LiteSpeed Hosting as
Cloudways Alternative

Part 2

  • Select the hosting plan with the LiteSpeed Web server and NVMe SSD storage
  • Choose a shared server geographically close to your visitors
  • Don’t go for the Cloudways hosting services – it is the worst value for money
  • Study the list of standard software suite which is provided in this report
  • Recognise that in the current market, the hosting provider size is its liability
  • Further analysis of the hosting providers can be found in our separate report
  • In the US or Europe, host your website with MechanicWeb – the best value provider
The article takes 22 minutes to read
Last modified on November 6th, 2021

This post is a part of our main research article

We wrote our main research article to inform a large community of web designers and business owners about the best inexpensive options for shared WordPress hosting. Our goal is to help you optimise asset delivery to achieve the best Core Web Vitals score by combining fast hardware, advanced security, and optimal caching.
Different WordPress groups on Facebook have the perfect symbiosis and coordination. This is teamwork. Some “experts” will try to convince you to switch to the “best” shared hosting plan with slow hardware, while others will try to convince you that there is nothing faster and more secure (sic!) than an unmanaged Vultr HF VPS on Cloudways. In both cases, affiliate fees are collected by misleading the unsuspecting public and convincing them to switch to the wrong service provider.
Many users are surprised to learn that there is a third option: Premium Shared Hosting providers with hardware as good or better than unmanaged VPSs. With cPanel, server-level malware protection, and LiteSpeed Enterprise, you get a much more secure experience and faster website loading speed from Premium Shared Hosting. For WooCommerce sites, the benefit is even greater. The best providers may not have an army of affiliate warriors behind them, but that does not mean their services are any less attractive.
Our main research article provides a quick overview of the best hosting options currently on the market. The following posts continue our research article.
  • Part 1. We give a detailed overview of the standard software options offered by all reasonable LightSpeed web hosting providers. Before you choose your hosting, you should read this chapter!
  • Part 2 (this post). You might read the detailed chapter explaining the cheating and fraudulent schemes of Cloudways and its affiliate community.
  • Part 3. We explain the technical details of our benchmarking study. Read it if you want to quickly test the actual quality of hardware resources provided by your hosting provider.
  • Part 4. Covers advanced hosting options for extremely busy websites. You should study this chapter if you are determined to switch to VPS hosting.

Recycling business

Most Data Centers, like Google, are struggling to recycle a significant number of outdated servers. Serious marketing budgets are spent convincing everyone that cloud services are of great value. Ads have flooded Google, Instagram, and Facebook. It doesn’t help that the admins of most Facebook groups related to WordPress communities earn money through affiliate links to Cloudways.  And it doesn’t matter if you get fewer CPU resources on cloud plans than you would from a much cheaper shared hosting provider. The privilege of being served by a household name like DigitalOcean or Vultr outweighs any technical considerations for the uneducated customer.
The Cloud Compute Engine service from Google runs on the same infrastructure that Google uses internally for its end-user products. Until recently, it was not the case. External services were recycling old server hardware on the N1 plans. According to Google documentation, customers on their N1 plan use a pool of outdated servers with DDR3 RAM, sometimes eight years old. At the end of 2020, Google has moved most corporate users to N2 or C2 plan machines, which have modern Cascade Lake processors from late 2019, and 2020.
It is ironic to see that Kinsta, who done extensive marketing in 2019 to advertise their ultra-fast Google Cloud N1 servers, is now reporting about 2.5 times improvement in the PHP processing speed on the modern C2 hardware.
PHP processing speed
Kinsta is now reporting about 2.5 times improvement in the PHP processing speed on the modern C2 hardware if compared to N1 servers.
Some of the plans on Cloudways might use outdated hardware similar to those used on N1 servers at Google. According to the sustained CPU endurance test, older Vultr hardware is about two times slower than newer C2 servers of the Google Compute Engine. Amazon EC2, DigitalOcean, Linode, and OVH are also much slower. Since Q1 2021, some new accounts on Linode are hosted on one of the best Zen 2 AMD EPYC 7542 servers with 3.2 GHz CPU Turbo frequency to avoid such embarrassment in benchmark tests. DigitalOcean also starts offering a premium option for AMD and Intel servers with NVMe SSD. The results of DO Premium are slightly lower than the benchmark results of Vultr HF. However, both are very close to the performance of SiteGround and Kinsta, which use C2 servers on Google Cloud Compute Engine.
At the beginning of 2022, Google is releasing a new virtual machine (VM) family, Tau VMs. The first member of the Tau VM family, T2D, is now available in Preview. The Google Cloud Tau T2D VMs deliver, on average, 50% higher performance compared to Intel Xeon hardware. Tau (T2D) VMs are based on the latest 3rd Generation AMD EPYC processors such as AMD EPYC 7543 servers. HF Vultr is trying to switch to the same servers in the future. The first AMD EPYC 7543 servers are already arrived in their data center in Tokyo.
While Google and Vultr might be excited about AMD EPYC Zen 3, its performance isn’t much different from widely used AMD Ryzen Zen 2 and Intel Xeon E-2288G servers. Several shared hosting providers already use 35% faster hardware, such as Intel Xeon E-2388G and Ryzen 9 5950x.

CPU vs vCPU

What is vCPU?

