There are almost thousands of hosting options present on the web with each having a lot of different hosting options. It includes Shared hosting, VPS, Managed WordPress hosting, Dedicated servers. And also there is the availability of Cloud hosting. In case you are searching for managed cloud hosting, then Cloudways is among the first one to appear and that for a good reason. Since its start in 2011, Cloudways has offered one of the best-managed cloud hosting services, and here we wish to present to you what it is all about.
Introduction- Cloudways Managed Cloud Web Hosting
When it comes to top providers of cloud hosting, Cloudways is among the best. But what is a cloud hosting exactly? Well, it is actually what it sounds likes, i.e., hosting through the “cloud”. It essentially means that a large number of real-world servers perform together as one system in order to provide secure and stable hosting for virtual servers. This results in higher performance at much lower cost with great web hosting flexibility available.
How Cloudways is Different
Cloud hosting is offered by a varied number of popular hosting companies but when it comes to Cloudways, it takes it to the next level. They have brought several managed cloud hosting options along with standout features which is an improvement over the traditional cloud.
The first thing is that they utilize the latest server as well as systems such as Nginx, memcached, varnish and apache to be more specific, as part of what they term as the ThunderStack. This great combination is what essentially makes Cloudways hosting much faster as well as reliable.
The second great part of Cloudways in comparison with its competitors is that they offer managed server-side security with their different plans. They use various layers of protection along with auto-updates in order to keep all the servers present on their platform up to date.
Along with all this, you will also find another host which allows you a wide range of platform choices like DigitalOcean, Amazon, VULTR or Google, as well as unlimited installations, easy server scaling, team collaboration along with brilliantly easy to use account console and free SSL certificates through Let’s Encrypt.
Cloudways Cloud Hosting Plans
Now once we have explained what Cloudways actually have, let us take a look at their plans. The best and great features of Cloudways is that they provide a large variety of hosting options which suite any data needs or website’s budget.
You are offered with cloud servers which starts at as low as $5 per month. You can contact them for a custom-built plan too or chose any of the other server plans offered by them. All plans offered by them provides you with the ability to add as many web installations as you want to, so in case you are a developer then you can easily create numerous staging websites for your clients without any issue. And in case you aren’t a developer and just wish to move your blog or website to Cloudways then you will find it extremely beneficial that they provide the help you in migrating one site for free, to your new server.
Cloudways WordPress Hosting Guide
If Cloudways seems like the perfect host for your website or you just want to get to know what their hosting offers you then our setup guide is the great next step. We will guide you through the different steps to get your cloud server setup with Cloudways. So, let’s start with it.
Signup For A Free Cloudways Account
To start, you need to go to the homepage of Cloudways and click on the mentioned link in order to start your free trial. You will be then taken to the main signup page of Cloudways. There you can easily choose to login with your Github or LinkedIn account, but we recommend that you go with traditional way with email.
Now just enter your email address along with the password. You will receive an activation email within few minutes.
In case you encounter on an error that you are “Almost There” then you don’t have to worry. Just open up their 24 X 7 customer support chat box present in the lower right corner of the screen. A Cloudways support technician will be there to help you happily. When we tried to set up our own test account, this happened to us, and the technician verified us and sent us an activation email within few minutes. They have awesome customer support.
After receiving the activation email, click on the displayed giant green button in order to activate your account
Setup Your Cloudways Hosting Server
Now, it’s where you actually get started with setting up your server in order to host your website/websites.
Now at first, you need to select your application. Cloudways essentially knows that WordPress is among the most well-known website platforms at present so they have put it right at the top conveniently. There are three options for you to choose from.
- Standard WordPress
- WordPress Multisite
- WordPress Plus WooCommerce
Just choose the best option which fits your requirements. If you aren’t sure then just select standard WordPress. It is quite easy to add WooCommerce at a later stage or even enable multisite.
Now once you have chosen your application, then add your custom names for the application, server as well as your project. This is just for your eyes so you can pick something which will assist you in remembering which website is you are actually setting this up for.
After you have made the app selection, you will be shown the available options for the cloud provider for you along with the server size as well as data centre locations. The available provider options which are currently include
- Digital Ocean: SSD based storage with 7 data centres present in 3 different countries along with a 14-day free trial.
