19-11-2013 | Remy van Elst | Text only version of this article
DigitalOcean sucks. And rocks. This is an article reviewing the pro's and con's on Digital Ocean after +1 year of usage.
What is DigitalOcean? Buzzword Bingo, DigitalOcean provides scalable cloud servers across the globe. Down to earth, they provide virtual private servers. And frankly, they do it quite well.
If you like this article and want to support me AND get $10 Digital Ocean credit (2 months free), use this link to order: https://www.digitalocean.com/?refcode=7435ae6b8212
Their defitinion of Cloud is different than that of most people.
When you think of a cloud server provider you probably think they have a SAN where the disk images are stored. This because when a virtualization node fails, all virtual servers are automatically failed over to another server and you have little to no interruption. DigitalOcean does not have a SAN. They use local storage in RAID 5, when more than one disk fails you are going to have a bad day. There are more people having trouble with failed nodes.
There is still no IPv6.
Come one you guys, even Comcast and Time Warner Cable are now rolling out IPv6. It is almost 2014, and they hoped to have had something working in 2012 already.
You cannot install your system yourself, or provide your own ISO.
When I buy a KVM VPS I do that because either I need special kernel/firewall settings or because I want to do the install myself from my own provided ISO. I might want to run FreeBSD, Windows, Mikrotik RouterOS or whatever else the provider does not provide. Heck, I've even ran MINIX on a KVM VPS because I was reading the book by Tanenbaum. DigitalOcean does not provide this possibility, they only allow their set templates to be used on a VPS.
There have been security issues with SSH Host Keys.
See above point, DigitalOcean only provide images to roll out. Some time ago someone found out that the SSH Host keys were the same for all Ubuntu VM's on DigitalOcean because of the use of images.
$5 for an SSD based VM with 512MB RAM, 20GB of disk space and 1TB of transfer? That is holy cow cheap. The base Linode costs $15 more. Many other VPS providers exist around this price point but most of them are not as good as DigitalOcean.
I'm from the Netherlands, their Amsterdam location has a 20ms ping to my home internet. That is fast. Even the US based nodes have a ping around 125ms from The Netherlands. Most providers outside the country are at least 200 or more ms away. Heck, even some in the country are.
Here's a disk benchmark on a DigitalOcean VPS:
remy@vps23:~$ dd if=/dev/zero of=test bs=64k count=16k conv=fdatasync 16384+0 records in 16384+0 records out 1073741824 bytes (1.1 GB) copied, 3.84315 s, 279 MB/s
Other VPS I have are around 80/150MB/s. I use a few DigitalOcean VPS for disk intensive applications, speeds are just really fast.
A lot of Operating Systems and Images.
From Ubuntu, Fedora and Arch to a full PHP or Rails stack, everything is available. The amount of images available is more than enough for me. 29 base OS images and 7 stack images available on the current date. Even better, when you have your own VPS, you can image that and use it to provision new servers based on that image.
Great Management Panel.
Do you know all those WHMCS+SolusVM VPS Providers?. Where you have three panels, one for billing, one for support and one for server management? And maybe one for DNS at your domain provider? DigitalOceans panel combines server management, support, billing and DNS in one panel. Tickets, invoices, domains and servers all in one place under one login. Heck, you can even add SSH keys via the panel which then will be available in all current and new VPS from DigitalOcean.
Lots and Lots of support articles and a great community.
There are a lot of good copy/paste tutorials, there is a forum, they have a blog and there is an IRC channel. The forums and IRC are helpfull, the blog is nice to read and most of the tutorials are great for new users and also good as reference for experienced users. If you have an article, they even pay you for it.
Coupon codes all the way.
You can get your first two months free using available coupon codes or by following them on Twitter for coupon codes. And when they accidentally give out a $60 coupon code, you get to keep it even when it is their error.
Three hours after this article was published I got an email from John Edgar from DigitalOcean:
Hey Remy, I wanted to thank you for your article about us, I appreciated both your honesty and your kind words, so thanks!! Feedback is something that is extremely important to us, and very very welcome. One thing I needed to quickly point out is the post you linked RE: ssh. You mentioned we had issues with SSH keys, this would be AWFULLL. The issue was with ssh hosts, not keys. (box vs user) Thanks again! :) j.
Updated the article plus a smile on my face :).
TL;DR: DigitalOcean is a good VPS provider with minor issues. I like them and have been using them for over a year.