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Moving a WordPress website – a Cloudways hosting review

I’d been hosting my site with Siteground for a number of years and in all honesty had a really good experience with them. However I’d been thinking about starting a new site and didn’t want to have to immediately double my hosting spend. I knew if I moved my website to Cloudways I’d be paying for a cloud server rather than shared hosting, and that would give me the flexibility to host more than one site on the server. I completed the process of moving my WordPress website from Siteground to Cloudways about 3 weeks ago and have written this Cloudways hosting review to share the details, good and bad.

The steps to move WordPress website to Cloudways

  1. Sign up to Cloudways and configure your server / hosting space
  2. Create your application
  3. Migrate database and files to Cloudways
  4. Refine the website set up by configuring caching, SSL etc
  5. Update DNS record to point domain name to new host
  6. Move email hosting if required

Signing up to Cloudways Hosting

This is obviously the first step and like everything else in the process I found this quick and easy. Click here to sign up to your FREE trial with Cloudways – it really does only take 5 minutes and you get a free trial for a week. All the user interfaces are clear and I never felt like any stage was difficult or that I had to search to find the information I needed.

Once you’ve provided your info (name and email address) you’ll need to choose which server infrastructure provider you want. I chose Digital Ocean and left the server size on 2GB. Lastly you need to chose a server location. The general rule of thumb here is to choose the location closest to your customers so that they benefit from the fastest response times. If you’re going to be hosting a ‘niche website’ from which you want to earn from display ads, then you’ll probably want to choose a US location, as that’s where most of the ad income comes from.

Choosing server provider and size in Cloudways hosting setup

Once you’ve verified your email you can click the ‘Launch Now’ button and you’ll then see this screen showing you your server. You can see in this image that mine took 7 minutes to be ready for me to use! You may also notice that the lower two thirds of screen is information provided by Cloudways which links to all the info you will need to complete the process.

Deploying your server on Cloudways hosting

Setting up the Cloudways server

Once the server’s set up click on it to see all the settings.

setting up cloudways server

Set your timezone, adjust the memory allocation if required, make sure the PHP version is what you require. You can always come back and adjust these settings later if you need to.

Create the Application in your Cloudways server

One of the key differences between the shared hosting account I had at Siteground and this type of hosting (a server), is that I can host multiple websites – or Applications – on the server. You add a new Application and while doing so choose which type of Application you want to add, in this case we’ll add a WordPress application. This will serve as the destination for your website when you migrate them.

Migrating the WordPress site to Cloudways

I took advantage of the ‘free migration service’ which is offered with each account, I believe they will give you up to 5 free migrations. The Cloudways support team were very responsive and clear, so after confirming all the details to them via email the migration process began. Only a few hours later I received an email saying my website had been migrated and it was available to view on a temporary staging url.

If you’d rather do the website migration yourself there is a WordPress plugin provided by Cloudways, the Cloudways WordPress Migrator plugin – which makes the process pretty simple. You can just search for it in the WordPress plugins admin area of your website (on the host you’re leaving).

When you check your website be sure to check that images and videos are showing and ensure all of your pages are present and correct. Other things to consider checking are:

  • your htaccess file
  • your permalink structure
  • your base url in WordPress website settings

Setting up Caching in a Cloudways WordPress hosting

The migration is basic, by which I mean they migrate the WordPress database, all the files including images and videos but they don’t do any caching setup. In my Siteground hosting account I had spent sometime setting up an SSL certificate, and optimizing caching to make sure my website loaded quickly.

Although none of that was set up in the Cloudways migration service, I was really impressed that fairly soon after the site was set up I received a couple of emails from the Cloudways bot bringing my attention to the fact that I didn’t have those features set up, and suggesting I did so as soon as possible. These emails included links to the relevant information making the process as quick and simple as possible. I received two emails, one notifying me that I did not have SMTP switched on, and one that I didn’t have caching set up.

They recommend using the Breeze WordPress cache plugin which they’d installed, but not enabled. Setting it up was pretty straight forward and I found fantastic articles in the Cloudways support website explaining everything, so I just followed the instructions.

setting up wordpress caching in Cloudways hosting

Pointing your domain name at your new hosting space

Cloudways provide a DNS made easy plugin though I didn’t use it so can’t review this. I can say I love the way they have genuinely tried to provide documentation and tools for every step of the migration process. You will need to change your DNS records with whatever company is the current registrar. This will be someone like Namecheap for instance.

People requesting your website from different locations around the world will have their request served by different nameservers. These nameservers update at different times. This means that when you change your DNS record there’s a period of time during which some people will be directed to the new host and some people will be directed to the old. When transferring your domain you can use this tool to see the changes as they happen across the globe.

https://dnspropagation.net/

Set up SSL Certificate

Once the domain name has been pointed at your Cloudways server you can set up your SSL certificate which is free and takes only a few minutes.

Cloudways email hosting

Cloudways don’t host emails like Siteground do, so I also needed to find somewhere to host my emails. Whilst Cloudways don’t offer email hosting themselves, they do provide an ‘add-on’ which let’s you set up mailboxes very simply, and the underlying service is provided by Rackspace.

Cloudways email hosting setup

If you wish to migrate mailbox data, you can use the self migration tool provided by Rackspace, or you can ask them to migrate the data for you.

Cloudways hosting review summary

I’ll start with the positives, of which there were many. I was very impressed by Cloudways support. The support tab is available from any page, it starts as a bot, you tell it the category of your enquiry, type your question, and the bot tries to answer and gives you links. If it doesn’t help you can click a ‘talk to a person‘ button. I used this many times and every time I had a very quick response. The support provided was top notch as well, apart from two occasions, which I’ll cover in the negatives section! It’s worth noting that one of the days I used support was a Sunday and the response time was the same as during the week, especially important if your website is a side project.

I found the Cloudways dashboard very clear, and love the fact they make all the information you’ll ever need very visible and easy to copy. For example your server IP address, your FTP log in details etc.

Overall I would definitely recommend Cloudways as a WordPress website host.

FAQ’s

What is Cloudways?

Cloudways is a company that provide managed cloud hosting solutions for web applications.

Is Cloudways shared hosting?

No. All their hosting solutions are provided on cloud based servers. You pay for a server and you can host as many websites on your server as you like.

Can you host emails with Cloudways?

You can, although it is a managed service provided by Rackspace.