- VULTR: SSD based storage with 13 data centres available worldwide along with three-day free trial
- Amazon EC2: configurable disk size with 8 data centres present in 6 countries along with a three-day free trial
- Google Cloud: 4 locations in 3 different continents which are specifically designed for large businesses or websites which are resource intensive along with a three-day free trial
- Linode: The latest added service from Cloudways in collaboration with one of the most popular cloud hosting environment Linode. Plans of 1GB Ram starts with $12 a month.
In case you are choosing Digital Ocean or VULTR then it is important to note that the available lowest plan options from each of the two are intended for low traffic or staging websites so Cloudways suggests that you start with 1 Gigabyte server size, even though you can start with the lowest plan and scale up to 1 Gigabyte plan later. You can easily run a simple WordPress site successfully on any of these plans, however in case the traffic increases or you have to install a large plugin such as WooCommerce then you might encounter database or website crashes.
All four providers offer you similar services with the most significant difference is their price as well as reliability. Both Digital Ocean as well as VULTR provide nearly unlimited bandwidth for your websites at a much lower cost which make them perfect options for developers who have a strict budget. Amazon and Google on the other hand offer bandwidth on the basis of pay-as-you-go, which essentially means that your monthly charges will most probably be higher, but still you get the relief that your website will never be throttled as you are making payment for every resource that you are using.
When it comes to selecting the server size, try your best to choose the plan you estimate that will meet your requirements. In case you are not sure then we suggest that you opt for a standard plan and you can conveniently add more resources to your server as per requirement at a later stage. Cloudways makes it quite easy for you to upgrade the server plan of yours at any instant right from your server console which will present to you at a later stage.
Once you have selected the provider as well as server size, now you need to choose a server location. We suggest that you select a server which is close to your main audience. In case most of your traffic originates from the USA then go for a server location which is in that country.
After doing so, you are now ready to launch your server. Now you will be taken to your console where you can see the estimated wait time for setup of your server which we estimate around 7 minutes and for us it took nearly 10 minutes. While waiting for this, you can go one to complete your profile which will ask for your contact number along with various optional information about your job as well as monthly hosting expenditure.
Once your server setup is completed, you can then move forward to management part of it. Just click on the primed server in order to open up the console.
Managing Your Cloudways Server
The very first moment when you open your Cloudways server console, it serves a walk through guide open in order to teach about your server summary, along with navigation bar, available options as well as details.
By default the console of yours will open to your Master Credentials. From there forward, you can easily edit the username and password along with managing SSH keys as well as view your IP address.
Next thing is the Monitoring tab. There are a large variety of graphs as well as options for you to monitor the server as well as applications. However, there exist two key server options for you to keep an eye on. The first one is the Idle CPU which is essentially the graph displayed by default. You can view the graph that our server is mostly in the range of 95 to 100 % of free CPU which essentially means that there is a lot of room for our websites to operate at the present moment. In case the graph was reversed, then there are significant and substantial instances where our free CPU was at 0% and it means that it would be time for us to scale up to a larger server plan.
The second monitoring graph is for you to check the Free Memory. Small server plans can easily operate with finesse with merely 15 to 50 MB of free memory, but in case your business has bought a plan with 4 GB or more than your free memory will be consistently above 100 MB. If it is not the case, then you need to scale up your plan.
After Monitoring, you will view a Manage Services tab where you will see the different core Cloudways services which keep your server running. It includes caching, Apache, database as well as optional application monitoring services (through New Relic). From here you can easily restart your different services along with purge your cache.
As you are using WordPress, then you may have to adjust few of the server setting in order to be able to upload any specific file to install a theme or a large plugin. All of these different server setting and more can easily be found in the Setting & Packages tab of the console. You must remember to save your changes.
Security is considered to be the prime importance of the website and Cloudways assist you in making server security easy. It maintains firewalls as well as implements server patches on a regular basis in order to keep your installations safeguarded. They also monitor any suspicious activity that happens on your server. In case you have multiple failed attempts if you have forgotten your password then you can get locked out of the account. The perfect way to avoid this is to edit the Security settings within the server manager to whitelist your IP address. This is, however, completely optional and most of the users can easily skip this section.
In case you require more server space then you can increase the Cloudways plans easily at any instant from its Vertical Scaling section. Just opt for increased server size that you require and click on the apply changes which will be then reflected in the next monthly charge.
Backups are built into the Cloudways options which is taken daily by default. From this particular tab, you can easily enable backups that need to be taken as often as every hour or even once a week. You can easily enable Local Backups which also makes a copy of the most recent backup that is available for download via SSH/SFTP such that you can easily store your backups on your computer. Even as the included backups are a great option, we suggest that while using a service such as VaultPress which ensure that you get a complete copy of your website without any issues.
