When I first created my Cloudways Web Hosting trial account, I went straight to receiving an activation link through my email. The next time I tried (for the purpose of getting screenshots from a TRIAL account point of view), I received a notice to email them any proof of identification. The e-mail also contained why they are asking for an ID. Here’s to summarize the e-mail:

“Before we can start your free trial, we need to verify your identity. Sadly we sometimes have bots (or malicious humans) try to open Cloudways accounts, so this step helps keep our Platform safe and secure.”

Click to Tweet

It was my sleeping time already so I didn’t bother to send anything. In the morning, I checked my 2nd e-mail address and they sent an invitation link (the same automated email I received the first time I created a trial account). So there - I didn’t send them any ID but I got in to create my first server and WordPress account without any credit card/payment.


Here’s what you will receive in your e-mail to activate your trial account.

how to activate cloudways trial account


Upon clicking the activation button, you will be directed to the getting started page. Click “get started.”

get started with cloudways
  1. Select Your Server Size

You can play around with the server size just to see the possible combination of cost and size. For this lesson, we will use the Digital Ocean server (since it’s the cheapest, $10/month as of updating this post). 

select a digital ocean server


2. Create A WordPress Account


To create your first WordPress account, go to Applications (top part of screen beside "server"). Name your:

  1. WordPress Account (Managed App)

  2. Server

  3. Project

create a wordpress account with cloudways


The system will now create your first WordPress site in your own chosen server. As of writing this post, it says “ready in 7 minutes.”

Cloudways


While waiting for your server, a “help” notification will pop up. If you press “take a look,” it will show you the basic things you need to learn about. 

Cloudways Q and A
cloudways help

The “Live Chat” is mainly answered by bots (that sends you links to their database of answers). Since we are not paying for “premium support,” I highly suggest you join the Cloudways community where I learned a lot without needing to contact the Cloudways support team.

It's not a very active community (I have an unanswered question after 6 days of posting it). But it’s a community nonetheless. It’s good to belong to a community who uses the same platform so their answers are more reliable (experience based).

Your Cloudways Server And WordPress Account Is Ready


You’ll know your account is ready when you see this.

cloudways account is ready


Toggle to “Applications” to access your WordPress site.

login to cloudways wordpress


You now have a WordPress account hosted in Cloudways. Note that this is a trial version for you to browse around for 3 days. Browse around the hosting platform and not WordPress (there's a separate course on how to make a WordPress site fully optimzed for SEO and how to create contents that will make you earn money from it).



Migrating To Cloudways

While browsing around, you’ll see an instruction on how to migrate your website to Cloudways. 

cloudways migrator


Honestly, I am not a very technical person. I was prepared to “pay” for migration since I have three websites to migrate (and they can only migrate 1 for free). 

Instead of contacting them to migrate, I took a deep breath, played the video instruction and did my first ever website migration (to practice if I can do it).

I started migrating at 1 PM (while reading their database/FAQ pages). After 3 hours, I successfully managed to migrate all three websites without needing to use my free migration ticket!

I know it look me long (3 hours? LOL), but I was super careful not to break anything so I did a lot of reading first before I migrated all three.

Migrating a website will need you to install a free WordPress plugin called Cloudways WordPress Migrator.

To install, go to your WordPress dashboard>Plugins>Add New. Type Cloudways WordPress Migrator on the search box. Click Install Now, then Activate.

add plugin
cloudways plugin for migration


Once installed, go to the Settings.

plugin settings of cloudways wordpress migrator


You will need these credentials:

settings needed to migrate to cloudways


See below on where you can get the credentials from your account.

how to migrate to cloudways

Once you have the credentials, click Migrate. That’s it! Wait for your site to be migrated (depending on the size, it can take hours).

Point Your Domain DNS To Your Migrated Website

If you bought your domain from an independent domain registrar like Namecheap or GoDaddy, then all you have to do is access the DNS then point to your newly-migrated site.

