2019 October 2nd
DigitalOcean makes developer-grade hosting solutions available to anyone. It tries to simplify hosting for professionals, so they can focus on building software, rather than managing the infrastructure.
But is DigitalOcean the right match for you?
To answer that, we tested the provider ourselves in this DigitalOcean review.
Let's see how it went!
What is DigitalOcean?
DigitalOcean is a cloud hosting provider focusing on developers. It has a number of top-level hosting solutions: cloud and database hosting, kubernetes, and storage services for its worldwide users.
The aim of the company is to make cloud hosting quickly deployable and easily scalable. DigitalOcean claims to reduce unnecessary workload for developers so they can focus on their projects.
How does DigitalOcean do it?
The provider has a bunch of 1-click installations on ready-to-go servers. Also, a pay-as-you-go policy for easy scalability, and several data center locations for global users. It makes DigitalOcean one of the top developer choices.
Let's take a look at the features DigitalOcean offers.
What Are DigitalOcean Features?
DigitalOcean has a number of solutions designed for several different purposes.
- Cloud hosting includes standard shared-CPU servers, general purpose, and CPU-optimized servers.
- Kubernetes solution for managing containerized workloads and services.
- Managed database hosting for high-performance databases.
- Storage solutions providing scalable storage and fast web asset delivery.
In this DigitalOcean review, we focus on the providers cloud hosting plans and their features.
DigitalOcean claims to provide fast and reliable hosting with its top-notch servers in several locations worldwide. The team of the provider's developers takes care of security, deployment, and managing.
Let's take a look at the main features DigitalOcean cloud hosting offers.
DigitalOcean has three levels of cloud hosting servers which it calls Droplets.
Standard droplets are optimized for varying levels of CPU performance. Digital Ocean recommends them for low-level traffic applications. It includes blogs, development and testing environments, small databases, or repository hosting.
General purpose droplets balance memory and hyper-threading. It can work for a wide range of workloads - eCommerce, mid-sized databases, web applications, etc.
CPU-optimized droplets offer a solution for workloads relying on CPU rather than RAM. DigitalOcean recommends it for video encoding, ad serving, batch processing, machine learning, and other CPU-intensive applications.
So, standard servers can work well even for beginners. Yet, the general purpose and CPU-optimized ones provide high-performance solutions.
Global data centers
To provide the best performance to its worldwide users, DigitalOcean has 12 data centers in different regions.
The locations include 2 data centers in Amsterdam and San Francisco, 3 in New York and 1 in Bangalore, Frankfurt, London, Singapore, and Toronto.
DigitalOcean servers cover most of the world. That is why you can expect reliable connections everywhere.
It also provides you with redundancy.
Should something happen - there are servers available to jump in right away. That should ensure reliable connectivity.
For eCommerce platforms it's also important - you can host your store closer to the audience. That means faster content delivery to the visitors browsers.
And why should you care about the better speed?
Google likes fast websites and it ranks them better. For that, it provides an Impact Calculator tool. It checks how much more will you earn by reducing the site's load time.
In this example, you can see, that a website with 60,000 monthly visitors, 2.8% conversion rate and $46 average order value would earn over $90k more. Only if they reduced load times from 2.7 seconds to 1 second.
Choice of server location gives you more customizability options. It can also improve performance and reliability for whatever you are choosing to host.
DigitalOcean allows you to deploy the server (or droplet, if you wish) with pre-installed software. And that takes minutes, meaning, you save a lot of time when compared to unmanaged solutions where you get an empty server.
What does it mean?
You can skip installation and configuration and go straight to the development.
DigitalOcean includes all major software like Ubuntu, CentOS, Debian, Fedora, CoreOS, and FreeBSD.
In the marketplace, you'll find even more options already installed on software, so even beginners can use it. That includes WordPress, cPanel, or Plesk.
So even DigitalOcean is designed for developers, it makes the process rather easy and adaptable even for development novices.
