As one of the most popular content management systems in the world, WordPress has completely revolutionized the way people create and manage sites. It’s easy to use, powerful enough to create some amazing digital spaces, and has the flexibility to be used by personal bloggers, big corporations, and e-commerce sites. It’s no surprise that managed WordPress hosting has become so popular in the last decade.
Unlike traditional hosting services, WordPress hosting is specifically designed to work with the unique requirements of WordPress. Providers take care of all the fine technical details, ensuring that your site runs smoothly no matter what. All you have to worry about is creating and updating your site.
Two names have made quite the splash in the hosting world. Cloudways and Flywheel both offer managed services to host your WordPress sites. While other providers tend to offer WordPress hosting as an afterthought, these two companies only provide this unique service. They’re committed to giving you reliable service and impressive service.
But which one is better?
While Cloudways and Flywheel offer similar services, the two companies perform the job very differently. To help you decide which brand is right for you, we’re going to examine what they have to offer. We’ll compare their service and features while giving you a low-down of how they’ll affect your experience as a customer.
About Cloudways and Flywheel
Cloudways and Flywheel are both relatively new to the hosting world. However, that hasn’t stopped them from making some great strides in the industry. Cloudways was established first back in 2009. Originally, the company was founded in Malta. The provider is still based in Malta, but they also have offices in Dubai and Spain.
Flywheel got its start in 2012. The company was founded in Omaha, Nebraska, in the United States. It continues to call Omaha home and employs over 200 people at its head offices.
Both of these companies operate a bit differently than traditional hosting providers like Bluehost or SiteGround. Because they only offer managed solutions for WordPress, the service you get is a bit more detailed. Most providers leave you to your own devices. Cloudways and Flywheel can help you out during every step of the process and be more involved on the technical side of hosting.
A Closer Look at Managed WordPress Hosting
So, what exactly is managed WordPress hosting? To put it simply, it’s a service that’s purpose-built with developers and web designers in mind. This kind of hosting service is meant to be as simple and approachable as possible.
WordPress, as a whole, is easy to get the hang of. However, the same can’t be said about hosting. Web hosting can get complex pretty quickly. Not only do you have to worry about managing resources, but you also need to invest in security features, perform updates regularly, and more.
With a managed service, most of that is already taken care of for you. Rather than relying on your own knowledge or hiring a dedicated webmaster, you can let the provider take care of the crucial stuff.
Managed hosting is typically viewed as a more reliable and high-performing option. This is because of how your site is stored. With traditional shared hosting, all of your data is on a physical server in a remote data center. When a visitor accesses your site, they must connect to that data center to download the data.
Cloudways and Flywheel utilize cloud-based servers. Rather than storing your data on a single physical server, it’s split up and stored on the entire cloud network. This helps to improve global accessibility and speed. It’s similar to VPS hosting in the fact that you’re provided with a specific amount of resources. However, because it’s entirely managed, you don’t have to worry about customizing your site to take advantage of those resources strategically.
Cloudways vs Flywheel: Cloud Networks – Cloudways Wins
At their core, the service provided by Cloudways and Flywheel largely depends on the network they use. These two providers do not manage their own data centers like normal hosting companies. Instead, they partner with big cloud platforms. This is incredibly beneficial for you. With other providers, there’s really no way to ensure that the data centers are taken care of efficiently. You only have the company’s word to take for it. However, that’s not the case with Cloudways and Flywheel.
Cloudways supports several different networks from powerhouse corporations. This includes the Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Linode, Vultr, Digital Ocean, and more. The cool thing about Cloudways is that the company allows you to deploy the servers in a location of your choice. You can choose from over 25 different locations in the United States, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Flywheel doesn’t have as many options as Cloudways. In fact, the company wasn’t even in the same league as Cloudways in terms of cloud hosting until only recently. Flywheel first starting working with cloud networks in 2018. Before that, the brand used traditional data centers. As of 2020, the only network this provider uses is the Google Cloud Platform. You can choose to deploy servers in only five locations. This includes data centers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Australia.
Flywheel vs Cloudways: Performance – Cloudways Win
One of the most important things to consider before committing to a hosting provider is its performance capabilities. Today’s average web user expects blazing fast page speeds. Even a slight delay can cause a visitor to look elsewhere. Plus, poor performance can affect your search engine rankings.
