These companies used to be kinda the same…but now they’re not.
3 years ago, they were all similarish stack, performance, and pricing. Some differences in UI, business model, vibe and service level…but still mostly targeting the same customer base. Now they’re vastly different companies with totally different product positioning.
Here are some old reviews for comparison (if you’re curious).
- Cloudways vs RunCloud – Managed WordPress Hosting Comparison (UPDATED 2020)
- GridPane vs RunCloud – Managed Hosting Panel Review UPDATED 2020
- RunCloud hosting panel 2020 review
Let’s see what’s changed…
1. RunCloud (is the winner)
RunCloud is the winner. There I said it. If you got more important shit to do, you can stop reading now and just go sign up with RunCloud.
- BEST UI – most mature and cleanest professional-looking panel of all three. Tons of tools and widget-ey things for devs while still usable for noobs. You’re not lost clicking back and forth between the same screens like with Cloudways.
- BEST PRICE – easily the best and most non-obnoxious pricing of all cloud panels. RC is actually cheaper than even many new up-and-coming cloud panel services while despite still being better and with a longer-standing brand name. You can manage 1 server for only $6/month, and unlimited servers for $12/month.
- FAST – RC stack performance is on par with all the fastest cloud panels out there. Of course they all advertise that they’re faster than each other but really the best ones are all the same speed. Maybe 2% difference, tops.
- LITESPEED SERVER – it’s widely known that I’m the biggest fan of LiteSpeed servers, great performance and comes with my favorite cache plugin (LiteSpeed Cache). So obviously, I love that RC has OpenLiteSpeed (and being one of the few to have it).
- FILE MANAGER – hahaha, go look around and see how many cloud panels have a file manager feature. And you’ll see almost nobody’s got it.
- OK SUPPORT – many people say RC support is limited or bad or slow. I’m not sure about all that since it’s always worked for me. But maybe that’s because I’m not having noob issues.
I really love where RunCloud’s future is. Non-gimmicky hype marketing. No overblown promises. Public-facing figures (in FB groups) are professional and helpful. Features are added over time to a mature stack and the product works well. If I was to run my own cloud panel, it’d be like RunCloud.
It’s clean, it’s mature, it works, it’s cheap. A great little service at a great little price. Way more dev-friendly IMO than Cloudways or GridPane. Absolutely no-brainer best option of the 3 for me. And it’s the cheapest one!
2. Cloudways (is ok)
Cloudways is somewhat useable. The pricing is more fair than when they first started and the support is responsive. I used to recommend Cloudways as a safe bet, and while it still works for most people, I find it too buggy for me.
- ANNOYING UI – I’ve been using CW for 3-4 years now? And still find myself clicking back and forth between the same screens. I’m always looking for shit in the wrong places and the screens take forever to load. Things feel slow!
- BUGGY – really shocked how a company this big still has many bugs from time to time. Things like backup don’t work. Or files don’t have the right permissions. What’s the point of having SSH if I still have to bother your support team to do simple tasks? I’m not gonna bother listing the dozen other bugs.
- SLOW – this is really unacceptable. Many things are slow. The UI is slow. The stack is slow. Servers seem to be forever DDOS’ed or bot-ed to death. I won’t blame a cloud provider for dirty IP’s but it just feels like CW servers are always slow and support’s answer is always the predictable “you must upgrade”. Well guess what? I did just that and the speed still sucks.
- FAIR PRICING – the price is alright when the stack works. And I’m sure it works for many people as CW is quite popular. Maybe you’ll have better luck than the 50 times I’ve tried CW over the years.
- GOOD SUPPORT – support does indeed try to be helpful and solve problems. Of the 3 managed cloud panels listed here, CW support is easily the most noob-friendly. You can ask all kinds of dumb questions and their team will be patient enough to answer you.
Let’s face it. Cloudways is only the most popular because their affiliate program is the best-paying of the 3. RunCloud doesn’t give you much, and GridPane didn’t have one for a long time (I think they still don’t?). The pricing was never the cheapest and the stack was never the fastest. I think Cloudways stack and company are both too big (bloated) to evolve with the times. I don’t expect any improvement from them over the years and see myself recommending them less and less, if even at all.
The only reason why I ever recommended Cloudways was because their stack was “good enough” and they offered noob support. If not for the noob support, I wouldn’t recommend them at all.
3. GridPane (is overpriced)
GridPane is too expensive for what you get. The starter plan is $200/month (compared to $6/month for RunCloud). Do you really think you’re getting 30 times the value? Of course not. But GridPane does have customers…so let’s fairly cover what they do right (along with the things I don’t like).
