DigitalOcean – Extremely affordable and user-friendly VPS solutions

DigitalOcean - Affordable VPS

When I moved to WP Engine, I knew that I’d need to get a new VPS that would run InfiniteWP for me, so that I could continue to maintain all of my websites, since WP Engine only runs WordPress sites.

I had already been introduced to DigitalOcean by Billy Patton, so I figured they’d be a good place as any to start. Their pricing is incredibly straightforward and extremely reasonable (starting at $5/mo).

Using DigitalOcean

I set up an account, and while I was hoping that I’d be well underway in a minute or two, because I entered my CVV code wrong, they had to manually verify my account, which took about 12 hours and me sending them a scan of my drivers license. However, after expressing my dissatisfaction, they were king enough to put some credit in my account for my troubles.

Then it was time to get a new server set up. It was incredibly simple: you just choose your server image from some of the most popular setups, such as Ubuntu, CentOS and Arch Linux and click install.

Before the second hand can get all the way around the clock once (in less than one minute), your new server is deployed and you have an email with your root access information.

Some of the server images on offer include common applications, so for example, there is a WordPress on Ubuntu image, or Ghost on Ubuntu to get you off to a quick start.

Support

One of the areas where DigitalOcean really excels is their ample resource of thousands of well-written help documents for every possible need. For example, I had never really dabbled in command line management of a server (relying instead on cPanel or managed hosting), so I didn’t know where to start. Well, there was a help article for setting up a server with Ubuntu, then another for installing a LEMP stack (Linux, nginx, MySQL and PHP) on your server, and a third for configuring a SSH key pair and getting password-free access to your server, all explained in plan language, step-by-step.

Within an hour, I was feeling somewhat confident having installed everything I needed to run my application, with the comfort of knowing that whatever other question I may have about managing my server in future, I’d have the answer available to me.

Pricing

DigitalOcean has become well-known for their low price-of-entry. Their current entry-level setup includes a single-core CPU, 512MB RAM, 20GB SSD disk and 1TB of bandwidth for just $5/mo. That’s going to cover most needs, and is cheaper than shared hosting. That’s insanely cheap!

You can easily upgrade your server to more powerful hardware as your needs require it. There’s no hidden extras either. The only extra you pay for is if you want the peace of mind of automated backups, which starts at $1/mo.

Control panel

digitalocean-control-panel

Their control panel is incredibly simple and easy to navigate. Everything you need, from powering your server on and off, destroying it, rebuilding it, and activating backups is all right there.

There’s plenty of other cool features in there too, like an API (the excellent Binary Deep and Drizzle iPhone apps allow you to manage your servers on the go), and the ability to pre-install a public SSH key on new servers for quick access.

Conclusion

All in all, aside from the unfortunate sign-up process in my case, I have nothing but good things to say about DigitalOcean. They have made VPS incredibly accessible, and with their extensive library of very specific help articles, there’s nothing to stop anyone with just a small amount of tech knowledge from getting their very first VPS up and running, and installing their application of choice. So long $60/mo VPS: I’m sticking with DigitalOcean from here on out!

Take a look at DigitalOcean

19 thoughts on “DigitalOcean – Extremely affordable and user-friendly VPS solutions”

  1. Billy Patton says:

    Glad that you took me up on the recommendation. And I appreciate the shout out, mate :)

    The articles section at DO is amazing. As you say there’s an article for almost anything you need – if you want a network of DNS servers, a mail server or even a git repo you can just follow the simple guides and have one running in a couple of minutes.

    If you want to get adventurous you can also follow the more advanced articles to do that too. Things like setting up load-balancers are documented there as is setting up varnish proxies. Load-balancers + varnish proxies as the world facing side of your network sets things up to an almost infinitely scalable level. I’ve load tested 100k pageviews an hour on 3 load-balanced varnish proxies from DO and it handled it no problem – with the actual hosting box hardly getting hit at all so it’s idle ready to jump when it’s needed.

    Where else can you build a system that can serve 100k views an hour for less than $25 a month? The only place I know of is with DigitalOcean.

