Cloud86 is a no-nonsense Dutch hosting provider which recently started targeting an international audience.
A smart move if you ask me. They made some waves after I shared some of my Cloud86 PageSpeed test results in a WordPress speed Facebook group:
Quite some people asked me what this “little Dutch hosting provider” was that I used for my tests.
I didn’t mention their name in my post initially. I wasn’t looking to plug them, but rather wanted to demonstrate the insane speeds you can get with LiteSpeed hosting in general (more about this later).
Following this, I figured I’d put together this Cloud86 review for those interested in cutting edge LiteSpeed hosting on the cheap.
Fun fact: I compared their €1,99 per month hosting plan with Kinsta’s Starter Plan which is more than 10 times as expensive. And they beat them. And that was without any speed optimization/caching, while Kinsta is fully optimized straight out of the box.
But despite them being very affordable and very fast, there are a couple of things that you should keep in mind before hauling your sites over to them.
For starters, they’ve only got servers in the Netherlands (though thanks to QUIC.cloud CDN they’re still crazy fast in the US). Also, they’ve only got customer support during Dutch working hours. And finally, I feel there’s a bit of a missed opportunity when it comes to their managed WordPress hosting plans. Their highest plan supports up to 50.000 monthly visitors (though for static content sites the actual number is more around 150.000-200.000) but if you exceed that you’ve either got to spin up an unmanaged VPS or pick a managed VPS which is a bit too expensive for my taste.
Having said all that, Cloud86 really is a terrific hosting provider which I think will be a great fit for budget-conscious people who don’t want to sacrifice website performance in any way, shape or form (that also goes for their stability/uptime; check out their status page here).
✓ Ridiculously fast hosting that beats out providers which are 10x as expensive (such as Kinsta)
✓ Extremely affordable for smaller websites (up to 50.000 monthly visits)
✓ Barely any scheduled maintenance or unexpected downtime
✓ Capable and fast customer support
✓ LiteSpeed hosting which offers access to LiteSpeed cache and QUIC.cloud
✓ No need for a paid caching plugin or email hosting
✓ Little chance for your site to slow down (thanks to LiteSpeed)
✓ Attractive promo rates for a year
✓ Free website migration
✕ They only have server locations in the Netherlands
✕ Customer service is only available during Dutch working hours
✕ The price jump from their managed WP hosting to managed VPS is steep
✕ Their managed WP hosting is a bit pricey
Cloud86: a little bit of background
As you might be unfamiliar with Cloud86, let me first sketch the proverbial “lay of the land.”
Cloud86 was founded in 2019 in the Netherlands and is based out of Friesland, a province up north.
With 12.500 customers they are a small outfit, but they’re growing rapidly.
The team behind Cloud86 are heavy hitters in the Dutch hosting industry. They previously founded SoHosted, one of the Netherlands’ biggest hosting companies.
The Dutch hosting industry is a strange beast. Although the Netherlands excels in IT(-infrastructure), and our country has got the most data centers of any European country (as you might know, most international hosting providers have their European data centers based in the Netherlands), the Dutch hosting industry has traditionally been 100% locally oriented.
While other European hosting companies from countries like Bulgaria (SiteGround) and Lithuania (Hostinger) turned into global powerhouses, no Dutch hosting provider I can think of dared to take the plunge and cross borders.
That is until Cloud86 entered the picture.
With them investing in their tech stack as exhaustively as they do (more about this shortly), and as a result creaming their Dutch competition when it comes to speed, this international expansion makes total sense.
Let’s have a look and see how they perform on those things which matter most when it comes to hosting: speed, uptime, and customer support.
Cloud86 speed, uptime, and customer support
Cloud86 uses LiteSpeed hosting, which is the “hot new thing” in the hosting industry. You’ll hear a ton of chatter about LiteSpeed hosting in Facebook groups and forums dealing with web hosting and website speed.
The basic spiel around LiteSpeed hosting is that it is both faster and more efficient than other hosting technologies such as Apache and Nginx.
This higher efficiency ensures that your website can receive more concurrent visitors, while allowing hosting providers to cram more websites on a single server. This in turn helps drive down prices.
The founders told me they work directly with LightSpeed when it comes to tweaking their server stack (they are a Platinum LiteSpeed partner). They’re continuously pushing the envelope, trying to get their TTFB lower and lower.
Cloud86 speed test
I’ve tested the speed of Cloud86 with all their standard shared hosting plans. As it turns out, they’re equally fast.
I used the following website setup for my tests:
- WordPress theme: Kadence
- Plugins: Block Navigation, Kadence Blocks, Post Duplicator
- SSL-certificate (Let’s Encrypt)
- No caching or speed optimizations
The site I installed is the Affiliate24 Starter template. It contains text, imagery and graphical elements to mimic an actual website.
This is how Cloud86 did:
As you can see, they knocked it out of the park on every front. And once you add the free LiteSpeed Cache plugin to the mix, things get even better:
That’s right: that’s a TTFB of 50ms on a hosting plan which costs about as much as a cup of coffee.
After using the LiteSpeed Cache plugin, Cloud86’s cheapest hosting plan (€1,99 or around $2,04 per month) clocks in at a TTFB of 50ms. Kinsta’s cheapest hosting plan ($35 per month) has a TTFB of 151ms.
How do they do internationally?
You’re probably curious how fast Cloud86 is across the globe. As I mentioned earlier, Cloud86 only has a data center in the Netherlands. Normally this wouldn’t be ideal if your visitors are mainly based in, say, the US.
