Shared Hosts

While I try to keep this as accurate as possible, hosting companies change things often and I can’t guarantee 100% accuracy. Drop me a comment if something needs updating (thank you).

SiteGround GrowBig Hostinger Business WP WPX Business Plan NameHero Turbo Cloud Cloudways Vultr HF (2GB)
Type Shared Shared Shared Shared Cloud
Cores/RAM Not listed 2 cores/1.5GB 1 core/1GB 3 cores/3GB 1 core/2GB
Server Apache + Nginx LiteSpeed LiteSpeed LiteSpeed Apache + Nginx
Storage 20GB / SATA 200GB / SATA 15GB / SATA 500k inodes / NVMe 64GB / NVMe
CDN Google Cloud Cloudflare Enterprise – APO
DNS Internal (blocked for 4 days) Internal Internal Internal DNS Made Easy ($5/mo)
Cache plugin SG Optimizer LSC LSC or W3TC LSC x
Object cache Memcached x x Redis Redis Pro
PHP processor FastCGI LiteSpeed LiteSpeed LiteSpeed FPM
Database MySQL MariaDB MariaDB MariaDB MariaDB
Bandwidth or monthly visits 100k visits/mo (estimated) At discretion 200GB 50k visits/mo (estimated) 2TB
CPU limits Common Low resources 3 PHP workers Efficient w/ LiteSpeed “Average”
Email hosting 1GB storage Low limits x
Major incidents TTFB/DNS/CPU issues, unethical Fake reviews, scam reports, 2019 breach Global outage blamed on dead CEO 2 day outage None
Migrations $30/site Unlimited 5-35 sites 15 from cPanel 1 free + $25/site
TrustPilot rating 4.6/5 4.6/5 (fake) 4.9/5 4.6/5 4.5/5
Intro price $3.99/mo $3.99/mo $20.83/mo when paying yearly $9.98/mo $30/mo
Renewal price $24.99/mo $14.99/mo $20.83/mo $19.95/mo $30/mo


2. Cloudways vs. Other Cloud Hosts

As I mentioned earlier, is faster (they include APO, LiteSpeed’s PHP, way more cores/RAM) but they have less storage/bandwidth and usually cost more than Cloudways. You can also host multiple sites on the same Cloudways server while limits # of websites.

SiteGround Cloud Jump Start Plan WP Engine StartUp Plan Kinsta Starter Plan Cloudways Vultr HF (2GB) Starter Plan
Type Cloud Cloud Cloud Cloud Private cloud
Cores/RAM 4 cores/8GB Not listed 12 cores/8GB 1 core/2GB 32 cores/128GB
Server Apache + Nginx Apache + Nginx Apache + Nginx Apache + Nginx Apache + Nginx
Storage 40GB / SATA 10GB / SATA 10GB / SATA 64GB / NVMe 10GB / NVMe
Cache plugin SG Optimizer x x Breeze x
CDN Google Cloud Cloudflare free + Polish Cloudflare free Cloudflare Enterprise – APO Cloudflare Enterprise
DNS Internal (blocked by Google) Internal Amazon Route 53 DNS Made Easy ($5/mo) Cloudflare
Object cache Memcached Memcached Redis ($100/mo) Redis Pro Redis
PHP processor FastCGI HHVM FastCGI FPM LiteSpeed
PHP workers Not listed (but common issue) Not listed (but common issue) 2 PHP workers No limit No limit
Memory limit Adjustable 512MB 256MB Adjustable 1GB
Database MySQL Not listed Not listed MariaDB MariaDB
Nginx reverse proxy Manual configuration $50/mo
Bandwidth or monthly visits 5TB 50GB + 25k visits/mo 25k visits/mo 2TB 50GB + 250k visits/mo
Email hosting x x x x
Malware removal Scanner only x Removal pledge x Imunify360
Major incidents TTFB/DNS/CPU issues, unethical 2015 breach None None None
Migrations $30/site Paid (quoted) Free (most hosts) 1 free + $25/site Unlimited free
TrustPilot rating 4.6/5 4.5/5 4.2/5 4.5/5 4.9/5
Price $100/mo $25/mo when paying yearly $29/mo when paying yearly $30/mo $25/mo when paying yearly


3. My Results

What happened when I moved from SiteGround to Cloudways:

Siteground to cloudways shoutout

The KeyCDN report was with APO which isn’t on their Cloudflare Enterprise (yet):


4. No More CPU Issues

SiteGround’s CPU limits can be a nightmare especially on their cloud hosting.

