Both Bluehost and Cloudways offer managed WordPress hosting, but the similarities end there.
Cloudways is a managed cloud service that has partnered with major cloud providers like GCP (Google Cloud Platform), AWS, and DigitalOcean to offer you the advantages of cloud infrastructure without the headache of having to manage it yourself. In its niche, Cloudways is one of the best-value purchases on the market.
Bluehost has its own infrastructure, a wide range of shared hosting plans, and attractive entry-level prices. However, Bluehost doesn’t offer any kind of cloud hosting.
Overall, Cloudways gives you more freedom and support to grow your services. It’s true that Bluehost’s shared hosting plans are inexpensive, but you’d be trading a lot of versatility and performance for that bargain. Plus, you’d be in for an unpleasant surprise once your initial term ends and you have to face Bluehost’s steep renewal fees.
To fairly compare Cloudways and Bluehost, I’ve focused on their managed WordPress plans. Spoiler alert: Cloudways wins across the board. Read on to find out why, or click here to see Cloudways’ latest deals.
1. Plans and Pricing
Cloudways Is More Affordable and Straightforward Than Bluehost
Bluehost says you get unlimited bandwidth and storage with its WP Pro plans. This might seem like a great deal, but there’s a major catch. To begin with, you don’t get infinite storage, nor infinite bandwidth. Both are subjected to limits stipulated in Bluehost’s user agreement, as is the case with most shared hosting services. For example, the total size of your databases cannot exceed 10GB. How’s that for unlimited?
In addition, I noticed that RAM and CPU resources are not specified on Bluehost’s site. This is because Bluehost’s resources are not guaranteed but rather are shared among all of the clients hosted on the same server. If one of your neighbors starts hogging more resources, your website’s performance could suffer.
Cloudways does the opposite of Bluehost. All of Cloudways’ plans come with exact resource specifications that are guaranteed to you at all times. It might seem like a downgrade from “unlimited,” but it really isn’t. Think about it: these server resources are not shared with anyone else, so you know exactly what you’re getting with each plan. You can also upgrade or downgrade plans according to your current needs.
A free domain name is included with some hosting plans from Bluehost
Cloudways’ entry-level managed WordPress plan (using DigitalOcean’s cloud) is much cheaper than Bluehost’s WP Build. For a starter website, Cloudway’s 1 vCPU, 1GB RAM, and 1TB bandwidth is more than enough. Bluehost’s WP Build is double the price of Cloudways’ plan, and that’s only for your first year. When renewal kicks in, Bluehost is three times more expensive. Ouch.
Another important difference is that you have to pay up-front with Bluehost, whereas Cloudways works on the pay-as-you-go model. With Cloudways, your bill comes at the end of the month and there are no hidden fees.
Both Cloudways and Bluehost have 24/7 live chat support. Bluehost also offers phone support, while Cloudways has a ticketing system. On higher-tier Bluehost plans, you get various levels of access to Blue Sky, the company’s dedicated WordPress team.
You can purchase Blue Sky support separately, but it will likely double your overall monthly costs for hosting and won’t get you very far, since it doesn’t include in-depth application support.
With Cloudways’ Advanced and Premium support tiers, you get help with plugin and theme troubleshooting, database conflicts, and more. But phone support is only included with Cloudways’ Premium add-on, which is really expensive. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you run an established business.
To help you better compare Cloudways and Bluehost in terms of support, I put both services to the test with a live chat interaction, and they both did quite well.Bluehost’s agent was polite and asked me about my needs. Based on my feedback, they recommended a shared hosting package that came with a discount if I bought hosting for three years. They also offered to stick around until I had WordPress up and running, which was a great touch.
Since Bluehost only has servers in the US, I asked for more details on website performance for visitors in Europe or Asia. Unfortunately, I didn’t get much of a response, aside from the fact that a high-performance plan would cost more, which is to be expected.
Toward the end of our interaction, the Bluehost agent insisted on closing the deal. I’m used to sales pitches, but this doesn’t make them any less bothersome.
