How to set up your First Server and WordPress Application on Cloudways

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Cloudways Server Setup Guide

Every now and then, when I am doing work on my servers or applications on Cloudways, I remember the old times when I used to host my websites on Hostgator. Thinking back of those times, I feel super lucky now, just because everything is much much easier when you have control over your personal/business tech stack.

When it comes to this split, mine is all-in-one. I run two servers in Europe and US, both on Vultr through Cloudways. Whether those are my affiliate websites, blogs, client websites or company websites such as Rank Sunshine, they are all on one place, which is super convenient for me.

Now, many of you might ask me, why am I this fond of Cloudways and the services they offer, when they are technically, just server resellers with awesome support. Well that says it all, the servers are not theirs, of course, but they have a friggin’ super saiyan support team which has helped me so much through the past. Their lineup of Cloud Engineers is super helpful in any situation, even with issues that are out of their domain such as WordPress queries. Without further ado, let’s work on the Cloudways server setup.

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When you land on the Cloudways homepage, this is what you see.

After landing on the homepage, proceed to register by clicking on “Start Free”. If you use an affiliate link like the one I hyperlinked, you can get the first month for free or a percentage off your order.

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This is their registration for

After filling out the registration form you see in the image above, you will be able to access your server panel. This will prompt you to directly set up the server, which you will proceed with, this is how it looks:

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Now, it’s important to mention that this choice depends on personal preference and what you want to achieve with your server. I used to run DO servers, but now I prefer Vultr, just because of personal preference, both services are top-notch. I’ve seen a lot of usage of AWS from other colleagues, but that also has a different point. Here’s a short guide for this part:

  1. Choose your application. This is usually the latest version of WordPress. In my case, as of July 8th 2019, it’s 5.2.2.
  2. Fill out your application and server names and choose your cloud platform. You can choose between Digital Ocean, Linode, Vultr, AWS and Google Cloud Platform.
  3. Choose the size of the server which suits your needs.
  4. Finally, choose the location closest to the majority of your expected audience. The locations offered depend on the cloud platform you chose.

The end result should look something like this.

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When you’re ready, launch your server. In this case, you will wait for around 10 minutes for everything to be set up properly. After your server is launched, you will be able to control all the settings. Out of the box, the server settings aren’t perfect so I’m going to show you how to tweak them.

Server settings

  • STMP: Click on your server and you’ll land on the server panel with a side menu. I like to start from the last point so click on SMTP. This is where you can add your email hosting credentials in order to make sure your server sends out emails. This is not mandatory.
  • Backups: I like to keep daily backups of all apps, but this depends on which level of safety you want to have. Daily backups do it for me and they do the job. What you should change here is backup retention, which you should keep at 4 weeks, just in case you need to roll back a bit further than 1 week.
  • Settings/Packages – Basic tab: Now this is a very important point. Here I like to increase the upload size to 128MB because I sometimes upload .zip themes that are bigger than 10MB which is the default setting. I also bump up the memory limit up to 256 megabytes. Now this depends on the size of the server and shouldn’t be necessary if you’re running a lower tier server.
  • Settings/Packages – Advanced tab: Here, the only thing I do is double the APC and Opcache memory for better performance, which in the end results to 64 and 128MB. I also like to set the WAF module to Cloudflare just because I love using CF as a security and caching layer.
  • Settings/Packages – Packages tab: Out of the box, Cloudways sets your server to PHP 7.0 and MySQL 5.5. I like to have maximum performance so I like to use the latest version of both because they’re compliant to the latest website performance standards. Proceed to set the versions to PHP 7.3 and MySQL 5.7.
  • Services: Last but not least, if you’re running a WooCommerce site, I highly recommend you disable Varnish which is a form of caching. I’ve seen it break or cause issues for a lot of sites in the past, especially WooCommerce ones. What it does is block dynamic pages such as cart for WooCommerce and can break overall site settings. I disable it on the server with one click in the services tab.

Screenshots

That would be all when it comes to settings, here’s a screenshot gallery so you guys can follow the work step by step and copy the settings.

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I hope you were able to learn something new today and hopefully, set up your first Cloudways server in less than 15 minutes. Cheers!

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Ned Mehic

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By Ned Mehic

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