- SIMPLE UI – easy interface with fewer places to click, focusing on what matters most. Makes running servers look easy. I think newbies may prefer GP’s simpler interface. Whereas hardened devs (like myself) may prefer a fuller cockpit UI like with RC.
- FAST – no doubt about it, GP has always focused on speed. GP was the fastest cloud panel stack for a while…but (almost) everybody else caught up now. I like that the panel UI feels fast as well, unlike CW’s bloated ass.
- BACKUPS – this has never been my differentiator in picking a cloud panel but I believe GP has the best backup system? Maybe it allows the most frequent backup intervals or more backup options and locations? Not even sure, honestly. But if you have a very particular need regarding backups, GridPane is for you.
- US SUPPORT – GP support has been reported as hit or miss by many. but personally, I’ve only had fast responses by American devs/engineers so that’s a great thing for me. I much prefer that vibe over the overly-courteous “sir this, sir that” you get from Asian support devs. American support is more like “np, buddy!”.
- HIGH PRICING – GP has clearly marked their territory with a play like this. They only want serious clients with serious server needs. So basically, anyone running less than 10 servers is probably not a good fit for GridPane. Is the price set that high for brand prestige? Cover the higher costs of American support? Pay for affiliates? Avoid bottom-level clients that clog support lines with basic questions? I don’t know. All I know is I literally can’t recommend them to 99.99% of people out there.
- MISSED FEATURES – when you’re priced that high, you definitely need more features to justify the cost. And I’d say GridPane doesn’t have them. The most important features in GridPane can also be found in their competitors. And I often hear the unique promised stuff by their roadmap is missed or delayed.
- UNPROFESSIONAL FOUNDER – GP’s founder (Patrick Gallagher) is widely known as a mean person or at the very least a “speaks his mind” type of guy. God forbid you ever say anything unsavory about his service, you’re not only going to be personally (and publicly) attacked by him but he also likes to incite mob-shaming. Not a big deal if you silently use the service. But definitely a problem if you like to post honest opinions in public, or want your criticisms heard. Patrick is quick-tempered and easily ego-defensive about his business…so beware!
GridPane appears to me like a company without a rooted identity. In the 4 years they’ve been operating…I’ve watched them jump back and forth from one business model to another. Constant price changes, website redesigns, LTD sales, customer re-targeting, hosting masterminds, and decision switching on many things. (With the product being mostly the same the entire time.)
One could see this as a company being extremely agile and rapidly adapting to the market. Or you could see it as a company re-releasing its product repeatedly because it didn’t make its expected market impact. After all…why would any successful business/product switch its marketing so many times? (Nobody dares to change what works, right?)
All this tells me GridPane is more focused on profits than actually being the best cloud panel. Which isn’t a crime by any means (they are a business after all), but I’d worry about customers getting alienated in the future because they don’t fit GridPane’s profit-strategy.
4. What about the other stacks?
Every time I write one of these pieces, I get annoying comments asking about other services I didn’t list here. They’re not listed because they haven’t made enough impact to be compared. Could they be just as good, or even better? Absolutely. But I don’t cover them in this guide because they’re not at this level yet. Not fast enough, not enough features, not enough proven customers, or not enough differentiation in some other way.
But I already know some of you will insist on asking anyway.
- “But what about _____? Is _______ better than RunCloud?” *whiny ass voice*
NO. RunCloud is the best cloud panel right now for me. And if one day I change my mind…I’ll let you know right here on my site. And until I change my mind, this is my answer.
Runcloud is definitely the best right now. However, I dont like the way Mr. Rajendra Zore (CMO?) handling customers on the Facebook group. (Arguing with people over feature requests, and with a high horse manner). Excluding that issue, Runcloud is the best.
I have a good relationship with Rajendra so am awfully curious. What are the arguments about?
Runcloud can only be better if they offer the long awaited agency option, or at least a decent WHMCS integration for hosting providers. We started working on one for now. as we couldn’t wait any longer.
That’s incredible news, man. I wish you a million karma points in the next lifetime.
I agree with you. A module for WHMCS that works would make a big difference. I’m sure it would bring a ton of new customers.
For Gridpane, I saw an external developer who created a module, but it’s not finished and it doesn’t really work.
For the module you are developing, are you going to make it available or is it going to be only for your company?
As the plugin is fairly complicated we will need to make sure that everything works, after that it to decide that the four founders of the plugin will do. You may always contzct me to discuss this to step aboard as a founder for the plugin.