For people like me who bought it in a package (my previous hosting and domain registrar is from one place), you need to move your domain out of the existing hosting service. “Transfer Domain” feature is what you should look for when you go to Namecheap for example. 

Here’s the step-by-step.

Wherever you are hosted (hosting + domain in 1 platform), look for the domain section, and then “Transfer Domain” option.

domain transfer


Make sure that you are allowed to transfer (some newly-bought packages have lock-in period - i.e. you cannot transfer for x number of months/years).

transfer code to email


If you have a “Privacy Protection” currently switched on, the first email you will receive is about that. Once you review the email, it will switch off your Privacy protection. Don’t worry, it’s just for a limited time. You can switch it back on as you are transferred to the new domain registrar.

The next email you will receive is the transfer code (check your spam box, it went to my spam box). It’s one of the requirements for moving your domain to another registrar.

Once you have the code, you can proceed with the transfer.

Note that it will need you to wait for at least seven days before you can be released from the current domain registrar. Once released, you can now point your domain to your Cloudways hosting. 

You will receive an email about the status of your domain transfer. You can also monitor it from the dashboard of your domain registrar. You cannot access your DNS records from the new domain registrar while the transfer is in progress.

Important Notes:

  1. My sites weren’t down at all while migrating. Everything happened in the background and my sites were functioning normally as if I am not migrating.
  2. The domain transfer (old domain registrar to new domain registrar) also has no effect on my sites. It’s also a background process.
  3. The downtime happened during the pointing of DNS (Namecheap DNS) to Cloudways Server (Digital Ocean - San Francisco). They say it's normal to have a downtime of at least 24-48 hours while the new domain (DNS) propagates - however, I paid for the Namecheap Premium DNS which promised a zero to minimal DNS downtime. It just happened at the wrong time, I think, (Digital Ocean server - San Francisco is down, while I was propagating my DNS, which resulted in my sites being down, too).

While migrating to Cloudways where I can see the server relieves me of all the guess-work, I realized that managing my own servers is not for me at the moment. My deciding point for migrating is my “ala carte” attitude - where I only pay for what I intend to use, no lock-ins, and upgrade/move servers as needed.

However, troubleshooting a broken server on my own will cost me a lot of money. Not only because my sites are down (no visitors = no income), but also because the Premium site support of Cloudways would cost me at least $100 a month.

Since I did not pay for the Premium support, I tried to look for a community help. And I found an active member.

Cloudways Community Support


I didn't expect a reply so I sent a Ticket to Cloudways support right after sending my message to Russell. Cloudways responded after 30 minutes. We exchanged messages and I got caught up with the technical learning curve. I do not have time as of the moment to learn the technicals so I pointed my sites back to Wealthy Affiliate since uptime is important for me. A lost income in a day is still a lost income. 

Cloudways is ideal for technical people with a knowledge of how to handle servers and manage the technical sides on their own. It's a wonderful platform for saving money, but the technicals are getting in the way of my content creation (and reduced my productivity in terms of creating courses - which should be my focus).

That's why after 1 week of being in Cloudways, I moved back to Wealthy Affiliate again.

Rusell replied after a day.

Cloudways Community Support 2


My key take aways from his reply are:

  • "Contact Cloudways Support and see what they say. There might be something they can do to fix the problem."
  • "All in all, my experience with Digital Ocean has been great, and that’s who I would recommend."
  • "I’m not the biggest fan of Vultr (I haven’t tried out Linode yet - but they could be good too)."
  •  "AWS and Google Cloud are faster and reliable, but they cost about double as much money." - Wealthy Affiliate uses AWS hosting.
  • "I’ve had a couple of times where I tried to restart a server through the Cloudways control panel, and the server wouldn’t come back online.When this happened I would have to contact Cloudways, and they would manually log into Digital Ocean and turn the server back on."
If you do not have an access to Premium Site Support and you need any help wherever you are hosted,


1. Look for a community using the same platform.

2. Look for an active person in that community who is actively helping.

3. Submit a ticket to the platform site support.

4. Read the platform's FAQ pages.


I cannot compare Cloudways to Wealthy Affiliate (where I have been hosting my sites from 2015 onwards) since it would be comparing Apples and Oranges. Cloudways is a "farm" of servers. You rent a server and you control it. It is not a "shared hosting service."

