The 4 Best Cloud Hosts for WordPress: An Honest Review
Searching for the best cloud hosting for WordPress sites?
Most WordPress users start with cheap shared hosting. But as your site grows, you’ll hit a point where you need to look for better hosting. In most cases, cloud hosting ticks that box, and at a surprisingly affordable price.
However, “cloud hosting” is a pretty broad term, so it can be tough to find the right option that will let you host a WordPress site (and not overwhelm you with technical complexity).
To help, we’ve collected the four best cloud WordPress hosts that anyone can use. That is, you don’t need to be a developer to use them. Before we get to those hosts, though, let’s quickly run over some common questions about cloud hosting for WordPress.
What Is Cloud Hosting for WordPress?
Cloud WordPress hosting is a lot like a virtual private server (VPS). In fact, you’ll often see cloud hosting marketed as a “cloud VPS” because of those similarities.
With both, you’ll get dedicated resources for your site. For example, you might see a resource list like:
- 2 CPU cores
- 4 GB RAM
- 30 GB storage
- 1 TB bandwidth
These resources are what you’re billed by—you can host as many sites as you want… have as many visitors as you want… as long as your resources can handle it.
Here’s the key difference:
- “Regular” VPS: your resources are located on a single physical server.
- Cloud hosting/cloud VPS: your resources are spread over multiple servers (AKA the “cloud”).
Cloud hosting gives you a set amount of hardware resources (like regular VPS hosting)—spread across multiple different servers (unlike regular VPS hosting).
So, like VPS hosting, cloud hosting gives you a set amount of hardware resources. Unlike VPS, cloud hosting gives you those resources across multiple different servers. That’s the difference, and it’s also why people sometimes use language like “VPS/cloud hosting” that emphasizes the buying of set hardware resources that the two hosting types have in common.
Managed Cloud Hosting vs Unmanaged Cloud Hosting
In this post, we’re also focused on managed cloud hosting for WordPress. This is different from unmanaged cloud hosting. In other words, we’re looking at cloud hosting providers that also make it easy to use WordPress.
In this article, we’re looking at managed cloud hosting: cloud hosting providers that also make it easy to use WordPress.
With unmanaged cloud hosting, you basically get a blank slate. You’re responsible for setting up and configuring everything. Want to use WordPress? Well, before you can even get to installing the WordPress software, you’ll need to set up basic technologies like PHP, Nginx/Apache for your web server, MySQL/MariaDB for your database, etc.
Then, you’ll also need to keep all of those things updated, secure your server, plus lots of other “fun” responsibilities.
The Best Unmanaged Cloud Hosting Providers (Experts Only)
If you know a lot about servers and really are looking for unmanaged cloud hosting for WordPress, some of the best cloud server hosting providers are:
- Google Cloud
- AWS (Amazon Web Services)
- Azure (Microsoft)
You can just sign up directly with those providers and host WordPress. Some even make it easy to spin up the basic tech you need for WordPress. However, unless you’re a developer, you’ll struggle to manage and maintain your hosting.
Managed Cloud Hosting is Much Better for Non-Experts
With managed cloud hosting, however, the hosting provider takes care of all of that for you and also manages the server to keep it maintained. Because of that, managed cloud hosting isn’t that different from shared hosting or managed WordPress hosting in terms of the technical knowledge that’s required to use it.
For that reason, this article will focus strictly on managed cloud hosting from her on out.
Cloud Hosting vs. WordPress Hosting
There’s nothing inherently different between cloud hosting vs. WordPress hosting—it’s just that “WordPress hosting” is a much broader term than just cloud hosting.
For example, some cloud hosting companies are also WordPress hosting companies (which is the focus of this post). However, not all WordPress hosting companies are cloud hosting companies.
To further muddy the waters, most managed WordPress hosts now use cloud infrastructure from providers like Google Cloud or AWS.
The key difference between managed WordPress hosts and the cloud hosts on this list is that managed WordPress hosts don’t give you dedicated resources.
However, the key difference between these managed WordPress hosts and the cloud hosts on this list is that managed WordPress hosts don’t give you dedicated resources. For example, if you go to the Kinsta pricing page, you won’t see any details on how much RAM a plan has or how many CPU cores. Instead, you’re just billed based on your visitor limits, and Kinsta handles allocating resources to make that happen.
