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If you are confused between Cloudways Flexible or Autonomous plan to host your site, our data will help you to make the right choice.

At Hostingstep, we are continuously testing over 20 WordPress hosting providers. When the Autonomous plan was launched, we bought an account, deployed a test site, and started monitoring its performance.

Since we have been monitoring the Cloudways Flexible plans for more than a year, we will compare the Cloudways Flexible and Autonomous data and help you choose the best plan for your needs.

Cloudways Flexible vs Autonomous: Performance

Cloudways Flexible and Autonomous performance is measured by a series of tests, including TTFB, Uptime, Load handling, and Global TTFB test.

Note

We started tracking Autonomous since its launch on March 1, 2024. A total of three months of data (March 1, 2024 – May 31, 2024) is taken into account to calculate the average TTFB and uptime score. We are taking the Flexible data from the same time period to bring the most accurate comparison of Flexible and Autonomous plans.

Load Test

The major difference between these hosting plans is the auto-scalable feature of Autonomous, where Flexible can’t auto-scale, and a manual upgrade should be performed to handle a high number of visitors. So, we are going to test the load handling score of Flexible and Autonomous first.

This test was done using a loader tool. We sent 500 constant visitors to both the test sites and measured the average time it took to handle the load. Whichever hosting takes the shortest time to handle the load is the winner.

In this test results, the Cloudways Flexible took an average response time of 266 ms to handle the load. However, Cloudways Autonomous handled the same load in just 20 ms average response time.

Autonomous scores are super impressive, and it offers 26 times faster performance than a Flexible hosting plan. The reasons for Autonomous hosting’s faster performance are Google Kubernetes and Cloudflare Enterprise CDN with full page setup.

Google Kubernetes is widely known for its reliable auto-scalable architecture. As far as I’m aware, Cloudways is the first company to deploy Google Kubernetes for WordPress hosting. Cloudflare Enterprise plays a vital role in delivering faster pages through its edge caching setup.

So, let’s ask yourself a question. If you are running a great business and don’t want to compromise on speed for fear of losing customers, then Autonomous should be your choice. In another case, if you are not running a serious business or doing a hobby site, then being flexible should be more than enough to get started.

TTFB and Uptime

In the TTFB test, both the Flexible and Autonomous test sites are pinged every 60 seconds once from 20+ North American regions, and the average TTFB score is calculated.

Based on three months of data from March to May 2024, the Cloudways Flexible site recorded an average response time of 388 ms.

At the same time, Cloudway’s Autonomous site had an average response time of 338 ms. Again, Autonomous scores are better than Flexible sites.

Though the difference is not huge, Autonomous can deliver even faster TTFB for real visitors as Cloudflare Edge caching is present, which is lacking on the Flexible plan.

In the uptime test, Autonomous recorded 100% scores in these three months. Flexible slightly fell short, with 2 minutes of downtime costing its uptime to 99.99%. Uptime is not a big thing to worry about at Cloudways because we have over three years of data, and it says there are only minimal downtimes, like one or two downtimes in the whole year.

We have included a special Global TTFB test report to see how well the site loads for global visitors. The general TTFB test above is usually measured in North American regions, but some businesses get global visitors, and if you are one of them, watch out for these results.

In the global TTFB test, Flexible and Autonomous sites are pinged from 40 global locations to calculate the overall global TTFB.

Our data shows that Autonomous overtakes Flexible with a 166 ms average global TTFB, while the Flexible site got an average global TTFB of 445 ms.

Global TTFBFlexibleAutonomous
America223 ms93 ms
Europe318 ms110 ms
Asia and Pacifia742 ms263 ms
Total Average445 ms166 ms

Cloudways Flexible Vs Autonomous: Features

Unlimited PHP Workers

Cloudways Autonomous comes with unlimited PHP workers, which helps you scale your website to any level. The difference here is the limited number of PHP workers available on the Flexible plan.

With an unlimited number of PHP workers, the site is guaranteed to work for all visitors regardless of the traffic.

Auto Scaling

As seen from our performance test, Autonomous uses Google Kubernetes, offering automatic horizontal and vertical scaling as needed. It also comes with load balancing to keep your website active regardless of traffic.

In the case of flexible, there is no autoscaling, and manual work is required to upgrade your plans from the Cloudways dashboard. Again, if the upgraded plan can’t handle the traffic, you need to keep on upgrading manually.

This is where Cloudways Autonomous works as a truly auto-scalable WordPress host.

Cloudflare Enterprise

Autonomous comes with Cloudflare Enterprise CDN, with edge caching done by default.

The Flexible plan also offers Cloudflare Enterprise CDN as an add-on, but due to the plan’s technical limitation of CPU and Memory resources, we can’t fully enjoy the benefits of Cloudflare.

Multiple PHP Versions

If you are hosting N sites on a Cloudways flexible, you can’t set different PHP versions for each. You need to go to server settings and select a single PHP version, which will be applied to all the applications hosted on the server.

At Autonomous, you can choose a different PHP version for each application. You just need to choose the application and open the settings, and the required PHP version can be selected.

Automated Backups

My most hated Cloudways flexible feature is the paid backups. It costs $0.33/GB per application to do daily backups. The amount is very small, but I hate anything extra apart from regular hosting bills. This was fixed in Autonomous, with automated daily backups available for free.

Concluding

Choosing between Cloudways Flexible and Autonomous should be based on your business requirements. If you are running an e-commerce site on Flexible, Autonomous will open a lot of new features to satisfy any number of features. Not only e-commerce sites; Autonomous is also highly helpful for event booking sites, LMS sites, and big media sites.

If you are a small blogger or running a hobby site, honestly, Cloudways’ flexibility is more than enough to get started.

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