Several factors contribute to performance. Across the board, Cloudways and Flywheel do pretty well. They both work on fast servers that are PHP ready. However, Cloudways comes out on top due to cloud platforms the company works with and the technology used.
Both Cloudways and Flywheel use a CDN, or content delivery network. A CDN helps to improve connection speeds for a global audience. If someone is trying to access your site from a location that’s far away from the location of the cloud servers, connection speeds decrease significantly. However, CDN nodes store cached versions of your site. So, distant viewers will connect to the CDN instead of the primary cloud server to achieve better load times.
Cloudways uses CloudwaysCDN. It’s a proprietary CDN that can be implemented in just a few clicks. Flywheel uses a CDN from Fastly, which is an established CDN provider.
A good cache can help deliver great performance, too. Parts of your site are loaded by the cache quickly, making the site respond faster for your visitors. Flywheel uses an in-house engine called FlyCache. It works alongside the CDN to load content quickly regardless of where someone is accessing your site from. The best part of FlyCache is that it also works with common plug-ins and themes.
Again, Cloudways goes above and beyond to ensure that your site is performing its best. The provider doesn’t just use one caching system. It uses many of them! You can take care of an optimized stack that includes Memcache, Nginx, Varnish, and Redis.
Cloudways vs Flywheel: Overall Reliability – Cloudways Wins
What good is a hosting service if the servers are down? The main job of a hosting provider is to keep your site up and running. While a 100 percent uptime rating is ideal, issues can prevent servers from operating smoothly. This results in your site going offline, which could hurt your bottom line and affect your reputation with visitors.
Both Cloudways and Flywheel have great uptime ratings. Generally, cloud-based hosting is more reliable than traditional forms of hosting. So, good reliability is to be expected. Flywheel offers a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee. Cloudways one-ups Flywheel a bit by offering a 99.999 percent uptime guarantee.
To provide a bit of peace of mind, both providers also have auto-healing technology. Essentially, the servers will automatically restart when issues occur. This resolves problems in most cases, reducing downtime significantly.
Flywheel vs Cloudways: User Experience – Draw
Across the board, Cloudways and Flywheel do a decent job of improving the user experience. After all, managed WordPress hosting is all about simplicity. However, you may encounter some issues if you’re not used to working with a managed service provider.
You see, Cloudways and Flywheel do not use cPanel. cPanel is a widely adopted control panel that’s easy to use. It’s used by most providers, making it easy to move from one brand to another. Because these companies only offer WordPress hosting, they do not use cPanel. Instead, they have their own custom-designed control panels.
Luckily, both of them are made very well. They’re actually a bit more modern and user-friendly than cPanel. You won’t have as many control options as you would with cPanel. But, you can perform all of the essentials like manage SFTP access or install plugins.
Cloudways vs Flywheel: Flexibility – Cloudways Wins
Now, let’s talk about flexibility. WordPress is one of the most versatile content management systems out there. It’s completely open-source, opening up a world of possibilities on how you want to use it. To take full advantage of that, your hosting provider must be able to accommodate its open-sourced nature.
We’re happy to say that Cloudways and Flywheel do a good job of that. You can install popular plugins, use custom themes, and more straight from the control panel.
With that said, we have to give a shot-out to Cloudways. The service provider offers a bit more flexibility than Flywheel. Not only can you perform one-click installs of several apps and scripts, but you don’t even have to use WordPress at all.
Cloudways also supports Joomla, Drupal, Magento, and more.
Flywheel vs Cloudways: Security – Draw
Security is paramount when you’re hosting a site. Viruses, DDoS attacks, and other forms of malware can bring your site to a grinding halt. Plus, a lack of adequate security features can put your visitors at risk for identity theft, privacy issues, and malware attacks.
Flywheel and Cloudways go to great lengths to avoid all of those problems. Because they only offer managed cloud hosting solutions, most of the security details are taken care of for you. They will both perform regular WordPress security updates and have two-factor authentication for peace of mind. Dedicated firewalls and regular backups are available as well.
Both providers offer free SSL certificates as well. An SSL certificate encrypts the connection between the host server and the client device. It’s a must-have for modern websites. Most people won’t even visit a site unless it has an SSL certificate. Cloudways offers a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate. Meanwhile, Flywheel offers a SimpleSSL powered by Let’s Encrypt.
