It’s a bold statement, but launching a website has never been easier.
With wonderful site building platforms ( web builders ) like WordPress and a huge variety of hosting providers and services for every need and budget, there’s never been a better time than right now to start an online business, publish a blog, or finally bring your brick and mortar operation into the 21st century.
Herein lies the problem – how do you know which hosting company or hosting services to use. Most of us are pretty familiar with the typical options like shared, VPS, and dedicated web hosting. However, today we’ll be diving into managed WordPress cloud hosting and comparing two of the biggest names in the game today:
Cloudways and WPEngine.
Both of these innovative web hosts have managed to separate themselves from the pack by standing out in several ways. Both offer solid managed cloud hosting services for WordPress sites and a number of hosting plans to choose from.
They also provide access to cutting-edge hosting technology, expert support, and a managed hosting environment specifically geared to meet the dynamic needs of today’s WordPress website owners. As a result, they’ve each become extremely popular and are widely used by brands and businesses of every size.
That said, you don’t want to jump the gun. Your site’s success depends on the security, reliability, and performance of the company hosting it, so it’s important to consider everything Cloudways and WPEngine have to offer before you commit to one or another. While Cloudways and WPEngine are both big names in the hosting industry, the services they offer are not the same.
So which one should you choose? In this guide, we’ll compare Cloudways and WPEngine head-to-head. Both are very popular for different reasons and host millions of websites, so we already know they’re some of the best hosting companies in the game.
However, we’re going to dig in deep and give you all the info you need to answer the ultimate question:
Cloudways vs WPEngine – Which managed WordPress web host is the best?
About Cloudways and WPEngine
While they’re similar in many ways, Cloudways and WPEngine are two very different web hosts with their own unique stories. Since it’s always a smart idea to know a little about the company you’ll be entrusting your website with, let’s take a look at the history and backgrounds of these innovative managed WordPress hosting providers.
Cloudways’ mission is to provide customers with managed cloud hosting solutions, so they can focus on growing their business and not dealing with hosting headaches. Founded in 2009 and headquartered on the Mediterranean island of Malta, they have offices in Dubai and Spain as well. With an umbrella of high-tech server networks around the globe, they’re able to provide fast and functional cloud-based hosting for WordPress sites at an affordable price.
Based in Austin, WPEngine is a well-respected American hosting company specializing in fully managed hosting and WordPress solutions.
The web host was founded by Jason Cohen, Cullen Wilson, and Ben Metcalfe in 2010, and since then, the privately held company has developed a world class infrastructure with data centers in Tokyo, London, and the Midwest US.
As the name suggests, WPEngine exclusively focuses on WordPress, and their client list is as robust as their hosting platform features and fully managed WordPress services.
They consider themselves a “leading WordPress digital experience platform,” and this sums them up pretty well.
What Types of Hosting Solutions Do Cloudways and WPEngine Offer?
Both Cloudways and WPEngine offer a few different hosting plans to choose from. However, unlike traditional hosting, they’re both cloud-based, managed, and designed for WordPress. This means, there’s virtually nothing for you to do as far as getting and keeping your WordPress site online.
With cloud hosting, your website data isn’t just stored on one server; its stored on several servers located around the world. So, it’s a network of servers, otherwise known as ‘The Cloud.”
Cloud hosting is both speedy and infinitely scalable, which is why more and more companies and developers are choosing it.
In the world of cloud hosting, you’ll find two terms: managed WordPress hosting and fully managed WordPress hosting. Cloudways is managed, but WPEngine is fully managed, which means they pretty much take care of everything.
While Cloudways just manages your server and provides a ton of great features in the process, WPEngine manages your servers and your WordPress site. This includes updates, backups, and other important site-related issues.
That said, fully managed hosting services cost more than basic managed services like Cloudways. If you would rather spend less and manage your WordPress site on your own, which plenty of people prefer, than Cloudways is the better option.
Regardless of who you go with, both managed WordPress cloud providers offer a few different tiers tom choose from, so scaling is a breeze.
