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Brad Smith

Hosting Reviewer

Launching its first server in 2011, DigitalOcean is an American cloud hosting company focused on helping developers launch more apps faster and easier.

What started as a small start-up company based out of New York City has grown exponentially, reaching a customer base totaling over half a million developers.

DigitalOcean hosting review

The ultimate goal of DigitalOcean is to use a solid-state drive, or SSD, to create a user-friendly platform that will allow their wealth of clients to transfer projects to and from the cloud, ramping up production with speed and efficiency.

Sounds good, right?

But is it good enough to get our recommendation?

Let’s find out!

General Info & Hosting Overview


SPEED: 267 ms (June 2020 to January 2021)
UPTIME: 99.99% (June 2020 to January 2021)
SUPPORT: Ticketing and Knowledge Base
APPS: 1-Click Installer for the Most Popular Apps Like WordPress, Ghost, Strapi
FEATURES: 1 GB Memory, 1 TB Bandwidth, 25 GB SSD Disk, 1-Click Installer
HOSTING PLANS: Cloud Hosting
SITE TRANSFER: Not Free
PRICING: Starting at $5.00/mo (Based On Usage)

Pros of Using DigitalOcean Hosting


DigitalOcean excels in many areas.

Let’s have a closer look at each of these.

1. Fantastic “Average” Uptime of  99.99%

DigitalOcean really excels in uptime, delivering an average of >99.99% over the last eight months of monitoring.

That means that since June 2020 they only had two outages and three minutes of downtime. That’s amazing!

DigitalOcean last 8-month uptime and speed
DigitalOcean average uptime | See stats

The average uptime for the past 8-months:

  • January 2021: 100%
  • December 2020: 100%
  • November 2020: 100%
  • October 2020: 100%
  • September 2020: 100%
  • August 2020: 100%
  • July 2020: 100%
  • June 2020: 100%

2. Lightning-Fast Load Times 267 ms

Uptime is the number one statistic to watch for when selecting a web host.

After all – every bell and whistle on the planet won’t account for a hill of beans if your website is spending long periods offline.

Coming in as a close second is speed.

Lagging websites might as well be ‘down’, for all intents and purposes. Sluggish sites are virtually unusable. Your traffic won’t hesitate to bounce. Literally. A difference of just a few seconds can cost you nearly all of your potential website traffic.

Luckily, slow speed is not something you have to be worried about when signing up with DigitalOcean. Their past eight months’ average page loading time was 267 ms – one of the fastest we’ve seen!

3. Developer-Friendly Product Ecosystem

DigitalOcean is not just a one-trick pony.

In fact, their suite of products offers tons of potential for developers.

What are the different options offered by DigitalOcean? Glad you asked!

Droplets

Droplets is a scalable computing platform that can be customized to meet all of a business’s application needs. It also includes add-on storage, monitoring, and advanced security.

DigitalOcean droplets

You can choose between standard or optimized droplets and then customize them to your heart’s content. Droplets let devs skip time-consuming installation and configuration to move right along toward code deployment.

Spaces

Whereas Droplets is for app deployment, Spaces is about simple object storage.

We’re talking about a security system that allows you to store and deliver data to applications and end-users. Spaces operate under a simple process, creating reliable storage with a drag-and-drop UI or API.

Spaces can be used to store backup files, weblogs, data analysis, and much more.

The service is also scalable, so your Spaces can grow with your company. What’s more – Spaces can be combined with other DigitalOcean features, or it can be used on its own.

Kubernetes

Kubernetes is an upcoming product being launched by DigitalOcean in late 2018.

There’s not a lot of information about it, but the company states on its official website that Kubernetes is, “Designed for developers and businesses who want a simple way to deploy and manage container workloads in the cloud.”

They’re currently offering early access to the product, which comes with a free Kubernetes cluster through September of 2018.

4. Customizable Pricing

Even though we also have it under our Cons, we think it’s pretty awesome that you can actually customize everything you pay for – your site storage, CPU usage, bandwidth, database, memory, etc. It’s really a great advantage if you’re an advanced user and already familiar with exactly what you need, what your goals are, what you don’t need, etc.

5. Daily Backups

DigitalOcean performs backups daily and you can always restore any data up to 7 days prior. Even though DigitalOcean has superior uptime, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

6. Good Security

Your data and traffic are always secured. This is something that many other hosts don’t emphasize much or don’t even provide. DigitalOcean makes sure that your data is protected end-to-end. It’s a great advantage to keep those ill-willed connections and viruses out of your site system.

By default, DigitalOcean has added encryption to its volumes. If you want to add an additional layer of security, like with most of their features, you’ll have to go through a tutorial, follow the steps, and know some coding in order to succeed.

Cons of Using DigitalOcean Hosting


DigitalOcean started out strong, however, there are also some drawbacks that need to be noted out.

1. For Advanced Users (Jargon + Complex)

The mark of a truly great product lies in its ability to summarize its services in layman’s terms.

This is something tech companies, in particular, have a hard time wrapping their collective heads around.

As such, most tech sites and platforms tend to be full of jargon. As in, “special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand”.

When one looks at tech products like DigitalOcean, the temptation to resort to jargon based language becomes clear. You’re dealing with a lot of technical data – an expert in the field would be compelled to write it as they know it, and not how the average human being can understand it.

That’s no big deal for the advanced, power users. They’ll get it. It’ll all make sense.

But for the beginners? Not a chance.

This is an area in which DigitalOcean fails dramatically. The site’s copy is filled with technical terms and acronyms with no explanation. They’re clearly marketing their product to developers specifically.

Therefore, others will struggle to figure out how to move a site over, launch, maintain, or even grow their website.