As an example, consider a server with four CPU cores, two threads per Core, and 32 GB RAM. By setting up eight shared vCPUs per Core, your hosting provider can get 32 vCPUs served on eight threads of the processor. Now, they can set up 8 VPS accounts, each with 4 GB RAM and 4 shared vCPUs.
Alternatively, your provider can also set up eight vCPUs – with one vCPU per thread. These accounts are called dedicated vCPU accounts. Each dedicated  VPS account can have 4 GB RAM and one dedicated virtual CPU.
Once a user account has created the processes, the hypervisor assigns vCPUs to the physical threads on the processor. Hypervisor limits the amount of time each vCPU can spend on a thread so that no process can occupy a processor thread for too long.
Consider an example where the server is less than 50% utilised. In this case, each shared CPU account can easily burst to four threads to serve its four vCPU processes simultaneously. In other words, you get 400% performance to serve the peak load. With dedicated vCPU accounts, you only get 100%.
Let us assume that the server is now running at 100% capacity. There is a limit to the amount of time each vCPU can spend on a thread. Hypervisor uses circular stacks to switch between all Virtual Machines and allocate freed threads to vCPUs. In other words, each of the eight busy accounts gets a thread on the CPU to fulfil its processes. Thread performance is no longer 100%. By reducing idle time, two threads sharing the same Core increase its efficiency to about 130%. About 65% (=130/2) of the original Core’s performance is available to each thread. Available CPU resources are now the same for both shared accounts with four vCPUs and dedicated accounts with one vCPU.
So, on a heavily loaded server, each account is guaranteed 65% of the Core performance. However, on an underutilised server, performance can go up to 400% for a shared vCPU account and 100% for a dedicated vCPU account. In other words, users should only expect up to 65% of the Core performance on both types of accounts. If their provider is keeping their server underutilised, they can receive a performance bonus of up to 400% on the shared vCPU plan and 100% on the dedicated one.
The fair continuous CPU load is no more than 60% of the CPU for both the shared and dedicated plans above. It allows you to give your processor some leeway. The 60% figure is equal to 15% of your RAM measured in GB. In the hosting industry, there is usually an eight-to-one ratio between the number of Cores and the size of the RAM in GB, so the 15% rule of thumb works well for VPS accounts with dedicated RAM. For shared hosting, the number is much lower depending on the plan; for more expensive semi-dedicated plans, it’s approaching 10%.
The vast majority of accounts on shared hosting with the LiteSpeed Web Server do not consume server resources. Server-side full-page caching means that brochure websites only use server resources when editing or updating plugins. A semi-dedicated shared hosting account can be used for accounts that constantly consume CPU resources to serve dynamic content. Such plans offer a lower account density with a higher average resource allocation.
Let us give specific examples. A semi-dedicated Premium shared hosting account from MechanicWeb with 6 CPUs and 8 GB RAM for $40 per month assumes continuous CPU usage of at least 0.8 CPU, which is higher than the 0.6 CPU at Cloudways with 2 CPUs/4 GB RAM for $50 per month. CPU on Ryzen 9 5950x servers used by MechanicWeb is about 70% faster than that of DO, Linode and Vultr HF. Although a semi-dedicated shared hosting account offers five times better burst performance to handle high peak loads, it is cheaper than Cloudways’ 4 GB plans.
Let us compare a lower-tier account. A semi-dedicated Prime shared hosting account from MechanicWeb with 3 CPUs and 3 GB RAM for $13 per month offers continuous CPU usage of at least 0.3 CPU, which is higher than the 0.15 CPU that Cloudways offers with its 1 CPUs/1 GB RAM plan for $13 per month. With the Cloudways plan, about 0.5 GB is used by the operating system, giving you 0.5 GB RAM to deploy your websites. The MechanicWeb plan is designed for continuous use of up to 2 GB RAM, a quadruple boost. The CPU with 1.7x speed can burst to three threads, providing five times better performance during high load .
Whether a hosting provider is good or bad depends on how rigorously they control the average load on their servers. You will get fantastic speeds for both your VPS and shared hosting plans if your hosting provider keeps the average server load at 50%. Your hosting provider will not be able to handle load spikes if the server processor thread utilisation reaches 100%. Even a low load user account will have a reduced CPU performance of 65% on a busy server. In both shared hosting and VPS hosting, performance on such overloaded servers is usually very volatile and slow.
The smaller shared hosting providers like MechanicWeb strive to offer the best user experience on underutilised servers. Linode, Vultr, and DO care much less about managing load on their shared vCPU servers, and you should expect them to be much more overcrowded.