Can You Find Free Cloud Hosting for WordPress?
Yes and no. You cannot easily find free managed cloud hosting. However, if you’re willing to go the unmanaged route, many big-name cloud hosting providers offer generous free usage credits:
- AWS Free Tier – 750 EC2 hours per month (12 months free). 750 Lightsail hours (1 month free).
- Google Cloud Free – $300 credit + some always free services.
- Azure Free – $200 credit + 12 months of free popular services + 25 always free services.
However, you really need to be a developer to reliably use these free credits to host a WordPress site.
About this Hosting Review
We are affiliates for two of the hosts on this list, Cloudways and SiteGround. If you click a link and go on to buy the hosting, we’ll earn a commission. We’re affiliates for these hosts because we’ve collected and analyzed thousands of real, unbiased customer reviews on WordPress hosting, and that data shows that these hosts are the best hosting in their category.
Four Best Cloud Hosting Providers for WordPress Users
All right, now that you’re caught up to speed, let’s get to our WordPress cloud hosting review! Here are the four best options based on personal experience and the objective third-party rankings in our best WordPress hosting post.
By the numbers, Cloudways is the best cloud hosting for WordPress users.
One important thing to understand, though, is that Cloudways doesn’t provide the actual cloud infrastructure. Instead, Cloudways is a managed hosting service built on top of your choice of cloud hosting from five providers:
- Google Cloud
However, you never need to interact with the cloud hosting directly (nor do you get root access). Instead, Cloudways handles everything for you and you’ll be able to manage your servers and apps from a user-friendly dashboard.
You’ll also get convenient features like:
- WordPress-optimized server-level caching with Varnish
- Free/easy SSL certificates
- Easy staging sites and one-click cloning
- Automatic backups to secure off-site locations
Cloudways’ pricing depends on the provider and specs you choose. Typically, you’ll pay about double what you’d pay for the unmanaged VPS if you signed up directly with the provider, though this ratio decreases as you get into higher-powered servers.
The cheapest option is $10 per month for a DigitalOcean droplet with:
- 1 GB RAM
- 1 CPU core
- 25 GB storage
- 1 TB bandwidth
Another good option to look at is the new Vultr high-frequency servers which start at $13 per month for:
- 1 GB RAM
- 1 CPU core
- 32 GB storage
- 1 TB bandwidth
All three tools represent an interesting new option that kind of sits in between managed and unmanaged cloud hosting:
A dedicated WordPress server control panel.
With these tools, you’ll sign up directly with a cloud hosting provider such as DigitalOcean, Vultr, Linode, Google Cloud, AWS, etc. You’ll still get that “blank slate” from those cloud hosting providers.
However, once you have that blank slate, the server control panel will handle setting up all the technologies needed to run WordPress. It will configure PHP, MariaDB, Nginx, etc. It’ll even set up server-level caching for you. Most importantly, it will also handle maintaining those packages and keeping everything secure.
In this way, these tools are a lot like Cloudways. However, the key difference, and one that developers will appreciate, is that you still have full root access to your underlying cloud VPS. Additionally, you can stop paying for the service and your hosting will keep working (though you’ll lose the maintenance features).
These tools are a little more complicated than something like Cloudways. However, they’re still within the realm of non-developers. For example, I’m not a developer and I’ve been successfully hosting sites on SpinupWP for over a year.
Here’s what it looks like – not that intimidating, right?
There are a lot of tools like this popping up. But for WordPress users, I think the three best options are:
- SpinupWP – has a very accessible interface and a solid feature set.
- GridPane – has an excellent feature set with tons of useful tools (including staging). I personally don’t find the interface to be super user-friendly, but it’s totally usable.
- RunCloud – not specific to WordPress (works with any PHP application), but has lots of useful WordPress features. Also the most affordable option.
Most developers seem to prefer GridPane. However, as a non-developer, my preference is SpinupWP because of its user-friendly interface (though it doesn’t match GridPane’s features).
With respect to pricing, you’ll need to pay a monthly fee to your chosen server control panel and you’ll also need to directly pay the cloud provider for your servers. In general:
- Cloudways is more affordable if you only need a single small server.
