Cloud hosting has become the most popular option in the web hosting industry for justified reasons. There are no worries of running out of resources, no restrictions in the type and number of applications that can be hosted on a cloud server and above all, a very user-friendly interface that is feature-rich to the max.
However, one flip side of cloud hosting is the requirement of continuous managing the servers to ensure smooth operation and security. Now, not every user who needs a cloud-based hosting solution possess the required server management skills.
For all such users, Cloudways is a managed WordPress website hosting that emphasizes simplicity, choice, and reliability. It offers a highly dependable hosting solution that takes care of all server management hassles and allows the user to focus on running their business and forget about server related issues.
In this article, I intend to demonstrate the powerful tools Cloudways offers and how they can benefit almost everyone who needs a managed WordPress hosting solution.
Cloudways for Bloggers
A blogger usually spends most of the time in creating content for their readers. Creating original and creative content is no easy job, and requires a lot of deliberation and concentration.
Here’s how Website Hosting Rating created a well-researched, comprehensive blog.
Your ability to create content can also be affected by constant buzzers from your hosting provider regarding the performance and WordPress security-related issues.
When they come to Cloudways, bloggers can choose any plan offered by five major cloud providers depending on their budget. These plans can then be scaled up if the need arises. Cloudways has flexible options for scaling server size, RAM, bandwidth, and processor count.
Cloudways for Digital Agencies
It’s no secret that the majority of the web development agencies encounter server management issues due to moderate to heavy traffic coming their way from their respective client’s sites. Another challenge for these agencies is managing multiple WordPress sites, both collectively and individually. To accommodate these complex technical requirements, they often hire network administration experts which increases the overall service cost.
Cloudways eliminates the need for sysadmins by automating server-related tasks, leaving the agencies stress-free and with ample time to focus on running and expanding the client base.
Cloudways Agency Focused Features
- Launch Multiple Applications
- Manage Multiple Domains
- Easy Server Scalability
- Complete Monitoring
- FREE SSL Certificates by Let’s Encrypt
- Built-in Varnish support
- Pre-installed features for e-commerce stores
- Cron Job Management
- Migration Tools
- 24/7 Live Chat Support
- CloudwaysBot Notifications
Cloudways for Developers
Cloudways likes to give control to its users because we know that not everybody is a fan of automation. This is true especially for developers who like to do things their way. Cloudways give enough room to developers to perform tasks manually, the way they want. For this, Cloudways offers the following tools:
- SSH terminal
- Deployment via Git
- Varnish rules
- Advance cron job tool
- Staging area & URLs
- Cloudways API
- Add Team Members
- Server & Application Cloning
- 1-Click Features
At this point, I believe you have a clear understanding of what Cloudways has to offer to all of its users. Let’s dive deeper into the Cloudways Platform and see the feature in detail!
1. Cloudways WordPress Application Walkthrough
Setting up a WordPress site on the Cloudways platform is just a matter of selecting your desired flavor from the drop-down list. Forget about complex WordPress installation and manual configuration of MySQL database. Although a variety of applications can be launched from Cloudways dashboard, for this guide, I will focus on launching WordPress on DigitalOcean.
In this list, you have various options to choose from. This gives flexibility to all users and lets them set up applications as per their requirements.
- Version x.x.x: This option comes with Cloudways developed “Breeze” free WordPress cache plugin and Varnish configuration.
- Version x.x.x with WooCommerce Version x.x.x: This option has a pre-installed WooCommerce store. This is highly recommended if you wish to set up an online store with excellent cache support (in this case, it’s Varnish).
- Multisite Version x.x.x: Set up a WordPress multisite network.
- Clean (No Cloudways Optimization) version x.x.x: This option does not come with any Varnish or Breeze capabilities and is a vanilla version as available on the official WordPress site.
Once the WordPress application and server has been set up, you can access the application’s dashboard either by clicking the Applications tab in the top navigation bar or use the toggle switch present at the top of the page.
You can also see the list of the applications installed on your server by clicking on the www link present inside the server container.
1.a Inside the Dashboard
Cloudways smartly structured its application dashboard to accommodate all kinds of users. Complex tasks such as domain management, cron jobs, and migration can be done in just a few steps.
Let’s explore each and every component one-by-one for better understanding.