At last, the Cloudways also provide a few Addons which can be accessed through the server manager. In order to activate these addons, you just need to click on the gird icon present in the main menu.
At present, there are four addons which are available with the two options in the last add configuration options to the server management section once the activation is done.
DNS Made Easy – Cloudways doesn’t provide domain name system of DNS in order to manage your domain names easy. However, they provide you with the ability to use third-party DNS such as GoDaddy, or you can easily subscribe to their own DNS Made Easy service. This particular addon begins at $2 per month for up to 5 domains. This addon also requires manual activation by Cloudways so in case you have enabled the addon, it will be set to pending until a support member approves the change.
Rackspace Email – In order to add an email service to your given website, you are offered with an option to enable the Cloudways Rackspace addon. This service mere costs $ 1 per month per email. This addon also needs manual activation by the tech support team of the Cloudways. So when you activate the addon, then it will remain until one of their support member contacts you in order to complete the mailbox setup.
SMTP- This Cloudways addon is free, and it makes it possible to use a party email as a gateway in delivering emails from your server. Just enable the addon and then navigate to particular Server Management Add-Ons section of yours in order to add as well as configure your email provider.
Elastic Email- In order to send a high number of monthly emails, you might consider the Elastic Email addon as it offers a fast as well as easy way to contact all of your mainlining lists. The different plans starts are mere $0.10 per month for 1000 emails with discounts that are applied to higher volumes. And you are also required to activate the addon and then wait or the support team of Cloudways in order to confirm that the subscriptions of yours is enabled. This addon is managed through the Server Management Add-Ons section.
Once you have gone through the entire Server settings as well as services, then you can move onto the different Application settings.
Managing Your WordPress Installations
When you click on Applications present in the main menu, then you will be taken to the application manager. From there you are provided access to all of the server installations such as WordPress or others that you might have.
Now click on the any of your installed applications in order to view the related details as well as settings.
After you have clicked on any of your installations, then you will be taken to the screen with Access Detail. This offers you the entire basic information regarding your installs such as Admin login credentials for your website, temp URL and MySQL information.
Once you get started with the Cloudways server, all of your installations will be easily setup as the staging websites on the main Cloudwaysapps site. When you are quite ready to transit to a live site, then you need to visit the Domain Management tab in order to add your URL, and you need to remember to point the domain over.
SSL is becoming quite a common feature for websites and blogs. It is an added layer which tells the visitor that the access their particular browser has to your website server is encrypted such that all of the information or data that is passed between them and you is secure and safe. In order to add this particular security to your website, just go to SSL Certificate section of the Application Manager of yours and then use the in-built tool in order to create a free SSL certificate from the Let’s Encrypt. Just add in the rested information and simply follow the onscreen prompts.
Also as an alternate, you can easily toggle the SSL option in order to upload your own customized certificate. For this particular option, you will require to create and then download a Certificate Signing Request, and create as well as purchase the SSL certificate through a third-party service and then install it on the server of yours.
The other two sections which users would like to note are the Restore Tab and the Migrator tools both of which are self-explanatory. When you first start with Cloudways, you can easily use their migrator plugin in order to migrate your website from the current host of your website to your new Cloudways server, even though the first assisted migration is free of cost, so in case you are only moving only one website, you should let the Cloudways handle it. Later onwards, if something occurs to your website and then you require to restore it to the way it was previously then you need to visit the Restore tab. From there onwards, you can easily select a backup present on the drop down and then simply click the button in order to upload.
In case you are a developer then you might be interested in some of the other inbuilt tools that Cloudways provide. The Cron Job Manager makes it quite easy to add different scheduled tasks such as deleting temp files or to send our email notices, to your installation.
There is a tab for Deployment via Git which makes it quite easy to generate your own SSH key which is needed to connect to your repository along with an Application Settings tab which has options for switching off Varnish caching during testing or staging. Plus if you are ready to pay a fee then you are offered a load test Application Add-On in order to see how your website performs with the traffic.
Before going forward to the WordPress installation, there are few other options in the Cloudways’s main account console which we would like to share with you.
Adding Team Members To A Cloudways Server
In case you are working with your team and on various different projects, then you will certainly require taking all the advantages of the options offered by the Team Module. From there you can easily add your team and then edit their access to any specific servers or applications and also restrict the operations with respect to the servers that they have access to. It is suggested that only the master admin should have the access to scale or deletion of servers.
