Digital Ocean VPS Review

Last modified on May 21st, 2015

Digital Ocean VPS Review

I was recently looking for a decently priced VPS where I could host a couple of small to medium sized websites. I actually signed up for a few random ones that I found on Google and tried them for a few days, but they didn’t strike me as working very well. One of them actually crashed after about an hour, and it took about eight hours for support to finally restart it for me.

Eventually I started looking around the internet a bit more, and ran into a relatively new company called Digital Ocean.

Digital Ocean VPS

Digital Ocean VPS

I realize that not all web companies have nice looking web pages, but whenever I encounter one that does it immediately makes me feel more comfortable about trying it out. One of the claims on the front page really stood out to me: Deploy a SSD Cloud Server in 55 seconds. I had to test it out just to test that claim. Here is my Digital Ocean review of their VPS after using it for about a ten days.


To get your first Droplet going (Digital Ocean’s name for a VPS deployment) you have to enter your billing details as well as hand over your credit card. Digital Ocean actually offers per-hour billing for all their VPS offerings, so the credit card information is taken just to ensure they can bill you at the end of the month.

Digital Ocean Pricing

Digital Ocean Pricing

Their introductory Droplet configuration has 512MB of RAM, 1 CPU core, 20 GB on a SSD drive, and includes 1TB of transfer. I think it’s a pretty impressive offering, and is more than enough to run a basic web server. As I mostly deal with WordPress websites, I rarely ever hit my disk space limits. But I personally find RAM and the number of cores makes a big difference in the responsiveness of a webserver.

That’s why I eventually opted to test out the $20/month plan. While it has more storage space and more bandwidth, I really wanted it for the additional CPU core and RAM, both of which I believe helps with hosting websites.

When you create your Droplet, you have the option to configure a few different aspects of your VPN:

  • Your Droplet hostname
  • Your Droplet size and configuration
  • The region your Droplet will be deployed to. Right now there are two regions in New York City, one in San Francisco and one in Amsterdam.
  • The initial operating system and application set to be installed on your Droplet. In terms of operating systems you can choose from Centos, Ubuntu, Debian, Arch Linux, and Fedora.
Digital Ocean Operating Systems

Digital Ocean Operating Systems

As soon as you choose these options, your Droplet will begin being deployed. There is a little progress bar to show you the progress, but it’s not amazingly helpful since it seems to jump in stages. But as promised my Droplet was ready to go in less than 60 seconds, and I received an email with my server’s IP address and the root password for the system.

I was originally going to install cPanel on the server so I could easily administer some websites for friends and family, but I actually couldn’t find a license anywhere on the Internet for less than $15 per month. I don’t mind paying $20 per month for a VPS to host a few websites, but tack on another $15 per month (bringing the total to $35 per month) and it’s just a bit too much money to spend monthly.

Eventually I decided to install ISP Config 3 which is a free, albeit less refined, alternative for cPanel. It took a bit of getting used to, but it lets you easily manage a web server environment without having to modify configuration files manually all the time.

Digital Ocean Performance

Digital Ocean Performance

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I’ve been really happy with the performance so far of my VPS Droplet. While my personal website doesn’t generate a huge amount of traffic, it’s enough that a typical shared hosting provider tends to not work that great for me. In terms of system load, I’m usually hovering around 0.10 during most times of the day, which is quite low for having two CPU cores available. As you can see in the performance graphs shown above (which you can review for each Droplet you have running), the CPU is pretty stable and definitely has some room to spare.

I was actually interested in downsizing to the $10 per month Droplet to see what kind of difference it makes for hosting my website, but that operating currently isn’t supported. However the option most people would probably want to use, increasing the size of their Droplet, is supported and can be performed in about a minute or so.

I think being able to deploy a new Droplet in less than 60 seconds is an amazingly useful feature, as it means developers can easily add resources whenever they need them. Plus the pricing is more enticing that Amazon EC2, and I think it would be fairly trivial to use the Digital Ocean API to create an expandable web or cloud service that could scale as needed, similar to Amazon EC2 and Amazon’s Simple Queue Service.

All in all I’ve been really happy with my new Digital Ocean VPS. It’s currently running this website, as well as my girlfriend’s and my dad’s. I still have some room to spare, which is great because I like to tinker on various things from time to time.

