There’s one thing that bugs when trying to research who is better out of WP Engine vs Cloudways. That is, most of the ‘reviews’ tell you nothing useful at all.
Instead of being data-driven and objective, they are packed full of regurgitated affiliate spam content. They favor the hosts that pay the biggest affiliate commission while ignoring the ones that perform the best.
Well, I can promise you this will not be another one of those articles.
I’ve been a WP Engine customer for over eight years. I’ve recently migrated my websites to Cloudways and have been a customer for the last eight months. I log into WP Engine almost weekly as I still have some clients with them.
Yes, this post does have affiliate links – you not do have to click them if you do not want to – I couldn’t care less.
What I do care about is giving you the 100% truth on who is the best so you can make the right investment for your business.
So if you are trying to decide between WP Engine vs Cloudways, you’ve come to the right place.
Let’s get started.
TLDR; WP Engine vs Cloudways – Which is better?
Okay, let’s get straight down to the point.
WP Engine is better if:
- You want a quick and easy setup.
- You have little technical knowledge. For example, if you don’t know what an SMTP is.
- You want local phone support without paying extra for it.
Cloudways beats or matches WP Engine in almost every other way.
I’ll summarise the main areas below:
My WordPress website performance increased after migrating from WP Engine. And no, I didn’t make any changes to my website after I moved it. From a technical perspective, my TTFB, FID and LCP improved. CLS remained about the same. Do you have no idea WTF I just wrote? All good – here’s an article I authored that explains it all.
Value for Money
Cloudways offers dedicated cloud servers for less money than what WP Engine charges for a shared server. If you don’t know what that means, imagine a shared web server as shared accommodation. Dedicated servers are like having your place – you choose who you let inside. Additionally, dedicated servers offer better performance, security, and reliability.
With Cloudways, you only have to pay how much resources your web server uses. At WP Engine, you pay the same amount even if you don’t come close to using all your web server’s resources. Cloudways’ billing model is more transparent and fairer for the customer.
With WP Engine, you can only host WordPress websites. With Cloudways, you can host Magento, Drupal, PHP applications, and many more beyond WordPress.
Cloudways offers 65+ locations across five continents (North & South America, Europe, Asia, Australia). WP Engine offers 20 locations on four continents (North America, Europe, Asia, Australia). If you are a local business, with Cloudways, you have a better chance of selecting a server that’s closer to your audience’s geographic location. This will help to decrease load times.
Free Trial with No Credit Card Needed
Best of all, you can set up your Cloudways server and pay nothing at all for three days. Don’t take my word for it – take Cloudways for a test drive and see if it meets your expectations. If you don’t like it then don’t use it. They won’t even take your credit card during the trial so you have zero risk of being charged.
What is WP Engine?
WP Engine is a website hosting service for WordPress sites. The company’s headquarters is in Austin, Texas. WP Engine provides various services related to WordPress, such as automated backups and caching. The company has separate virtual machines (VMs) for WordPress sites, which you can set up in minutes.
You could consider WP Engine a fully managed WordPress hosting service. This means you don’t need to administrate your website sever in the same manner as you would, say, an AWS server. However, you don’t control the physical hardware or operating system as that’s taken care of by WP Engine.
What is Cloudways?
Cloudways is a fully managed cloud hosting platform. The company is headquartered in Pakistan, with offices in Malta and Spain. Unlike WP Engine, you have more control of the physical hardware and operating system of your WordPress server.
With Cloudways hosting you have full administrative access to your server’s backend files. You are also not only limited to WordPress as you can install a range of different CMS and web applications to your servers.
WP Engine vs Cloudways – Buying Decisions
When it comes to selecting the best WordPress host for your business, there are several buying decisions you need to consider. The top ten buying decisions I recommend my clients consider when selecting a website host are:
- Customer support
- Value for money
- Ease of use
- Server locations
- Added value features
Feel free to click on any one of those links above to skip down to my detailed breakdown.
WP Engine vs Cloudways – Web Server Infrastructure
Whenever possible, you should host your website on a dedicated cloud server. Most WordPress hosting companies sell shared web servers. Dedicated cloud servers offer significant advantages to shared servers. In most cases, they load faster and are more secure and reliable.
The number one reason why most WordPress websites are on shared servers is because of cost. Until Cloudways, dedicated cloud servers could only be cost-effective for larger businesses.