- All these tools are more affordable if you need a high-powered server and/or you plan to use multiple servers.
SiteGround is a popular WordPress host that’s probably best known for its shared hosting plans. In fact, in our list of the best WordPress hosting, SiteGround had the second-best overall ranking of any provider on the list.
However, in addition to those cheap shared plans, SiteGround also offers scalable cloud hosting for WordPress users.
The cloud hosting plans are still fully managed and include all the major features from SiteGround’s shared plans:
- Automatic WordPress updates
- WordPress-optimized caching
- Staging sites
- Free/easy SSL certificates
- Automatic daily backups with offsite storage
SiteGround’s cloud hosting plans start at $80 per month for:
- 3 CPU cores
- 6 GB RAM
- 40 GB SSD storage
- 5 TB bandwidth
4. Liquid Web
Liquid Web is a popular hosting provider that offers a range of plans, including some WordPress-specific offerings in the form of a managed WordPress plan and a dedicated WooCommerce plan (with some really interesting features).
If you don’t want to go with the managed WordPress hosting approach, Liquid Web also has a range of cloud VPS hosting plans with three levels of management:
- Self-managed – you’re responsible for everything.
- Core-managed – Liquid Web supports the base operating system as well as Apache.
- Fully-Managed – includes a user-friendly control panel (e.g. cPanel) and full support for all control panel services.
If you’re not a technical person, you’ll definitely want to go with one of the fully-managed options.
Prices vary depending on your preferred resources, configuration, and service level. The cheapest fully-managed option costs $59 per month and uses the Interworx control panel with:
- 2 GB RAM
- 2 vCPU
- 40 GB storage
- 10 TB bandwidth
- 100 GB backup storage (you can upgrade this for a fee)
Or, for an extra $5 per month, you can use cPanel instead of Interworx.
There’s also a separate cloud server option that comes with multiple nodes and load balancing. These plans start at $250 per month.
What’s the Best Cloud Hosting for WordPress
To finish things out, let’s go over some recommendations for choosing the best cloud hosting.
The Overall Best Option
Overall, the best cloud hosting for most WordPress users is Cloudways. Cloudways lets you harness the best cloud hosting providers in DigitalOcean, Vultr, AWS, etc. But at the same time, it’s quite user-friendly and definitely doesn’t require any special technical knowledge.
While it’s a tiny bit more complex than standard managed WordPress hosting, even non-technical users should be able to quickly launch or migrate a WordPress site. You’ll also get convenient features like staging sites and automatic backups.
Basically, if you’re not sure where to start, this is the place.
If you’re on a budget, I recommend the cheapest $10 per month DigitalOcean box. Or, if you’re willing to spend a few dollars more per month, check out the newly added Vultr high-frequency plans, starting from $13 per month.
A Great Option for More Advanced Users
While these tools do require some technical aptitude, you definitely don’t need to be a developer and they’re much simpler than unmanaged cloud hosting.
If you need to host a lot of websites and/or you need a high-powered server, I don’t think you’ll find a more affordable way to do it.
Personally, I think that SpinupWP is the best option for non-developers, while developers might prefer GridPane.
As for the cloud hosting itself, the same advice applies as with Cloudways. The cheap DigitalOcean droplets are a good choice if you’re on a budget. Or, you can also consider using the Vultr high-frequency plans for a little extra performance boost.
Of course, cloud hosting isn’t the only way to host a WordPress site. If all this talk has you feeling a little overwhelmed, you might be better off with managed WordPress hosting – you can check out the best managed WordPress hosting providers here. Many of these managed hosts actually use cloud infrastructure from Google Cloud or AWS, just in a slightly different way.
Or, if you’re on a really tight budget, you might be a better candidate for shared hosting. While you’ll make sacrifices when it comes to performance, you can save a lot of money. Check out the best shared WordPress hosting.
Finally, if you’re still confused about how to choose WordPress hosting in the first place, check out our WordPress hosting recommendations guide. And if you want to see the overall best options for hosting a WordPress site in 2020, 2021, and beyond, check out our collection of the best WordPress hosts in 2020.
That’s it! If you still have any questions, let us know in the comments or join our Facebook community.