DigitalOcean Review

This article is a detailed review of DigitalOcean VPS cloud hosting. Read this DigitalOcean Review to find out the pros and cons of this VPS cloud hosting provider. For those of you who have never heard of DigitalOcean before, it is a relatively new entrant into the world of VPS cloud hosting. DigitalOcean has grown tremendously since its inception a couple of years ago. It has created millions of VPS cloud servers for a huge number of users. If you are looking for web hosting deals during Cyber Monday, here is a list of the best Cybe Monday web hosting deals.
DigitalOcean Logo

DigitalOcean VPS Feature Highlights and Price Plans

  • High performance SSD hard drives
  • KVM virtualization technology, guaranteed system resources
  • Server network speed at 1Gbps
  • Dedicated IPv4 and IPv6 addresses
  • Private networking available
  • Easy-to-use control panel, almost foolproof
  • Server snapshots and automatic backup options
  • Highly scalable, resizing servers with a few clicks
  • Available DNS management
  • RESTful API extension
  • One-Click Installs of WordPress, LAMP, and RoR
  • Two-factor authentication security
  • HTML5 enabled full console access via VNC
  • 5 data centers, NYC(NY1 & NY2), San Francisco, Singapore and Amsterdam
  • A large collection of helpful tutorials and an active community
  • 24/7 ticket support, an IRC channel, and a forum
  • 99.99% Uptime SLA
  • Pay-As-You-Grow, per hour billing, no contract
  • Credit cards and PayPal accepted as payment methods

You can have all of the above for a very low monthly price. For just $5 a month without contract, DigitalOcean offers you a KVM based VPS with 512MB of RAM, 20GB of super speedy SSD, and 1TB of monthly transfer. Other monthly plans are available as well, if more system resources are required. Servers can be easily scaled up or down at any time and that can be achieved with just a few clicks.

DigitalOcean Review - Pricing

DigitalOcean Control Panel, VPS Creation and One-Click Installs

The sign-up process for a new account is extremely simple. Only an email address and a new account password are required before selecting a payment method on the sign-up page. Major credit cards and PayPal are accepted. No contract is required. You are billed by the hour and pay as you “grow”. By the way, you can get $10 hosting credit if you use this DigitalOcean Promo Code. That’s roughly equivalent to hosting on a 512MB VPS for two months.

Unlike many other VPS providers, DigitalOcean’s custom control panel is designed with simplicity in mind. To get your first VPS created, all you need to do is select the size of your VPS, the data center location, and the Linux distro of your choice before clicking the “Create Droplet” button. It usually takes less than a minute, as advertised, for a small-sized VPS droplet to become ready to use.

The most popular Linux distros are provided in the control panel for VPS creation. 32bit and 64bit versions of CentOS, Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, CoreOS, and Arch Linux are available, and the Ubuntu Desktop ( Xfce ) and Fedora Desktop are also in the selection list. The officially maintained “One-click Installs” are also available for LAMP, WordPress, Ruby on Rails, Docker and Redmine. One-click Installs are the convenient solutions for users who are new to unmanaged Linux hosting. Bloggers and publishers who need nothing more than a few WordPress sites will save a lot of time with One-Click Installs as well.

DigitalOcean doesn’t offer Windows servers. If you need to run windows applications on your server, you should probably look somewhere else.

DigitalOcean Data Centers, Private Networking, and IPv6

DigialOcean currently has 4 data centers. They are operated by Equinix, Telx, and TelecityGroup in New York City (NY1 and NY2), San Francisco and Amsterdam Netherlands. DigitalOcean’s NY2 data center is in Google’s New York building at 111 8th Avenue. Private networking is available at some of DigitalOcean’s facilities. DigitalOcean is investing heavily in its infrastructure. Its Singapore data center was launched last year. Future expansions will possibly include a Texas location as well as one in South America or India.

We previously wrote in this review:

IPv6 is not available as of the writing of this DigitalOcean Review, but it has been indicated that this feature will be available soon.

Here is an update: IPv6 is now available at some of DigitalOcean’s data center locations.

DigitalOcean VPS Scalability

Needless to say, more system resources will be allocated if you choose to create or upgrade to a larger VPS. If you already have a VPS in use and just want to upgrade (or downgrade) the RAM and the number of CPU cores instantly, you can always do a “Fast-Resize” on your VPS. That can be achieved with just a few clicks on the control panel. Support tickets are not necessary at all and the system downtime required for that change is minimal.

If you would like to do some pre-production testing for a new website or application, you can always spin up a small size server to do all the tests you want and the cost for that will be less than a cent per hour.

DigitalOcean Review - Control Panel

DigitalOcean VPS Performance

As a part of this DigitalOcean Review, we tested the performance of 512MB, 1GB, and 2GB VPS droplets with UnixBench. Unlike the usually oversold OpenVZ solutions, DigitalOcean’s KVM based virtualization guarantees the allocated CPU and RAM resources. The lightening fast SSD disks are a big help in improving overall performance, as already evident during the creation process of a fresh VPS. The following are some of our actual test results.

