Do you want to skip the read and get right to my pick in this Cloudways vs Digital Ocean comparison? The better web hosting provider for most people is Cloudways.
When most brick and mortar businesses segued into the digital marketplace as COVID-19 swept across the globe, cloud hosting services suddenly became de rigueur for the savvy retailer. For one thing, cloud hosting offers a more reliable and highly secure alternative to traditional server-driven hosting services. After all, better uptime leads to a better bottom line in the long run.
But that said, with several traditional hosting providers hopping onto the cloud hosting bandwagon, what can native cloud hosting services offer potential customers aside from the usual promised features and functions?
To get to the bottom of this, we’re pitting Cloudways vs DigitalOcean. These are two of the more popular cloud hosting platforms currently operating. Let's see how these two fare in terms of functionality, reliability, cost-efficiency, and – especially in the case of emergent startups and online stores – scalability.
Pros and Cons of Cloudways vs Digital Ocean:
If you want to get to know each of our contenders DigitalOcean vs Cloudways up close, please read:
Let's have a brief look-see about our two hosting provider contenders:
Cloudways has been operating for a decade already. Founded in the Catalan province of Barcelona in 2011, the company now holds court on the isle of Malta and has since grown to become a cloud hosting platform of choice for most people who have built their sites with WordPress and especially those using the WooCommerce plugin to quickly create highly functional online stores.
Managed cloud hosting through a customer’s choice of platforms is what this company does best and the fact that it makes the hosting management process easy is what makes it appeal to startups, freelancers, and digital agencies.
Founded in the same year as Cloudways, DigitalOcean (or more simply known as DO) is a North American cloud infrastructure provider currently headquartered in New York City.
In January 2013, it became the first cloud-hosting company to offer SSD-based virtual machines. Towards the end of that year, it established its foothold in Europe through its Amsterdam data centre. In the years that followed, it continued its expansion and may now be found in several locations scattered throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.
Ease of Use:
Which between Cloudways vs Digital Ocean is more user-friendly?
One of the easiest hosting platforms to set up, the virtue of the Cloudways user interface is that you can build and deploy a site in minutes, and one-click installation of third-party applications is already built into the system. Site management processes are pre-automated by default, including site backup and migration.
A bit of a caveat here: DO is not for the faint of heart nor for the newbie just starting on their site management journey. DO’s interface was specifically designed with seasoned developers in mind. While creating and logging into your account is relatively easy, trying to navigate through the choppy seas of DO’s actual management interface can be quite intimidating, especially if you really have no idea how the system works.
Winner – Cloudways! Cloudways takes this ‘Ease of Use' round in our Cloudways vs Digital Ocean showdown.If you need a hosting platform with very little in the way of learning curve, we have to give this round to Cloudways.
What features can we expect from DigitalOcean vs Cloudways?
One of the first shocks that Cloudways users tend to get is the fact that you don’t get any domain names. Regardless of which package you get, you will need to already own a domain or sign up with a third-party provider for a domain name. In fact, we’d go so far as to say that Bluehost helps if you need a domain name for a WordPress site and GoDaddy works well for those who are into ecommerce.
Unfortunately, you get the same deal with DO. No freebies here, so you’d better have a domain ready or sign up for one via another name registry.
Which service has a better email rating – Cloudways vs Digital Ocean?
No, unfortunately, Cloudways doesn’t offer email with your hosting plan, either – at least, not as part of a standard package. Instead, the platform will offer you an add-on called Rackspace. This is an optional service you add to your subscription for an additional cost.
With respect to Cloudways vs Digital Ocean email service, it’s the same story here. In fact, if you read through DO’s online FAQs, you will be advised to set up your own SMTP server on one of the droplets in your hosting plan, or rely on a third-party email hosting platform like Google Apps.
What databases do between Cloudways vs Digital Ocean offer?
