Easy 5 Step Guide to Migrating to Cloud Hosting for Better Performance

Planning on migrating to Cloud Hosting to improve your blog’s Core Web Vitals?

Are you tired of purchasing plugins for every little optimization that you want to do on your blog to tackle every new ranking factors that are being introduced frequently by the search engine gods?

…and are you finding it hard to keep up?

Well, you do not need to spend a fortune on the plugins anymore. You just need a Cloud WordPress Hosting that gives your blog a much-needed boost to perform better for the user and get a great score in Pagespeed Insights or GTMetrix.

Well, don’t get me wrong, I am not against the use of plugins, but the plugins are of help only to a certain extent. And having too many plugins on your blog will also drag your site speed down. When it comes to plugins on WordPress less is more.

Let’s just say, Shared hosting is like owning an apartment. You get to share the same foundation with others in the same block. It is no guarantee that all of your neighbours are good. They make noise and tend to annoy you more often than not.

Likewise, in shared hosting, if any of the website(s) that you share your server with, goes abnormal with a sudden surge of traffic or get attacked, your site might get disturbed and not perform better until those website(s) calm down.

Unless otherwise, your shared hosting provider is exceptional and courteous enough to keep the other sites on your server under the threshold, you are going to face the issues.

On the other hand, Cloud Hosting is like an individual private villa, you have all the allocated resources for yourselves and do not share anything with others. Hence you get all the horsepower the server has to offer, for your blog to handle more traffic than you expect and usually people see a boost in site speed to quite an extent.

Sounds too good to be true? Take a look at the GTmetrix score of this site when it started off with shared hosting before researching and switching over to the cloud server. I used a heavy theme to add to it, hence the result below.

Before migrating to cloud hosting, the performance score of the site is not up to the mark.
An LCP score that is greater than 2s is a big no-no for search engines.

And now, Here’s a GTmetrix score for our website after migrating to cloud hosting and doing a bit of optimization like swapping to a lightweight theme like Astra, Kadence or anything that suits the purpose. We have also moved towards using .webp file formats for all the images on this site. You can read more about .webp file formats here.

After migrating to cloud hosting, GTmetrix returned a perfect score of 100% and an LCP of 687ms.
After migrating to cloud hosting, GTmetrix returned a perfect score of 100% and an LCP of 687ms.

This beginner-friendly, simple and definitive guide will walk you through the process of migrating your self-hosted WordPress blog from shared hosting to a Cloud server so that your blog will be exceptionally good with Core Web Vitals.

Convinced enough? Let’s go.

But first a…
Disclaimer: Just migrating your site to a cloud server alone isn’t going to transform your site performance drastically, you need to address all the small factors that contribute to the site performance or the core web vitals. To know what factors you might need to work on, in addition to migrating to the cloud server, you may try measuring your page quality at web.dev/measure.

Howdy! Want to Hurry up?

This is an in-depth article that is 4133 words long. You might want to start migrating your blog without needing to read/learn all the nitty-gritty details.

To do so

  • Look around for boxes like this.
  • Follow the step-by-step instructions in each box.
  • When you are done with the steps in one box, please click the “Jump to Next Step” button to jump right to the next step.
Jump to Step 1

Migrating to cloud hosting in 5 easy steps to improve your blog’s performance

Step 1: Get your new cloud hosting plan

The very first thing we did to get started with our migration is to get a cloud hosting plan from Cloudways. We get an exclusive cloud server that is entirely for us to host our blog that is not shared with any other sites.

Affiliate Disclosure: This site is open, free and reader-supported. Any contextual or external links present on this guide might be affiliate links like the Cloudways link that you see above. It means that howdyblogger.com is an affiliate of Cloudways and might receive affiliate commissions if you choose to buy from these links, it comes at no extra cost to you but more often you will end up saving money. If you choose to buy from my affiliate links, I am thankful to you.

HowdyBlogger is hosted on a cloud server and recommends Cloudways to beginners who want to have the best performance and a worry-free experience from their hosting provider. As the name goes Cloudways is focused only on high-quality Cloud Hosting solutions which are far superior in performance and security than the usual Shared Hosting that you come across very often.