Managing Projects With Cloudways
The last console section that you need to have a look is the Project Management page where you can easily view a quick snapshot of all of the live projects of yours. Just click on any particular project in order to see the related applications or to make changes to the project name. This particular feature is mainly to assist you to keep all of the installations of yours to be organized such that you can see what belongs to which client etc. at a glance.
WordPress Quick Start Guide
Now that you have witnessed the most crucial options within the Cloudways console of yours, it is time to go to the actual WordPress site that you have. You need to navigate to the Application manager, then click on the WordPress installation that you want to work on and then copy the Admin Panel’s username as well as the password that is provided to you. Now click on the link to visit your WordPress Admin.
When you make the login for the first instance with your given credentials, your dashboard will appear like the image above. Cloudways install the most recent version of WordPress along with W3 Total Cache plugin, however, in case there is another caching plugin already installed, then you need to deactivate and delete W3 in order to avoid any plugin conflicts.
Your foremost priority should be to clean up the install and ready it for a theme as well as the content. Here are few steps that we suggest.
- Dismiss the message that you get from the W3 Total cache and then go to the Posts as well as Pages to delete the sample page and post which are already there on your site.
- Navigate to Settings in order to edit the General site title as well as tagline along with the Permalinks (we suggest you to use the post name option) and then remove the Writing option in order to notify the Pingomatic of new posts which is optional, and you can even leave it if you want.
With the cleansing of your website, you can install the WordPress theme easily along with additional plugins that you want.
Installing A WordPress Theme
When it comes to installing a theme on WordPress, it is quite easy. All you have to do is navigate to the Appearance>Themes and then click on the Add New button. From there you can easily browse different freely available theses from WordPress.org, or you can click the Upload Theme button to add your WordPress theme.
There are a lot of exquisite WordPress theme options available on the web and you can find it a little bit overwhelming when it comes to choosing a WordPress theme.
Once you have found the right theme that you like, you can easily install it. When you upload the theme, the installable WordPress theme must be in a .zip format.
Just click on the Choose File button and browser for your theme zip and simply click Install Now.
Depending on the size of your theme file, you might see a 413 error as displayed above. This actually mean that the file which you tried to upload is larger than the maximum upload size that you have your server currently set to.
In order to fix this, just log back into the Cloudways Server Manager console and simply click on Settings & Packagers. Increase the upload size to 20 MB and then click on the save button.
Now return to your WordPress installation and then re-upload your selected theme zip file and then click Install Now. Then everything will proceed smoothly, and you will see the theme configuration page as displayed above. Now simply click to activate the theme. With this new theme in place, you can simply start addition of content, or you can just install few important WordPress plugins.
How To Install WordPress Plugins
WordPress plugins are installed just like WordPress themes, and they can add numerous great functions as well as features to your website.
From your dashboard, simply go to Plugins > Add New in order to browse all the available free plugins from the WordPress.org. Similar to themes there are numerous free as well as premium plugins which are available on the web.
If your premium theme does come with premium plugins, then you will need to follow any messages or onscreen prompts to install those plugins.
Building Your WordPress Site
With the installation and activation of your theme and plugins, you can move on to building your website. If your theme came with any sample data, you might wish to upload that by going to Tools > Import > WordPress in order to upload the sample .xml file which came with the theme. When you are uploading the sample data, the server may time out before it finishes up. In order to prevent this, just uncheck the box to import the media attachment files as you don’t want to put all the sample images populating your media library.
You may also wish to checkout the styling options of the theme, as well as plugins under the Appearance > Customize along with any other options through a custom panel in the dashboard. Once you have a good looking website, you can move on to adding your content.
Cloudways is a great managed cloud hosting platform with all the necessary features and functionalities which you require. We have given a detailed account of all the associated things regarding it, and we hope that after you have read all the information mentioned above, you now have a good idea of what Cloudways has to offer to the WordPress users. We hope you now know how to actually get started with WordPress using Cloudways managed cloud hosting.
We were quite impressed with their server console which is easy to use along with quick WordPress setup and their fast chat support. We certainly rank them as the top host. Along with it, it has great inbuilt features for server scaling as well as SSL along with teams. Cloudways has certainly positioned themselves as a perfect option for small businesses with a single site as well as for website design agencies which might be managing a lot of websites of their clients.