Cloudways uses Thunderstack, a built-in SQL management system that has its own tool kit, enabling users to work from remote connections. Thunderstack is also quite fast and its core functions can be augmented with several easy to use plugins. Unfortunately, getting the Thunderstack system will cost you extra: depending on your subscription, it will set you back by $10 to $36.51 monthly.
Depending on your hosting plan, you may get between one to 96GB of database space for your account – and, mind you, this is already included in your subscription package and the ability to manage it is already built into the interface – no hidden costs here.
Installing third-party apps is important if you want maximum functionality for your website. How does DigitalOcean vs Cloudways stack up in this regard?
Cloudways was one of the first platforms to offer WordPress-specific cloud hosting and its dedicated content delivery network (CDN) also improves the loading time of WordPress sites regardless of their owners’ physical location anywhere in the world. A cache plugin called Breeze is another reason for this, as this solution was specifically developed to optimise the functionality of WordPress sites.
Three words: one click marketplace. DO’s online app store is like a playground for developers in that it has over a hundred apps ranging from site builders (WordPress and Plesk), site management ware (cPanel and WHM), frameworks, analytics, and even a host of developer tools. Plus, installation is a breeze: one click, and away you go.
What about site staging – who does it better, Cloudways vs Digital Ocean?
Cloudways’ Staging Environment offers users a secure space in which to test out their sites before going live. Among its features are the ability to test how sites work on five different cloud providers, IP whitelisting, as well as SSL-enabled staging.
We should also point out that Cloudways gives users the ability to connect a test site to an already working site, in order to see whether or not links work or if running one will hamper the operations of the other. Another good thing about this is that you can use Cloudways’ built-in Push and Pull features to swap data between sites.
Staging a DigitalOcean site is actually a little more complicated. In fact, it would depend on the sort of staging environment you want to work with and what tools you're actually comfortable – and confident – about using.
The platform's how-to section actually details a process for creating staging environments using Ansible, a configuration management system that will enable highly advanced users to create multi-stage environments in order to gauge site performance, security, and functionality.
Between Cloudways vs Digital Ocean, which has the better website builder?
In lieu of a proprietary site builder, Cloudways encourages users to maximise their use of WordPress’ Elementor Page Builder. This linkage allows site creators to build from the ground up and put it online in just minutes
Using Elementor also gives site owners the ability to choose the server on which they want to host their freshly-minted sites and these can be scaled up (or down) depending on their purpose.
As with other cloud hosting services, DigitalOcean doesn’t have its own website builder. Instead, it offers the usual suspects – WordPress chief among them – through its app marketplace. But here’s the clincher. You don’t have to stick to WordPress or WooCommerce when it comes to building a site from scratch because the marketplace offers an alternative: Microweber.
Microweber is a third-party ecommerce-specific site builder that operates with a hybrid system. The proforma drag and drop interface now common to many commercial site builders paired with a live editing function that allows users to make changes to their sites without taking them offline.
The additional beauty of Microweber is that you can actually play with the site aesthetic thanks to an array of both free and premium design templates at your disposal.
Also, while DigitalOcean can be challenging for novices to work with, Microweber's UI is so easy to use that there is barely even a learning curve to follow. You can practically use the builder right out of the box – or, in this case, the installed download.
eCommerce and SSL certificate:
What provisions for online store building does Cloudways vs Digital Ocean have?
Cloudways has ecommerce-ready hosting packages for sites made with shop-building platform Magento and those equipped with WordPress’ ecommerce plugin WooCommerce.
One of the key selling points of its ecommerce solutions is just how easy it is to use. Really: all a user needs to do is select a server, launch the store, and start selling almost immediately. Regardless of builder, those availing of this ecommerce-friendly package will have a roster of tools at their fingertips, including solutions for building an eye-catching storefront and backend management.
Incidentally, SSL certificates are already included across all of Cloudways’ hosting plans.
Ecommerce is another way by which Microweber gives DigitalOcean users the advantage compared with the ecommerce capabilities of other hosting providers.
