What is UpCloud?
UpCloud is a web hosting company that offers cloud hosting solutions with prices as low as $5 a month. This puts them at par with services like Digital Ocean, Vultr, etc. It is not a managed cloud hosting like Cloudways, making it cheaper than Cloudways. While people are of the opinion that an unmanaged cloud hosting platform is primarily for developers, it is far from being the truth.
Anyone can use any unmanaged cloud hosting service. Yes, there are a few complex steps involved, and UpCloud is no different. What makes UpCloud stand out is its quick deployment of a cloud server instance. UpCloud does that in just 45 seconds. Compare this to the Digital Ocean and Cloudways, which take about 2 minutes each.
But do these things earn brownie points for UpCloud? That is what I intend to find out in this review. So, keep reading.
To start with, I will change the way I review hosting providers. Instead of telling you about the features and pricing at the beginning, I will push them down the ladder. Instead, I will go for the user experience first. That is what should tell you whether you can handle UpCloud or not.
Sounds fair enough? Good! Let’s begin…
But before that, here is a quick list of the pros and cons of UpCloud.
The Pros and Cons of UpCloud
- Clean and lovely user-interface.
- Fast servers.
- Quick server deployment.
- Very-friendly customer support.
- Extensive knowledge base.
- Easy scaling.
- Preset firewall.
- Backup options are available.
- 100% uptime SLA.
- Not very friendly for rookies.
- No option for one-click application deployment.
- Low data center count.
Okay, back to the topic…
UpCloud User Experience
This segment of the review will contain everything from signing up to creating an account and launching a server, and finally, installing WordPress. So, stay put and read slowly.
They have a 14-day free trial option. This is good! Not many providers will offer a free trial. In my experience, those services that offer free trials acquire more customers than those that don’t offer a free trial.
Don’t confuse free trial with a money-back guarantee. They are different things. A free trial is always a better option compared to a money-back guarantee.
What I didn’t like about UpCloud is that they don’t allow no-credit-card free trial. They will ask you to add your credit card and then charge $1 to verify the card. Post-verification, they will refund the dollar.
That’s okay! Many services do the same. The only thing to remember is that if you are not satisfied with UpCloud, make sure that you close your account and remove the card. If you don’t, they will charge the card after the trial ends.
The Trial Is Limited
The trial is limited!
Of course, it is! It is a 14-day trial. What else do you expect?
Aren’t these the questions that you feel like asking me right now? Don’t I sound like a dumb person?
Well, yes, I am dumb, but hear me out! When I say it is limited, I mean to say that you cannot deploy more than one server, and the server capacity will be limited. This means that you can get only the lowest allowed server (worth $5).
Also, there will be some speed throttling. Also, certain network ports will not be available. That’s not expected! But on the good side, UpCloud is very clear about speed throttling and other limitations. Who says something like that in today’s world?
Signing Up Is Simple
The signing up page is simple. You need to provide your details, including your credit card, and hit the Start Now button at the end. This is what the page looks like:
Once you sign up, you will get the login page, which looks quite similar to that of Cloudways.
Once you log in, you will see a nearly blank page with some tabs on the top and a ‘Deploy Server’ button at the center of the screen.
This is what you will see:
If you are new to cloud hosting, no need to bother about all the tabs you see on the top (not at least for now). You can skip everything and click on the Deploy Server button. Once you click on that, you will get a choice to select the data center. There is a total of 9 data centers to select from.
Choose wisely. You should select the data center that is closest to your expected visitors’ location. For the purpose of this review, I will use the US-NYC1 option, because that is where I get 80% of my organic traffic. No, NYC is not the exact place where my traffic originates. NYC is the closest place. So, choosing NYC makes sense. This will reduce server response time.
You will see something called Simple Plans, and then there is what they call the Flexible Plan. The difference between the two is that in Simple Plans, you will get a predefined configuration of CPU cores and memory (RAM). In the case of Flexible Plan, you can choose how many CPU cores and how much RAM you need.
Since this is a free trial plan, I will be allowed to select only the $5 plan. I will select that.
Scrolling further down, you can see the option of activating Automatic Backup and selecting from Linux or Windows servers. This is what you will see:
I won’t suggest adding automated backups for a free trial. You just want to test it out. So, no backup is needed. However, if you are adding a true server for creating or launching a production site, I will suggest that you add a backup option as well.
Finally, you will get the option of adding IPv6, SSH Keys, etc. You must add SSH keys. If you are using a Windows desktop, you need to use a program called Putty to generate SSH keys. You need to add the public key to the server and keep the private key with yourself.