vCPUs are noisy

Suppose the website is hosted on a dedicated shared server, under CloudLinux CageFS. Your hosting account has some pre-configured resource allocation in the form of a number of logical cores which can be utilised for your processes. Your processes have access to all threads of the CPUs dynamically allocated (as-needed) by Linux. You usually have 100% of this CPU core resource. Your hosting server provider assures this via monitoring that overall CPU utilisation on the server is below 60%. You need to change your shared hosting provider if they are not doing their utmost to keep server underutilised. An abusive account will be quickly identified by your provider, and they will resolve the problem by, for example, moving the account to a higher tier plan with lower customer density on the server.
Now, lets us understand how a similar scenario is implemented on Cloud services. Cloud services often give access to the shared vCPU, which represents a time share on a single thread of the physical core.  The number of threads running on the physical CPU depends on the host node’s utilisation at any given time. When all threads are busy, the hypervisor will queue vCPUs before allocating them to freed threads. When neighbouring instances consume maximum resources for extended periods of time, it may interfere with your instance’s performance, but the hosting provider does aim to limit such abusive instances to ensure performance for all customers on the host node.
Implications are not good. If you work on the Cloud server, the overall CPU utilisation is kept above 60% by selling cheap vCPUs resources for non-time-critical execution, which can be terminated and restarted, balancing the overall CPU load. Your single thread (vCPU) will be executed on a relatively busy CPU core with a good chance of running concurrently with another thread. So occasionally, you will be lucky to have 100% of the logical core for your processes. But frequently, you will get from 50% to 65% share of the CPU core resources.
Google_Cloud_noise
Above is the result of PHP benchmarks conducted using Google N2 servers in the London data centre. The significant noise in the data is not inherent to PHP tests. The PHP tests on MechanicWeb servers in Los Angeles (E-2288G) and Germany (Ryzen 9 5950x) illustrate this. Compared with a premium shared hosting service provided by MechanicWeb, Google Compute Engine appears slow and noisy. It is unclear why anyone would want to pay Google significantly more for compromised performance.  Unlike “premium” Google service that occasionally slows down nearly two times due to noisy neighbours, you could have a 1.9 times faster E-2288G or 2.4 times faster Ryzen 9 5950x. The decision to spend much more on hosting with potentially five times slower speed is a brave one!
In our main research article, we provide an explanation for the onset of this vCPU noise. For more details on how hyper-threading slows down performance of each vCPU instance, please refer to this discussion.

Shared vCPU plans are not aimed for production

Cloudways users are unaware that Linode, DO, and Vultr originally offered shared vCPU plans for developers who needed to spin up a VPS instance for testing, compiling, and prototyping. They were never meant for production use. The majority of blog posts are intended to engage readers and generate referral fees. To obtain a better fee, numerous WordPress bloggers have misled their unaware readers by pretending that there is no fundamental difference between cloud-based shared vCPU accounts on Cloudways and dedicated VPSs. This is very far from reality. There’s a big distinction: with dedicated VPS, your account runs off of dedicated fixed resources such as RAM, CPU cores, hard disk space; whereas following your sign up for an account at Cloudways, they give you access to all these things through virtualisation. Many people think it doesn’t matter or even that cloud services are more reliable – but this couldn’t be farther from the truth!
Article appriasal
Cloudways offers shared vCPU instance plans from major cloud hosting companies. The plans allocation is built via a number of provided vCPUs – a time share on a single hyper-thread of the physical CPU core. The cheap shared vCPU plans are designed by the providers for light web traffic and are explicitly advertised as such on the provider websites.  The shared plans are not guaranteed to perform well. Most of the time, and on recently purchased and still undersold servers, you will have your single thread as the sole process on a physical CPU. However, you must understand the risks involved in using such plans before making any final decision. Your website visitors’ requests are latency-sensitive processes. You have a wide range of fluctuations in the internet traffic and might get some changes synchronously with other accounts on your cloud node – Black Friday is a good example of when sudden rushes can happen for most eCommerce websites.
Both

The epic fail on a Big Day

The cloud hosting provider will never tell you the server’s specification as your account can be freely moved between different servers in the Data Center during maintenance or load distribution activities. This means you’ll never know how much time your website is served using what hardware – some fluctuations may come from chaotic moves between modern and outdated server hardware. Perfomance on Vultr HF varies by as much as 25% depending on specific hardware used for your plan. Good luck with your proactive planning for managing your CPU utilisation before that Big Day!
You risk crashing your website if you don’t have enough resources to execute all HTML requests properly. It is inevitable that when a Big Day comes, you are not ready for the traffic surge. You should be running your website at 20% of utilisation to be prepared, but this may be not enough. When traffic levels reach new levels on Black Fridays, you may notice your ability to burst vCPU allocation is void. You start receiving only 50% of your vCPU resources, and things are slower by 35% as well. Overall, you are limited to 30% of your previous burst performance. This can be seen as unavoidable, given that every account becomes overloaded simultaneously during this time period. The hypervisor will arrange a queueing system for vCPUs, waiting for another thread to be freed before allocating another vCPU to it. That’s why many online shops have to scale up their resource allocations by order of magnitude on Black Friday just to cover increased traffic and degraded cloud resources. Your hosting provider will try its best to inject more hardware, but you’re really only a second-grade user, so don’t expect a miracle.

Dedicated vCPU plans for production websites

If you ready to pay a 100% premium, companies like Linode, DO, VultrHF, and Google Cloud offer Dedicated or Compute-Optimised plans for their customers. The providers clearly recommend such dedicated vCPU plans for production websites or eCommerce websites. These higher-priced packages will allow a more consistent 100% CPU allocation due to lower host densities and stricter CPU allocations for virtual machines. Anyone who has purchased one of these two options can rest easy knowing they won’t have any problems with sporadic resource stealing by noisy neighbours or overloaded hosts servers. Your hosting provider will be obligated to provide peace of mind for Dedicated plan users and might neglect your struggle on shared vCPU plans. One problem that Cloudways customers have – they don’t get access to the Dedicated plans.
shared vCPU
With the dedicated VPS plans on a dedicated server, you have the same CPU resource regardless of your neighbours’ activities. Linode provides the cheapest Dedicated vCPU plans; DigitalOcean and VultrHF are more expensive. Dedicated CPU plans on Vultr are starting from $60 per month. Google Cloud pricing varies depending on usage, with a price similar to Linode at 40% utilisation and significantly more costly than that when used at 100%. All these Dedicated plans are unmanaged – they don’t include any extra features or services that usually come with managed hosting. A fully managed VPS plan from MechanicWeb on the modern and much faster server hardware will cost similar to the most affordable Dedicated CPU cloud plan on the DO. It doesn’t take much math to see how better value can be found elsewhere!
Cloudways vs NameHero

What is your CPU fair share?

