There are tons of great hosting options available, and tons of different types of plans. There’s shared hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated hosting and of course managed WordPress hosting. One we haven’t covered yet though is cloud hosting. Cloudways is an awesome hosting company that specializes specifically in managed cloud hosting, and they have tons of great features that we just have to share with you.
Cloudways Managed Cloud Hosting Giveaway (OVER)
Cloudways has been nice enough to give us three $100 hosting credits to giveaway to our readers. With monthly plans starting as low as $5 per month, you could use the prize to run your blog for over a year! So what are you waiting for? Use the rafflecopter widget below to enter for your chance to win!
Now that you’ve had a chance to enter, we want to introduce you to Cloudways and all the great extras that come with their managed cloud hosting plans. Then we’ll walk you through all the steps of getting your WordPress website setup using Cloudways. Let’s get started!
Cloudways Managed Cloud Hosting Features
Cloudways offers managed cloud hosting. This means that they configure your servers, they patch them, and they apply updates to your application software. You don’t have to lift a finger. Speaking of patching, all cloud servers on Cloudways PaaS get automatic firmware and OS patches so you don’t have to worry about the security of your server. And all servers & applications are tucked away behind secure firewalls to prevent unauthorized access or hacking attempts. So to summarize, you don’t have to worry about your cloud server at all. Cloudways has everything covered.
They also offer 1-click WordPress installation (in addition to many other website options). When setting up your account all you have to do is select WordPress as your application of choice, and it will be automatically installed when you launch your server. This means you can skip the tedious steps for manual WordPress installation, and spend more time focusing on your website content.
As we briefly mentioned before, Cloudways has automatic WordPress updates. When WordPress releases an update it will automatically be applied to your server. This way you don’t have to worry about your website if you take a long holiday, or are away from the office for a while – Cloudways has you covered. Plus, you’ll even get a nifty confirmation email like this one when each update is processed.
Every cloud uses dedicated cloud servers. This way you can have full control of your server and can make tweaks to your server settings whenever you’d like. There are lots of useful options in the “Server Manager” tab within your account that you can use to optimize your server (although we strongly recommend you only mess with these settings if you know what you’re doing).
1-Click SSL is another great feature that adds an extra layer of security to your website. Just use the options in your account manger to add SSL and configure your settings.
Cloudways also allows unlimited domains. This means you can add as many or as few websites as you’d like to your server. Cloudways doesn’t put a limit on how many websites you can add. They also offer built-in staging mechanisms, so you can build and test your new website before taking it live. Plus all of their servers are scalable. This means that as you need more server space and resources, all you have to do is increase your server size from your Server Management page. Since you can scale your server up as needed, it’s easy to ass more websites and grow your business with Cloudways.
If you’re using Cloudways for your business website, you’ll probably also require email setup at some point to send newsletters or followup emails to your readers and clientele. Cloudways makes it easy by offering a number of email add-ons. You can setup inboxes and start sending transactional emails simply by adding an email client to your account (there are currently free and premium options available).
Another infinitely important feature that any good hosting company should have is 24/7 support. No matter what time of day or night, you can chat with a friendly support tech or submit a ticket. Cloudway’s awesome team is always there to help.
Already have a website hosted elsewhere that you’re thinking of moving over to Cloudways? No problem. Migrating your website from your old host to Cloudways is easy. Once you’ve created an account and setup your server, there is a WordPress migration tool you can download and use to painlessly move your website.
Lastly, they do offer an awesome 30 Day Trial. If you’re not sure, take Cloudways for a test drive with their 30 Day trial (no credit card required). We’re sure you won’t be disappointed!
Cloudways Account Features
Above we covered some of the many awesome features included with Cloudways’ managed cloud hosting, but they also have a bunch of great and easy to use featured baked right into your Cloudways account manager. When you log into your Cloudways account you’ll be greeted with this friendly screen.
From here you can quickly access your account details, previous invoices, system status updates and more. There is also a quick link to support, so it’s easy to ask for help when you need it. If you click on the gold “Application Console” button, you’ll be taken to your servers page. Here you’ll find your account features.
Create A New Server: This should be pretty self explanatory. When you want to add another server to your account, just click here to configure and launch your new server.
My Servers: This is the main page when you go to your Application console. From here you can view and manage all of your active servers. If you’re using Cloudways to create and manage client sites, you can quickly and easily view them all from this screen.
