Cloudways vs. SiteGround
Cloud hosting is generally aimed at developers but Cloudways wants to change that by making it accessible to everybody. Does it succeed or are traditional shared hosting options like SiteGround better for the average users? Join us as we try to answer that very question.
Cloudways and SiteGround are two competing hosting providers that focus on very different things. While the former focuses entirely on simplifying cloud hosting for the average user, the latter is more interested in optimizing shared hosting as best as it can. But which of the two services is the better match for you and your website? That’s what we’re going to help you find out in this Cloudways vs SiteGround comparison.
Before we proceed it’s worth pointing out that Cloudways doesn’t work like a typical hosting provider. The service functions like a third-party interface between the user and various providers that specialize in cloud hosting. These providers can be difficult to use on their own so Cloudways essentially offers a simple and intuitive way of interacting with them. We’re going to talk more about that further down the road in this Cloudways vs SiteGround comparison.
In the meantime, we encourage you to check out our guide to cloud hosting if you want to learn more about how this type of hosting works. With that out of the way, let’s kick things off, shall we?
Cloud hosting is generally your best bet if you want to improve the performance of your website, however, you can achieve somewhat similar results with certain shared hosting services as well. SiteGround just so happens to offer some of the fastest shared hosting on the market, as we have recently seen in our SiteGround vs Bluehost comparison. Simple websites hosted at SiteGround tend to load in a little less than 2 seconds and the service is remarkably good at handling sudden traffic spikes.
There’s no doubt that SiteGround is one of the best shared hosting providers out there, but how does it compare to a service like Cloudways in terms of performance? Well, despite its impressive results, SiteGround couldn’t quite hold a candle to Cloudways during our tests. Websites hosted at Cloudways routinely load in under 1 second even when they’re chock full of content and we’ve rarely seen them slow down during stress tests.
Having said that, the results do differ slightly depending on the specific cloud hosting service you’re using. Cloudways gives you the opportunity of choosing between five different services – DigitalOcean, Linode, Vultr, AWS, and Google Cloud. Those last two are easily the best of the bunch but they cost significantly more. Meanwhile, DO, Linode and Vultr are evenly matched both in terms of price and performance. DO came out on top during our Linode vs DigitalOcean and Vultr vs DigitalOcean comparisons, but that was before Vultr launched its high-frequency servers. These days, Vultr is probably your best bet if you’re signing up with Cloudways.
In addition to benefiting from an infrastructure comprised of dozens of data centers scattered across the globe, Cloudways also uses multiple advanced caching technologies to boost the performance even more. All hosting packages come with support for Memecached, Nginx, Redis, and Varnish. SiteGround doesn’t use Varnish or Redis while Nginx and Memecached are only available with tier 2and tier 3 plans. As far as the location coverage is concerned, it’s not even a contest. SiteGround lets you pick between 6 locations while Cloudways lets you choose between 17 at Vultr alone.
Up until this point we only compared Cloudways with SiteGround’s shared hosting service but it’s worth mentioning that the latter offers cloud hosting of its own. We talked about it at length in our SiteGround vs DigitalOcean comparison so we won’t go into too much detail here. Suffice it to say that SiteGround’s managed cloud hosting service is faster and more reliable than its shared hosting, however, it’s also about a dozen times more expensive. The service is clearly aimed at businesses rather than individuals whereas Cloudways can be a good match for pretty much any type of user.
But regardless of whether you’re choosing SiteGround cloud hosting or shared hosting, you won’t have to worry about any significant downtime. The company offers a 99.9% uptime guarantee and we’ve never seen the service fall under than percentage during our testing. Meanwhile, Cloudways’ uptime guarantee goes up to 99.99% but, just like with SiteGround, that percentage is almost symbolic because your website will basically stay up all the time.
Pricing and Value
As previously mentioned, SiteGround doesn’t offer cheap cloud hosting and I’m afraid its shared hosting plans aren’t the most affordable ones either. With plans starting at $6.99 per month, SiteGround’s prices are a bit steep compared to those of main rivals like Bluehost or DreamHost. The company’s services are indeed worth the asking price since you get a lot of useful features in return, but the same cannot be said about the resources.
A basic $6.99/mo shared hosting plan will only net you 10 GB of storage and support for a single website. The package does not include a free domain name but it does come with free emails, a free SSL certificate, daily backups, CDN integration, and a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you’re willing to pay a bit more per month, you can unlock extra features and resources but don’t expect more than 40GB of storage with any of the shared plans. Needless to say, that’s quite low. For example, a company like A2 Hosting offers 100 GB with the basic plan and unlimited with all the others while also charging less.
By comparison, Cloudways’ prices are bit higher, ranging between $10 and $33.18/mo depending on which of the five providers you choose, but you get more resources and a lot more advanced features. Some of the highlights include auto healing, regular security patching, free website migration, dedicated firewalls, staging environment, the various caching options we discussed earlier, and more. It’s also important to note that you get exclusive access to resources whereas at SiteGround you’ll have to share them with other users. Unless you’re on a SiteGround cloud hosting plan of course.
Speaking of which, cloud hosting at SiteGround starts at no less than $110/mo, a lot more expensive than what you can expect to pay at any Cloudways partner, including AWS. Both services are scalable and customizable so there’s little reason to pick SiteGround over Cloudways if you’re looking to buy cloud hosting. The shared hosting service is a bit cheaper but we’re not entirely convinced that you’re getting more value at SiteGround because of the limited resources and the way the company’s payment system works.