I had to upgrade from GoGeek to a $120/mo cloud hosting plan just to get rid of them, and $180/mo to have what I would call acceptable load times. While this is a common theme with shared hosting because they use limited resources, SiteGround’s is by far the worst I’ve seen. I wrote the #1 Google ranked tutorial on reducing CPU usage in WordPress and still couldn’t fix it.

Once I ditched SiteGround, CPU usage was averaging well under 10%, so I scaled down and saved $100/mo. I was using DigitalOcean at the time since Cloudways hadn’t released Vultr HF.

I’m not saying Cloudways will fix everyone’s CPU limits and you have to take into account they use Apache servers (instead of LiteSpeed which can handle 2x the capacity of Apache). I’m more saying: think twice about upgrading because of CPU limits especially if it’s on SiteGround.

Cpu ram usage

Siteground cloud hosting sales receipt
Paying SiteGround too much to avoid CPU limits
Cloudways invoices
Scaling down and saving $100/mo

Siteground cpu limits joke

Siteground cpu limits to cloudways

Siteground cpu dance


5. Monthly Pricing, Scaling Gets Pricey

Cloudways is monthly pricing with no high renewals.

However, it gets expensive as you scale which is probably the biggest complaint. You’re paying about 2x the price on the Vultr HF website for everything else built around their hosting. That’s why many higher traffic websites use RunCloud or CyberPanel which is a little more hands-on (launching a server on Cloudways can be done in a few clicks instead of provisioning a server).

Cloudways makes it easy to add CPU/RAM. Shared hosts usually trap you into 1-3 year contracts on a plan with a fixed amount of server resources. This can be an issue if your traffic grows or you add plugins/features that need more resources (which is why so many people get screwed).

Cloudways vertical scaling


6. Sign Up

You get 30% off 3 months when you sign up though the page they created for me, and yes, I’ll get an affiliate commission. I appreciate it if you do, otherwise no worries. Gotta be transparent.

Cloudways vultr high frequency discount


7. Launch A Server

The next step is to launch a server. Select an application (WordPress or WooCommerce) and name your app/server. Select a cloud host (I recommend Vultr HF), and the server size. 1GB is fine for small sites, 2GB+ for larger/WooCommerce sites. Select the data center closest to your visitors. Cloudways has 19 data centers for Vultr HF while most shared hosts only use around 4-6, so assuming you’re able to use a closer data center, this should already help improve TTFB.

Then click Launch Now.

Cloudways launch vultr high frequency server

Vultr HF is the most popular with faster NVMe storage, higher CPU clock speeds, and 3GHz+ CPUs. You also have DigitalOcean (and DigitalOcean Premium), Linode, AWS, and Google Cloud.

I don’t recommend Google Cloud since Cloudways uses the lower tier N1 machine family. SiteGround originally used N1 when they moved to Google Cloud but now use N2. Both are for balanced workloads instead of optimized workloads. If you’re doing Google Cloud, you want C2.

Preferred cloudways server

Vultr high frequency compute
Vultr HF uses 3GHz+ CPUs with high clock speeds
Nvme vs sata
NVMe storage is faster (source: PCWorld)


8. Connect Your Domain

After your server is done launching, you’ll connect your domain. Cloudways doesn’t offer domain names so if you don’t have one, I recommend using Google Domains or NameCheap.

Step 1: Add your domain name under Applications → Domain Management. Add the www version as an additional domain if you want to redirect all www links to the non-www version.

Cloudways domain management

Step 2: Update DNS records. In NameCheap, go to Dashboard → Domain List → Manage → Advanced DNS → Add New Record.  The A Record value is the Public IP found in Access Details in Cloudways. The CNAME is your domain name. Use the same formatting as below. Here are GoDaddy’s instructions (or Google instructions for the domain registrar you’re using).

Add cloudways records to namecheap

Step 3: Add free Let’s Encrypt SSL (Applications → SSL Certificate) and enable auto renewal.

Cloudways ssl management

Cloudways also has a video on this.


9. Request A Free Migration

Request a free migration (9 squares → Add-ons → Application Migration). The first migration is free then it’s $25/site which is cheaper than most hosts. I had them move my site with no issues.

Cloudways free migration 1

Or DIY with the Cloudways WordPress Migrator plugin.


10. Cloudflare Enterprise

Cloudways has a Cloudflare Enterprise add-on for $5/mo, so here are my thoughts.

The 3 biggest complaints are no APO (yet), challenge pages, and the settings are very limited with no option to use free Cloudflare features like page rules, firewall rules, crawler hints, SXGs.

But have you actually tried it? I did and my site was much faster compared to using Cloudflare Pro directly from Cloudflare (and that’s really all I care about, along with improved security). I found the Enterprise features you gain in the add-on outweigh the free features you lose.