My interaction withCloudways’ technical rep was better. There was no pressure to buy anything right away, which made me trust the service a bit more.
When I asked for more details on website performance, Cloudways’ agent explained what a CDN is and how it would help me. The agent also made it clear what kind of help I can expect from the technical crew when building a website.
Both hosts performed well during the live chat interaction, although Cloudways’ support was more professional and helpful, rather than sales-oriented.
If you like to DIY, both companies have extensive knowledge bases with documentation to guide you through most hosting-related tasks.
Cloudways Has Features for Beginners and Advanced Users
Both Cloudways and Bluehost have a lot of great features included in all managed WordPress plans: you can install as many websites as you like, point as many domains to them as you want, and benefit from automated backups and staging environments. So far, it’s a pretty sweet deal on both ends.
That said, I don’t recommend that you host several websites on a single Bluehost account since your RAM and CPU are shared. There’s a good chance that your account will end up using too many server resources, which would result in a penalty.
Unlike Cloudways, Bluehost offers automated WordPress updates and a growing number of themes with each of its plans. In addition, Bluehost’s Grow throws in a Jetpack Premium license, which can greatly improve your WordPress security on top of what the host already offers.
Despite all of these Bluehost pros, Cloudways still has the upper hand. It has multiple versions of PHP (including the latest one), free migrations for existing websites, a dedicated server IP, and free built-in caching. Cloudways’ stack is also better optimized for performance, but I’ll discuss this in the Performance section below.
If you’re working on multiple websites and want to add collaborators, Cloudways’ Teams is a major advantage. You can create roles and give them permissions so they can work with you on maintaining or developing websites. When you’re done, you can remove or disable members.
If you want to save WordPress themes or setups to re-use at a later date, Cloudways has Git integration. This means that you can clone repositories, which will speed up the process of launching new websites.
Regardless of which cloud you choose, you can add the free version of Jetpack and get the same number of themes that you’d get with Bluehost’s Grow plan. Plus, Cloudways’ plans are so much cheaper than Bluehost’s, you can actually buy a Jetpack Premium license and still spend less than you would with Bluehost.
For an overview of the features you get with Cloudways and Bluehost, check out this table below:
Both Bluehost and Cloudways offer SSD-only storage. This is a good start, as it ensures faster delivery of your content compared to more traditional HDDs. However, the fact that your resources are isolated from other users gives Cloudways a major upper hand. Basically, you get a dedicated environment for the price of a managed WordPress plan.
Bluehost’s website doesn’t give any information on its web software stack, but the live chat agent I spoke to told me it runs the Apache web server with MySQL database technology. Although a CDN is available, there’s no caching technology included in the stack.
Bluehost can host your WordPress website in just one data center, which is based in Utah, US. If your visitors are mostly in Europe or Asia-Pacific, this is a major drawback.
On the other hand, Cloudways gives you a choice of more than 65 data centers, in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Australia, and Asia. If you want to be close to your audience, this is how you do it.
The company is also more transparent in terms of server software. The Cloudways ThunderStack is a unique and reliable set of web tools that includesApache, Nginx, MySQL, and MariaDB, which combine to deliver excellent website performance.
Three caching tools are included: Memcached, Varnish, and (optional) Redis. These three are the powerhouses of caching. To top it off, Cloudways also includes PHP-FPM, which is what the best WordPress websites run on. Simply put, FPM allows PHP-based processes to run more independently from the web server, which results in faster webpage delivery and better responsiveness. Although neither Bluehost, nor Cloudways offer an uptime SLA, each infrastructure Cloudways works with has its own, and they’re all excellent.
Bluehost got a pretty low score in our performance tests. To see what went wrong, you can read our in-depth Bluehost review.
Cloudways managed a first-rate score in the same tests. To learn more about it, read our expert Cloudways review.
Bluehost Skimps on Security
Cloudways has two hefty layers of security to keep your websites safe, while Bluehost barely has one. Both services offer free SSL certificates, which is a good start.