1.b Access Details
This is the default tab that contains information regarding your WordPress application default access credentials.
Here you can find URL to launch your WordPress site, credentials to access your wp-admin and username and password for your MySQL database. You may also add additional credentials for SFTP or SSH access.
1.c Disk Usage
This newly introduced feature allows you to monitor disk usage consumed by your web application. The first tab contains the summary of disk usage by the overall application, web files, and database.
The Other tab gives a graphical overview that you can filter on a frequency of 1 hour to 6 months.
1.d Domain Management
A lot of WordPress site owners find it challenging to direct their domain to their hosting. Not anymore! With Cloudways all of this can be achieved in few easy steps.
If you wish to point your domain to your Cloudways hosted WordPress site then the first thing you need to do is to make sure that everything is tested. Now enter your website name in the domain field and in case you have a multisite then you may require additional domains as well.
Detailed information can be found here How do I take my website live from Cloudways.
1.e Cron Job Management
Majority of the websites use this feature to execute certain scheduled tasks. In Cloudways dashboard this is managed from the cron job management tab.
A cron job can be configured by clicking on the ADD CRON JOB button. This displays the windows which have a list of parameters to set the next cron job for your WordPress site.
1.f SSL Certificate
You can configure free SSL Certificate for your WordPress site from Cloudways dashboard.
If you have already pointed your domain to the Cloudways hosting, just supply your email address and domain name to install the SSL certificate instantly. A single SSL certificate can also be installed on multiple domains by clicking the Add Domain button.
Users can also use SSL WildCard functionality to utilize the same certificate on multiple sub-domains. This eliminates the need for purchasing additional certificates for multiple sub-domains.
This a simple yet very important tab that is used to restore your WordPress site in case you end up breaking it at any point.
Your application will be restored using available WordPress backups of your files and database.
1.h Deployment via Git
Git deployment and version control are done here. You can deploy your existing application to your Git repository by simply creating an SSH key.
Next, it is a very simple process of pushing your code to the Git repo from Cloudways. Just enter your repository URL, the branch you would like to push your code to and your public key. Experts recommend connecting your Git Repo with your preferred IDE/code editor for easier version control. With Cloudways, it is super easy to integrate Sublime editor and GitHub Repo
1.i Application Settings
The Settings tab of Cloudways application dashboard has three sub-tabs inside. These tabs manage general settings of your WordPress site, i.e, PHP Settings and Varnish Settings.
- In the General settings tab, you can define application access permissions and webroot directory, etc.
- The PHP Settings tab is used to configure PHP FPM settings.
- And Varnish Settings tab is used to define rules for caching on your WordPress site.
1.j Migration Tools
This tool is a WordPress plugin that will copy all your application files and database to your new cloud server without breaking anything.
CloudwaysCDN improves the performance and boosts up the speed of your WordPress site. Cloudways offers CDN services for its users that can be easily created and integrated with your WordPress websites.
1.l Quick Tool Button
Quick tool button is located at the right bottom of the page.
You can use these quick access tools for deleting your WordPress site, cloning your site and for adding a new application on the same server.
Another cool feature which can be accessed from the Quick Tool button is the Staging. The users can easily create staging sites to test out any new website features without affecting the live site. With this feature, users can easily push data from the staging environment to live site and pull from live site to staging. Users can push and pull both web files as well as database files depending upon their need.
2. Cloudways Server Selection and Configuration
Cloudways is a cloud-based hosting service for open source applications. It is widely used by website owners and agencies to host their WordPress, Magento, Joomla, Drupal, and other PHP based sites.
2.a Application Selection
In order to set up the server, first, you need to choose the type of application you would like to run on the server. Cloudways has plenty of options that you select from the drop-down menu.
This one-click configuration will bootstrap your desired application without any tedious setup procedures.
2.b Server Selection
In the next step, you pick your preferred cloud infrastructure provider. Currently, Cloudways offers five top-of-the-line cloud infrastructure providers at the platform, and server setup is extremely easy.
Simply choose your desired provider by clicking its logo and set the size, RAM and processor configuration using the range controller underneath.
The last step would be the choice of the location of your server. You should pick a location that is closest to your audience so that they can experience fast page load speed on your website.
It will take a few minutes to make your server ready for its first application.