Cloudways doesn’t include all Enterprise features if you were to buy it directly from Cloudflare, but are you really going to pay $200/month+ instead of $5/month on Cloudways? Probably not.

It does present users with more challenge pages which you can only customize when using Cloudflare Pro+ directly from Cloudflare. So while it did make my site faster, I think it needs quite a bit of work. It seems like they’re playing catch up with who offers it for free with full page caching, no challenge page on the frontend, no configuration, and an overall smoother integration (their CEO Ben Gabler also has a long history of working with the edge and went as far as building’s own data centers in the same locations as Cloudflare).

Cloudflare Free FlyingProxy Cloudflare Enterprise Cloudways Cloudflare Enterprise Cloudflare Enterprise
APO $5/mo x
Argo Smart Routing Paid feature x
Priority routing x
Load balancing Paid feature
Mirage/Polish Requires CF Pro
Enterprise DDoS protection x
Bandwidth Unlimited 100GB 100GB Determined by hosting plan
Challenge pages Not often Not often Too often Not often
Price Free $10/mo $5/mo Free w/ hosting

Key differences between third-party Cloudflare Enterprise services (and Cloudflare free)


  • Enterprise CDN – prioritized routing with CDN cache and unique IPs up to 100GBs.
  • Managed WAF – includes PCI compliance with advanced bot management & mitigation.
  • DDos Protection – prioritized for layers 3, 4, 7 with prioritized IP ranges and 100% SLA.
  • Image Optimization – Mirage + Polish compress images, resizes them for mobile, serves them in WebP, strips EXIF data, etc. I definitely prefer this over image optimization plugins.
  • Full Page Cache (Coming Soon) – I’m hoping they add this soon just as much as you are.
  • Argo + Tiered Cache – routes your traffic through the fastest Cloudflare network paths.
  • Global load balancing – creates a failover so traffic is re-routed from unhealthy origin servers to healthier origins. This can reduce things like latency, TLS, and general errors.
  • HTTP/3 access – you still get HTTP/3 when using the CF Enterprise add-on on Cloudways.

Setup Instructions

Cloudways also has a guide on this.

Cloudflare enterprise with cloudways
Step 1: Enable Cloudflare Enterprise on your domain
Verify domain ownership for cloudflare enterprise on cloudways
Step 2: Copy the TXT records provided by Cloudways
Cloudways txt records cloudflare dns
Step 3: Add the TXT records to your DNS
Cloudflare enterprise on cloudways
What it looks like after it’s set up
Keycdn ttfb no cloudflare enterprise
TTFB (no Cloudflare Enterprise) measured in KeyCDN
Keycdn ttfb with cloudflare enterprise
TTFB (with Cloudflare Enterprise) measured in KeyCDN


11. Redis Object Cache Pro

Redis Object Cache Pro is free on Cloudways and can be enabled under Servers → Settings & Packages → Packages → Install Redis. Cloudways will then install Redis as a drop-in plugin under your WordPress plugins menu. Stack Overflow has a nice thread on memcached vs Redis.

Cloudways redis

Here’s the table Cloudways shows on their blog:

W3 Total Cache LiteSpeed Cache WP Redis Redis Object Cache Object Cache Pro
Batch Prefetching x x x x
Data compression x x x x
Cache priming x x x x
Asynchronous flushing x x x
Cache Analytics x x x
Secure connections x x x
Highly customizable x x x x
Logging support x x x x
Cluster support x x x
Replication support x x x
Mitigates race conditions x x x x
Extensively unit tested x x x x
WooCommerce optimized x x x x
Query Monitor integration x x x Basic Advanced
WP CLI integration Basic x Basic Basic Advanced
Site Health checks x x x x
Batcache compatible x x x
Relay integration x x x x


12. Use FlyingPress, Not Breeze

Cloudways has been making improvements to Breeze, but I still recommend FlyingPress.

It just does a better job addressing core web vitals. Compared to WP Rocket, FlyingPress has more features and it also optimizes for real-world browsing better. For example, Perfmatters agrees that when removing unused CSS, loading the used CSS in a separate file is faster for real visitors while inline is better for “scores.” Things that may seem small can make a big difference.

