It’s been three years since I moved my blog from a shared hosting environment to a Virtual Private Server (VPS). My web host back then was quite good, and I’m really thankful because they didn’t kick me out even if my consuming too much resources.
But as my blog grew bigger, I can’t help but notice the need to migrate to something better. I wouldn’t say that it’s incredibly slow, but it can be sluggish at times especially when I have many readers online at the same time. Perhaps it’s also a prevention of a forthcoming website crash. After all, I’m on a shared web hosting, so that means that I’m on a server with tens or even hundreds of other users which make the resources very limited.
The search for an affordable but reliable VPS
I’ve searched for different VPS providers that are within my budget and I found Linode and Digital Ocean (DO) as the popular providers. Linode was a much better platform and has been in the business longer back then, but it’s also pricier than DO back in 2013. With the addition of a recommendation from a friend, Digital Ocean became the obvious choice for me. It’s not as big as it is now back then, considering they were still in their second year of operation, but they’re already poised to disrupt the cloud hosting industry with their affordable and generous SSD-based virtual machines.
Moving WordPress blog to Digital Ocean
I prepared my migration and signed up to the $5/month plan thinking that it was enough to run my blog – but I was wrong. I moved the blog to Digital Ocean but I struggled fitting my website on the cheapest plan. Result? Downtime. I’m literally scratching my head because of all the different problems I’m getting and it went on for a day or two.
After consulting a friend, we narrowed the issue down to memory exhaustion. We’re really puzzled why, maybe because of some of my plugins, but I decided to take the easy way out and just upgrade to the $10 plan with 1GB RAM, 1 CPU core, and 30GB SSD. We did some optimizations and used Nginx with Varnish instead of Apache to further improve performance.
Everything started running well, and my website attracted even more readers which eventually crashed the server. I upgraded to the next bigger droplet with 2GB RAM and 2 CPU cores. This transfer improved the page load time and overall performance of my website because of the fast SSD used on Digital Ocean servers compared to my previous host which used only HDDs.
For the past two years everything has been relatively smooth and without much hiccups. All support emails have been answered quickly and I haven’t experienced any major downtime aside from the periodical server maintenance. I stayed with Digital Ocean – now the second largest hosting company in the world after Amazon Web Services (AWS).
It’s a great learning experience and I’ve become more knowledgeable in dealing with the complexities of Linux servers and WordPress. If not for the move to a VPS and occasional problems, I wouldn’t have dabbled with servers and learn more about them. From then on, I jumped right in and moved some of my other blogs in another VPS and experimented with them. The thrill of learning new things and breaking something if I’m not careful enough appealed to me.
Unfortunately, several days ago, my website suffered from a corrupted database which messed up parts of my content. I’m not particularly sure of the reason why this happened, but it may have been compromised because I haven’t updated WordPress in a while because of theme conflicts which I wasn’t able to fix at that time because of my busy schedule. It’s bad practice – everyone should regularly update to the latest release as soon as possible to prevent intruders from getting through. I immediately restored my backup to keep my blog online and immediately explored my options.
Since Digital Ocean offers an unmanaged VPS, they are not obligated to help customers in their own my specific problems not directly related to the server. I took this chance to migrate to a managed cloud hosting service, to take away all the headaches and possible troubles in server administration.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Digital Ocean and I have no problems with it – it’s just that I wanted to move on and focus more on the blogging side instead of worrying about my server all the time.
Getting to know Cloudways Managed Cloud Hosting
A few months ago, I’ve heard about Cloudways – an affordable managed cloud hosting solution. I’ve researched about the company and found out that they actually don’t have their own servers. Instead, they’ve partnered with popular cloud hosting companies to integrate them into their service. I’ve read several Cloudways reviews and most of them are positive so it got me more interested.
Cloudways offers a quick and easy way for developers, designers, bloggers, and businesses to deploy their content on the web. Above all that, they would manage the server for you, too. They provide an easy to use control panel called the Platform, wherein users can manage, monitor, and deploy their web apps.
A quick glance at the Managed WordPress Cloud Hosting page of Cloudways shows what they have in store. Here are some of them:
- User-friendly control panel
- Managed backups (every day, on-demand)
- Easy cloning of a server
- WP-CLI ready
- Real-time monitoring
- WordPress Migrator plugin powered by BlogVault
Perhaps what I like the most about them is their use of staging URLs and a plugin which makes it very easy to migrate. They also offer a one-time free migration service for every customer, in case the customer struggles to handle the transfer himself. Succeeding migrations will be charged $25 each.
Cloudways customers can choose among the following cloud hosting providers:
At first look, I considered hosting with Vultr because I’ve heard good things about them in the past and they have the best deal for the configuration I need ($29/month). Looking at Vultr, they reminded me of a younger DO. However, as I was getting prepared in ordering, I ended up choosing Digital Ocean (2GB RAM $30 plan) right before clicking the launch server button.