What is Cloud hosting and how does it differ from shared hosting?

Imagine you are getting yourself a sports car to drive enthusiastically around the race track and it ends up in your hand with a 3 cylinder engine generating less than average horsepower. How will that manage to give you the thrill and enthusiasm that you expected out of it? No way right?

It is the same story when trying to get hosting to build and establish your online store or a website or a blog.

Cloud Hosting V/s Shared Hosting: When you are starting a new blog it is important that you know the fundamental difference between cloud hosting and shared hosting.
A visual representation of how cloud hosting is better when compared to shared hosting.

With Shared Hosting you get access to a server that gets shared among multiple other websites irrespective of their size or the traffic it attracts. When any one of them or a few of the websites hosted on the same server as yours goes crazy with a sudden surge of traffic or gets hijacked by hackers, it is no guarantee that your site will function normally and your security is not guaranteed. Put simply, you pay an average of $5 to $50 a month and hope your server is not going to let you down. You can opt for a dedicated server where an entire server is allocated just for you, but you end up paying so much more. But Cloud Hosting is more efficient, powerful & viable in comparison.

With Cloud Hosting you get access to a dedicated server just for you and not shared with anyone. Tech giant IBM describes cloud hosting as follows, “Unlike traditional hosting, solutions are not deployed on a single server. Instead, a network of connected virtual and physical cloud servers hosts the application or website, ensuring greater flexibility and scalability.” While the cost of cloud hosting is more than shared hosting, you get to pay somewhere between $10 to $200 which is justified by its performance and security. Cloud hosting gives you the flexibility to scale up or down bundled along with the freedom to host multiple websites on a single server without paying a single penny more.

With the traditional shared hosting plans, you end up spending a fortune if you are into doing any optimizations on your site.

On the other hand, cloud hosting by default removes the geographical barrier to make your website faster across the world and comes loaded with many features like caching, CDN and other speed optimizations that you can utilize based on your needs, at bargain prices.

Set up a new cloud server at Cloudways

Without further ado, let’s get started by registering for our hosting at Cloudways. (affiliate link)

Open a New Tab in your browser and Go to Cloudways (affiliate link). Click the “Start Free” button to get started with setting up your account.

Quick Step 1: Get your new cloud hosting
  • Click here to go to Cloudways.
  • Create an account by filling out your correct details and log in. You don’t need a credit card upfront to signup.
  • Once logged in, Deploy your new server in 5 simple steps, as below.
  • By default, WordPress is selected so go ahead and Enter your desired name for the Server, Application and Project. You can give a name as you wish.
  • Next, Choose your cloud infrastructure provider – We recommend using Vultr.
  • To choose the Server type – On the dropdown present below, choose “High Frequency“.
  • Then, drag the slider to 1GB to select the basic plan. It gives you a GB of RAM, 32GB NVMe SSD storage and a single-core, high-frequency processor. Don’t be fooled by the server specifications, it is going to be stupid fast for your blogging needs!
  • Next, choose the desired server location in the dropdown presented.
  • Click “Launch Now” to deploy your new cloud server.
Jump to Step 2

It’s absolutely free to try Cloudways for the first 3 days to test the waters and after that, you pay for what you use with the Cloudways’ “Pay as You Go” pricing model and not get locked in for years together as is the case with most shared hosting providers.

  • Important Information: On most cloud hosting services like Cloudways, you can host as many applications (Websites) as you can, on a single server. You are billed per server and not for what you have on that server. Imagine you are hosting 2 or 3 sites on your cloud server, you will still be paying the same $10 or $13 per month but for hosting the same 3 sites on a shared hosting platform you will be charged a combined total of more than $300* upfront for 3 years and the renewal fee is about $7-$10 per month thereafter.
    *[(at $3/month x 36 Month Lock-in Period) x for 3 Sites] = $324
Cloudways signup interface

Once you have signed up and logged in, you will be presented with a server setup wizard that looks as below. In which select the application as “WordPress” and enter the desired name for your Application, Server and Project. Hey! don’t get overwhelmed that you may go wrong, just put your domain or brand name. Just make sure you can remember them.