Breeze WP Rocket FlyingPress
Remove unused CSS x Inline Separate file
Critical CSS x
Bloat removal x x
Host fonts locally x x
Preload images x x
Lazy load background images x Inline HTML lazy-bg class
Exclude images from lazy load x By number By number
YouTube iframe preview image x
Self-host YouTube placeholder x x
Add missing image dimensions x
Lazy render HTML elements x x
Scheduled database cleanups x
Frequent new features x x
Documentation Needs more detail Detailed Needs more detail
Price Free $59/year $60/year
Renewal price Free $59/year $42/year
Facebook group Cloudways Users WP Rocket Users FlyingPress


13. More Cloudways Optimizations

Here are a few other optimizations you can make on Cloudways. These can depend on whether your site is WooCommerce or low/high traffic. Cloudways also has quite a bit of documentation.

  • Use PHP 8.0+.
  • Use MariaDB 10.4.
  • Use a 512MB memory limit or higher.
  • Activate Redis add-on (see previous step).
  • Use FlyingPress instead of Breeze (see previous step).
  • Configure Varnish rules to exclude URLs/cookies if needed.
  • Activate Varnish add-on (specifically good for eCommerce sites).
  • Increase PHP-FPM memory limit from 32M (mine is set to 1024M).
  • Schedule backups during non-peak hours if you’re using Cloudways for backups.
  • Use Cloudflare’s DNS (see Not related to Cloudways, but important.
  • Replace wp-cron with a real cron job (use code below or see Cloudways instructions).
  • Use error logs to find bad bots, URL requests, status code errors, slow pages/queries.
  • max_execution_time: 30-60s, max_input_time: 60s, max_input_vars: 1000 (what I used).
Cloudways settings packages
Use PHP 8.0+, MariaDB 10.4, install Redis
Activate multiple caching layers offered by Cloudways
Cloudways php fpm settings
Increase PHP FPM memory limit

This is the code for adding a cron job (remember to disable wp-cron beforehand). This can specifically help reduce CPU usage by preventing wp-cron from loading on every pageview.

*/5 * * * * wget -q -O - '


14. No Email Hosting

Keeping web/email hosting separate is a good thing (besides price) since emails take up inodes/files. You also want resources to only be dedicated to hosting your website and not email. Plus, if you decide to switch hosts, you don’t have to switch emails which can be a pain.

Cloudways only offers Rackspace for $1/email per month but I use Google Workspace (Cloudflare also started offering free email addresses). I’ve never used Rackspace so I can’t comment on whether it’s good vs. bad or setting it up. I’ve always preferred Google Workspace.


15. You’ll Want A Separate Backup Plugin

I also recommend a third-party backup plugins service like UpdraftPlus or ManageWP.

Cloudways also charges $0.033/GB for local backups which can be downloaded via SSH/SFTP, but they only provide 1 copy of the latest backup. And while I’ve never had a problem, I have heard a few horror stories of backups getting deleted, etc. Regardless of your host, it’s always a good idea to have off-site backups by a third-party service so your eggs aren’t all in one basket.

Cloudways backups
Cloudways backup setting



16. File Manager Workaround

Cloudways doesn’t have a file manager, but they do have SFTP.

Also, thanks to Roger for pointing out a workaround in the comments for people coming from cPanel. Since Cloudways doesn’t have a file manager, you can download and upload Tiny File Manager via SFTP which gives you access to functions like Zip, Unzip, Create, Delete, Modify, View, Quick Preview, Download, Copy, and Move files (see more features on the GitHub page).

Tiny file manager


17. Support Isn’t Great

While this is something you have to experience yourself, I’ve always been very happy with Cloudways support. It ain’t Kinsta, but it’s better than SiteGround. I haven’t had many issues I’ve needed to contact support for, so that’s a good thing.

One thing I suggest (especially if you’re new) is to reach out to their community manager Muhammed Moeez if you have pre-sales questions. Before I moved, I reached out to them on Facebook so I could have peace of mind more than anything. They also have a Facebook Group.

Cloudways community manager

Cloudways vs siteground support


18. Navigating The Dashboard

Sign up for a Cloudways demo if you want to check out the dashboard.

The Server tab is where you can change settings for Redis, Varnish, PHP version, MariaDB, memory limit, backups, scale your server, configure SMTP, and monitor CPU/RAM/DISK usage.

Cloudways server settings

The Application tab has your WordPress login details and lets you create staging sites, monitor traffic + errors logs, add domains, configure SSL, manage cron jobs, restore backups or take one on-demand, and tweak Application settings (Varnish, WebP, XML-RPC, PHP-FPM, Varnish, etc).

Cloudways application settings


19. Cloudways Acquired By DigitalOcean

Cloudways was acquired by DigitalOcean.

I don’t like how they raised prices for every other cloud provider by $2-3/month, then DigitalOcean by $1/mo (and sometimes kept the same price). They’re making DigitalOcean more attractive and while they’re a good choice, Vultr High Frequency is still arguably faster.