In fact, Cloudways offers five different pricing plans and cloud infrastructures to choose from, including:
• Digital Ocean
• Google Cloud
• Amazon Web Services
If you’re on a tight budget, the most affordable package is Digital Ocean’s Basic Plan at $10 a month. With it, you get 1GB of RAM, 25Gb of storage, and 1TB of bandwidth. The most expensive package is the $80 a month Google Cloud platform, which features 8GB of RAM, 160GB of storage, and 5TB of bandwidth.
WPEngine offers four high-powered packages for a variety of users. Their Startup Plan starts at $28 a month, allows for up to 25k site visitors a month, and offers up to 10Gb of storage and 50GB of bandwidth. The Scale Plan is the most expensive at $238 a month. It’s good for 25 sites, allows for millions of visitors, and offers up to 1TB of storage and over 400GB of bandwidth.
Cloudways vs WPEngine: Speed and Performance
Speed and performance is probably one of the most important things to consider when picking a web hosting company. Both Cloudways and WPEngine utilize some powerful hardware and technology to offer some of the fastest connection speeds in the industry.
As far as hardware goes, both providers spare no expenses and use top-of-the-line gear. Cloudways taps into the servers of five of today’s top cloud hosting providers. You get the same speed and performance offered by some of the biggest names in the game but the features and user-friendliness of the Cloudways platform.
Each of the providers Cloudways partners with uses cutting-edge NGINX SSD servers. There are also over 60 data centers to pick from with locations around the world to help ensure maximum speed as well.
WPEngine, on the other hand, utilizes Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform servers. Both are two of today’s best hosting providers, and their cloud services are known for speed, performance, and scalability.
Caching systems boost page loading times. Although these systems can work throughout your pages, they’re especially helpful for speeding up applications.
As mentioned, both Cloudways hosting and WPEngine use the advanced NGINX caching mechanism. However, they also use Varnish, and WpEngine uses Memcached as well, which is a plus.
Varnish and its reverse proxying abilities is great at giving content-heavy sites a much-needed boost. It also works wonderful with complicated scripts and dynamic APIs, so you can create visually stunning sites without sacrificing speed and performance.
Redis is also used for caching database queries. This trifecta of caching mechanisms allows both providers to deliver scalable, high-performance hosting services.
To top it all off, both Cloudways and WPengine’s caching systems support MySQL, and each runs applications using the latest updated version of PHP, Ruby, or Python – your pick.
Other Speed-Boosting Features
In addition to fast servers and advanced caching, both managed WordPress cloud hosts utilize HTTP/2. Their servers are also PHP7-enabled to keep applications loading without a hitch.
Both also take advantage of the Cloudflare content delivery network, or CDN, which many consider the best around. A CDN is basically a global network where sites and their content are stored for easy access, which is great for visitors located further away from the server data centers. Rather than waiting to connect to servers far away, content can simply be loaded and viewed from a CDN node closest to a user or visitor’s location.
Each provider offers lightning-fast load speeds, but Cloudways barely got edged out by WPEngine in our speed tests. While both stood out ahead of the pack, WPEngine had the slight edge, especially when testing the speed of larger sites with more dynamic content.
On average, WpEngine connected at 300 milliseconds, which is super-fast. Cloudways, on the other hand, connected at just above 400 milliseconds, which is pretty fast in its own right.
Cloudways vs WPEngine: Overall Reliability – WPEngine Wins
Reliability and uptime can make or break a hosting plan. Every second your site is down, you’re missing out on potential visitors and sales. Not only will your bottom line suffer, but your reputation and rankings in the search engines can also take a hit.
Fortunately, most cloud providers are able to provide excellent reliability and uptime, and these two companies are no exception.
Cloudways has partnered with many of today’s top cloud hosting provider, allowing them to boast an admirable 99 percent uptime when hosting sites on their managed WordPress cloud servers.
In our tests, Cloudways scored an average uptime of 99.6 percent. While this is nothing snuff at, WPEngine scored even better. In fact, they’re able to offer an awesome uptime of 99.99 percent. Only Vultr and perhaps a couple of other cloud hosts can claim to top this with 100 percent uptime and reliability.
Data centers are the lifeblood of any hosting service. They’re where your servers are stored and act as gateways connecting visitors to your site.
Cloudways gives you access to over 60 data centers run by their five cloud hosting partners. The centers are located throughout the world and cover each major region and city to ensure maximum coverage on a global scale.