Server setup wizard at Cloudways

In the server setup wizard, you will be presented with many cloud infrastructure providers to choose from like Digital Ocean, Linode, Vultr, AWS and Google Cloud Platform.

The entry-level plan on Cloudways is a Digital Ocean’s Basic plan which costs $10/month. If you are budget conscious you can choose to go with Digital Ocean’s Basic plan and follow along with the rest of the steps.

Digital Ocean’s basic plan details on Cloudways

However, for a few $ more at $13/month, the “Basic” plan of Vultr’s High-Frequency server is better and we recommend that you go with Vultr as you get better performance and more storage at 32GB when compared to Digital Ocean’s 25GB.

Choosing the Vultr High Frequency’s Basic Plan gives you 1GB of RAM, 32GB NVMe SSD storage, 1TB of Bandwidth per month and a Single-core high-frequency cloud processor.

Choose your server location that is close to your estimated target audience and click “Launch Now“.

Vultr High-Frequency server setup wizard on Cloudways

Wait for the server to get up and running. You will be able to see the progress in the next screen as below.

Cloudways wizard with server setup status. Note that you have received a 3-day trial as well.

Step 2: Migrating your old site content to the new cloud server

The next thing we need to take care of is that we need to move all the contents in your old server to the new cloud server.

Seems like a herculean task? Nope, it is not. All you need to do is, Use Cloudways WordPress Migrator Plugin, which is made available for you in your WordPress dashboard after you have your new cloud server up and running.

Cloudways offers a free managed migration service for the first website that you set up with them. Simply click here and follow the instructions to get started.

If you can do it yourselves, Here’s a step-by-step process to use Cloudways WordPress Migrator Plugin and migrate your content from your old and existing server.

Quick Step 2: Migrating WordPress content

Note: Cloudways offers a free migration service for the first site that you set up with them. Simply click here to get started.

  • Log in to your WordPress dashboard on your new cloud server by clicking on Servers->www->[your WordPress application name] in the Cloudways panel. Access your password for your WordPress in Cloudways panel under Servers->Applications->[your application name].
  • Once you are in your WordPress dashboard, Click on Plugins -> Add New.
  • In the resulting window, search for Cloudways WordPress Migrator plugin & Click on Install.
  • Click on the Activate Button once the plugin is installed.
  • Next, Open the Plugin to initiate the migration process by filling in your email address and clicking on the Migrate button.
  • On the next screen, you will have to find and enter your Cloudways’ server IP address & its Name.
  • If you aren’t aware of these, You will be able to find that information under
    Server -> www -> [Your WordPress application Name].
  • Make a note of “Application URL”, “IP Address” & “DB Name”.
  • Now back to the form, enter the details that you have just noted down.
  • Further, you will need to enter your “SFTP Username” and “SFTP Password”. This is the username & password that you have used to create your new cloud server.
  • Next, choose “No” for “HTTP Auth enabled?“.
  • Then as the last step, Under “Is this site protected?” you will need to select “No” if you have not restricted your existing site in any way.
  • Next, Under “Source site information” and “Any root directories you want to migrate?” choose “Yes” and migrate all the directories you like to migrate.
  • Click Migrate to begin your migration process.
Jump to Step 3

If the above steps are daunting you and you need a detailed walkthrough, Here is a detailed explainer video on how to use Cloudways’ WordPress Migrator that you may make use of.

Source & Credits: Cloudways

The migration process takes a bit of time to complete. Once it has done its job, You can then test the migrated contents by visiting your WordPress dashboard through Cloudways.

Once you feel that everything is put in place, you shall proceed to connect your existing domain to the Cloudways server.

Step 3: Map your domain to your new server

Once the server is up and running, you need to point your existing domain’s name servers to the new cloud server that we just set up. If you need a helping hand you can always contact Cloudways.

Now that you have built your new and modern online home (Cloud Hosting) and already have a registered address that is pointing to your old shared hosting.

You have to tell your DNS (Domain Name System) to channel your visitors to your new cloud server that you just set up. That is if someone enters your domain name in their browser, your DNS will tell your visitor’s browser to look for your website at the new server that you have purchased and set up at Cloudways.