20. Pros & Cons


  • Cloud hosting is obviously faster than shared.
  • Vultr HF has high CPU clock speeds + NVMe storage.
  • Cloudflare Enterprise is great for both TTFB + LCP.
  • Multiple caching layers (Redis, memcached, Varnish, etc).
  • They use MariaDB which is comparatively faster than MySQL.
  • PHP-FPM tends to use memory more efficiently than FastCGI.
  • Stays updated on PHP versions (currently supports PHP 8.2).
  • Monthly pricing without yearly contracts or high renewal prices.
  • Free migration, 3-day trials, and promo code makes it easy to try.
  • Many reports of Cloudways fixing CPU issues on shared hosting.
  • More control of specific server settings (see WP Johnny’s guide).
  • 44 data centers to choose from between all their cloud providers.
  • Choice of 5 cloud providers: DO, Vultr, AWS, Google Cloud, Linode.
  • Launching a server and using their migrator plugin is straightforward.


  • Apache servers.
  • No email hosting (use Google Workspace).
  • Some CPU usage complaints on small servers.
  • No file manager (use SFTP or Tiny File Manager).
  • Cloudways Breeze plugin isn’t great (use FlyingPress).
  • Scaling CPU/RAM for larger websites can get expensive
  • Cloudflare Enterprise needs APO, + less challenge pages.
  • Offsite backup storage is $0.033/GB per server (use a third-party service).
  • New customers sometimes have to show ID to get their account approved.


21. More Migration Results

Other people who moved to Cloudways and posted results:

Siteground vs cloudways vultr
Source: Oxygen User Group
Source: WooCommerce Help & Share Group
Cloudways switch hosting
Source: Twitter
Siteground to cloudways move
Source: Twitter
Source: WordPress Hosting Group
Change hosting to cloudways
Source: Twitter
Digitalocean to vultr hf
Source: WP Speed Matters
Cloudways vs bluehost
Source: Post Removed
Vultr vs siteground
Source: WordPress Hosting
Source: WP Rocket Users


22. Great Feedback In Facebook Groups

Here are some polls/threads about Cloudways:

Slow ttfb siteground

Moving away from siteground
Source: WordPress Hosting
Source: Elementor Community
Hosting geared towards france
Source: WordPress Hosting
Favorite siteground alternative
Source: BloggingGyaan
Source: Post Deleted
Hosting poll 2019
Source: WordPress Hosting
Wpx vs cloudways
Source: WordPress Hosting
Shared managed hosting suggestions
Source: WordPress Hosting
Web server poll
Source: Oxygen User Group
Favourite wordpress hosting
Source: Twitter


23. Why I Moved From Cloudways To is faster, has a better Cloudflare Enterprise integration, you get more resources without worrying about CPU usage (like 32 CPU cores + 128GB RAM on all plans), and their support is much better. Plus, it’s still cloud hosting with NVMe SSDs and Redis/Redis Pro like Cloudways. It’s also much more hands-off with no need to configure server/application/CDN settings. But, they will probably cost more than Cloudways. Here’s my full review.

Average ttfb speedvitals

Final Thoughts – there are plenty of good cloud hosts and Cloudways is just one of them. Try them out and see yourself. They do 3-days trials, a free migration, and here’s 30% off 3 months.


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  1. Hi Tom

    I was wondering what was happening with Cloudways Vultr HF. You cannot access it from their website anymore. They have discontinued the service, which created a lot of consternation in cloudways facebook group.

    I notice that if you click on your promotional links for 30% off 3 months, you seem to still be able to signup for Vultre HF.

    Is this true? If so, is it worth signing up for because will they just move those on Vultre HF across to digital ocean at some point?


  2. Very good test analytics and review! Will click through your link to order. Just one question: what makes you prefer Vultr HF than the DO premium? On paper they look very similar. Thank you in advance.

    • Hey Charles,

      I tested both when I originally signed up (years ago) and found Vultr HF slightly faster. Also saw this kind of feedback in FB groups, so I stuck with Vultr. Not sure what kind of changes DigitalOcean has been making after the Cloudways takeover but that’s what I got. And thank you for using my link. I will update this review soon with more details.

  3. Hi Tom,

    Can you please compare WPMU DEV’s Hosting plans? They certainly look like they could compete with Cloudflare and their reviews are quite polished.

    Would be appreciated to get your feedback on them as there’s not much reviews online about them.


  4. Hi there, I really appreciate your articles!
    I love the content and recommendations of your website, so Smooth navigation, and too fast, love it.
    Currently, I’m Using GoDaddy Should I Move To Cloudways ..? Please Suggest Me.


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