DigitalOcean security and managing
DigitalOcean has all essential security and server management features built-in. Not all of them are free, however.
What am I talking about?
You get your server natively equipped with a monitoring system. It is designed to collect all system-level metrics in one place. Alerts can be set up from the control panel to provide real-time results.
You can monitor a number of graphs - CPU and disk usage, disk I/O, bandwidth, and memory.
DigitalOcean also provides you with Cloud Firewalls. They protect your infrastructure and are fully customizable.
Daily automated backups cost 20% of the server price. So if you pay for your server $10/month, it will cost $2/month.
You can also take snapshots before any big changes to protect your system. It costs $0.05/GB.
It's also possible to share one account with all team members with no shared credentials. DigitalOcean allows up to 10 teams to work from one account. This makes it easy to manage the whole project.
Private networking is also available. Servers from the same data center can be connected through a private network and it is not counted in your bandwidth costs.
From what we see - DigitalOcean is equipped with enterprise-level management and security features. Although some of them are not free - pricing is clear and simple.
DigitalOcean has 3 levels of support available. That includes a knowledge base, tutorials, documentation, community, and 24/7 ticket support.
- Developer support includes 24/7 ticket service, community Q&A, documentation, and tutorials.
- Business support is available if you spend $500+ per month. That gets you tech infrastructure support, 3rd party software support, and access to a team of Customer Success Managers.
- Premier support pricing depends on your infrastructure. It can get you live support, 30-minute response times, dedicated support agent, and solutions engineering.
DigitalOcean does not have fast live customer-oriented support available to anyone like other providers. However, it is not a regular provider focusing on traditional users.
This makes DigitalOcean a good solution for developers but not so much for the beginners.
For this DigitalOcean review, we used several resources to test its performance.
The provider claims to offer a 99.99% uptime guarantee and puts it on its Service-Level Agreement (SLA) to make it official.
During our long-term testing, it scored 100% uptime for over a month and averaged at around 270ms response time.
Response times not reaching 300ms are rare. As well as stable 100%.
But we also decided to check how DigitalOcean performs in more realistic conditions and different locations.
So first we tested DigitalOcean from Ashburn, US with 50 virtual users. Response time impressed us - you can expect it to be stable, averaging around 86ms. Even with some traffic on the site.
We also testes DigitalOcean from Tokyo, Japan. Response time jumped, but not as much as expected. It remained stable and averaged at around 108ms.
So in terms of performance - DigitalOcean is an example for a lot of hosts. It is fast and reliable. That's basically all you need in terms of performance.
DigitalOcean has a pay-as-you-go pricing policy so you can upgrade any time with the plans starting at $5/month.
Standard servers have 14 plans, the most expensive costing $960/month. General purpose servers pricing starts at $60/month and is upgradeable up to $1200/month with 6 plans. CPU-optimized hosting has 5 plans starting at $40/month.
Instead of monthly pricing, you can also choose to pay by the hour. That helps if you want to quickly test the app or new software.
There are some extra pricing too but it's clear and simple. Backups cost 20% from the server price and snapshots cost $0.05/GB.
So, in no way DigitalOcean is an affordable host. However, it does not have sneaky upsells and expensive renewals. Also, the quality of the provided service is exceptional.
DigitalOcean Review - the Verdict
Writing this DigitalOcean review we figured what an exceptional host it is. It has impressive service packages, though they are not designed for everyone.
The host focuses on developers and does that very well - the servers are fast, reliable, and you can choose from several software options and even more additional apps from the marketplace.
For beginners, DigitalOcean might look a bit confusing, however.
Without paying a huge amount of money, you won't get fast support. That makes it not affordable for beginners, but an excellent option for developers that don't need support as much.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!
- 99.99% uptime
- Exceptional performance
- Simple account control panel
- Transparent pricing
- No cPanel available
- Ticket-based customer service
- Overwhelming for beginners