June 2014 Update

I’m still on Digital Ocean, and still loving them. A few of my friends have migrated their websites (and their client’s websites as well) and they love it.

15 responses to “Digital Ocean VPS Review”

  1. A friend referred me to this hosting, I think for $5 /month, it’s a great value for a VPS hosting

    May I know how much traffic do you have per day? (a few hundreds?) Just want to measure the performance of the server and such. I wish they have cPanel installed because having to install/manage everything from scratch is a bit daunting

  2. Duane Storey says:

    @Michael – Yah, in the mid hundreds usually. With a cache plugin and WordPress though you don’t really need much in terms of a server. I think I could handle 10x that easily.

    The problem with cPanel is that it is expensive – I looked into adding it myself, and I couldn’t find a license for less than $15/mo. So I didn’t see the point getting a nice server for $5/mo and then adding a $15/mo cPanel to it.

  3. Yeah, that’s true. I guess that explains why some hosting gives cPanel on a VPS account but it’ll cost you $25 or more per month. Guess they’ll have to cover the license at some point

  4. Duane Storey says:

    @Michael – I just don’t think that’s the target market at this point, they are mostly catering to people I think who can comfortably navigate around Linux and set up their own software.

  5. @Michael Aulia : I have a blog hosted on digitalocean and it handles good amount of traffic and servers are also fast.

  6. Puisi says:

    Hi, you can try Webuzo ( free alternative cPanel , it simple and user friendly.

  7. Dave Zille says:

    @duane, I recently discovered Digital Ocean (just a couple of weeks ago), and I’ve already migrated a number of my development sites there to test performance, etc. So far, performance has been fantastic, the SSD makes a huge difference compared to what i am used to.

    FYI, I am running zPanel, another open source alternative to cPanel. I installed it on Ubuntu. While I’m comfortable on the Linux command line, I found the zPanel installation tutorial provided by Digital Ocean amazingly clear and helpful. I was able to have zPanel up and running on a new droplet within 30 minutes.


  8. PH says:

    I currently use ZPanel on a dedicated Hetzner server and will also be using it on my D.O VPS running Ubuntu. It’s, in my opinion, the best open source control panel currently available.

  9. ChrispyChewy says:

    I’m looking really hard at DO right now. Currently have a site that pulls 400k+ visits/month, 90k+ unique, and over 3,000,000 page views/month on a shared plan. Pushes 400-460GB/month of bandwidth, and is about to outgrow the biggest affordable shared plan I can find with a reputable company. (We’ve been with for over a decade, and they’ve been rock solid – even shutting down DoS attacks within 20 minutes.) I just wonder if their $10 plan would be enough to handle it. Having only ever run off shared plans, I don’t know how much server I’d need. By bandwidth and such, everything seems like it would be sufficient. Processor/RAM is what I have to figure out.

  10. ChrispyChewy says:

    Well, I gave them a go for my personal hosting to see how it all works. No problems at all spinning up a droplet. Getting everything set up takes a bit of learning when you’ve only ever dealt with cPanel! I burned through 4 different images in the first few hours, trying to get different admin panels installed. Webmin turned out to be the winner. zPanel looked nice and all, but it gave me all sorts of failure. Webmin won’t win any usability awards, but it DOES seem to get the job done. Still having some FTP issues, and a couple of email glitches, but it’s been fun!

  11. pirlo says:

    i am also an DO user for 2 months of the basic $5 plan. i only host a wordpress there. after optimising for the apache and mysql, the little site is running perfectly though they advised me upgrade to a better plan.

  12. Thanks for this review. Digital ocean is my favorite place. the price is cheap and the quality of server is good. I have 2 vps with 1Gb memory.

  13. alam says:

    Yes. Their service is great. Transfer snapshot to region also save my time when configure new server for client.

  14. Silver Fox says:

    I’ve been testing Digital Ocean for the last couple of weeks and have been very impressed so far. The only thing that’s holding me back from switching a live site to them is that they don’t offer DDOS protection and it’s not clear what their policy is if your site is DDOSd.

  15. hercules says:

    to looking for a lighter option possible, what would it be? debian? Correos? CentOS? which shows me you install VPS $ 5 OD?

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