I want to step on board as a founder of the plugin.
Thanks for all the detailed reviews of all kinds of panels (especially) and hosting providers.
I have a quick question: if you’re to run a managed WordPress hosting company, not a big one (300-500 clients), but with plans to grow a lot more, what panel/service would you choose: RunCloud or GridPane? Or maybe Ploi, because it has Ploi Core for the end client’s access?
Thanks for the opinion, in advance and keep up an awesome work! 🙂
I have my own service and use a mix of cPanel, Plesk, CyberPanel. I don’t use RC or GP because they don’t have automated billing. Ploi, I never really considered.
Thank you very much for this comparison !
I don’t like the Cpanel interface, I saw that you use CyberPanel, is it reliable? Plesk is better? For CyberPanel, is it better to use the free version or the enterprise version?
CyberPanel is reliable enough but does have a few bugs from time to time. Plesk is solid but I personally don’t like its UI. CyberPanel free or paid, that’s for you to decide whether the price is worth the value.
For CyberPanel free or paid, I meant if there were any differences in terms of performance? for example, access to advanced functions available on the paid version and not on the free version
Yes, you can ask them and compare them for yourself (several differences between free & paid versions of CP/LS). This comment section on unrelated hosts is really not the place. At least pick one of my CyberPanel review guides.
GridPane is crazy. I don’t like their business at all.
I was a customer some time ago but didn’t like that they increased prices, ran lifetime promotions and never delivered what they promised.
Nguyen Minh Hung
I was shocked to see GridPane’s current valuation
What shocked you about it? Its price far outgrew its value.
You are not fair Johny! Anyone else except from GridPane doesn’t offers snapshot failover system.
I don’t consider that a critical feature whatsoever, and not worth the price premium. But hey, if you’re the 1% who needs it…then by all means.
non-techies like me would definitely choose cloudways not matter how much they charge but we have to do less hassle there.
First comment here and I really get a lot from your blog. Thanks for always being a straight shooter!
I’ve been testing with two of the providers mentioned here and have to say my conclusions mostly concur with yours. One niggle with RunCloud frustrating me — No WebAdmin access in OLS. Would be nice to set up VHost templates to eliminate repetitive manual configs in each site’s Litespeed config. You happen to know how to set up VHost templates on RunCloud OLS without WebAdmin?
Hi Johnny, chào anh.
I hope one day, my current project XVPS.io will be the one in your review list. XVPS’s File manager currently seems like the best feature one for now on stage of unmanaged vps panel products.
I used Ploi, Forge, RC before and i see RC is the one that has implemented file manager feature. But their features still in limited so that my own is another project that want take more advanced features to the stage.
Thank you and see you “one day” soon.
Great article! I’ve been using them all and this is exactly my feeling (if you don’t mind the shameless plug, my experiences are here: https://makeitwork.press/best-wordpress-control-panels/).
Runcloud has steadily been improving, LiteSpeed is a great addition and it looks like they continue this path.
By the way, you may want to check Cleavr.io, it’s pretty interesting too and its panel is very easy to use (and it supports NodeJS stacks….!).
I setup some of my clients on Cloudways for whom I do not want to host myself for various reasons. For this reason it is a good host if you want to give your clients a faster host and let them deal with the rest of the issues by contacting their support. However, for my other clients I use HestiaCP, free lightweight control panel which I run on DO servers and I has worked out great. I have flirted with RunCloud myself, but never pulled the trigger.
Thanks for your share and glad you found several tools to fit your needs. HestiaCP ain’t bad either.
Great review, as always. I have nothing to add in a technical sense, but just want to add that I have been using Runcloud for a few months and have found their support to be exceptional. Very prompt, helpful, friendly. They’ve only ever failed to help me once, and that ended up being a problem with OpenLiteSpeed itself (not allowing WP/SearchWP to talk to Apache Tika on the server for document text extraction). I honestly can’t see how their support could be improved much, other than being fully managed and doing all server stuff for me. But it seems to be well configured, so there isn’t much need for that anyway.
What is proper way to setup 2dn/3rd instance of WP in a subdirecty on the Lightspeed stack of Runcloud? or is it even possible?
Just curious, I’m not familiar with neither of Runcloud/Lightspeed.
Maybe you can ask their support?
Ok I will.
BTW, have you successfully done that before?
I never put sites in sub-directories.
Great article, Johnny!
I’ve been occasionally bumping into your blog for a valuable insights and and never left disappointed.