Aside from an intuitive store builder, the Microweber sub-platform offers ecommerce entrepreneurs a whole array of tools. The interface accepts multiple payment methods including PayPal and Stripe. Also provided are order management and tracking tools, shipping options, the ability to customise order fields, and even linkages to your store's social media accounts.
In this DigitalOcean vs Cloudways review, what we don't like when it comes to DO, however, is the fact that you're on you own when it comes to getting an SSL certificate for your site. Unlike its competitors, this platform doesn't include an SSL certificate with its hosting plans regardless of whether you're availing of starter or premium packages.
Security and Backups:
Anything can happen to compromise your site – so what security measures do Cloudways vs Digital Ocean offer?
Automated backups are done on a regular basis across all Cloudways hosting plans. In addition, migration from one hosting provider to your Cloudways account is offered for free.
Along with standard SSL certificates, the hosting service protects user sites through dedicated firewalls and IP whitelisting. It also enables application isolation to prevent cross-contamination in the event a site on the same server is hit by an attack, and database security measures.
DigitalOcean offers ample protection for your website by way of end-to-end cybersecurity protocols as well as extra encryption – and all of that are included across all hosting plans.
However, if you feel that this is still a little lacking, you can look into several of the platform's online tutorials to see how a well-placed bit of coding can seriously enhance the security of your site.
We have to state at this point, however, that automated backups are not offered on DigitalOcean.
Winner – Cloudways! Microweber could have won this for DigitalOcean, but we are giving Cloudways the win in terms of features that even newbies can easily learn how to use. We’re calling this Cloudways vs Digital Ocean ‘Features' match in favour of Cloudways.
Superior web hosting means not only having great features, but also topnotch performance.
The more server locations, the better. So how do DigitalOcean vs Cloudways compare?
Cloudways operates more than 65 data centres worldwide with locations in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia.
Note, however, that only its Frankfurt, London, and Sydney locations host servers for all five of its affiliate IaaS services; other locations only host one or two at the most.
The platform currently operates through twelve global servers. Its servers are found in key cities like New York, Amsterdam, San Francisco, Singapore, London, Frankfurt, Toronto, and Bangalore.
How does DigitalOcean vs Cloudways compare in terms of speed?
Cloudways-hosted websites load in less than two seconds.
DO sites load at an average of 0.453 seconds.
Average Uptime, Bandwidth, and Webspace Limits/Storage:
Let's compare uptime, bandwidth and disk space between DigitalOcean vs Cloudways.
Cloudways sites are compliant with the standard: 99.96% is the hosting service’s current score when it comes to uptime.
Bandwidth and storage are dependent on each user’s hosting plan. The minimum allowance is usually 1TB of bandwidth and 25GB of storage; at the other end of the spectrum, users can get 5TB of bandwidth along with 160GB of storage.
DigitalOcean claims to have a 100% uptime SLA, but we find that it is actually closer to 99.98% – not bad at all.
As with Cloudways, bandwidth and storage are both dependent on the hosting plan of choice. At the bare minimum, DO offers 1TB of bandwidth and 25GB of storage. For its most expensive hosting plan (Standard Plan 12), one gets 4TB of bandwidth and 1.9TB of storage – the largest we’ve seen so far for any hosting service.
Winner – Draw! In this DigitalOcean vs Cloudways ‘Performance' matchup, both platforms are levelled in terms of speed and reliability.
Support and Resources:
When you use software, you're bound to encounter some issue or problem. How does DigitalOcean vs Cloudways stack up in terms of the quality of support?
Cloudways offers 24/7 multiple channel tech support across all subscription plan. The platform bolsters this quite well with a regularly updated and maintained knowledge base.
The service’s blog is also a great source of information. Those looking for a third-party provider for specific functions will find it an excellent resource as it regularly features top ten lists for applications and plugins.
In this DigitalOcean vs Cloudways, matchup, what we like about DO is that its knowledge base is one of the most comprehensive online. Not surprising; it is a developers’ resource, after all. Aside from the standard wiki-style KB, it also offers multimedia tutorials on various processes necessary for site and hosting management, application development, and online troubleshooting.