Addons: Want to add an email client to your account? By going to the Addons tab you can subscribe to SendGrid SMTP, DNSMadeEasy, Rackspace Email, or Gmail SMTP. Just keep in mind that some of these options are premium, and the addition fee will be added to your monthly Cloudways invoice.
Team: This is a great feature for growing businesses. With Cloudways, you can add as many team members as you’d like who need access to your servers. Simply click to add a new member, add their information and set their access options.
Member Area: This is a quick link back to the main page when you log into your account.
Now that you know where to find all of your account information, let’s get into our Cloudways managed cloud hosting guide. We’ll show you just how easy it is to setup your server and start your own WordPress website with Cloudways.
Setting Up WordPress Hosting With Cloudways
Once you’re signed up with Cloudways it’s easy to setup your WordPress site. To get started, log into your account and click on the gold button to go to your “Application Console.”
1. Create A New Server
If this is your first time logging in, you should be automatically directed to the “Create A New Server.” If you aren’t, just click on the menu item to go to that page.
2. Select A Cloud
The first part of setting up your server is to select a cloud. Currently Cloudways offers two options.
DigitalOcean is the more budget friendly of the two cloud options. One of the fastest growing cloud options available on the web, DigitalOcean is relied upon by many developers around the globe. Features include SSD storage, 6 datacenters in 3 countries, unlimited bandwidth and smaller servers.
AmazonWebServices is your second choice. “Amazon EC2” offers configurable disk size/bandwidth, 8 datacenters in 6 countries, and their servers can be scaled up or down. Amazon is a bit more expensive than DigitalOcean, but the added server flexibility and increased number of datacenters makes it worthwhile to consider.
For the purposes of our tutorial, we chose to use DigitalOcean.
3. Choose Your Application
With that our of the way, the next step is to choose your application. Cloudways offers support for many different website platforms, but most importantly they offer 1-click installation for WordPress (the other options include WordPress Multisite, Drupal, Joomla, Magento, Media Wiki, PHP Stack, Moodle, sugarCRM, Prestashop and Koken). For our tutorial we selected a single installation of WordPress.
4. Select Your Server Size
If you already know what server size your website will require, click on the “I know my server size” tab and select your server RAM size (512MB-48GB).
If you’re unsure, we suggest using Cloudways’ “recommend” option. With this option, the system will automatically recommend a server size for your website. Remember that you can always change your server size after you launch your site. If your website is a basic WordPress website with low number of visitors, then they recommend a 512MB server. It’s better to start small and scale up later when needed. But, if you have a good amount of traffic it is preferable to consult with the Cloudways 24/7 support team to get help selecting a server size. This way you website will have enough resources to support your traffic from the get go.
5. Server Location
The last step for setup is selecting a server location. The location choices displayed will depend on the cloud you selected at the beginning. The options in the screenshot below are based on our selection of DigitalOcean.
6. Launch Your Server
After making your selections, you’re ready to preview your payments options and hit the launch button!
Once you launch you should see a status screen that will estimate your configuration time. As each step is completed your wait time is updated. Now would be a good time for a quick coffee break. 🙂
When you come back your server will be all ready to go!
From now on when you go to your Application Console you’ll see all of your servers listed here with quick links to stop/restart/delete/add apps/clone your servers.
7. Server Management
Now that your server is setup, let’s see what other features and options are available to you. Click on the “Manage Server” button to open up your server settings.
Summary: Here you’ll find the same options relating to the management of your server that are listed on the “My Servers” page. But there is a very useful added option you should take advantage of straight away – editing your server name. In the “Summary” section type in a new name for your server, perhaps something you can remember (maybe use the name of the domain you’ll be hosting), and then click save. This will make it much easier for you and your team to identify servers listed on the “My Servers” page.
Monitoring: The graph shown is an easy way to monitor your CPU. This way you can visualize the amount of unused server space you have available, and when you see that amount shrinking considerable you’ll know it’s time to scale up your server.
Vertical Scaling: Need to scale your server size up? You can easily increase server size with just a few clicks (and if you chose AmazonWebServices for your cloud, you can also scale down your server using this option).
Manage Services: From here you can manage various services offered by Cloudways. This includes settings for Nginx (for static content), Varnish (caching), Memcached (database query caching), Apache (webserver) and MySQL (database). However, unless you know what you’re doing it’s best to leave these settings as is.
Server Settings: You can also edit your server settings from this page. Many hosting companies don’t have a server panel built into your account like this to make editing your server so easy. Again, just like with the Manage Services section, we strongly recommend that you don’t mess with these settings unless you know what you’re doing. But if you do know what you’re doing, this is an extremely helpful feature.