The DigitalOcean specification is explicit: “…the amount of CPU cycles available for the hypervisor to allocate depends on the workload of the other Droplets sharing that host. If these neighbouring Droplets have a heavy load, one Droplet might get fractional hyperthreads instead of dedicated access to the underlying physical processors. In practice, this means that shared CPU Droplets can have access to full hyperthreads, but it’s not guaranteed.”
Shared instance plans on Cloudways are priced higher than fully managed VPS hosting on the modern dedicated servers with MechanicWeb. With Cloudways account, you share server resources with other customers, and that will cause your website’s performance to suffer when the local cloud nodes get too busy during periods of high traffic load. Dedicated vCPU plans offer something closer to the dedicated VPS plan on dedicated servers with a fixed memory and CPU resource limitation, so your website stays consistent even during high traffic loads.
Good or bad hosting is measured by how well it stands up to a sudden surge of eCommerce traffic that drains your resources with a massive wave of dynamic HTML requests, even if the CPU itself is partially shielded with Redis object cache. For the same money that the customer pays for shared hardware 2 GB RAM / 1 vCPU plan on Cloudways, MechanicWeb provides 6 GB RAM / 4  CPU cores on their shared Boost semi-dedicated plan hosted on a LiteSpeed Web Enterprise modern AMD Ryzen Zen 3 server. Our benchmarks show that MechanicWeb has 1.92 more processing power per CPU core. You don’t have to have a PhD in computer science to tell which setup works better under a peak load.
Due to the flexibility and scalability of cloud hosting, the number of users has increased significantly. However, there’s a catch: you’re not the only one using the hardware – cloud hosting still means shared hosting. Cloud hosting providers give you a vCPU allocation that is shared among all customers of a physical server. This is very similar to how shared hosting works, and if you want to avoid throttling, you need to make sure that your CPU resource usage doesn’t exceed 15% of your limit on average on 1 vCPU/ 1 GB RAM plan. CPU usage should be under 30%, on average, for higher tier plans, like 1 vCPU/2 GB RAM.
Hosting hardware will typically have memory allocation (in GB) about eight times the number of physical CPU cores. Typical server configurations include 32 CPU cores and 256 GB of RAM, or 16 CPU cores and 128 GB of RAM. The continuous vCPU load of such configurations is about 15% of your dedicated RAM (in GB). For example, if you have 16GB RAM, your plan might include four dedicated vCPUs that can be used continuously at 60% (16*0.15=2.4). VPS plans with 8GB RAM might include two dedicated vCPUs that can be used continuously at 60% (8*0.15=1.2 CPU). Shared vCPU VPS accounts have more CPUs, but your average CPU usage should remain at 15% of your dedicated RAM (in GB). The junior plan with 1 GB RAM and 1 vCPU will allow only 15% of continuous CPU load. Vultr’s website states that their 4GB High FrequencyCompute plan comes with two virtual CPUs, so it is a shared vCPU plan with a 30% (4*0.15=0.6 CPUs) fair share of continuous CPU usage. The Vultr HF 16 GB plan comes with four vCPUs, which is very close to the dedicated CPU plan with 60% (16*0.15=2.4 CPUs) continuous CPU utilisation.
Usually, shared hosting providers monitor excessive system resource usage and always contact you to move to the next level if your CPU consumption is too high. Cloud hosting providers are not charities, and they too try to maximise their profits. Their terms and conditions state, “You may not use a shared system in a manner that consumes a disproportionate amount of the system’s resources.” Once your account is found to be using an excessive amount of resources, the cloud hosting provider will begin throttling your CPU allocation. Vultr technical support explains, “…we limit such abusive instances to ensure performance for all customers on the host node.” It is a major drawback of a hosting platform like Cloudways that you cannot communicate directly with your actual hosting provider.
Cloudways vs LiteSpeed
Now ask yourself: what is a vCPU? I don’t have a problem with virtualization except when used to mask how little resources they’re actually giving you. Sometimes you do get the promised number of vCPU’s, but they’re shared with other accounts.
The partial answer to “What is a vCPU?” question has been provided in the recent report commissioned by Linode. The results show perfect consistency of GeekBench scores on both Google Cloud and newest undersold Linode hosting hardware, suggesting that vCPUs were running independently with other accounts’ workloads. The worst numbers were seen in the AWS EC2 plan, which is an indication that vCPUs on these servers were frequently sharing CPU cores with other accounts. The report also reconfirmed how dismal performance was from both Amazon’s and Google’s side when it came to disk  I/O operations.