Wealthy Affiliate membership is an all-in-one plan - blogging-related training, domain registration, create your own course, keyword research tool, (learn more from here)  and it allows you to host your website in a "shared server." 

Let's see the comparable sides, in terms of hosting...

Cloudways

Wealthy Affiliate

cloudways logo
Wealthy Affiliate WA logo

Lowest Monthly Price: $10/month (no commitment, pay as you go)

Lowest All-In Monthly Price: 49/month (no commitment)

Name of plan/server: Digital Ocean

Name of plan/server: Wealthy Affiliate Premium/Amazon Web Services (AWS)

SSD (Storage) Disk: 25 GB

SSD (Storage) Disk: 30 GB

Bandwidth: 1TB

Bandwidth:
250,000 Monthly Visits

Premium Site Support:

Starts at $100 per month

Premium Site Support:

Included but not priority

Site Speed/Caching:

Free "Breeze" WordPress Plugin

Site Speed/Caching:

Included/Built-in

Site Protect/Website Security:


Free Malcare (but limited features):


Upsells: 1 Site: $99/year

Up to 5 sites: $259/year

Up to 20 sites: $599/year

Site Protect/Website Security:


Built-in/Included (up to 10 websites)

Professional Emails: Starts at $1/email

Professional Emails: Unlimited

Number of Websites Allowed: As long as the server specifications still allows

Number of Websites Allowed: 10

($100/mo. value)

Managed 24/7: No

Managed 24/7: Yes

Dual Server Hosting Redundancy: No

Dual Server Hosting Redundancy: Yes

Instant DNS: No

Instant DNS: Yes

Not everyone can access Wealthy Affiliate, though. Here are the countries which cannot sign up, even as paying members. That's why I tried hard to find an alternative platform (which is Cloudways) for people following my lessons but do not have access to Wealthy Affiliate.

If you want to use a server from Amazon like Wealthy Affiliate, you can access it from Cloudways, too. Here is a comparable table.

Cloudways

Wealthy Affiliate

cloudways logo
Wealthy Affiliate WA logo

Lowest Monthly Price: $34.29/month

Server Location: USA - Ohio

(Different locations have different prices)

Lowest All-In Monthly Price: 49/month no commitment

Name of plan/server: Amazon AWS EC2 (Small), 2vCPU, 2GB Ram

Name of plan/server: Wealthy Affiliate Premium/Amazon Web Services (AWS)

SSD (Storage) Disk: 10 GB (web files); 10 GB (database)

SSD (Storage) Disk: 30 GB

Bandwidth: 2 GB

Bandwidth:
250,000 Monthly Visits

Premium Site Support:

Starts at $100 per month

Premium Site Support:

Included but not priority

Site Speed/Caching:

Free "Breeze" WordPress Plugin

Site Speed/Caching:

Included/Built-in

Site Protect/Website Security:


Free Malcare (but limited features):


Upsells: 1 Site: $99/year

Up to 5 sites: $259/year

Up to 20 sites: $599/year

Site Protect/Website Security:


Built-in/Included (up to 10 websites)

Professional Emails: Starts at $1/email

Professional Emails: Unlimited

Number of Websites Allowed: As long as the server specifications still allows

Number of Websites Allowed: 10

($100/mo. value)

Managed 24/7: No

Managed 24/7: Yes

Dual Server Hosting Redundancy: No

Dual Server Hosting Redundancy: Yes

Instant DNS: No

Instant DNS: Yes

Shared Server: No

Shared Server: Yes

Let me know in the comments section if you need any help! 

Cheers,

Pitin