I’ve been GP’s customer for a while now (and on two accounts) but honestly, I am really growing tired of them – hence why I googled recommended alternatives.
To be completely honest: I find their service not only crazy overpriced (for what you get), but also very “separative”(cool features, like Open LiteSpeed are only available from USD200/month) and, what is even worse, higly unreliable (for example: I am getting _constant_ warnings that automated local backups failed or – from time to time – that my custom VPS is disconnected).
And I just can’t shake the feeling of being simply milked-out: I am being constantly spammed with newsletters promoting their various “pro” trainings for “just” few hundred bucks and the features that were added to the admin panel few months ago as beta or “coming soon” are still just that. It’s as if the development on the GP completely stopped (and it probably did, seeing the launch of their 360 offering)
Sorry to hear and honestly, you’re not the only one whispering this on the down-low. GridPane’s still figuring out their business identity and until then, they’re gonna be hopping all over the place re-deciding who they want to cater to or not. They’re hunting for big fish and if that ain’t you, then you’re not invited to the party. Hope you find something steady for your use.
I have been using Runcloud for a long time and Gridpane for about a year and I totally agree with your review (and what you say Tomasz).
Has anyone developed a module for WHMCS with Runcloud? They have a very good API that could allow us to manage sites directly from WHMCS?
Honestly, you should not be using WHMCS. They are the devil. Works great and reliable but long ago bought out by the same owners of cPanel and prices keep getting jacked-up regularly (recently they dishonored all lifetime plans). Many of the features are overkill anyway. Feels like you’re bought an airplane to get to your neighbor’s house. And despite it being so heavy in features…it’s also kinda outdated for today’s hosting agency needs.
Find something else! (I say this as a person who used, and still uses, WHMCS for years. And now building my own custom solution.)
Thanks for an honest and non-compromising article. I’ve been looking into building WHMCS w/ Runcloud hosting solution as my first hosting project, but luckily read your comment about WHMCS first. What would you recommend for somebody getting started today, with modest targets (premium hosting for 100-200 customers max) ?
I am a solo webdesigner with 76 clients hosted on 12 different DO servers via Cloudways. All are WP (and Woo) sites spread across those servers according to load (two 2GB servers and nine 1GB servers).
I’ve stumbled on a FB post today in the CW Group that also reports constant issues with the “Error reconnecting to the database”. That’s why I started looking for CW alternatives and found your article.
Runcloud seems pretty cheap at first, but then I discovered they charge $1 per month for backups. Not per server, no, PER APP! Which makes $76 of backups per month and will only increase over time.
What would be your suggestion for this? A backup plugin per WP install? Maybe backup to a separate server / block storage as to mimic offsite backups?
Ouch….$1 per app does seem a bit high but at the same time…it’s not so unfair if you can cherry pick which ones are most important. I understand the stress from a webhosting company side with billing for backups. Space is not so expensive but making it easy to restore is.
Yes, I’d use a backup plugin in this case if you can’t afford it. And that’s an absolute hassle to set up for each site. There are other server-based solutions as well but I assume you’re not at that level technically to set it up if you’re on here asking for help.
Excellent comparaison! I’ve tested them all and RC is the clear winner. Thank you Johnny.
Glad you enjoyed! Are you using them for your hosting infrastructure?
Yes I’m on RunCloud thanks to you. I also tested CW and GP. I’d also love to test Blaqpanel soon. It’s in my to do 😉
Regarding the price:
RunCloud costs $6.67/month for the basic plan if you pay yearly + $5/month for the smallest DO droplet = $11.67/month.
Cloudways costs $10/month for service and the smallest DO droplet combined. So the cheapest option costs actually $1.67/month less than RunCloud’s. This changes in RunCloud’s favour if you choose larger servers since CW increase their margin on those, but only if you opt for RunCloud’s cheapest or mid-tier plan.
Also, the basic and mid-tier plan with RunCloud don’t offer the full range of features, so it looks like the price comparison between RC and CW isn’t that simple.
Nevertheless, I’m going to check out RC after this review, so thanks for that – and also for all the other excellent articles!
I just don’t like CW’s slower stack and panel interface. It’d have to be half the cost of RC to be even close to justifiable (or stomach-able IMO).