WPEngine has plenty of data centers with locations around the world as well. In fact, they currently operate 18 data centers.
Since WPEngine uses Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services servers, they actually share some servers and data centers with Cloudways who also offers plans with these hosting giants. However, with Cloudways, you have dozens of other options at your disposal as well.
The way your site data is stored can make a huge difference in its performance. All of today’s best hosting providers use solid-state drives (SSD) over old-fashioned mechanical hard drives.
Solid-state drives rely on flash technology to deliver substantially higher transfer speeds. Both Cloudways and WPEngine provide SSD storage across for each of their hosting packages.
Cloudways vs WPEngine: Security Features
Security is a constant topic in the cyber world. Malware installations and DDoS attacks occur daily, so it’s important to do your part to make sure your site remains safe. In addition to protecting your visitors, your own data must also be protected.
Cloudways and WPEngine offer a slew of security features, many of which come standard with each of their hosting packages.
SSL Certificates – Draw
Nowadays, a website without an SSL certificate is a website that simply can’t be trusted. In fact, most web users just skip right past websites without one, and modern browsers let them know whether or not websites have them before they even get a chance to load.
The good news is both Cloudways and WPEngine offer free SSL with all of their plans. Both use the popular Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate, allowing you to encrypt the connection between your visitors’ devices and your host server.
Malware Protection – Draw
Malware protection allows you to keep your site data and content safe and secure from viruses, spyware, and more. Fortunately, both Cloudways and WPEngine are extremely secure.
All Cloudways plans come with OS-level firewalls to keep intruders and malicious software out. If you want to take your malware protection to the next level, you can also choose the Sucuri Application Antivirus and Firewall add-on starting from $149.99 a year. Although it comes at a cost, it will provide you with top-level protection from malware and DDoS attacks.
Meanwhile, WPEngine uses an active protection system involving multiple layers of security, proactive patching updates, two-factor authentication, and managed threat mitigation. This could give them a slight edge in terms of overall malware protection, but it’s too close to call, so we’ll say it’s a tie.
Backup and Recovery – WPEngine
Backups are a must for any WordPress site, and both Cloudways and WPEngine take care of this for you with daily backups and recovery points.
With both providers, you’ll be able to prevent data loss and easily restore your website in the event of a catastrophe. However, WPEngine also has an automatic disaster recovery system in place, so you can immediately recover on autopilot.
Managed WordPress Hosting – WPEngine
Cloudways and WPEngine are both managed WordPress cloud hosting providers. It’s what they do 24/7/365.
Unlike other hosting providers, their services are purpose-built to work with WordPress’ unique performance requirements. So, with either platform, you can expect strong reliability and blazing-fast speeds.
Both cloud hosts take care of all necessary security updates too, which means you’ll stay protected without getting over your head in the technical weeds. Plus, each offers one-click WordPress installation as well. WPEngine even claims to have your site up and running in under a minute.
All that said, WPengine is definitely much more “managed” than Cloudways. In fact, they take care of just about everything hosting and WordPress-related if you truly want to take a hands-off approach.
Cloudways vs WPEngine: Important Features
With the essentials covered, let’s move on to some other common hosting features.
Free Domain – Cloudways Wins
Cloudways wins this battle. They provide a free domain name with each of their managed WordPress hosting plans. WPengine, on the other hand, doesn’t.
Site Migration – Tie
If you already have a website and need to transfer it to a new hosting provider, you’ll be happy to know both Cloudways and WPEngine make site migrations easy.
Cloudways offers a WordPress migration plugin for free site migrations to a Cloudways server. It’s simple, easy-to-use, and free.
WPEngine uses a similar built-in tool to offer automated and stress-free site migrations. Plus, they have an entire section with step-by-step videos that walk you through the entire migration process.
Staging – Cloudways Wins
With staging, you can work on your WordPress website and make changes to test themes, plugins, custom code, etc., allowing you to preview your site without taking the changes live. This way, you can fix any mistakes and have your site looking and functioning its very best prior to being seen by site visitors and potential customers.
Cloudways delivers a complete staging feature, so you can comfortably work on your site without the need for cloning. It allows you to push and pull code while keeping your live site unaffected by the changes.