2.c Server Management
Once the server is up and running, its dashboard is accessible. This is the primary window for controlling all your server related tasks.
Let’s explore each feature one-by-one for a better understanding of Cloudways server dashboard.
2.d Top Ribbon
Top ribbon of the dashboard shows some very important information.
Here you can see the name of the server as occasionally it is possible that you are working on more than one server. Below that has the information regarding server specifications, server, IP and its location.
On the right corner, you can find options for:
- A number of users working on this server
- A number of projects associated with this server
- A number of applications/WordPress sites installed on this server
2.e Master Credentials
This tab contains your server credentials and IP address. The other half has the options for creating SSH keys and to launch SSH Terminal.
Q. Why do I need SSH keys?
Ans. SSH (Secure Security Shell) key is used to authenticate a user to the remote server. Cloudways gives you the option to generate these public keys.
Q. What is SSH terminal?
Ans. SSH terminal is used to execute SSH related commands. This option is readily available on your Cloudways dashboard.
As the name suggests, this tab is all about giving you status and notifications regarding your server usage.
Graph reflects updated server activity. The default view shows the Idle CPU status of one hour. However, you may also check the server activity against other parameters using the drop-down list. This tool keeps you updated with current server status and help you in taking the crucial decision of expanding your existing server if needed.
2.g Manage Services
Core services can be controlled from this tab. Manual configuration of these services may require intermediate to advanced server knowledge. With Cloudways; users can easily manage these services.
Now briefly examine what role each service plays in your application.
- Apache: This is a web server which is responsible for listening to the user’s request and serving the files to them.
- Memcached: This is a caching layer that holds database queries. Caching is used to speed up the server response time.
- MySQL: This is the database used for your application.
- New Relic: This is an analytical tool which can be used for application performance monitoring.
- Nginx: This is also a web server used for load balancing and other caching related operations.
- PHP-FPM: This tool boost up the performance of your application. It offers features like Adaptive process spawning.
- Varnish: Another caching tool for application. It drastically speeds up the `delivery of your site.
2.h Settings and Packages
If you wish to change server-level settings as well as packages, this is the tab for it.
It is further divided into three sections:
- Basic for defining a number of processed requests, upload size of a file, RAM capacity, etc.
- Advanced has controls for defining max connection limit, cache expiry, APC memory, etc.
- Packages here you can manage PHP, MySQL, and Redis versions.
Another important tab which deals with the security of your server. This tab has features to whitelist your IP for SSH/SFTP and MySQL connections.
2.j Vertical Scaling
An amazing feature by Cloudways. Through this tab, you can increase the size of your server instantly just by stretching the marker to your desired specifications.
Another cool feature of this tab is to increase your block storage (Currently only available in DigitalOcean). It comes in handy if you are getting out of space and only require additional space to store your application data.
Q. How much time does it take to apply the changes?
Ans. It can take up to ten minutes, depending on the size of your server.
Q. Will this interrupt my live traffic?
Ans. Not necessarily but your site might run a bit slow during the scaling process. Therefore, it is best to perform this activity during off-peak hours.
Backups are managed through this tab of the dashboard. Here you can take instant backups as well as set server backups frequency and retention (Weekly and hourly).
This tab is used to configure SMTP services for your server.
2.m Quick Tools
This button is located at the right bottom of the screen. When hover over, displays very useful tools.
This kit offers the following tools:
- Stop this will stop your server.
- Restart this is used for rebooting your server.
- Delete this is for deleting your server.
- Transfer Server for easy migration to another Cloudways account.
- Clone Server new Cloudways server with a similar configuration can be cloned.
- Add App add more applications instantly
Cloudways users are not bound to just a single server or application. On one server multiple applications can be launched and a user can launch multiple such servers on the same account.
This LEGO type architecture makes Cloudways the Cloud Hosting provider of the modern era, equipped with the modern toolkit. A solution suitable for people belong to all walks of life. Cloudways did not only make the server management easy but also gave control to its users who can make adjustments as per their requirements.
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Ibad Ur Rehman is a WordPress Community Manager at Cloudways. He likes to explore latest open-source technologies and to interact with different communities. In his free time he likes to read, watch a series or fly his favorite Cessna 172SP in X Plane 10 flight simulator.