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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!