In addition to this, Cloudways also provides a staging URL. While we prefer the first staging feature, it’s nice to have choices.
WPengine, on the other hand, uses cloning to allow you to work on your site and test new features. It’s a different process, but basically allows you to do the same thing.
Cloudways vs WPEngine: User-Friendliness – WPEngine Wins
Cloudways and WPengine each offer cPanel, which is one of the hosting industry’s most popular platforms. It’s simple to use and allows you to control virtually everything about your website from a single place. It’s where you’ll manage your domains, databases, files, and more. It’s also where you’ll install your WordPress or Joomla plugins.
Cloudways also offers several features to make managing your WordPress site as easy as possible. Their support is pretty great too.
However, since WPengine is a fully managed WordPress host, they essentially take care of everything for you.
Cloudways vs WPengine: Customer Support – WPengine Wins
Even with the best managed WordPress hosting companies, you’re going to have a question or run into a problem and need to reach out for help at some point in time.
Cloudways offers expert 24/7 live chat support. For non-critical issues, you can also open a support ticket or access their extensive knowledgebase as well.
WPengine’s customer support is even more impressive. They have server and WordPress experts standing by to help resolve any hosting or WordPress issues that may arise. In fact, they have four in-house core WordPress contributors and plug-in developers.
You can contact WPengine’s support toll-free by phone during business hours and by email 24 hours a day. A live chat feature would also be nice, but their phone support is great for those who prefer a little more of a human touch.
Cloudways vs WPengine: Plans and Pricing – Cloudways Wins
Okay, now it’s time to get down to brass tax. So, how much do these two industry leading managed WordPress cloud providers charge for their performance, speed, and overall great hosting services?
Cloudways Managed WordPress Cloud Hosting Plans (by Hosting Partner):
Cloudways offers four plans for each cloud provider they work with. All of its Digital Ocean plans come with free SSL, built-in CDN, 24/7/365 support, automated backups, staging environments, and more. The only real differences between the plans is their server capabilities. The plans run from $10-$80 a month and feature:
• RAM – 1-8GB
• Processor – 1-4 cores
• Storage – 25-160GB
• Bandwidth – 1-5TB
The Linode plans from Cloudways come with all of the same great features, but their plans range in price from $12-$90 a month. For that you get:
• RAM – 1-8GB
• Processor – 1-4 cores
• Storage – 25-160GB
• Bandwidth – 1-5TB
The Vultr plans range in price from $11-$84 a month and also come with all of Cloudways great features as well as:
• RAM – 1-8GB
• Processor – 1-4 cores
• Storage – 25-160GB
• Bandwidth – 1-4TB
This is where Cloudways mixes it up. Of course, you get free ssl, site migration, automatic backups, and Cloudways’ other great features. However, for each of its AWS plans ranging in price from $36.51-$274.33 a month, you get:
• RAM – 1.75-16GB
• Processor – 1-4 vCPUs
• Storage – 20GB
• Bandwidth – 2GB
Cloudways’ Google Cloud hosting services are just about evenly matched with their AWS plans – except for price. The Google Cloud plans run from $33.30-$226.05 a month and come with:
• RAM – 1.70-15GB
• Processor – 1-4 vCPUs
• Storage – 20GB
• Bandwidth – 2GB
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WPengine Managed WordPress Cloud Hosting Plans:
Startup Plan – $25 a month
• 1 site included
• 25,000 visitors a month
• 10GB of storage
• 50GB of bandwidth
Growth Plan – $95 a month
• 10 sites included
• 100,000 visitors a month
• 20GB of storage
• 200GB of bandwidth
Scale Plan – $241 a month
• 30 sites included
• 400,000 visitors a month
• 50GB of storage
• 500GB of bandwidth
The Final Verdict
Cloudways and WPengine are two top-notch managed WordPress cloud hosting providers. With all of the speed, performance, and features they offer, it’s honestly a close call as to which one is better than the other. However, it has to be done.
WPengine is great if you want to take a completely hands-off approach to managing your website. They not only give you the tools, but they basically handle everything for you at a cost.
With everything Cloudways offers at such budget-friendly prices, they barely nudge out WPengine in our book. They give you the tools to have a blazing-fast WordPress site at a fraction of the cost, earning them a victory in this roundup.
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