Caching

Integrated caching creates an illusion of the fast service

WPRocket vs Breeze
Cloudways offers the free Breeze caching plugin that is inadequate. For satisfying Google Page Speed Metrics, an annual fee of $49/site is required to install the WP Rocket cache plugin. Three sites are $99/year. To save that money, you can also try using free versions of SwiftPerformance or PhastPress plugins. The performance should be better than using Breeze.
It is less appreciated, however, that Cloudways’ site uses Varnish caching by default.  Varnish serves as a reverse proxy to externally cache HTTP requests. Once the caching of the content of a webpage is complete, subsequent requests from visitors to the same webpage will not hit the server directly.  Your visitor’s request will most likely be served from the Varnish Cache without even being directed to an HTTP server. It’s very similar to what you would get if you used CDN with the Origin Shield.
Cloudways Varnish setup
Cloudways Varnish setup. https://www.cloudways.com/blog/configure-varnish-cache/
As explained by Cloudways: “… with Varnish proxy in place, your website will be able to manage a huge number of concurrent requests from several users as the server will not even be started. This will result in a magical increase in performance for your application.”
On Cloudways servers, Varnish integration is not the only caching layer. By default, they also provide OPcache, Nginx cache and Memcached, which is used to cache data and objects in RAM to speed up dynamic, database-driven websites. Memcached’s default expiration time is 3 hours. Varnish caches typically expire after 4 to 24 hours, which is a typical CDN cache expiration time. The default time in the Nginx cache is one month. In Cloudways, heavy caching strategies make additional WP cache plugin almost obsolete – the WP Rocket plugin prepares assets, while the actual caching is done elsewhere.
The automatic installation of Varnish cache, Nginx cache, OPcache, and Memcached on fresh Cloudways installs confuses inexperienced bloggers. It’s easy to uncover these caching layers with a tool like https://ismypagecached.com/, but most bloggers don’t do that. It doesn’t matter if you remove all the configurable caching layers like Varnish and Nginx, you’ll still be served by Memcached and OPcache on Cloudways. PHP scripts are compiled and cached using OPcache. All repetitive requests to your websites are sped up as PHP code only needs to be compiled on the first request.

Benchmarks by "professional" bloggers

The “professional” bloggers’ benchmarks measure the performance of websites hosted on different fresh hosting installations. To make the comparison fair (!), they don’t configure the caching plugin settings on fresh WordPress installations. OPcache alone reduces the processing time for uncached requests by about ten times. As a result, Cloudways has an unfair advantage over all other hosting providers because their plans include full-fledged caching outside of your WP installation. Cloudways’ “professional” affiliates don’t appreciate that their testing methodology doesn’t include origin servers but instead measures the response time of a Varnish cache web application accelerator.
Apparently, Cloudways is not the only provider that automatically sets up caching layers for bending results of tests performed by “professional” bloggers. Similar activated OPcache caching layers are offered by Kinsta, A2Hosting, WPX, and Hostinger. Take a look at such “professionally” performed benchmarks, and you won’t be surprised to find these hosting providers at the top of the league.
Professional hosting providers rarely use OPcache as their default caching layer. Since no PHP code is executed when serving user requests from the server cache, OPcache has no relevance when serving fully cached static web pages. OPcache might allocate too much RAM to cache precompiled PHP code on a complex eCommerce website. To control the use of RAM, the website owner must be given the freedom to decide whether or not to use OPcache along with Redis or Memcached object caches. Hosting providers who turn on OPCache by default on their servers are aware of the “professional” tests performed by numerous naive and ignorant WordPress bloggers.
PHP 8 will level the playing field. PHP 8 adds a JIT compiler to its core, potentially speeding up performance. The impact on real-world web applications will be small, but most hosting providers will configure JIT properly. JIT will only work if OPcache is enabled. We therefore assume that all hosting accounts will come now with OPcache extensions preconfigured in PHP 8.
If your site uses a lot of blogs and long-form content, there’s a good chance it will attract international traffic. A significant number of visitors will come from outside your country. Google doesn’t know that you are a local business that is only interested in local customers. Websites with international traffic will not be penalised under the new Google Core Web Vitals. However, the data is collected from a global set of Chrome users and the metrics are calculated from that data. Google ignores 25% of the worst data that Chrome reports from your actual visitors, but you still have to provide fast-loading pages to the remaining 75%. Therefore, you should be careful if you are not using a CDN! Page Experience algorithms are not forgiving when remote locations, lack of CDNs, or high server loads slow down the delivery of page content to international visitors.
The QUIC.cloud CDN and LiteSpeed Cache are included as a part of the LiteSpeed Web Server and must be manually activated. Imagine that QUIC.cloud CDN and LiteSpeed Cache are enabled by default. Bloggers who use a “professional” benchmark methodology will achieve excellent results on any LiteSpeed servers. Rather than server hardware, they will test out QUIC.cloud’s CDN capabilities, which are perfect! However, since they have affiliate fees from Cloudways instead of LiteSpeed, they will immediately identify the flaw in the methodology and will turn off all the caching layers on LiteSpeed to provide a “fair” comparison.
Indeed, Tom Dupuis from On-line Media Masters is happy to explain that Matthew Woodward gave a clear advantage in his tests to WPX Hosting because of WPX’s built-in caching (W3 Total Cache, recently they have switched to using LiteSpeed) and WPX Cloud CDN. The very same blog post also shows Tom Dupuis’s data that can be seen as providing a clear advantage to the Cloudways due to the built-in Varnish proxy cache web application accelerator, Nginx cache, OPcache, and Memcached. Upon learning about Matthew’s biased data, you might think Tom would be interested in learning what is being tested and compared in his own tests, but he does not care about such details. A typical sign of the amateur affiliate community around WordPress is the lack of interest in learning what a study tests and what a hypothesis is. Studies are primarily done for affiliate fees, and Cloudways offers good rates!
Onlinemediamasters.com