On our 1GB VPS:

System Benchmarks Index Values               BASELINE       RESULT    INDEX
Dhrystone 2 using register variables         116700.0   29181066.6   2500.5
Double-Precision Whetstone                       55.0       3364.8    611.8
Execl Throughput                                 43.0       3080.7    716.4
File Copy 1024 bufsize 2000 maxblocks          3960.0     970605.7   2451.0
File Copy 256 bufsize 500 maxblocks            1655.0     275813.5   1666.5
File Copy 4096 bufsize 8000 maxblocks          5800.0    1765632.4   3044.2
Pipe Throughput                               12440.0    1666863.1   1339.9
Pipe-based Context Switching                   4000.0     250412.6    626.0
Process Creation                                126.0       9697.9    769.7
Shell Scripts (1 concurrent)                     42.4       4901.2   1155.9
Shell Scripts (8 concurrent)                      6.0        703.4   1172.3
System Call Overhead                          15000.0    2173421.8   1448.9
                                                                   ========
System Benchmarks Index Score                                        1268.0

On our smallest 512MB VPS:

System Benchmarks Index Score                             910.1

On our largest 2GB VPS:

System Benchmarks Index Score                             1603.4

The test scores published in this DigitalOcean Review are our first hand experience on NY1 droplets. Feel free to compare these data with your existing VPS or cloud hosting provider. Also, we have a separate article on DigitalOcean Performance.

DigitalOcean Data Backup and Recovery Option

DigitalOcean provides its users with two types of mechanism for data backup and recovery. Snapshots of your DigitalOcean instance can be manually taken at any point in time and that requires your VPS be offline for just a minute or two. Automatic backups are done periodically and without the need to bring your servers down.

The costs for snapshots and backups are very reasonable. Automatic backups for the least expensive server configuration cost just a dollar per month.

DigitalOcean Customer Support, Document Library and the User Community

DigitalOcean’s technical support is superb. Tickets are usually answered in a matter of minutes. The technical support people are friendly and eager to help. An IRC channel is officially maintained for users who are interested in participating in real time chat. There is a network status website thoughtfully hosted on a separate domain.

DigitalOcean maintains a large number of tutorials on its website. Basic steps, such as creating your VPS droplets, setting up IP tables, installing MySQL, PHP, Perl, Python, RoR, and Apache, or even Nginx, are very well documented. Linux first-timers can just rely on those step-by-step guides to get a website or an application up and running easily. The tutorials are up-to-date and easy to follow. Comments are allowed so readers can interact with the writers or the huge DigitalOcean community if they have questions. There is a forum where users can exchange ideas as well.

It’s also commendable that DigitalOcean is very active on User Voice, a customer feedback system.

The Competition: DigitalOcean vs Linode

DigitalOcean beats most cheap VPS competitors hands down with its superior combination of SSD, KVM and a long list of other features. However, it is absolutely not just competing in the low-end server market. In fact, the comparison chart on its official website only includes the most reputable competitors like Linode, Amazon, and Rackspace.

We previously wrote the following 2 paragraphs in this review before Linode upgraded its price plans:

For $20 a month, DigitalOcean offers twice the RAM, much faster disks, a lot more included monthly transfer, and much cheaper extra transfer than Linode, although Linode’s CPU is slightly more powerful. DigitalOcean is also leading Linode in payment and billing: Per hour billing for VPS and “Fast-Resize” usage, and accepting PayPal as a payment method.

If you do a lot of encoding on a daily basis, you should probably choose Linode for more raw CPU power. Otherwise, DigitalOcean is a better choice. For those who prefer fast disk IO performance and larger size of memory, choosing DigitalOcean as oppose to Linode is a no-brainer. We have conducted disk IO performance comparison tests and the results indicated that DigitalOcean’s SSDs are at least 3 times faster than the competitor’s spinning drives.

Well, here is an update: Both DigitalOcean and Linode now offer similarly priced SSD hosting plans. The competition has brought Linode’s prices down. However, DigitalOcean still offers much cheaper extra transfer and provides a lot of convenient features that Linode doesn't. Additionally, DigitalOcean’s least expensive plan is just $5 a month while Linode doesn’t have a similar offer. The least expensive plan from Linode is $10 per month. DigitalOcean accepts PayPal and major credit cards as payment methods. Linode does not accept PayPal payments at all as of this writing.

Click here to find out more on DigitalOcean vs. Linode.

Conclusion

We like what DigitalOcean VPS cloud has to offer at a price that can’t be beat: KVM, high performance SSD, tier-1 bandwidth, a simple yet powerful control panel with a long list of features, excellent scalability, and superb support. We are now using DigitalOcean for most of our web development projects and we have recommended it to many of our clients. DigitalOcean is not just a budget VPS provider. It offers a great value for money.

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Cyber Monday VPS deals

DigitalOcean Official Website and a limited time $10 Promo Code

Updated: November 27, 2016