Cloudways Coupon Code & Configuration Guide

Cloudways Coupon Code & Configuration Guide

In this article, we’re going to cover two things.

First, we’ll share our Cloudways coupon code with you, it is: FASTHOSTING

Use this coupon code when you signup and you’ll get $25 credit (so 3 months or so FREE on the base plans!)

…and in this post we’re going to show you how to configure Cloudways servers in a speed optimized way for maximum performance!

Out of the box Cloudways have a fantastic speed optimized server stack.

We’ve migrated hundreds of sites to Cloudways.com through our WordPress Speed Service, WPSpeedFix.com and can usually squeeze another 30%+ performance out of their servers using this process.

How To Apply The Cloudways Discount Promo Coupon Code

So, first things first, the code.

How to Apply Your Cloudways Coupon Code

By using the coupon code “fasthosting”, you’ll get $25 credit on your Cloudways account which is nearly 3 months free on the base plans.

The signup steps are the following:

  1. When you want to use this coupon just head over to cways.net and on their homepage, you’ll notice a START FREE button on the upper right corner or just below the main welcoming title. If you click on either of them, they’ll lead you to the sign-up page.
  2. On the sign-up page, there’s a link that says ‘Got a Promo Code?’. Just click it and enter the code ‘fasthosting’ and you’ll be able to sign up for your account – the easiest $25 credit ever received!
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Okay, so now over to the second thing on our agenda today: how to configure Cloudways for an optimum experience?

Cloudways Speed Optimized Server Configuration

Cloudways is a very fast web hosting platform, even out of the box. But, if you want to get the most bang for your buck there are a few things you can do to make your website even faster and wring out more juice from their servers. So let’s improve the configuration even further.

In the video below there’ll be a link in the description with a checklist that contains a bit more information; you can use it as a walkthrough if the video and article get a little too technical for you. I know that those of you who are not that tech savvy might need it to make sure you’ve got everything covered and set up in the right way so you can get the optimum experience from your Cloudways server.

We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section below. Whatever questions you have concerning the article, just post them and we’ll be happy to reply.

Okay, so now we can finally get down to business and talk you through how to configure your Cloudways server and WordPress setup.

By following this guide, you can expect to get around 20% to 30% more juice out of your server than what you’d get with your default Cloudways configuration. It’s how we personally configure our US-based server on Vultr – and it works.

Configuring SMTP

Let’s start this tutorial by showing you how to configure SMTP, which stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol.

Cloudways has a built-in option for a product called ‘Elastic Email’. You can turn it on by going in the Add Ons section and selecting it from one of the options there. Then you have to select  ‘Elastic Email’ from one of the options in SMTP. Now, it’s important to remember to configure STMP because if you don’t do it, you will have to use a plugin on each of the websites in order to get mail delivered.

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Configuring Your Cloudways Backup

Next, are backups. The first thing you need to do is make sure that you’re keeping a local backup. On its own, the default mode will only do remote backups – and with remote backups, we’ve had instances when it took 24 to 48 hours before Cloudways could actually get those backups back, especially when they were big.

Take for example a 50Gb data backup – it’s definitely going to take a while to dig up that kind of size from a remote location. But, if you have a local backup on your server, then it’ll just be right there. Of course, the downside is that you need more storage space, but it’s much more accessible than the other option.

However, you do need to be watchful.

Because this is an entire site backup, it’s really hard to get an individual file or two out of it. What we like to do is use two backup plugins simultaneously, so for example, we use BlogVault on all our websites. The main reason to do this is because they work differently. One of them might be better at backing up in one way or might be quicker in restoring in another way. That way we can have backups for these gaps, and we’re covered if one of the plugins didn’t back something up properly or in the right interval.

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The moral of the story is this: always aim to have two back up systems.

We like BlogVault because it’s just really good. Granted, it is a paid plugin, a cloud service, but it’s worth it. It tells us if it breaks and the feature I really like about it is that it tells us precisely what database tables and files it’s not backing up, and then allows us to enable backups for those.

For example, we’ve had instances before where we’ve tried to restore data using things like VaultPress and we found out it was only packing up the tables that start with WP. And the matter was, none of our database tables started with WP. And these things happen, so it’s always good to keep in mind to have two backup systems at all times.

Backup Data Retention & Frequency

Now, the amount of backup data retention depends on how much space you have on the server, but keeping around 4 weeks worth of data is what we recommend.

Considering the backup frequency, you can set your frequency to as low as an hour, but it can be too much for some sites. This is a good option if you happen to have a WooCommerce site, as it’s likely that there are lots of changes happening on this type of website, all the time.