SSL Certificate: SSL is one of the many features offered by Cloudways, and it’s simple to add to your server from this page. If you plan on building an online store or a membership based website then SSL is a must have for you. Just click on the “Create CSR” button to get started. Remember that you will need to purchase an SSL Certificate from a reputable provider (such as GoDaddy or Namecheap), this module within your Server Manager is a way to first create the CSR required for your SSL Certificate, and then later install the certificate you purchase. If you need help checkout Cloudway’s support article on installing SSL Certificates.
Backups: Another server feature found on this page is your backup options. From here you can change your backup frequency as well as take a backup. Just click on the button to “Take Server Backup Now” and confirm.
Your backup will start immediately, and you should see a progress screen. Taking regular backups of your website is a key WordPress security measure that every user should be doing, so having it built into your server manager is a great feature.
Server Addons: This last section simply displays any of the email addons you have subscribed to.
8. WordPress Application Management
Now, if you scroll up to the top of your screen and click on the “Application Management” tab you’ll be able to access all of the information and settings for your brand new WordPress installation.
Access Details: Here you can find your staging URL, WordPress username and password as well as your MySQL access and SFTP information.
Domain Management: Add your domain name here with just a few clicks. Simply type in your domain URL, and make sure to point your domain over to your server (if you need help just click on the “More Details” link in this section). You will have to purchase a domain from a name server like GoDaddy, Namecheap or other company.
Restore: If something has gone wrong, you can always restore your website with a click of a button. Just go to the Restore tab and Cloudwabys will use the latest backup to bring your site back to the way it was.
Deployment via Git: Cloudways supports an option to use your Git repository to deploy code on your site. This is great for developers who might be working on custom WordPress themes or plugins. With deployment via Git you can update your code on Github and have your live website (hosted onCLoudways) display your more recent and up to date code (checkout this support article to learn more).
Application Add-ons: This section displays any available addons for your chosen website application. Since we selected WordPress, the WordPress migrator and upgrade tool are listed. These options many vary with application, and are subject to change.
Migrator Tools: If you need help moving your site from your old host to Cloudways, use the WordPRess migrator tool. Just download the tool and use Cloudway’s guide to help migrate your site.
Setting Up Your WordPress Website Hosted On Cloudways
Now that you’ve created your server, and learned all the ins and outs of its options and features, it’s time to build your WordPress website! In the “Application Management” tab for your server, click on the staging URL for your website (or your actual domain if you’ve already pointed it over), and use the username and password provided to login.
Ta-da! WordPress is already installed and ready to go. You’ll also notice that W3 Total Cache plugin is already installed.
If you prefer another caching method you can deactivate it, but it really is a great plugin (checkout our guide to using W3 Total cache if you want to learn more about this awesome plugin).
You’ll want to install a WordPress theme like normal. Go to Appearance > Themes to activate or add a theme.
We uploaded our Total WordPress theme. Depending on the theme you’ve selected there might be recommended plugins. If their are, install and activate those now.
Once you’ve activated plugins, you might see a notice to empty your cache if you decided to leave W3 Total Cache active. Go ahead and clear your page cache.
Now you’re free to change your permalinks, add more plugins, edit your settings, import any sample data for your theme, save your menus and start adding content. Once you’ve created and set your homepage, your website just might look something like this (I used Homepage 2 from our Total sample data).
In the screenshot above, make sure to checkout the WordPress Admin Bar. It’s full of useful links to edit the current page using Visual Composer (the page builder used with our Total theme), add custom CSS, edit performance (these are caching options added by W3 Total Cache, including a quick link to empty the cache), and more.
And that’s basically it. If you’re using a staging URL for now, make sure to purchase and point over your actual domain to your Cloudways server so you can go live with your website. Other than that you should have a working knowledge of how to setup Cloudways managed cloud hosting for WordPress.
Cloudways is a fantastic hosting option for any WordPress site. Easy features such as 1-click WordPress installation, helpful 24/7 support and scalable servers make Cloudways a great option for beginners. We give them a 4.6 (since you still have to manage some features yourself), but more seasoned developers will love the easy access to server settings, and the integration of options for deployment via Git (great if you’re working with custom WordPress themes). These are just some of the features of Cloudways managed cloud hosting. To learn more, visit their website.
And now over to you! Have you tried Cloudways before? We’d love to know what you thought of their managed cloud hosting. Let us know in the comments below.