Unfortunately, its customer and technical assistance teams aren’t the friendliest in the world. Therefore, we feel that some members are even inexperienced when it comes to dealing with more technical issues.
Winner – Draw! We are calling this DigitalOcean vs Cloudways ‘Support and Resources' showdown a draw.
Now let's evaluate how DigitalOcean vs Cloudways intend to give you value for your money.
What plans are offered by Cloudways vs Digital Ocean?
Cloudways’ price range depends on your infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provider – which, surprisingly, includes DO:
- DigitalOcean: $10 to $80 monthly
- Linode: $12 to $90 monthly
- Vultr: $11 to $84 monthly
- Amazon Web Services: $36.51 to $274.33 monthly
- Google Cloud: $33.18 to $225.93
Also depending on the IaaS of your choice, managed WordPress or WooCommerce hosting will set you back between $10 and $742 monthly.
Depending on your plan, DO can set you back between a measly $5 monthly to a whopping $480 for their most expensive hosting plan.
Free trial, refund policy, and money-back guarantee:
What about free trials and refunds. Who does it better, Cloudways vs Digital Ocean?
Cloudways has the shortest free trial period of any hosting provider we’ve encountered: just three days, then you have to either terminate your contract or opt for a monthly plan.
Interestingly, Cloudways prides itself on its pay as you go billing wherein users only pay for the services they actually use.
Users may, thus, request for a refund if this is presented within three months of adding funds. However, you may not receive the full amount as payment will be deducted for any services used.
We can sum it up in one word: lousy. Not only does DO not have a free trial. But it certainly doesn’t do refunds!
Therefore, it can be a pain to cancel your hosting plan. We have noticed in the process of this review that their support team tends to be very slow when it comes to responding to customer inquiries.
Winner – Cloudways! In terms of value for money, we’re giving this Cloudways vs Digital Ocean ‘Pricing' round to Cloudways.
Comparison Winner: DigitalOcean vs Cloudways?
This was a hard one to judge as it’s more of an apples to oranges comparison. Cloudways works well on an SME-to-Enterprise level; DO works for the developer community.
But if we’re going to judge solely on the merit of usability, we’re giving it to Cloudways as Comparison Winner.
Conclusion and Recommendations:
To wrap up this Cloudways vs Digital Ocean comparison;
What is Cloudways best for?
We recommend Cloudways for the WordPress-savvy crowd, online entrepreneurs, and those who have just a little experience when it comes to coding.
What is DigitalOcean best for?
This is, so to speak, a toy for the big boys. Specifically, developers with advanced skills and more seasoned online entrepreneurs who already have the experience of building and scaling up a web store would benefit the most from this platform.
To close this Cloudways vs Digital Ocean comparison, Cloudways may have come away the winner in this battle. Still, we recommend that you shop around for a hosting solution that fits the way you work as well as the site you want to build and deploy.
I run a business, can I use DigitalOcean?
Provided you have a knowledgeable tech team or manager, you can. DO offers the Microweber online store builder and management suite to help you create and run a fully-functional online store.
Is DigitalOcean a good choice for those with little to no experience in coding?
Probably not; DO’s interface is highly technical. Therefore, those who are just starting their site building journey are bound to struggle despite the abundance of online tutorials available through the platform’s knowledge base.
That’s all for now:
If you've read our Cloudways vs Digital Ocean comparison review up to here, we are grateful. Remember always to keep abreast of the latest developments on website builders, eCommerce, and other articles, such as the ones below;
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Not only the best tea/coffee maker on the team Sophie is our Chief Editor. Skilled across multiple marketing skill areas Sophie is our all rounder and a great asset to the team. Sophie is a website building trainer and tech writer who takes pride in helping small businesses and startups build their websites and launch their eCommerce platforms. Sophie is also the practical joker of the team and always wears a smile on her face. In her spare time she likes to spend her time with family. She loves going on holidays and spending time with friends.