Cloudways vs Flywheel: Must-Have Features
Extra features are what sets a provider apart. When compared to competitors like Kinsta and WP Engine, Cloudways and Flywheel have a lot to offer. It’s important to remember that these two providers are not like others on the market. Thus, you’re not going to get some common staples like domain name registration or web site building tools. Instead, you’ll be able to utilize innovative tools that improve your workflow.
For example, Cloudways and Flywheel both have staging site features. Essentially, site staging is a way to test out new content on your site before it goes live. It gives you the chance to catch mistakes and performance issues in the staging area before your site is published to the masses.
Both hosting providers also have free site migration. This is especially useful if you have an existing site that you want to transfer over to a new provider’s servers.
If you’re a part of a larger team, Flywheel and Cloudways both have collaborative tools. You can grant and revoke access, limit what team members can do, and more.
Flywheel vs Cloudways: Customer Support – Cloudways Wins
Managed WordPress plans are the best hosting solution if customer support is your top priority. For both of these providers, customer service is very important. This is obvious with the sheer number of resources at your disposal.
You can access detailed knowledgebases on the Cloudways and Flywheel websites. There, step-by-step guides and troubleshooting documents can help you find solutions to many common problems.
If you need help from a real person, the providers have you covered. Both have a handy ticketing system, email support, and live chat. You can even call a real person over the phone for one-on-one help.
Cloudways manages to win over Flywheel yet again when it comes to customer support. The reason is that Cloudways support is available 24 hours a day. At Flywheel, you can only contact someone on chat or through the telephone during business hours.
Cloudways vs Flywheel: Plans and Pricing
Finally, let’s take a quick look at some of the hosting plans offered by each provider. The pricing structure varies quite a bit between the two hosting platforms. Cloudways uses a pay-as-you-go pricing model. Your monthly fees depend entirely on the resources you have and the cloud platform you’re on. With Flywheel, pricing mimics a more traditional model with various tiers.
As we mentioned Cloudways charges you for the resources you use. For the sake of simplicity, we’re going to include the starting price with the minimum resource allotments for each cloud platform.
The base plan for hosting on a Digital Ocean server includes 1 TB of bandwidth, 25 GB of SSD storage, and 1 GB of ram. The server itself uses a 1-core CPU.
Pricing: Starting at $10 per month or $0.139 per hour. A great option for serious bloggers or those who are starting a blog with big intensions.
The Linode base plan includes 1 TB of bandwidth, 25 GB of storage, and 1 GB of RAM.
Pricing: Starting at $12 per month or $0.167 per hour
Includes 1-core processor, 25 GB of SSD storage, 1 TB of bandwidth, and 1 GB of RAM
Pricing: Starting at $11.00 per month or $0.0153 per hour
Includes 1.75 GB of RAM, 1 vCPU core, 20 GB of storage, and 2 GB of bandwidth
Pricing: Starting at $36.51 per month or $0.0507 per hour
Includes 1.7 GB of RAM, 1 vCPU core, 20 GB of storage, and 2 GB of bandwidth
Pricing: Starting at $33.30 per month or $0.0463 per hour
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With the Tiny Plan, you can create a single WordPress site with 5GB of storage. You also get about 20 GB of bandwidth, which is enough for about 5,000 visitors a month.
Price: $13.00 per month, billed as $150.00 annually
The Starter Plan bumps up the storage allotment to 10 GB. You also get 50 GB of bandwidth for approximately 25,000 visits a month.
Price: $25.00 per month, billed as $300.00 annually
Geared towards freelance developers, this plan lets you create up to 10 sites. It includes 20 GB of disk space and 200 GB of bandwidth, which is enough for about 100,000 monthly visits.
Price: $96.00 per month, billed as $1150.00 annually
With the Agency Plan, you’re getting 50 GB of storage and 500 GB of storage. This is enough for 400,000 visits a month.
Price: $242.00 per month, billed as $2900.00 annually
The Final Verdict
While we appreciate what Flywheel has to offer, Cloudways is clearly the better option. Cloudways has been around for a bit longer and has been able to develop those important technologies. Plus, the service provider gives you more options. It works with several cloud platforms, allowing you to get the performance and capabilities you need. Thanks to the pay-as-you-go pricing model, you’re also only using the resources you need.
Ultimately, it’s a cost-effective hosting solution that can serve anyone well. When you factor in Cloudways’ great technical support and managed services, it’s a win all around.