As you may know, I have been a strong advocate for Cloudways web hosting for awhile now. I have referred many people to Cloudways and I work with a lot of clients on Cloudways. Me likey some Cloudways.
But, something disappointing happened last week without any announcement at all.
Cloudways quietly dropped support for VPS servers from both Vultr and Linode. The only options they now offer are Digital Ocean, Google and Amazon.
To be clear, anybody with an existing account will see no changes at all. However, all NEW customers creating new accounts with Cloudways will no longer be able to choose Vultr or Linode as their provider. This is less than ideal because I’ve always been a fan of the Vultr High-Frequency servers. They are a wee bit faster and Vultr offers more data center options than Digital Ocean.
I shouldn’t be surprised by this. Cloudways was acquired by Digital Ocean last year. At the time, they said “for now” that nothing would change. Well, I guess “now” is over… because something just changed. Cloudways is clearly not keen on allowing their platform to be used to sign up for competitor server providers any longer.
To be clear, this does not change my recommendation at this time. I still like Cloudways. However, I admit I find the move disappointing.
From now on, if I refer anybody to Cloudways, they will have to use Digital Ocean servers. Amazon and Google wouldn’t make much sense for most people. I’m one that prefers more options… not less. And as I said, I personally think Vultr is a better provider than Digital Ocean.
So, let’s take a moment and canvas similar options outside of Cloudways. Not because I’m changing my recommendation at this time, but just for the sake of understanding the overall scene so people can be informed consumers.
Cloudways is basically a service that makes virtual private servers (or VPS) more consumer friendly. It partners with infrastructure providers for the server instances… and then provides the control panel for people like you and me to easily work with those servers. Without it, working with a VPS can be very, VERY nerdy.
Cloudways makes it’s money by charging more than the base rate of the VPS. So, for instance, a Vultr server that would run you $30/month via Cloudways would run you $12/month if you bought it direct from Vultr. It is worth it, though, because the server would be “raw” and difficult to use without Cloudways there to make it easier.
There are other services out there that do the same thing.
RunCloud is one such option.
Like Cloudways, RunCloud is basically a control panel setup for VPS servers. There are some differences between the setups, but the biggest difference between the companies is that RunCloud is very clearly only selling you their software and you will buy and manage your VPS servers from the provider directly. On the other hand, Cloudways bundles it all together so you pay for the entire package via Cloudways and have only one bill.
In terms of pricing, RunCloud starts to make a lot more sense if you start working with multiple servers. The control panel is one set price even for multiple servers – and you pay for the servers directly at the provider which costs much less. If you are hosting multiple sites, RunCloud starts to quickly become attractive.
Cloudways does “hold your hand” more than RunCloud. Cloudways seems to be a little less nerdy to use and also offers more add-on integrations that make it pretty convenient.
Another option is Gridpane. Like RunCloud, Gridpane is a software provider for the control panel to manage servers you pay for directly with the infrastructure provider. Their control panel isn’t as “pretty”, but it is capable and the software stack offers really solid performance. It is lacking the integrations and add-ons of something like Cloudways, though.
Interestingly, Gridpane is primarily positioned for agencies and people who want to resell hosting. However, they offer a Core plan absolutely for free. It has limitations, but it will provide their core control panel and you can manage up to 25 sites with it. You only pay for the VPS server itself (which is cheap), but you pay nothing for Gridpane.
And again, after all that nerd talk, I will say that all of these options are clearly more nerdy than something like, say, Siteground. Siteground will always cost more, however it is geared more toward people who frankly have no idea what they’re doing. And they do that pretty well. It is an “all in one” host that does all of it in one spot.
I like Cloudways because it provides the performance advantages of VPS in a pretty user-friendly way and it is just convenient. A good bang for your dollar, to be sure.
But, it is a shame that they’ve cut off new accounts from Vultr. I wish they didn’t do that.
As always, I will continue to keep you in the loop on my honest, pull-no-punches thoughts on the tools and services of the business.
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