When Digital Ocean was founded in 2011, they had a vision of being not only an affordable cloud hosting provider but also highly flexible and practical hosting plans. As a result of this, they have emerged as the second largest cloud hosting company after Amazon EC2.
With an accurately advertised 55-second setup and affordable pricing on scalable plans, Digital Ocean certainly captures the attention of web developers and the small web business crowd.
So how does Digital Ocean stack up with other cloud hosting providers and other hosting providers in general? Let’s take a look and see if they might be the right fit for you!
Digital Ocean Plans / Pricing
As mentioned above, Digital Ocean only offers cloud hosting, so anyone looking for shared or dedicated hosting is better off checking out a provider such as Siteground (our review) or Dreamhost (our review).
When it comes to their cloud hosting options, Digital Ocean has five options in their standard offerings, with the starter plan starting at either $5 a month or a $0.007/hour charge when you have a droplet running (DO uses this term for each virtualization).
While this payment structure is slightly different than most VPS hosting providers with the hourly rate, it is favorable for those that need flexibility and options for their business.
For those with slightly higher needs, DO also offers High Volume plans starting at $160 a month, although these are recommended for more advanced or resource-heavy projects.
Digital Ocean runs all cloud servers on SSD’s for increased performance, and this is a great selling point as most other VPS hosts do not offer similar bang for your buck.
It is also important to remember that DO does not offer a money back guarantee, but this is somewhat understandable due to their unique hourly payment structure.
Digital Ocean Customer Service
If affordable cloud hosting is Digital Ocean’s main selling point, then their customer service is unfortunately the black sheep of the company.
We live in a world where 24/7 support for web hosting is not only necessary but expected. Unfortunately, DO not only doesn’t offer telephone or live chat support, but their ticket system is also fairly underwhelming and has gotten a fair share of poor reviews on the internet.
To get a better idea of DO’s ticket support system, we submitted a ticket to test their answer times and see what kind of response we could get. Unfortunately, the ticket we submitted remained unanswered for almost five hours, which on a weekday morning is pretty unacceptable considering the industry and the demands that come with web hosting.
To be fair, DO does have a pretty extensive knowledge base available which handles most issues and questions that may arise. While this is a nice feature and most solutions can be found through an extensive community-based support base, the need for live customer service is clearly missed.
Digital Ocean Speed / Reliability
Digital Ocean is vastly different from their customer service when it comes to speed and reliability. By having all cloud servers built on Hex Core machines coupled with the availability of Floating IPs mean that they not only have excellent speeds but also almost perfect uptime.
Digital Ocean has North American data centers located in Toronto, New York, San Francisco as well as global data centers in Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, and Singapore. The ability to use any of these data centers based on your site’s visitors geographic location is certainly welcome news for web developers.
From the moment you first get your “droplet” setup, Digital Ocean oozes quality and performance. As we’ve mentioned above, not only are SSDs are standard with all DO plans, but they also include the option to migrate data to any of their data centers around the globe using image snapshots.
Digital Ocean claims to have 99.9% uptime, something they back up by compensating customers for any downtime they may experience.
Digital Ocean Security
Digital Ocean takes your data very seriously and there can be no argument made when one sees to what lengths they stretch to ensure you are protected.
Data centers are protected from downtime by numerous backup power supplies. These locations are also protected 24/7 by physical security and various access controls such as two-factor authentication and biometric readers.
SSH keys are highly recommended for authentication by DO, while installing a UFW firewall on your cloud server is also available(if not necessary) when you are first setting up your droplet.
SSL certificates, while not available for purchase directly from DO, can be installed on your droplet with a relatively low level of technical knowledge. The use of SSL certificates are nearly essential in the present day for e-commerce sites and high-traffic websites alike.
Digital Ocean Interface
Digital Ocean prides itself on being simplified cloud hosting for advanced web developers. Because of this, the DO interface is not only easy on the eye, but it also feels “clean” and simplistic. Setting up a droplet was as easy as advertised,, with our server up and running all within 60 seconds!
After creating your droplet, all you need to manage your cloud server is properly placed, with the ability to create, resize and manage all of your droplets from within reach of the main control panel page.
We were also happy to see the much-welcome omission of ads and upsells littering the control panel. contributing to the overall clean feel and user-friendly experience. Also, when setting up or managing your droplet DO also offers multiple 1-click installs including WordPress, Drupal and Joomla.
Digital Ocean Hosting Conclusion
• Quick setup
• Great hardware makes for blazing fast speeds
• Hourly pricing
We weren’t so sure about
• No money back guarantee
• No live chat or telephone support
Digital Ocean having the option to pay by the hour instead of monthly certainly can be appealing, while the SSD drives and server hardware DO uses is certainly appreciated.
It’s also important to remember that Digital Ocean doesn’t offer refunds nor does it have a money back guarantee. This is partially due to their already low prices and the intricacies of charging hourly for a VPS.
Even though our expectations for Digital Ocean’s technical details were met, the lack of certain customer service aspects was certainly worrying. DO does indeed offer affordable and flexible cloud hosting for advanced web developers but at the cost of true 24/7 support.
If you are in the market for an unmanaged VPS at an affordable cost, Digital Ocean may be the right choice for you. Give them a try and let us know what you think in the comments below!