How does the DNS point to your server? Well, every device that is part of the World Wide Web (WWW) is assigned an IP address. You will simply feed the IP address of your site or blog’s server to the domain registrar who holds your DNS, and it gives that IP address to the user’s browser for it to go and fetch the data it needs to display your website to the user.

Got an idea of what we are up to? Let’s dive in.

Quick Step 3: Mapping your domain to your new cloud server
  • In your Cloudways panel, Click on the “Domain Management” tab on the left pane.
  • Enter the Domain name that you want to connect to your new server in the “Primary Domain” field.
  • In case, you have any additional subdomains that you wish to connect, say for example “support.yourwebsite.ext”; then specify all of them in the “Additional Domains” field and click “Add Domain”.
  • Click “Save Changes” to save your domain names in the Cloudways server.
  • After which, head back to the “Access Details” tab under the “Application Management” tab and copy your server’s IP address.
  • Now head over to your domain name registrar.
  • Navigate to the “DNS Management” section for the domain and we need to add 2 records, as follows.
  • But before that, Remove any existing “A record” and “CNAME record” and click “Add New Record”.
  • First, add an “A Record” with “Host as @” and enter the copied IP Address in the respective field and click OK to add this record. Optionally, you can specify the TTL as per your needs if needed.
  • Second, Add a “CNAME Record” with Host as “www” and enter your domain name like “yoursite.ext” in the respective field and click OK to add record.
  • Optionally, if you are planning to use a mailbox you need to add MX records as well. As an example, Here is a detailed guide to setting up MX records for Google Workspace Email. You can find the steps for your SMTP mail from your provider.
  • After you add the necessary records, Click “Save“.
Jump to Step 4

Once you have done adding the DNS records to your domain. It needs about 24 hours to propagate the changes you have made to the servers across the world. Please be patient while this happens. Depending upon your registrar, this process may be quicker and you could get your latest DNS records propagated within an hour.

To check if your domain name and your IP information are propagated to servers across the world, you can use the website whatsmydns.net. Just put your domain name in the search box and click search. If you see your new cloud server’s IP address in all the locations displayed in the results, you are ready for the next step.

Load WordPress Sites in as fast as 37ms!

Step 4: Secure your blog with an SSL certificate

Have you noticed a little lock icon at the left of your address bar in your browser, whenever you visit a website? It appears to notify you that the site you are in right now is safe and you can interact with the site without being exposed to risk.

Similarly, you should make your site safe for your visitors too. To do that you need to install an SSL certificate on your server.

Quick Step 4: Add an SSL certificate
  • Login to your Cloudways account.
  • Navigate to your “WordPress Application” by selecting Server > www > application name.
  • In the dashboard, select the “SSL Certificate” tab.
  • Cloudways offers a free “Let’s Encrypt” SSL certificate that is renewed automatically after expiry. So, literally, it is set and forget.
  • Now, in case you want to add a custom SSL, you need to choose “I do not have a certificate” and add the SSL certificate keys as prompted.
  • To get the “Lets Encrypt” SSL certificate, enter your email and the domain name for which you need an SSL and click “Install Certificate”.
  • Now your SSL certificate is installed.
  • You will be prompted to enable an “HTTPS” redirection, please click “Enable HTTPS” to ensure that the non-secure “HTTP” version of your website is redirected to the “HTTPS” version.
Jump to Step 5

Literally, you are done with the migration and you can enjoy the benefits of switching over to cloud hosting and resume creating awesome content for your audience.

But, unlike shared hosting, Cloudways does not offer Domains or Email services. In case you need Email and would like to set up a CDN to make your blog perform even better, follow steps 5 & 6 below.

Step 5: Setup mailboxes on your new cloud server

Unlike Shared Hosting services, you do not get a personal mailbox bundled with your plan nor do any of the cloud hosting providers offer them. They just partner with other vendors to provide you with the mailbox. So, you are free to choose any SMTP service provider that suits your purpose.

We recommend that you go with Google Domains and get a Workspace subscription to make things easier and give you mailboxes and a host of productive office suites. Note that you have to pay additionally for a Workspace account.

You might need two different types of emails based on the nature of your site. A personal email that is self-explanatory and a Transactional email.