In many cases, LiteSpeed hosting is better than Cloudways

According to our study, LiteSpeed servers are up to 90% faster than Cloudways on Vultr HF. LiteSpeed hosting providers offer from 3 to 10 times better value for money, depending on plan choice. Comparing Cloudways plans with the options shown in our benchmark will help you make an informed decision.
It would be best if you did not rely on Cloudways as a magic solution that offers more resources when your shared hosting plan has reached its maximum resource allocation. The opposite is true! For example, A2Hosting offers 4 GB RAM and 4 CPUs in its Turbo Max plan. Its single-core performance is about 25% slower than at Cloudways. If you switch to Cloudways with 4GB RAM and 2 vCPU, your ability to serve visitors might be reduced by up to 1.5 times. So, you should expect to handle the peak load of 1.5x more visitors on the A2Hosting plan. We don’t recommend A2Hosting due to its abysmal disk I/O speed of 4 MB/s, but we are sure that switching to a shared vCPU plan on Cloudways will not solve your problem!

Affiliates scummers

Cloudways - is it a good value for money?

Cloudways falsely advertise the Shared instance vCPUs as full CPU cores on DigitalOcean, Linode, and Vultr. Many users are shocked to recognise that they are served on the cloud shared hosting, sliced, wrapped, and sold under the VPS title.
For a company to claim to be the best while offering five to ten times less value than the competition is not uncommon. But does anyone know of another Western company that pays affiliate fees of $125 per new paid customer to people that spread misinformation in numerous Facebook groups? The company that pays affiliate fees to Facebook group admins, which motivates them to remove critical comments about the company or even ban the company’s constant critics from their Facebook groups?
We could not think of another example of such a post-truth world being pushed by Facebook, where fake statements are widely quoted to persuade users to purchase overpriced products and use them outside of the technical specifications of the vendors. Cloudways is crossing ethical and legal lines by using Facebook groups, part of the Facebook ecosystem, to manipulate customers. When we complained, Cloudways just shrugged, “We can’t stop affiliates from promoting Cloudways because they make money doing it, and we’re just three community managers…”

Facebook scammers

Dedicated-CPU-on Cloudways
Within two hours, Adam Preiser, the group administrator and Cloudways affiliate, removed all traces of this chat in his Facebook group “WordPress for Non-Techies by WPCrafter”. That is not a great surprise considering Adam Preiser (WPCrafter) tainted reputation in the WP community as an affiliate-marketer focused only on his bottom-line.
The main Dragon Island for Cloudways affiliate scammers is the Facebook group “WordPress For Non-Techies by WPCrafter” with 46,000 members. The group is a valuable resource to discuss and learn many aspects related to developing your own website. On the other hand, rare discussions about hosting providers is commented on by several dozens of eager Cloudways scammers. Every now and then, one of them will post “Question? Cloudways or Siteground?” eliciting a chorus howling : “You’ll love Cloudways,” “Cloudways. More control, better value”, “Cloudways anytime”, “Cloudways definitely”, “Cloudways… I use it for my website”, “Cloudways. It’s more flexible,” along with another dozen comments that simply say “Cloudways.”
Adam Preiser, the administrator of the group and the gargantuan Cloudways affiliate scammer himself, fails to prevent the scavenging of the non-techies in his group. He regularly removes negative comments about Cloudways as they are not helpful to his affiliate income. Adam Preiser cowardly deleted users’ comments without notifying them, violating the last civil norms to protect free expression on Facebook.
Responsible affiliate marketing is like striking a very fine balance between earning profits and leading your followers to success. I think, Adam Preiser has taken his affiliate success to his heart and lost the professional ethics required for his blind followers’ benefit. This Facebook Group is nothing without his followers. With this attitude, that day may not far, when he will be the only member of his group and admin of his own. I leave this issue with Adam Preiser to rethink, reconsider and redefine his affiliate marketing strategy.
We have contacted the 100 most active Cloudways affiliates from the “WordPress For Non-Techies by WPCrafter” group and asked them to comment on our research article. No one was brave enough to do it!
This kind of affiliate network is unbeatable!
This kind of affiliate network is unbeatable!
More and more members of another major Facebook group, “WordPress Hosting,” have become fed up with Cloudways scammers in recent months. Nonetheless, this group with 18,000 members has played a negative role in providing Cloudways scammers with a free platform to deceive its visitors. Andrew Killen, the group administrator, treats Cloudways scammers like decent contributors: “Honestly many people just like Cloudways, they seem to have funboys like Apple”. A second group admin, Rob Marlbrough, has also been an active contributor to Cloudways propaganda “1GB Cloudways plan could handle 20 low traffic sites easily. Disk space is the real concern if you want to add even more”.
WordPress Hosting Facebook group
WordPress Hosting Facebook group
WordPress Hosting Facebook group admins are aggressive about silencing or banning members who hold opinions different from their own. The group actively impose the use of shared vCPU plans by calling them VPS accounts. Web designers aren’t informed that the vast majority of affordable VPS plans come with shared CPUs, so they shouldn’t use them instead of shared hosting unless their developer needs root access. In addition to Cloudways, expensive $200 per month management panels like GridPane (with added malware scanning) are heavily promoted for shared vCPU plans. GridPane with shared vCPUs from Vultr HF or DO is considered by the group members as the hallmark of a professional web design agency. It is true that many professional designers using GridPane are also experienced WordPress developers using Oxygen Builder. Some of them require root access and therefore benefit from using GridPane.