Bluehost guarantees malware scanning and protection through the Jetpack plugin, but you can get this free of charge with any host. Moreover, unless you activate the free Cloudflare CDN, you won’t benefit from DDoS defense.
Bluehost’s spam protection also isn’t unique to the service. It’s the free version of the Akismet WordPress plugin, which you can also get with any host. Unfortunately, Bluehost doesn’t offer any firewall protection.
On the other hand, all of the cloud servers you provision from Cloudways come with built-in firewalls and DDoS protection. Since your account is isolated from others, you don’t have to worry about other websites on the same server infecting yours with malware.
In addition, Cloudways offers database security, manages several firewalls for its clients, and provides two-factor authentication for free. You don’t have to worry about WordPress security updates either, as they’re automatically performed in the background.
It’s not much of a contest here. Cloudways wins by a landslide in security.
Bluehost doesn’t stand a chance against Cloudways in a head-to-head matchup for managed WordPress hosting. At a glance, Bluehost seems to offer more resources, but it really doesn’t. You can’t count on the unlimited storage or bandwidth, since they are restricted by the user agreement, as well as by the other customers you share the server with.
Cloudways’ managed hosting plans give you better performance, support, and security – and more features. You’re also likely to save money with it, since Bluehost’s renewals are quite expensive. The cloud might seem intimidating, but with Cloudways on your side, it’s as easy to work with as shared hosting.
Speaking of shared hosting, this is one area where Bluehost is more competitive, given its low prices. The problem is that Bluehost doesn’t compare to what you can get with the best web hosting services, so you’d be better off looking around some more.
Plans and Pricing
Pay-as-you-go cloud platform that provisions infrastructure from AWS, DigitalOcean, Linode, Vultr, or GCP; good value purchase
Low-cost hosting for the initial term, with expensive renewals and overall poor value
No. Cloudways’ managed hosting plans are better than Bluehost in terms of performance, security, features, support, and pricing.
Cloudways’ advantage is that it can provision servers from GCP, AWS, Linode, Vultr, or DigitalOcean on your behalf. These cloud infrastructures are known to provide top-notch performance, and Cloudways builds a solid software stack on top of them.
Bluehost, on the other hand, manages just one data center (according to its support agents), and it doesn’t do an amazing job of it.
If you want a more affordable hosting option than Cloudways, I recommend you think about shared hosting and take a look at our list of the best web hosting services.
2. Does Bluehost offer good performance?
No, Bluehost’s performance is just average. Although the company does offer SSD storage for most plans, the server’s software stack is unimpressive. It runs Apache with no built-in caching for static or dynamic content, and there’s no separate PHP process manager, which means slower speeds for PHP-based websites (like the ones that run on WordPress or Magento).
By comparison, Cloudways configures each cloud according to best-in-class industry practices. It runs Nginx, Apache, PHP-FPM, and three separate caching tools. This is how the professionals do it.
If you want to get a better idea of what a good managed WordPress service actually looks like, you can check out our list of the best managed WordPress hosting services.
3. Is Bluehost reliable?
Bluehost has no official uptime SLA. This means that your website(s) can be down for an indefinite amount of time, and the company will not be responsible for the loss of service.
Third-party sources indicate that Bluehost has a good uptime record. But it’s hard to trust their reliability when they don’t offer a proper uptime guarantee, like other major companies do.
4. Is Bluehost good for cloud hosting?
No. Bluehost used to have a cloud hosting service named Cloud Sites. However, the company recently incorporated it into its shared hosting platform. Now, there’s no cloud hosting with Bluehost.
If you’d like to find out more about cloud hosting, you should check out our list of the best cloud hosting services.
Vlad started playing with software soon after his first encounter with the MS Office Dev Hunter game back in 2000. He writes on a variety of topics, ranging from technology to nutrition and health, digital humanities, and more. He spends his free time working out, replicating vegan recipes with his wife, and sharing Slavic memes on Reddit.