The positive experience I had with them kept me as a customer. My decision was based on my trust in the company and their good reputation in the industry.
It really feels like I haven’t left Digital Ocean at all, and that’s great. I snatched up the same 2GB RAM configuration I’ve been running on before I left so it feels rather familiar.
NoypiGeeks.com has been reasonably fast during my stay with them, so I stayed with the San Francisco server. I initially wanted to get on the Singapore server to get the website closer to my readers, but when I was testing the connection, it didn’t give much improvement. I didn’t have much time to investigate during that time that’s why I proceeded with the same San Francisco US Data Center I was using before.
I’ll be running tests on DO’s Singapore server soon to see if it’ll bring a huge positive impact on my website. For now, I’m sticking to what I’m comfortable with.
Migration to Cloudways Managed Cloud Hosting Service
Whether you’re coming from shared hosting or another VPS, moving to Cloudways is a piece of cake.
The migration from my old server to the new one took approximately 3-4 hours – but that’s because I have thousands of articles and images which took a while to backup and restore.
The process is pretty straightforward and anyone can probably do it.
1.) Install the Cloudways WordPress Migrator Plugin on your blog.
2.) Sign up to Cloudways and choose WordPress.
3.) Get all the necessary details.
4.) Fill up the needed information in the plugin’s settings page and press “Migrate”.
For blogs with a database around 500MB-1GB, the estimated migration time is 1 to 4 hours. But it’s usually faster than that, as per my experience of more than 3GB of data. There’s no need to worry about downtime while the migration is ongoing because it’s happening in the background while the website is still in the current server.
After completing the BlogVault transfer, the user can check out if everything’s working well on the new Cloudways server. It’ll be viewable using the staging URL provided upon deployment of a new server. Once everything is working as expected, create a CNAME record of your domain name to the staging URL and change the A record to the VPS IP. Don’t forget to purge the Varnish cache in Server Management > Manage Services or else the website won’t display as it should.
For a more comprehensive tutorial of migrating your WordPress blog, check out Cloudways’ official guide here.
Platform – Cloudways Managed Cloud Hosting Control Panel
Platform has a clean and intuitive interface that’s clear and straightforward. If you’re previously using cPanel, you won’t miss it at all. Platform may not be as feature rich, but it gets the job done. And you shouldn’t probably be messing with it anyway. All the settings and things a user can do are well documented in their knowledgebase, so it’s not hard to edit something in case you need to.
Cloudways Review – Coming soon
I can’t give a proper feedback about Cloudways as of the moment because it’s still my first month with them. But from what I’m seeing, they’re very knowledgeable with their service and the knowledge base is quite vast (DO still has the best, though). There were times that my blog was randomly getting an error establishing database connection issue and it was quickly resolved by the Cloudways team.
Overall, the blog is faster than when I was still in Digital Ocean probably because of the meticulous and extremely optimized setup of Cloudways. With DO, you’d need to configure, maintain, and secure it yourself.
If you can’t figure out something, try the Cloudways chat support and they will assist you. It’s been a pleasant experience so far and I hope it continues to do well. I purposely asked lots of questions to test how helpful they are and I can say that I’m very satisfied with their responses. Now I no longer need to worry about my server’s security and making it up to date to prevent intruders from messing with it. All I have to do now is produce more quality content and leave the rest of the server administration to Cloudways.
Now the price may not be as affordable as a stand-alone Digital Ocean droplet, but the convenience and security brought by the CW are well worth it. Of course, there are people who can manage their own server and get it straight from the provider. But for those who just want great service reliability and peace of mind, Cloudways is a great choice.
I’ll probably write a more detailed Cloudways review after a couple of months once I get to fully experience every part of their service.
A Managed VPS feels like a shared web host, but 100 times faster.
Along with the migration, I also managed to install an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate to secure and encrypt all transmitted data on the website.
Let’s Encrypt, a free, automated, and open certificate authority (CA), run by the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG), is tightly integrated with the Cloudways Platform control panel which makes it easy to get and renew SSL certificates for its customers.
This is not required for a content and information focused website because there’s no sensitive transaction going on, but I added it anyway since Google previously mentioned that HTTPS is now one of its ranking signals.
Of course, installing SSL is another story and it didn’t go without its own troubles. After moving my main blog to HTTPS, I’ve done the same to my other blogs as well. But they’re not on a CW Managed VPS, so I settled with CloudFlare’s free Flexible SSL. Maybe I’ll also share my experience about it soon.
So that’s it. Everything has been running smoothly and properly as of the moment and I feel like I even got an extra speed boost because of the transfer. If you have any questions, suggestions, or violent reactions, feel free to leave them down in the comments section below.