Well, enter QUIC.cloud: a free-to-use CDN built on top of the LiteSpeed server stack. It serves your WordPress sites at the network edge which ensures a low TTFB. On top of that, it supports the new HTTP/3 protocol.
Switching on QUIC.cloud gave me a TTFB of less than a 100 in the US. In fact, it did great pretty much everywhere, save for Brazil.
It’s a pretty pointless exercise to use an uptime monitor to gauge a provider’s uptime, as this only tells you something about one server.
But any hosting provider worth their salt has a status page which can quickly tell you what is what.
Cloud86’s status page is a mostly a barren wasteland. Which is a good thing. Most months are showing no incidents at all.
Obviously, they’re still a fairly small player, which probably makes it a bit easier to maintain a clean slate. Still, with their strong commitment to performance end experience in scaling hosting companies, I suspect that this solid uptime track record won’t radically change in the years to come.
So Cloud86’s support is a bit of a mixed bag, depending on your point of view.
Let’s kick off with the good stuff first. Their customer service team really knows their stuff. You can reach them by phone if you wish with barely any waiting time, or you can send them a ticket which tends to get answered within an hour. Answers are clear, concise and help you resolve your issues pretty much painlessly.
This is a far-cry obviously from the 24/7 live chat with one minute waiting time other providers might have. But hey, consider the much better pricing.
Personally, I barely get in touch with hosting customer support. And if there’s a mission critical problem (e.g. a site is down) you can still call Cloud86 and speak with someone straight away.
But here’s the tricky part. They’re support is only available on working days at Dutch working hours. That isn’t great if you’re based in the United States or another country which is several time zones removed from the Netherlands.
If you’re more DIY or based in Europe or Africa, I think you will be totally fine with Cloud86’s support. But if that isn’t the case, this might be a showstopper for you.
Other important things to think about
Cloud86 offers good ol’ Plesk as their hosting control panel. In my view this is a considerably nicer hosting panel than, say, cPanel, but that’s a matter of personal taste.
What I like about Plesk is that it’s both totally suited for beginners, while at the same time offering enough advanced functionality to cater to more experienced users.
As an off-the-shelf solution, it doesn’t have that same polished feel that Kinsta’s or SiteGround’s self-developed control panel has. But it is a more than adequate solution.
LiteSpeed hosting is extremely robust and secure. According to many experts there’s no real need any more for a plugin like WordFence if you’re using a LiteSpeed web host.
On top of that, Cloud86 stores their site backups off-site, which goes a long way in ensuring that your data says safe no matter what.
Extra features and benefits
Here’s some nice extra features and benefits Cloud86 has to offer:
- Daily backups (stored up to 7 days)
- Email hosting
- 1-click staging
- Free migration (except with their cheapest plan)
Cloud86 pricing and plans
Cloud86 offers the following types of web hosting:
Web hosting (shared)
- Prices range from €1,95 to €11,95 per month (promo rate: €5,98 per month)
- Biggest plan in this category offers 100 GB disk space, unlimited websites, and (for static sites) supports around 50.000 monthly visitors
- 7 PHP workers (for reference: Kinsta’s cheapest plan offers 2 PHP workers)
Managed WordPress hosting (still shared, but with better specs)
- Prices range from €15,95 (promo rate: €7,98) to €51,95 per month (promo rate: €25,99 per month)
- Biggest plan supports (for static sites) around 150.000-200.000 visitors per month
- 14 PHP workers
- Extra WordPress support (mostly relevant for beginners)
- Redis included
And then there are options for your own unmanaged VPS, and a managed VPS. The first option obviously requires a certain amount of tech savviness. The latter is more geared towards big, heavy web shops.
I look at hosting from the point of view of a (affiliate) blogger who’s looking for a simple to use, managed solution. So I won’t talk much about their VPS solutions.
Their shared hosting offers fantastic value for money. The specs and speed are great. Probably better than any comparable hosting provider in de market, and even better than several “premium” hosting providers.
About their managed WordPress hosting I feel a little conflicted. The thing about it is that it offers a kind of weird mix between really hardcore specs (e.g. 14 PHP workers) and a kind of hand holding support tacked on.
In other words, pick one of their managed WordPress hosting plans and you’ll be subsidizing people who contact their host to help them install WordPress.
I think it would be better to decouple this extra support from these plans and sell it as a separate add-on. This should lead to a price drop which would make their managed WordPress plans much more attractive. Right now, I feel they are somewhat overpriced. Especially when looking at the visitor limits and comparing these, with those of Rocket.net for instance.
What do users online say?
It’s pretty much raining 5-star user reviews:
Conclusion: blazing fast LiteSpeed hosting at a great price, but not good for everyone
Overall Cloud86 is a fantastic hosting provider which I fully recommend. They are faster than other LiteSpeed hosting providers such as NameHero, A2Hosting and Hostinger and beat out SiteGround and even Kinsta as well.
But before you take the plunge, bear in mind the following.
It isn’t reasonably to expect from a host that it will cater to every kind of use case and website of any size. Having said that, it’s a shame there’s a bit of a gap in their product offering.
Once you exceed the 150.000-200.000 monthly visitors a month mark, you’ll have to make the jump to their managed VPS (unless you want to get techie). For a static content site, this often doesn’t make much sense financially.
Furthermore, their managed WordPress plans feel a bit pricey, probably due to the extra support being offered which you probably won’t need if you’re reading this.
And do keep in mind Cloud86 has only got a server location in the Netherlands. And that their customer support is only available during Dutch working hours.
Having said that, Cloud86 is GREAT if the above downsides aren’t problematic for your specific situation.
Leave a comment below if you’ve got any questions or remarks.