But when Cloudways entered the market, they completely turned WordPress server economics on its head.
You can get a Cloudways dedicated cloud server for less than the cost of a shared WP Engine server.
WP Engine only offers Amazon AWS or Google Cloud Platform for hosting infrastructure. Infrastructure choices are limited by the location you want your server to be in and by what hosting plan you choose.
With Cloudways, you get to choose between DigitalOcean, Vultr, Linode, Amazon AWS, and Google Cloud. Unlike WP Engine, your choice of server platform isn’t limited to any type of plan.
WP Engine vs Cloudways – Server Performance & Speed
Comparing a dedicated cloud server with a shared server is like comparing a Ford to a Ferrari. Fortunately, I’ve been a WP Engine dedicated cloud server customer for over six years. After migrating my website from my WP Engine to Cloudways, I noticed a decent increase in performance.
Although I don’t have a GTmetrix screenshot from when my website was on WP Engine, I did note down the areas where performance increased:
Time-To-First-Byte (TTFB): How long it takes for your webserver to start becoming visible once requested. This is also known as largest contentful paint (LCP).
First Input Delay (FID): How long it takes for your website to respond to a user’s input.
Fully Loaded Page time: How long it takes for your webpage to fully render.
The only other core web vital metric that I didn’t list was Cultimateive Layout Shift (CLS). I did not notice any difference in this metric when transferring from WP Engine to Cloudways.
It’s important to note that each website loads differently. Because my website was faster on Cloudways doesn’t mean yours will be too.
The best way to know is to clone your website to Cloudways and conduct a performance test.
You can do this without needing to pay for Cloudways by signing up for a free three-day trial here.
Recent tests show that DigitalOcean, Vultr, and Linode outperform Amazon AWS and Google Cloud when it comes to WordPress.
This could be the main reason why websites load faster on Cloudfare vs. WP Engine
For small WordPress blogs and small business websites, I recommend choosing the DigitalOcean server.
For WordPress WooCommerce/eCommerce websites, I recommend choosing the Vultr High-Frequency server.
Make sure you choose the server location that’s closest to where your primary audience lives.
WP Engine vs Cloudways – Server Security
Both Cloudways and WP Engine are managed hosting providers. What that means is they manage your website server’s security as part of the service. This isn’t to be confused with your WordPress website security, which is something you need to manage yourself.
The main security difference between the two is Cloudways only offers dedicated cloud servers. WP Engine does offer dedicated cloud servers. However, they are considerably more expensive when compared to Cloudways. That’s why most self-managed WP Engine servers are on shared hosting.
By design, dedicated cloud servers are more secure than shared web servers. With shared web servers, you are sharing the same server space with a bunch of other websites. If one of those websites that you are sharing the server space with gets compromised, the rest of the servers in the space can be compromised.
With dedicated cloud servers, you don’t have to worry about that problem. That’s because only your website exists within the server space, reducing the risk of your security and data being compromised.
WP Engine vs Cloudways – Reliability & Uptime Sevice Level Agreements (SLAs)
What’s the point of having a website if it doesn’t load? Fortunately, both WP Engine and Cloudways are considered to be some of the most reliable WordPress hosts on the market today.
Cloudways’ uptime SLA is dependent on the server infrastructure you choose to go with.
For example, jamesbanks.co is hosted on a DigitalOcean server which comes with a 99.99% uptime SLA.
You can view the SLAs for the other server hosts below:
WP Engine also offers a 99.99% uptime guarantee. You can view the WP Engine SLA here.
WP Engine vs Cloudways – Customer Support
Having good customer support can make or break the relationship with your website hosting provider. Even if you are technically-minded, there will always be a time when you’ll need to contact customer support to get an issue resolved.
I have had extensive experience with both WP Engine and Cloudways customer support teams.
Here are my conclusions:
- If you want a hosting provider that you can call on the phone and speak to a technician, go with WP Engine. Cloudways only offers phone support on their higher plans.
- In most cases, live chat is the best way to receive support for your website server. I’ve noticed WP Engine’s wait time to connect with a technician getting progressively worse over the years. My most recent experience had me waiting for 30 minutes before I could speak to a WP Engine via live chat. With Cloudways, I am connected to a technical within minutes every time.
- I’ve found WP Engine’s support technicians to be slightly more helpful than Cloudways. That’s not to say Cloudways technicals are no good – they get the job done just as well. WP Engine’s technicians tend to go the extra mile to ensure you have a positive customer experience.