Facebook WordPress Hosting is the Cloudways group. You’re only supposed to be asking about Cloudways, so people can tell you that you should be using Cloudways!

We observe that the WordPress Hosting Facebook group has created a cargo cult for naive and incompetent web designers. The followers of this cargo cult believe that moving to Cloudways and later upgrading to GridPane will turn them into professionals. We fear that GridPane’s move will not enhance web designers’ knowledge of improving web page load speed or achieving better Core Web Vitals scores. It’s fascinating to learn that the most active proponents of GridPane and shared vCPU plans in WordPress Hosting Facebook groups stick to ThemeForest themes and zealously despise LiteSpeed and Elementor.

There is a simple solution for the WordPress Hosting Group. The moderators should just ban all promotion of Cloudways. Its very obvious Cloudways affiliates has a culture of doing it, and this wouldn’t be the first time they have been banned from a community for creating fake profiles.

Those who think that using DO with GridPane offers something entirely different than shared hosting are making a logical mistake. No, it does not. The basic Droplet offers shared vCPUs. Read the DO’s website – basic Droplets are only recommended for staging, testing, and low traffic projects. With Droplets and GridPane, you can create custom SHARED hosting that costs ten times as much. If you do not need root access, why would you pay ten times as much for it?
When I was looking for a hosting plan back in my pre-web designer days, I didn’t have a clue what I needed. Ubiquitous marketing plays a big part in the decision process, and it sells. After trying a few of the usual (well-marketed) “cheap” providers, I ended up sticking with a VPS service for £39 per month for a couple of years. At the time, I knew it was overkill for my needs (a big understatement), but I honestly didn’t know where to go. This experience has helped me learn more about what I need from a hosting provider:
– Helpful support, – Decent performance, – Reasonable price, – cPanel access, – At least 2 GB RAM, – LiteSpeed server to use the LiteSpeed cache plugin, – Good bandwidth, – Great reviews!

Foul play

Cloudways intentionally deceives its customers

If you read the following two screenshots, you will appreciate that Cloudways intentionally misleads its users about the nature of shared hosting resources. When you subscribe to their services, you may find a message on the Server Management > Vertical Scaling tab stating that the 1 GB and 2 GB plans are for testing purposes only and are suitable for staging websites. Production sites must be served by 4 GB (or higher) plans. The Cloudways support team advises users to scale up to 4GB RAM Vultr HF if using Redis Cache in WordPress. This is a not-insignificant statement in the fine print that is completely missing from the company’s main website! Many Cloudways users did not plan to pay $50 a month for their hosting!
Cloudways_scaling
Recommended: 4GB (or higher) for production website(s).
2 or 1GB is for staging website(s).
The question remains whether Cloudways or Kinsta offer the worst value for money in the current market.  Bloggers are often bribed with affiliate fees to write enthusiastic reviews about Cloudways. Members of Facebook groups are actively instigating users with a large number of websites to move to Cloudways, despite knowing that such an offer is outside the technical specification of the vendors. You can find Cloudways own recommendations to host from ten to twenty websites on a 1GB / 1vCPU plan, to the dismay of more professional members of the Facebook groups. With about 0.5 GB of the RAM used by Linux, you are left with only 0.5 GB in the RAM to serve your websites. Having ten websites to share such limited RAM resources is a far cry from anything even the most dubious hosting companies would do!
Moez here from Cloudways reply

Compromised security for Cloudways accounts

The industry standard for cPanel accounts includes malware scanning and web application firewall (WAF) – imunify360/ ModSecurity. At Cloudways, they don’t offer anything like that because it requires paid licences. Instead, Cloudways advise you to use Sucuri’s subsidised subscription for $10 per month plus $16.5 per month per domain for any further domains. It’s an extra expense, but one you are sure to enjoy, especially after upgrading to a $50 4GB plan and paying another $20 per month for WP Rocket as well! Instead of paying $10 per month for much better and faster hosting from MechanicWeb with free LiteSpeed Cache and QUIC.cloud CDN, why not spend more than $100 per month for the slower Cloudways, the inferior WP Rocket, and overpriced Sucuri?
Each deployed server has its own firewall and all your applications are also behind the same firewall with very tight controls. Additionally, we regularly patch the servers that host your applications and we minimize the number of services open to the Internet (minimal attack surface).
For the continuous protection of your application(s), we have partnered with Sucuri to offer you their services (that includes malware cleaning and monitoring) at a discounted price.
Affiliate scammers even suggest you have multiple small Cloudways accounts so you do not put all your eggs in one basket – they know well that it’s easy to hack unprotected Cloudways accounts. If you are dying to get that adrenaline rush and scramble to find out if the latest ransomware attack has compromised your customers’ personal data, Cloudways is your best choice!
There’s a triple trap you fall into with Cloudways. Your WordPress installation is powered by outdated NGINX software, overpriced hosting resources, and compromised security.