When someone completes an action or gets through the sales funnel you have set up, transactional emails are triggered from your site to the customer’s mailboxes notifying them of a successful or unsuccessful transaction.

You do not want to stress your server by letting it handle transactional emails. The ideal solution is to get an SMTP email service of your choice.

To do that follow the steps below.

Quick Step 5: Setup SMTP Email
  • Log on to your Cloudways account and Open the Server that you have just set up.
  • Under the “Server Management” tab on the left click on the “SMTP” tab to start.
  • On the wizard that opens Choose “Your Own SMTP” to see the fields that you need for setting it up.
  • In the first dropdown, you need to select the SMTP service provider that you want to go with. If it is not listed, select “Other” and move on to the next field.
  • Now, login to your SMTP service provider and find the following information 1. “Host Address”, 2. “Port”, 3. “Username” and 4. “Password”.
  • Enter the information you gathered from your SMTP service provider in the Cloudways wizard and click “Save“.
  • Now click “Send Test Email” to verify that you have got it right.

If you want to have a personal mailbox for your domain, you can go with the Cloudways recommended Rackspace at an additional fee or set one up at your Domain Name registrar and in case you went with Google Domains, you can opt for a Workspace account which gives you email and the additional office suite.

If you face any issues in setting up Cloudways, I will happily lend you a helping hand. Be sure to reach out to me when in need.

[Optional] Step 6: Set up CDN

Content Delivery Networks (CDN) help make your site load faster for users across the world irrespective of your server’s location.

Typically, a CDN takes a snapshot of your static website periodically and stores it in different servers located across the world and hence when a user visits your website, instead of your server delivering the files, the CDN that is close to your visitor will deliver the latest snapshot.

That’s a complex process simplified to the barebones, in reality, a CDN does much more than content delivery. It can improve your security by mitigating attacks.

Now, there are two ways available for you to add a CDN to your newly set up cloud server at Cloudways.

Option 1: Use Cloudways CDN

Cloudways offers a CDN service that you can activate for an additional fee. To do so, Head over to your server management panel and choose “Cloudways CDN” on the left pane.

In the resulting window enter your fully qualified website URL. It should be a fully qualified URL, with the format “https://www.yoursite.extension” and click “Create”.

Cloudways CDN setup wizard, Picture Source: Cloudways

Now, You will see a summary of what you are going to get with Cloudways CDN along with the monthly subscription charges. Click “Apply” to add the CDN to your server.

Overview screen notifying you of the specifics of Cloudways CDN. Picture Source: Cloudways

There you go! you have enabled Cloudways CDN for your blog.

Option 2: Use Cloudflare

When it comes to CDN, Cloudflare is the leader. If you are not comfortable using Cloudways CDN, you have an option to go with the Free Cloudflare CDN. Yes, you read that right, you can get access to Cloudflare for free.

Here’s how you can get it.

  1. Go to Cloudflare and click Sign up.
  2. After you have created and logged into your Cloudflare account, you have to add your site.
  3. To do that, Click “Add Site” and enter your domain.
  4. Wait for Cloudflare to fetch your DNS records.
  5. When the results are displayed, click on the “Grey Cloud” icon under the “Proxy Status” to route your traffic through Cloudflare.
  6. Click “Continue” after verifying that the displayed DNS records are correct.
  7. Now that you have done that, scroll down and find “Cloudflare Name Servers” and copy the 2 Nameservers that are displayed.
  8. Head over to your domain name registrar and add the Cloudflare Name servers to your domain. Click here for the detailed instructions.

Hooray! you have enabled Cloudflare CDN for your site now.

To check if the Cloudflare CDN is set up properly and working, head over to whatsmydns.net and enter your domain name to check if you could see the Cloudflare Nameservers in the results that shows up.

With that, you have successfully migrated to a cloud server. Check your site’s performance score on Pagespeed Insights, to see how much of a difference it has made.

Share your experience in the comments below, looking forward to hearing what you have managed to improve on your site today.

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San
San

San is crazy good at only one thing, taming the search engines to help businesses generate a bucket load of ROI through targeted organic traffic. He shares his learnings through this site to help people enter the world of the blog-o-sphere 📝 with confidence. Contact San for your bespoke technical SEO or javascript SEO needs.

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