In summary, if you want phone support, go with WP Engine. If you are happy with live chat-only support, go with Cloudways.
WP Engine vs Cloudways – Value for Money
The age-old rule when it comes to choosing WordPress hosts is to avoid the ones that charge a few dollars a month. The preconceived notion in the industry is that you get what you pay for. Especially when it comes to website hosting.
Until Cloudways came along and threw the hosting economics model out the window.
For example, my website costs about $30/month to run on a WP Engine shared server.
Since moving to Cloudways, I only pay around $10/month for a dedicated cloud server. For a third of the cost, I am getting better infrastructure and performance.
When it comes to value for money, Cloudways has WP Engine completely beat.
WP Engine vs Cloudways – Ease of Use
When it comes to getting a WordPress server up and running with your website running seamlessly, WP Engine does have Cloudways beat.
The only reason why WP Engine beats Cloudways is you need to set up your own SMTP for WordPress.
Setting up an SMTP is a rather technical process if you do not come from a technical background.
However, using an SMTP on your WordPress website is a best practice. It will allow for more reliable email sending and better performance overall.
If setting up an SMTP doesn’t phase you, Cloudways will be almost as easy to set up as WP Engine.
WP Engine vs Cloudways – Flexibility
With WP Engine, you can only run WordPress websites.
With Cloudways, here are the other applications that you can run in addition to WordPress:
- PHP (including Laravel framework)
- Yii 2
- Symfony 3
- Zen Cart
Cloudways also allows you to run multiple different applications on the same web server. This is particularly useful if you use WordPress as a ‘front-end’ marketing website and have a PHP ‘back-end’ application. Rather than having a WordPress server and let’s say, a separate AWS server, you can have all applications running under one account.
You also have full back-end server access with Cloudways. WP Engine’s base plans do not allow you to access the back-end of your server files. Only the more expensive plans with dedicated cloud servers give you this level of access.
WP Engine vs Cloudways – Server Locations
Hosting your website on a server that’s close to your primary audience helps to increase its performance. In layman terms, the shorter the distance between your web server and your customers, the faster it will load.
When it comes to the variety of data center locations, Cloudways has WP Engine soundly beat.
Cloudways offers 65+ locations in five continents: North & South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
WP Engine offers 20 locations in the following four continents: North America, Europe, Asia, Australia.
With Cloudways, you’ve got a better chance of placing your webserver in a city that’s closest to your main audience’s locations. This rule does not apply to truly international businesses but can make a positive difference for local businesses.
Also, if your audience is in South America, WP Engine does not offer any locations there whereas Cloudways does.
WP Engine vs Cloudways – Added Value Features
There are a few not-so-obvious features that separate Cloudways from WP Engine. I’ll outline the most useful ones below:
- You can only have one WordPress website on the WP Engine base plan. If you want to put another website on your server, you’ll need to pay more. With Cloudways, you can have as many WordPress websites as you like, even on the base plan.
- As WP Engine owns StudioPress, you get access to 10 StudioPress premium WordPress themes for free. StudioPress makes the best WordPress themes – it’s what I used to develop my websites.
- If you want to run a WordPress Multisite, you’ll need to pay extra on a WP Engine server. You can run as many multisite installations for free with Cloudways.
- With Cloudways you get access to Object Cache Pro for free. This plugin costs $95/month if purchased separately. Object Cache Pro is one of the best performance optimization tools available for WordPress. It is considerably better than WP Engine’s default object cache.
Aside from the free premium StudioPress themes, Cloudways beats WP Engine on added benefit features.
So there you have it – that’s my no B.S review on WP Engine vs. Cloudways.
I’ve trusted WP Engine to host my websites for over six years. It wasn’t until early 2021 that I realized just how much more I could be getting with Cloudways.
Since making the switch, I haven’t looked back. My site has never performed better. And now that I have wrapped my head around the Cloudways infrastructure, I prefer it over WP Engine.
If you haven’t made the switch to Cloudways, I highly recommend giving their free three-day trial a go.
You don’t even need to put in a credit card to access most of the features. Once you have cloned your website to Cloudways, run it through a GTmetrix performance test three times to see the difference.
What are your thoughts on WP Engine vs. Cloudways? Who do you trust with your website?
Let me know by leaving a comment below.