WordPress Multisite Hosting For Clients – SiteGround or Cloudways?
My search for quality WordPress Multisite hosting that I could use to host clients’ websites narrowed to two companies: Cloudways and SiteGround. As a disclaimer, I should point out that I have used SiteGround for a few years, and in looking for multisite hosting, I was thinking about switching to Cloudways. I am preparing to launch a site to offer designs for a niche area, and before I launch the site, I wanted everything in order. I want to run WordPress Multisite with a small number of plugins that work with Multisite, and I want to be able to update these plugins easily with Multisite. It should also be noted that Multisite hosting does require more effort to set up than a single site WordPress installation, and you need to be more familiar with making changes to your server and files.
SiteGround and Cloudways From A Customer Perspective
SiteGround can be viewed as a “more traditional” WordPress host. In the past, you could adjust your settings through cpanel, a user interface that is a gateway to many settings you can change on your host. There are many tutorials for setting up Multisite on SiteGround, but SiteGround specifies that they might not be able to troubleshoot your problems as easy as single site hosts. This issue goes for almost all Multisite installations. You need to be ready and willing to troubleshoot problems that don’t happen with a single WordPress installation. Recently, SiteGround has created a brand new user interface for customers to replace the old cpanel. The new user interface is quite impressive, and it really raises the bar as far as design and general experience, if that matters to you.
Cloudways, on the other hand, applies a different approach to hosting your WordPress Multisite. Rather than host the site on their own server, they serve as a “middleman” between you and one of the “big hosts,” Digital Ocean, Linode, Vultr, AWS (Amazon), or Google Cloud. These companies require more technical skill and knowledge to set up securely and run smoothly. In this model, you pay Cloudways, and Cloudways uses their skills to set everything up for you. You interface with Cloudways, and they handle the technical aspects of setting up the server. The user interface looks great to me, but I must confess, I have not used it. They also have fantastic resources in terms of managing WordPress Multisite.
Let’s look at one of the most important differences: price. To do multisite hosting, you need to jump to the second tier offered by SiteGround, the Grow Big plan, which is $6/month for the first year, and $20/month after that. With this package, you get unlimited websites, 20 gb of space, and unlimited emails. When you set up hosting, you pay for a whole year up front. If you can take advantage of a cheap first year and secure some clients, the price increase won’t likely affect you much. If you don’t have any clients to offset the price increase, the jump can be a bit painful.
The cheapest servers that Cloudways offers are with Digital Ocean. With the cheapest package, you can get started at a flat $10/month, and you can pay month to month. You get 25 gb of space, a staging environment, and 24/7 support. You get a little more space for your client sites on this package, and you don’t have to pay for a year all at once, but you can’t offer your clients email addresses unless you add a service.
Over a year, Cloudways comes to $120, while SiteGround comes to $72. In the second year, SiteGround jumps to $240, and Cloudways is still looking pretty at $120. The total after two years is SiteGround: $312, Cloudways: $240. Note, SiteGround sometimes lets you pay for multiple years up front if you want to save more on SiteGround, so on the second year, your price per year can be less if you pay for more years.
When offering sites to clients, I needed to be able to offer businesses and other organizations email support. I needed to be able to create email address easily, and if required, create several emails for a small business. As strange as it might sound, email support was one of the largest reasons I stuck with SiteGround. The traditional cpanel-like server setup with unlimited email addresses is pretty important if you want to offer small business email addresses.
On the other hand, Cloudways offers email as an addon to the server. Each email address is a dollar a month, and I quickly realized I would have to pass on the extra expense to my clients. I would much rather have the costs included, and offer extra email addresses to clients for pure profit. Even if you are running SiteGround at full price, $20/ month, and you run Cloudways at the cheapest option, $10/ month, you only need 10 email addresses before the most expensive host flips. After 10 email addresses, SiteGround becomes cheaper, and if you plan on hosting 20-50 small businesses, your costs have greatly increased on Cloudways due to something traditional hosts have long offered for free. This just didn’t seem right to me, so for now, I am sticking with SiteGround due to something as simple and strange as email support.
Customer Service on SiteGround vs. Cloudways
Customer service is one reason why I love SiteGround. Whenever I encounter an issue with my site, my first line of defense is usually Google. If I can’t find a solution, I will usually contact chat support by logging into my SiteGround account. In a few years of using this service, I usually get help in under 1 minute, and my problem is usually solved in first contact. As I said before, Multisite does create an added layer of complexity, and not all techs are aware of the differences. I believe most issues I have run into would probably result into the same difficulties at another host, but I have not switched to test it.
Customer service at Cloudways also gets high marks. I had to rely on third party review sites to learn that Cloudways support is very knowledgable and helpful. Cloudways also has great resources in terms of installing WordPress multisite.
It seems odd that was the breaking point was email addresses in 2019. You can create them for free on SiteGround, and you can’t on Cloudways. For what I’m trying to offer my clients, it makes sense. SiteGround and Cloudways seem to excel at hosting in other factors like speed, customer service, free SSL encryption, and unlimited sites.
If you decide to use SiteGround, you can thank me by using my link to SiteGround on the front page of StepByStepWP.com. Your price and service are the same, either way, it just passes a “thank you” tip my way.