DigitalOcean is an innovative, features and tools rich, cloud hosting provider.

I’ve been using their services for a couple of years now to host mostly WordPress site of different sizes.

A couple of details about DigitalOcean

DO is one of the biggest players in the cloud hosting industry. According to NetCraft, it’s recorded to be the #3 largest hosting company worldwide with more than 360k+ web facing computers and growing.

DigitalOcean grew to be more of an eco-system covering all you need to host WordPress sites of any size.

Products

Computing (VPS)

Each hosting unit on DO is called a Droplet.

A droplet is a defined CPU, RAM and SSD hard drive allocation.

The basic set starts with a 1vCPU, 512Mb RAM, and 20Gb SSD ($5/m) up to 20vCPU, 64Gb RAM, and 640 SSD ($640/m).

Note that the CPU allocated is shared. Meaning that multiple droplets will “share” the CPU load.

In mid-2017, DO has introduced specialized droplets.

The High CPU droplets are meant for CPU intensive applications/sites.

Starts at 2 dedicated vCPU, 3Gb RAM, and 20Gb SSD ($40/m), up to 32 dedicated vCPU, 48Gb RAM, and 20Gb SSD ($640/m).

The CPU allocated is dedicated. Meaning, the droplet owner will be the only one using this particular resource. And the storage is fixed to 20Gb.

The High Memory droplets are a better fit to host large databases and applications relying on in-memory caching.

Starts at 2vCPU, 16Gb RAM, and 30Gb SSD ($120/m), up to 32vCPU, 224Gb RAM, 500Gb SSD ($1680/m).

Storage

One of the best features of DO.

You can extend your droplet’s storage capacity by “attaching storage volumes” without having to upgrade your droplet.

It’s pretty handy to face temporary needs or if you need an elastic storage component on your server.

The pricing starts at $10/m for $100Gb and goes up to $1600/m for 16Tb.

Features

Backups

One of the most reliable VPS backups I’ve seen so far.

You can set regular backups for any droplet on DO.

It costs 20% of the droplet pricing for 4 backups per month. They do have a refund policy for unsuccessful backup reported by their system. For example, if 1 out of the 4 monthly backups doesn’t go through for some reason, it will be subtracted from the backup charge. You’ll pay 15% instead of 20%.

Restoring backups is a straight forward process. The deployment can take a couple of hours, though, depending on the droplet size.

Snapshots

A very handy system to keep template servers on reach for a quick deployment.

I have a specific setup that I like to do to host WordPress sites. I work regularly to maintain an up to date version of my typical WP VPS to quickly deploy it when I need to host a new site.

DO bill $0.05 per Gb for snapshots. I would rather spend $20 a year to have an out of the box server on hands than having to build it from scratch anytime I need one.

Operating systems & Apps

Most of common Linux distributions are available as base OS:

  • Ubuntu
  • CentOS
  • Debian
  • Fedora

Arch Linux is not natively supported but there’s a script to make it happen. It’s possible to enforce installing it, but to be honest if something doesn’t naturally fit an environment, there’s no need to cheat the system to use it.

DO offers multiple one-click apps for quick deployment:

  • LAMP & LEMP
  • WordPress
  • Drupal
  • Ghost
  • Magento
  • MySQL
  • MangoDB
  • Node.js
  • Ruby on Rails

Locations

DigitalOcean has data centers in the following locations:

Americas

  • Toronto (CA)
  • San Francisco (US)
  • New York City (US)

Europe

  • London (UK)
  • Frankfurt (DE)
  • Amsterdam (NL)

Asia

  • Singapore (SG)
  • Bangalore (IN)

The community expressed a fervent interest in getting DO on Australia to serve the local territory and New Zealand. No ATA so far.

Why use DigitalOcean to host your WordPress site?

DO VPSs have a decent performance for the price. But that’s not the main reason why I pick them.

My first reason is that DO has a native support for WordPress on their apps. It’s pretty handy to have a hand’s free hosting server hosting one site and for customers needing a degree of control over their hosting.

My second reason is the possibility to upscale temporary the droplet by upgrade the CPU and RAM only. It’s ideal to handle picks without having to pay permanently for the upper plan.

They support CPU, RAM and hard drive upgrade too.

The third reason is the reasonable backup cost. At 20% surcharge for your droplet, you get a weekly reliable backup for the whole droplet.

The last reason why I usually favor DO is the extensible storage. On some types of website, with heavy media files for examples, it’s pointless to have a high-performance droplet while all you really need is the additional storage room to host the abnormal size of the media assets.

Having a 1vCPU, 1Gb RAM, 30Gb storage ($10/m) + a 100Gb storage extension ($10/m) is more cost effective than having to pay for a 4vCPU, 8Gb RAM, to get access to the 80Gb storage ($80/m).

Bottom line

I use DigitalOcean in two specific scenarios:  for sites requiring a cheap flexible environment.

When the customer needs to feel confident that their site is on a good hand. DO’s status helps establish that thanks for their easily verifiable reputation and market status.

The second case scenario is when the site hosted requires a flexible environment easy to control. The most crucial feature here for me is the possibility to resize the CPU and RAM independently of the storage.

It allows a two-way scaling when needed. It’s perfect for unnatural/unplanned traffic picks.

Other than that, I’d rather opt for a cheaper and reliable VPS provider with higher resources for the cost, like Vultr.

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