But, for this type of server, we’d say that three hours is the sweet spot. Because the server has sites from all over the place, often changes are happening on those sites at different intervals – as they target international audiences.

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Now that you’ve hopefully set up your Cloudways backup frequency to three hours, let’s go over the settings and see how you can change some of the default settings there to something that works better.

How to Configure Your Cloudways Settings

The most important setting will probably be the SQL Server version. By default, a lot of the installations come with SQL 5.5 or 5.6. Moving from 5.5 to 5.6 will give you a performance boost of 10% to 20%; and again the same percentage of improvement if you move to 5.7.

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If you’re running a modern site, I would recommend using version 5.7. Your website will be a lot faster, especially when it comes to the database-heavy stuff. Just take into consideration that, when you change this setting, your site will be upgrading to the new version for a few minutes, and it’ll go offline. That’s why it’s advisable not to do that during peak times when the server or the website is particularly busy.  

When it comes to the PHP version, you’d definitely want to run the highest version that the site supports. Have in mind that 7.1 and 7.2 will be slightly faster than 7.0 (around 10% or so faster).  

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Redis Cache Configuration

Next is the Redis cache, which is a type of memory cache that makes stuff faster if we use it. However, what we found is that it actually crashes about half the sites where we’ve turned it on, regardless of how we’ve set up the configuration. So our conclusion is that Redis tends to have problems on the high load. I’m not entirely certain if it’s because our memory capacity on these servers is not high enough or because of the particularities of the configuration, but we haven’t had much of a success with it. So, basically, we’d say skip it – we wouldn’t recommend using it just because it has the potential to hurt the reliability of the site.

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If you still opt to use it, however, just make sure you monitor your uptime, so you’re aware if or when the site goes offline.  

Configuring Advanced Cloudways Settings

Now, let’s move on to the more advanced settings.

Max Input Variables – (sometimes also Max Input Vars) marks the maximum number of variables your server can use for a single function. Ideally, you’ll want this to be over 3,000, but 2500 is also an okay number for fairly basic sites that the server is running.

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APC cache memory – the default input here is 32 and 64, but we want to double them up, which would mean 64 and 128. If you’re using Cloudflare, set it up as the Web Application Firewall (WAF) module. You’ll also want to make sure that HTTP is turned on.

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New Relic – found in the Services section, New Relic is a performance optimization tool, something like a monitoring tool. But, this we don’t want to run unless it’s necessary – if you see it switched on, just disable it.

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Varnish – make sure to disable Varnish as well. Varnish adds too much complexity, at least for the type of sites that we have. We have a lot of caching going on already and we’re using Cloudflare on top of it. Putting Varnish in the mix just adds more complication and doesn’t necessarily provide any speed benefit. With this, we conclude the server configuration.

Cloudways Application Configuration

Next, we’d like to take a look at the application configuration. There are only a couple of things we will tackle here.

First, add FTP login details, which you’ll find under the Access Details Tab; the domains are under the Domain Management section (primary and secondary). Then you’ll also want to add SSL certificates and SSL management, which is pretty straightforward.  

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When you go to Application settings, make sure to run the ‘Reset Permissions’ button after migrating your website, because sometimes the permissions can be a bit funny on some files, and it’s quick. You’ll also notice Varnish again in this section; turn it off again if you’re not using it. You can turn it on and off on a side-by-side basis.

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So, with that being said, you’re pretty much covered when it comes to site configuration.

Cloudways Plugin Configuration

Now just a couple more words on the plugin configuration and we’re done. The plugin that we prefer to use is W3 Total Cache – we use that instead of the Cloudways Breeze plugin because it’s faster, although it’s definitely more complex.

So here’s how to set that up – the back end default settings are set up as Disk: Enhanced for page caching. We use APC for database caching, and Memcached for object caching. These are two different types of memory cache that can boost the speed of your database operations and also speed up stuff in the back end.

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We use APC and Memcached because they’re two different types of caches. You can use Memcache for both of them, but we find that this combination works faster for the type of sites we have. The memory cache is one of the biggest advantages Cloudways has – the stuff that’s database heavy is using memory caching, and this speeds it up substantially. A plugin we have, called Query Monitor, marks the database lookup time. In our example, it’s 0.0094 seconds. Without that cache in place, that could be as high as 1 second. So you can see how this helps a lot and is one of the main reasons why Cloudways is so much faster than other hosts.

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And I think that’s pretty much it. This was the basic walkthrough on how to get the most of the Cloudways servers, how to configure Cloudways for better experience and speed – with the added bonus of a Cloudways coupon code you can use to test it all out.

As mentioned earlier, I’m more than happy to answer any questions that you might have and go into more detail, explain some of the specifics around the things we talked about today. Just feel free to let me know in the comments section.

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