Conclusion

We’ve done our best to show our readers the true nature of Cloudways and its affiliate community of Facebook scammers. We offer detailed arguments of why we think it’s a good idea to stay away from the company. We would hesitate to compare Cloudways to even the worst EIG hosts. Cloudways misinforms its users about the shared hardware resources offered in its plans. This looks dubious under European consumer law. Choosing the wrong hosting option, which may be unsuitable for your eCommerce website, can affect the user’s experience. As a result, not only will you lose some users due to the drop in conversion rate, but you also run the risk of losing your customers’ financial data due to the threat of an imminent hacking attack on your unprotected website.
The Wix has brilliantly parodied WordPress in the timeless classic trashing video campaign. The story starts with the hilarious video and continues to YouTube. In his blog, Wix CEO wrote: “I mostly care about WordPress’ security. WordPress is so popular; I’m sure my credit card details are on many WordPress websites. It’ll be great if WordPress fixes security so we can all feel safer.”

If only he knew about the irresponsible and reckless affiliate scammers surrounding Cloudways!
At least two community managers from Cloudways, Saad Khan and Aleksandar Savkovic, have read our research article. We have offered to publish Cloudways’ written response to our arguments,  and we have received their verbal commitment to do so in May 2021. This text implies that Cloudways has not yet issued an official statement. Most probably because they have nothing to say in their defence!
Rapid change from "SiteGround" to "Cloudways" fan group
Rapid change from "SiteGround" to "Cloudways" fan club. WordPress Hosting Facebook group.

Next steps

Our main research article provides a quick overview of the best hosting options currently on the market. The following posts continue the research article.
  • Part 1. We give a detailed overview of the standard software options offered by all reasonable LightSpeed web hosting providers. Before you choose your hosting, you should read this chapter!
  • Part 2 (this post). You should read the detailed chapter explaining the cheating and fraudulent schemes of Cloudways and its affiliate community. We strongly recommend you to study it if you are still angry at us after reading our direct insults against Cloudways and their iconic services.
  • Part 3. In the third chapter, we explain the technical details of our benchmarking study. Read it if you want to quickly test the actual quality of hardware resources provided by your hosting provider. You’ll also get an objective look at their sysadmin team – can they fine-tune software settings to optimize database performance?
  • Part 4. The final chapter covers advanced hosting options for extremely busy websites. You should study this chapter if you have more than 100,000 visitors per month and are determined to switch to VPS hosting.
There are many hosting providers – each with its own advantages and disadvantages – but it can be hard to decide which is the best one. We have researched and sorted out the most appropriate hosting providers who offer all of the services discussed in this article’s first section. Our separate report has covered in detail some of the providers you will have to choose from. The obvious winner is MechanicWeb who provide their plans at the most affordable price using fastest and most optimised servers.
When websites attract heavy traffic, they overwhelm the provider’s hosting capacity. Adding a CDN service is an excellent way to get your website in front of more people and grow your audience. If you have a website with high traffic, then we recommend giving BunnyCDN a try. It will store a permanent cache of your website’s static files like CSS, JS, and images in its Geo-Replicated Perma-Cache servers. These servers will provide your files to the cache of 30 servers located around the world, shielding your origin from traffic. Your origin server will be left with the task of delivering HTML files to visitors, reducing the bandwidth load at your origin by a minimum of thirty times. BunnyCDN services cost you about $1 per month. It is a much better option than upgrading the level of your subscription with your original hosting provider.
If your website is hosted on a LiteSpeed Web server, you can reduce your workload by serving HTML pages through QUIC.cloud CDN. This CDN gives 10 GB of free traffic per month, leaving your origin server to only serve dynamic HTML files for your eCommerce clients. Please read our blog post “How to Choose Your Best CDN Provider” for more in-depth technical information about the services discussed above.
Web design agencies are essential for the success of any website. Selecting a proper hosting and content distribution network provider can help improve the page loading time but to succeed, you need a professional web design. Website design tools are increasingly commoditised, leading to an increase in the number of web designers with limited technical knowledge. Many of these designers cannot guarantee high-speed page loads for mobile devices or desktops. Our article “How to Choose a Web Design Agency” includes clear criteria for evaluating web design companies.
We’re one of the best web design agencies in Cambridge, and we specialise in speed optimisation. Our company has been in the graphic design industry for years, with over seventeen years of experience. We work hand in hand with our customers to understand their needs and create a strategy exclusively for them. We provide a comprehensive design process combined with an affordable web design package to all our clients. Please visit our website’s page about our web designs services for more information on what we offer.
Through our comprehensive solutions, we can help your business from logo designs to designing eCommerce stores. We provide a range of services, including technical SEO and relocation assistance to better web hosting. With our graphic design expertise, we are prepared to meet any other creative need that may arise.
Please contact us at svetlana.zh@webwhim.co.uk if you need any assistance, and we will be happy to help you.
Visit our WordPress research portal for more information. We spoke with plugin developers and hosting providers to compile six articles about how to become a better WordPress user. A knowledgeable web design agency will make all the difference in the speed of your site. You also need a set of plugins, tools, and a good hosting provider and a fast CDN to keep up with incoming traffic. If you don’t do these basics, your website will not pass the Page Experience signals introduced by Google.