You will need the private key if you use FileZilla or similar services to access the server files. Also, adding SSH keys will keep the server secure and away from unauthorized access.
If you want to learn how to create an SSH key pair using Putty, I will suggest that you read this tutorial
Finally, give a hostname and description. You will notice some information already added. That’s difficult to understand or remember. Use something in plain English. This is what you will see:
But this is what you should do:
My point here is simple. Use something human-readable (and easily understandable). This will help you to quickly identify a server if you are deploying multiple servers with UpCloud. Don’t change the Hostname as it will keep giving errors. Change the description only.
Once you have added all things, all you have to do is click on the button that reads ‘Deploy.’
Wait until it is done and voila! The server will be ready in 45 seconds. Yes, it actually took 45 seconds to deploy the server. It was a pleasant surprise!
This is what you will see once the server deployment is over:
You Will Get an Email
Once you deploy a server, you will get an email. It will contain the IP address of the server, the username (which, by default, is ‘root’), and the password. You will need these things to access the server. So, you need to keep the information safely stored somewhere. I will suggest you write them down in a diary.
This is how the email will look like:
Once the installation is over, you can click on the server to open a host of other information, including the option of accessing the console from where you can access the server. If you want to use the console to access the server, you will need the username and password that you received in your email.
This is what you will see if you click on the server:
If you are wondering what a console is, it is like the cmd interface on your Windows OS or the Terminal on your Linux desktop. However, in this case, it will open in a web browser.
This is how the console will look like:
Once you enter your username and password and hit the enter button on your keyboard, you will see this:
Now, if you need to install WordPress, you have to use this CLI or console to do so. If you want to clear everything from the console screen, type ‘clear’ (without the quotes) and hit enter. If you want to exit the console, click on the cross button on the top of the browser window of the console.
No One-Click WordPress Instalment
This is something I didn’t like about UpCloud. The absence of one-click WordPress Instalment can be haunting for people with zero experience dealing with cloud servers and command-line interface (CLI).
So, how do you install WordPress on your UpCloud server? You can take the long and difficult route of doing it manually, or you can use a service like RunCloud to do it swiftly. You don’t need the experience to deal with RunCloud. It is more like clicking around and getting the job done.
In case you want to learn how to install WordPress on the UpCloud server, I have a complete tutorial here
This is one segment where Digital Ocean or Cloudways, and even Google Cloud beats UpCloud comfortably. All of them have one-click installations available, making life easy for rookies like me.
Bottom Line on User Experience
Barring the absence of one-click installation of WordPress or other applications, the overall experience with UpCloud was nice. It is not complex or overly crowded to scare people away. Even a novice can use it with ease.
Okay, now that you have learned about the user experience, it is about time you learn about the various features available with UpCloud. There aren’t too many to discuss, but whatever is there, I will tell you.
100% Uptime SLA
UpCloud guarantees 100% uptime. What does that mean? It means that your website will always remain online. That’s an interesting claim. The industry standard is 99.90% uptime on shared servers. So, hitting 100% on cloud servers is not a big deal.
Yes, UpCloud does deploy a server in 45 seconds tops. That’s one of the fastest I have seen. Though I personally use Digital Ocean and Vultr, I will say UpCloud beats them comfortably in this segment. But trust me, that doesn’t really count. What counts is the server performance.
There is no doubt that UpCloud is fast. They give 400,000 input/output operations per second. The UpCloud website compares this with various competitors, include Digital Ocean and Vultr.
Yes, UpCloud is way superior to Digital Ocean servers, but the comparison you see between UpCloud and Vultr is based on older SSD servers of Vultr. Vultr has recently upgraded to High Frequency (HF) compute servers that have the same I/O performance.
What UpCloud doesn’t say is that the I/O performance they talk about includes caching enabled on the server-side. With caching disabled, the performance drops significantly.
The same is true with Vultr HF compute servers. Disable caching, and HF compute servers will not work as fast as you would expect them to me.
Technically, there isn’t much difference between Vultr’s High-Frequency Compute servers and UpCloud’s servers that use proprietary MaxIOPS technology.
UpCloud will allow you to take snapshots of your web server. These are essentially backups that are stored in image format. You can restore the entire server image with a single click. This is a great option. However, do remember that backups are not free. Theirs is a cloud hosting provider that will give you free snapshots. Don’t even expect that.