In comparison, Dreamhost does an amazing job of simplifying the language of their website into terms that an average Jane or Joe can understand comprehensively. It’s a user-friendly product for both beginners and advanced users.

It’s not the case with DigitalOcean.

2. Lacks Basic Features Other Consumer Hosts Provide

Most web hosts we’ve reviewed will throw in the same ‘extras.’ Stuff like backups, possibly a good CDN, and even an SSL certificate.

Unlike others, because DigitalOcean caters to a more advanced crowd, they don’t throw in a bunch of basic features that many other hosts will provide or take care of for you after signing up.

Stuff like:

  • Free domain name with hosting
  • The ability to even purchase a domain name
  • Free site migrations

I mean – they can help you with some of this stuff. But you shouldn’t expect a lot of hand-holding services when you sign up.

This actually brings us to our next point:

3. Limited Customer Support

Most hosting companies offer some variation of 24/7 support.

It might not always be very good, but at least it’s something.

Unfortunately, DigitalOcean has nothing like that. If your website goes down in the middle of the night (which could be disastrous if you’re dealing in overseas markets), there’s no one for you to talk to. You have to go to their website and open a support ticket using their online form.

DigitalOcean create ticket form4. Complicated cPanel

As been mentioned already, DigitalOcean is definitely not for beginners. Basically, a cPanel is what you need to build your website nowadays (unless you’re on good terms with programming languages).

For DigitalOcean, to start with, you’ll need to set up a Droplet of your choice (DigitalOcean servers). Then you’ll need to install the cPanel following a thorough guide involving inserting several code commands (yes, you have to know some coding), registering your account, installing the execution file, and etc.

On top of all the other stuff, you’ll need to purchase the right from a third party to use the cPanel. It’s a monthly payment of $20 or $15 if you know where to look for it.

If you have no experience with coding and how to be a developer yourself, we suggest, you either hire a developer (a good one) or avoid DigitalOcean and find solutions that suit your needs and skills more.

The usability of cPanel is relatively intuitive, but then again – there’s a learning curve and it’s definitely not for beginners.

5. Pricing is Complicated

Once you get into the pricing plans, you’ll head will go dizzy with all the options and possibilities which you can use and upgrade. There are different categories for bandwidth, space, servers (different speeds), CPU, security options, and etc.

Simply put – with DigitalOcean there are lots of ways to make your monthly fee really-really pricey. Most other providers offer 2-5 different plans which give you a good overview of what you get. With DigitalOcean you can customize everything yourself. It can be a good thing, but unless you’re an advanced user (as mentioned above), it’s rather complicated and time-consuming. Plus, as stated in the previous section, the prices are rather steep compared to other providers.

DigitalOcean Pricing, Hosting Plans

DigitalOcean’s Standard Droplets plan starts out at $5 per month. The prices rise from there, getting higher and higher until you’re paying $80 per month for more high-end services:

DigitalOcean basic droplet pricesWhen you look at the CPU Optimized Droplets, those are starting at $40 and going all the way up to a whopping $720 per month:

DigitalOcean cpu optimized pricing

Do We Recommend DigitalOcean?

Yes…

… as long as you’re a developer.

If you’re just an average person looking to launch a web presence, there are far more user-friendly products out there that will cost you far less.

For someone that knows their way around the tech world, there seems to be no faster or more highly performing product than DigitalOcean.

The customer support issue and price aren’t easy to stomach.

If uptime and speed are the most important factors for you, DigitalOcean is among the best choices on the market.

Best alternatives for DigitalOcean:

Further reading: The 10 Best Web Hosting Services (In 2021)


Do you have any positive or negative experience with DigitalOcean’s hosting? If you do, please consider leaving a review.

5 user reviews for DigitalOcean

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    Ela

    1  — February 12, 2020

    Agree with no support

    As part of their maintenance my droplet was rebooted. but lost all my work since then my website went down and my installed applications were gone. The only way to contact them was a ticket and they have these templated answers. Whatever I ask, all they say is you have to redo to bring up your droplet back.

    Paula

    5  — January 31, 2020

    Great service with small missing things

    I’ve been using DigitalOcean for almost 6 years. It was very easy to get started compared to AWS. However, contrary to the review, DigitalOcean does not have daily backups.

    They offer weekly backups and manual snapshots. However, by using a popular community tool (can be found here: https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tools/weap-io-digitalocean-daily-backups) I have up to hourly backups for my droplets.

    Managed Databases is another recent feature that I really like, but I don’t find it useful for small apps.

    As a conclusion, DigitalOcean is a great choice and if there is something they don’t have, you have a big chance to find a community tool that solves the problem.

    Mario

    5  — June 27, 2019

    Can’t complain

    I’ve been with digital Ocean for about 6 years now, personally and professionally. Your review seems pretty spot-on in most areas. The one thing I would point out is the use of cPanel is optional. I use a Centos droplet along with the Centos Web Panel, and the setup is fairly straightforward and the ongoing operation is pretty clean. The Centos Web Panel, much like DigitalOcean, works best for people with some basic IT/Web smarts. It’s not perfect or intended for super-basic users, but once setup it’s free and very useful and informative

    Lukasz

    1  — June 3, 2019

    Absolutely NO support

    Just like your article says, there is absolutely NO technical support available. None, nada, zip! We waited 3 days after submitting a critical error ticket, and got a basic reply that’s didn’t even begin to address our concerns. Also, if you like your IP address to get blacklisted, then they are perfect for you.
    Otherwise STAY away

    ROBERT D

    5  — May 24, 2019

    Great for the money

    I have to say, your review was basically accurate except for the cost. $5 a month for a clean WordPress install on a droplet that has 1gb ram and 1cpu is a fantastic deal. If you price it compared to any other hosting company that sells hosting based on hardware specs, it’s always the best value.