    I can’t sing DO’s praises enough, they’ve saved me a ton of money – not to mention the ability to boot up a new server in 60 seconds actually saving the day for me and a few clients more than once in the last 6 months.

    1. I hear you. It’s a fantastic service with really good support. I’m looking forward to using them more and more as my needs for servers increases. Thanks for the recommendation ;)

  2. curtismchale says:

    I’ve heard lots of great things and digital ocean but have you heard about them leaking data between machines.

    https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6983097

    1. Nope, that’s news to me. I’ll have to look into it. My experience thus far has been very good though.

    2. I read up on this article and it seems that it centered around DigitalOcean not scrubbing disks (by default) when a user destroyed a server, which left their data potentially recoverable by the next user of that same disk. They did this for performance improvements, but since this issue came to light, they made the “scrub disk” option on by default when destroying a server, so unless you specifically request the disk not to be scrubbed, this shouldn’t be a concern.

      1. Billy Patton says:

        Yeah I just read about this the other day after I saw this comment. I I always made sure to check ‘scrub disk’ when I destroyed my droplets if anything on them was sensitive – and because I generated SSH keypairs on them all to allow scripts to connect with each other that meant that I do it pretty much every time I destroy a droplet.

        But now that scrub disk is default again it shouldn’t be a problem :)

  3. Tom says:

    I’ve got some technical knowledge, but I felt like I may be out of my league in keeping the server secure. Am I over thinking how much security I am leaving wide open?

    1. Billy Patton says:

      A good, strong, root password will go a long way towards securing what you have on the box. You can go a step farther and remove the root password completely – only allowing login using an SSH keypair (detailed in the article above). And then a father step would be to limit logins to just your own IP address.

      But… You probably are over thinking it. I think a lot of people believe securing an average everyday hosting server is more complicated than it actually is. The main security issues only pop-up when you play with configuration and open them up.

      If you go with a default LAMP server from DO and install your site on it – your site is far more likely to be hacked than the server it’s self. And even with a compromised site that wouldn’t actually give them direct access to your server :)

      1. I completely agree with getting rid of the root user and restricting logins to key authentication only. That will go a long way

    2. Tom says:

      Ok – thanks for the replies. I did like messing around with setting up the droplet. I’ll dig into it again.

  4. Thanks for the recommendation. I finally dumped AWS and move to Digital Ocean last week. The improvement in performance (for 1/2 the price) is absolutely amazing!

    1. You’re very welcome. Glad to hear it was such a good move

  5. Fred says:

    So what’s your opinion on digital ocean vs liquid web? I like DO’s prices better. Any insight would be appreciated.

    1. I’ve never used Liquid Web before, so I can’t comment on them, but I’m very happy with DO. They’re well worth a try.

  6. Lloyd Jones says:

    Hi there,

    I see you’ve posted about DigitalOcean and like using Gravity Forms. Just thought I’d let you know we’re about to release a plugin that integrates the two, so you can get clients to fill out a form + pay before their droplet is automatically created :D

    I can provide you a copy if you’d like to review it or anything.

    Details are on the website listed on my comment.

    Cheers

    1. Very cool integration. I’m not sure I have a use for it specifically, but nice to know it’s there

      1. Lloyd Jones says:

        Thanks! And no worries :)

    2. William Patton says:

      Hey Lloyd, this plugin sounds handy :)

      Does your plugin integrate with the v2 API from Digital Ocean? I wasn’t in the beta so didn’t have access to that till the other day.

      My integration still uses the old API but if your plugin uses the new one that’d save me some work.

      I do need to send calls to virtualmin, WHM and AWS as well at setup so is the plugin GPL?

      1. Lloyd Jones says:

        Hey William,

        Yes it does! It only works with the V2 API actually.

        What is your integration intending to do? A WHM -> Gravity Forms integration? Or more general than Gravity Forms?

        My plugin’s not GPL, but I can help you out if you drop me an email via the contact form at the bottom of my site (click my name on here to go to it).

        Thanks,
        Lloyd

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