This is something I really liked about UpCloud. You can configure your servers the way you want. You can increase RAM or CPU cores depending upon your specific needs. This flexibility means a lot for big organizations that require custom configurations.
One of the greatest advantages of cloud hosting is the ability to increase the computing resources of the server with a few clicks. This allows for instant scalability when traffic keeps growing. This eliminates the need to migrate to a new hosting provider.
UpCloud, just like every other cloud hosting provider, allows the same without any problem. The server resizing option is available from within the server details overview page of your account. This is what it looks like:
UpCloud allows you to set up a firewall to protect your server and website from various types of malicious traffic. Setting up a firewall is pretty technical. However, when you deploy a server with UpCloud, it automatically creates a firewall with some preset rules for both incoming and outgoing traffic.
You can choose to enable or disable the firewall. Enabling it will cost you an extra 4.03 USD per month. Here is what the preset firewall setup looks like:
You can edit the rules or delete some rules. You can also add new rules. The problem with this is that you need to know how to set firewall rules. If you do something wrong, you can just open the floodgates for various online troubles waiting out there.
I anyway, don’t bother with firewall rules because I use Cloudflare. Instead of paying $4.03 to UpCloud, I will recommend you pay $20 to Cloudflare and get preconfigured WAF, world-class CDN, Image Optimization, and much more. That’s always a better deal!
Yes, you can configure firewall rules even on Cloudflare, but they also have preconfigured rules that work wonders. Cloudflare is today the best-known solution again DDoS attacks. No one can beat Cloudflare in this.
UpCloud allows an easy staging environment so that you can make changes to your website or application without impacting the production site. Once you are satisfied with the changes in the staging environment, you can quickly roll out the upgrade version with ease.
UpCloud offers a two-factor authorization feature to help users keep their accounts safe from unauthorized access. That’s a good thing!
Responsive Customer Support
UpCloud excels in this segment. The customer service is very responsive, and they do have a live chat option. You can get your issues resolved directly from the live chat system. If you want, you can also raise a ticket and send them an email. Their support team is very courteous and knowledgeable.
UpCloud has a very extensive knowledge base that is good enough to resolve several issues. I won’t say that the knowledge base will solve everything. There are complications that cannot be covered by knowledgebase articles. You will have to seek expert assistance in those times.
Things I Didn’t Like About UpCloud
Trust me, UpCloud is not perfect! There are several downsides that will make rookies think twice before making a switch to UpCloud. Here are a set of problems that I think UpCloud should address immediately:
There’s no one-click installation available for WordPress or other web applications. This is where Digital Ocean beats UpCloud comfortably. Digital Ocean has a market place that will allow you to deploy various applications with a single click.
You can install WordPress or run a server with Minecraft hosting, or perhaps host OnlyOffice with a single click deployment on Digital Ocean servers.
Yes, Digital Ocean servers may be slightly slower than UpCloud, but the hosting provider has proven itself to be way more user-friendly than UpCloud, or even Vultr.
Too Much Developer-Oriented
Well, to be honest, cloud hosting providers are mostly developer-friendly. Those who know their way around with SSH, CLI, etc. can enjoy UpCloud.
However, some elements designed specifically for rookies would surely help a major chunk of people running websites because the majority of website owners are rookies and hobbyists. Not everyone can be a developer.
This is one factor that everyone needs to think about. Well, there is a set notion that cloud hosting is expensive. That’s a thing of the past. Today, you can deploy a cloud server for as little as $5 a month, often making them much cheaper than shared hosting providers who are plagued with problems like slow servers, severe bandwidth limits, and more.
UpCloud presses the right nerve by offering hosting for just $5. Of course, the cost will increase if you are using backups and firewalls offered by UpCloud. Still, it manages to be cheaper than several shared hosting providers if you go by monthly pricing plan.
Of course, you may select servers that will cost you as high as $640 a month, but they are meant for enterprises. If you want to learn about different prices, you should check their pricing page. Isn’t it pointless to give a pricing table here when you can get the info from the horse’s mouth?
UpCloud is a great option for hosting your site(s) on the cloud if you know how to work with it. Honestly, working with cloud servers may sound very intimidating, but that’s not entirely true. Some research on your part can help you get accustomed to the power of the cloud.
I recommend UpCloud to everyone, even the rookies. For rookies, there are easy solutions for complex problems. The thing is, if you don’t try something, how will you know whether it is good or bad, or whether you are comfortable using something or not?
Go ahead and try out UpCloud. I am sure that with a bit of digging, you will start loving UpCloud.