Thanks so much for the continuous testing and diligence Johnny! Which panel (RunCloud vs GridPane) do you believe (or know through testing) is more secure out of the box? RunCloud doesn’t offer mod security unless you go with their Business plan (GP doesn’t unless you go Dev), and G6/G7 aren’t available unless you go Pro+. This being said I guess I’ll compare Dev from GP to Pro from RunCloud: GridPane on paper- seems more secure by default. I haven’t played with RunCloud at all but GP has built in AV which RunCloud doesn’t mention at all, and all of the security settings and optimizations for both the server and the individual WordPress sites are right there with recommended “highly secure” one click options.
I’m trying to build out a hosting platform where all of my clients must be on the same stack: they must use WordPress, must handle email/transactional mail offsite (SMTP+Workspace/M365), must use NGINX or OLS, and must use Cloudflare. Because my stack is so specific and I won’t take any clients who don’t conform to it (you can’t just buy hosting and throw a site up) my primary concern is security and reliability. I’m mostly a solo show and while I’m an intermediate level sysadmin- it’s not something I can dedicate any reasonable amount of time to due to all my other responsibilities (NGL: I also don’t like it).
Thanks again Johnny!
I don’t like mod_security period, because it can slow down your site load a bit while still not making your applications bulletproof. As for anything else you mentioned…I’d pick RunCloud easily over GridPane. I don’t consider one to be more “secure” than the other in real world use.
Hi Johnny,tnx for review.
I’ve only used CW. Is runcloud, running nginx impressively secure, stable and fast out of the box without firing up one ssh window or command?
If I run into an emergency situation (server failure of some kind) , how longs their support response going to take to help me get out of it?
In regards to pricing all 3 are roughly the same. As someone else mentioned, Cloudways smtp api addon is good now and extremely cheap + free backups + cheap enterprise cf and advanced support tier if spending over 100/month. What they’re lacking, they gain on in managing and support. So for spends under $200 they’re cheaper and they’re stack runs fast enough!
Runcloud costs more than gridpane and costs every time you add a site. You must pay $1/month per site for backups and there’s no great work around for this. Add that up over 40 sites. WP plugins aren’t an ideal replacement to say the least. You need their second tier plan to access nginx conf, so that’s critical too. GP plan is only $50/month, hence cheaper.
Thanks and hope you can help me out with my questions.
I am still not 100% sure about these cloud-based providers. In my eyes, they are made for hosting let´s say WordPress sites but, 3 months ago I emailed RC support and this is their reply…
Please keep in mind that RunCloud only supplies the server control interface and not the servers. You must purchase the server from a cloud provider such as AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud Platform.
As a result, we can’t provide any information about storage or bandwidth.
I hope this makes sense.
Please contact us if you require any additional assistance.
So, if I wanted to use RC to host a WordPress sites, I will still need to pay for a server.
Yes, exactly. I’m curious what you were asking their support for.
How set and forget is RunCloud for a simple WordPress blog? Out of the box are the automated security updates and initial configurations enough for the site to not get hacked or break, at least when compared to a shared host/traditionally managed VPS?
The $7 fee to make an unmanaged DO drop ‘managed’ is a fantastic deal.
But I see mixed opinions, with some saying these services like RC are a disaster waiting to happen if you don’t know command line. Apparently, their automated scripts aren’t enough to secure a server or to prevent potential server misconfigurations from accruing overtime — something that won’t happen with the kind of human oversight/consistent upkeep you get from a shared host or properly managed VPS.
Is there truth to this?
We’re a digital agency with 40+ devs and have been using Runcloud for years, I think almost from when they first started.
We use Runcloud to manage our staging servers, each of which has about 50 WP sites, as well as a number of production sites too. In all, over 100 WP webapps.
Have to say, never really had issues, support has always been respectable. For about $8 per month (grandfathered plan) it is easily the best value for money SaaS product we use – and we use many!
Gridpane like to market themselves as the professional and advanced solution. They are not. And the ludicrous sums you have to pay just aren’t worth it. Either that or opt for the new cheaper package without dedicated support. No thanks.
The default Gridpane stack can’t do caching and parameters. So forget a fast site where you want to do Google ads. The advice if you want to get it to work – contact a developer or swap to litespeed. Runcloud have this working out of the box – with a few clicks.
They also don’t support any custom SSL. Sources: https://gridpane.com/kb/setting-up-a-custom-ssl/
hi do you know about avatar server? if so what do you think?
Sorry it’s ServerAvatar, LOL
I figured I’d add some more to the “Gridpane Patrick is a mean, insecure, bullshitting used car salesman” pile. Here’s a link to some screenshots of interactions I had with him. The latter, obviously, got me kicked out of his facebook group (even though it took place in another group!). Then, like the coward he is, he deleted the comment thread altogether.