Similar to rival companies like GoDaddy or HostGator, SiteGround’s special prices only apply for yearly or multi-annual plans. That means paying at least $83.88 in advance plus another $17.95 to register a domain name if you don’t already have one. You can opt for monthly billing instead but this would cost you no less than $19.99/mo for a basic shared hosting plan. Shared hosting providers that support monthly billing are indeed pretty rare but there are a handful of options out there that are a lot more affordable, such as DreamHost or Namecheap. As it stands, we can’t recommend using the monthly billing option at SiteGround at the moment.
Cloudways does things bit differently than SiteGround when it comes to pricing. Here, you only pay for the resources you use and there’s no need to pay anything in advance. You can sing up entirely for free and you will only be charged at the start of the next billing period. Free domain emails are not included so you’ll need to purchase those separately or host your mailboxes somewhere else. Similarly, Cloudways doesn’t offer domain registrations so you’ll have to keep that separately as well. While this can be a bit inconvenient, the pricing system for the hosting is simply fantastic and lets you set up a cloud-powered website even if you’re working with a very tight budget.
A couple of years ago Cloudways’ customer support didn’t have a good reputation, with many customers calling it too slow or too technical. Luckily, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore in 2021. All plans include 24/7 support via live chat and tickets as well as access to a knowledgebase that seems to get better and better as time passes. The main drawback here is that Cloudways locks phone support behind a premium add-on. Although that’s very common for cloud hosting providers, it is a shame to see this sort of system implemented at Cloudways.
SiteGround used to offer some of the best customer support on the market but that’s slowly starting to change. These days the company’s agents seem to be a little too preoccupied with pushing upsells, which is never a good sign. SiteGround also moved shared hosting priority support all way back to the final tier for no particular reason. To its credit, SiteGround’s customer support continues to be fast in spite of that and you can still get in touch with agents 24/7 via tickets, live chat or phone.
Ease of Use
If you’re already familiar with cPanel you’ll know exactly what to expect at SiteGround. The company is one of only three providers officially endorsed by WordPress and has some nice tools designed for working with the CMS, such as a one-click installer and an automated site migration plugin. WordPress staging environments are also available but are not included with the basic shared hosting plan unfortunately. Not a whole lot to complain about aside from that, though. While there are a couple of SiteGround alternatives that could be considered even simpler, for the most part, building and managing a website doesn’t get any easier than this.
Most cloud hosting services are aimed at tech savvy users but that’s not really the case with Cloudways. There’s no traditional cPanel here but the company has developed its own customer user interface that’s almost just as easy to use. Unlike SiteGround, Cloudways offers free WordPress staging environments with all plans and you also get access to a similar migration plugin should you want to transfer your website from a different hosting provider. That said, there are certainly some tools and features that do require some degree of technical knowledge and since the company doesn’t handle domain registrations, you’ll need to know how to point DNS records from a third-party registrar to Cloudways’ servers.
When you sign up for a managed hosting service you can expect your hosting provider to do a lot of the heavy lifting for you and that includes, among other things, taking care of any potential security-related issues. Both Cloudways and SiteGround are managed services so you can expect solid security solutions regardless of which one you pick. That said, we do think that Cloudways is a bit better in this area for a handful of reasons.
First off, with Cloudways you’re getting both daily backups and access to an on-demand backup & restore tool free of charge. SiteGround also offers both options but on-demand backups are not included with basic shared hosting plans. Another problem we found at SiteGround is the lack of anti-malware tools and dedicated firewalls, both of which are available at Cloudways along with certain unique features like auto-healing. SSL certificates are available for free in both cases but SiteGround makes you pay extra for domain privacy, a feature included for free by most shared hosting providers.
Cloudways and SiteGround offer a slew of useful features with their hosting plans. Here are the main highlights:
- 5 cloud services to choose from
- Dozens of data centers
- Pay-as-you go system
- Automatic and on-demand backups
- Free SSL certificates
- Free website migrations
- Advanced caching solutions
- Dedicated firewalls
- 3-day free trial
- Both shared and cloud hosting
- Free emails
- Monthly billing
- Automatic and on-demand backups (with some plans)
- Free SSL certificates
- Free website migrations
- Free phone support
- 30-day money-back guarantee
Cloudways vs SiteGround – Our Pick
This wasn’t an easy decision to make but we ultimately have to go with Cloudways. Cloud hosting is significantly better than shared hosting and Cloudways gives you easy access to five of the best services on the market. Although SiteGround has its own cloud hosting service, the plans are prohibitively expensive for most users.
- Performance: SiteGround put up a good fight but Cloudways easily wins this first round in spite of that.
- Pricing and Value: SiteGround may be somewhat cheaper than Cloudways but it’s still too expensive compared to other shared hosting providers. Besides, Cloudways’ free trial and pay-as-you-go system are an incredible opportunity for users on a budget.
- Customer Support: SiteGround’s customer support is marginally better than what you will find at Cloudways but that may very well change in the near future. Still, SG wins for now.
- Ease of Use: Cloudways is very easy to use compared to most cloud hosting providers but getting started with shared hosting is certainly a bit simpler. This round goes to SiteGround.
- SEO: Don’t expect much help with SEO from either of these services, save for the usual tutorials and guides you can find pretty much everywhere these days.
- Security: SiteGround’s security features aren’t too shabby but overall the company can’t hold a candle to Cloudways in this department.
- Scalability: Shared hosting isn’t designed with scalability in mind, but even when looking at SiteGround’s cloud hosting service, it still falls short of what you can get at Cloudways.
Cloudways continues to hold true to its promise of simplifying cloud hosting for everyone. Great performance, impressive features and an excellent bang for your buck make Cloudways very easy to recommend. In addition, there’s even a free 3-day trial that requires no credit card to help seal the deal.