Digital Ocean and Linode: One Year Later

Last year I wrote a review comparing Linode and Digital Ocean. At the time Digital Ocean was a very new player on the scene and because their pricing was so cheap I had decided to use them to host some of my side projects. At the time I had very strong opinions about Linode and Digital Ocean that I didn’t forsee changing. One year later a lot of what I originally wrote still stands but some of my stronger opinions have changed. So today I’m going to re-review and compare Linode and Digital Ocean and hopefully help others make an informed decision on which host is best for them.

Disclaimer: This review does contain referral links to both Linode and Digital Ocean. I use both of these hosts for different purposes as you’ll find out below but I am not being paid by nor am I in any way affiliated with either company.

Digital Ocean

My first impression of Digital Ocean a year ago was that they were an unreliable, fly-by-night, crappy VPS provider that would be good for hosting some side projects and things you don’t mind either losing or having downtime issues with. Well, I was completely wrong.

Since March of 2013 Digital Ocean has done a lot to clean up their UI and I for one really appreciate the simplicity. Their prices haven’t jumped like I expected they would and they’ve proven to be a company that’s, so far, on solid fiscal footing which means I’m more confident in hosting more important projects with them. Their user guides, at least to me, are not my favorite. They’re more user contributed and often are accurate but if there’s an article about the same topic in the Linode Library then I’ll choose Linode’s any day. Linode’s guides just seem more authoritive for those who want to set something up right initially and for beginners while Digital Ocean’s guides seem to be better suited to those who don’t mind mixing in a little personal preference of the author into the guides.

I’m still using the $5/month 512mb server but since my confidence has grown in them I’ve considered upgrading to a 1gb server and moving from nginx to Apache since it’s just what I know. DO is great about alerting their customers about outages and the locations where you can spin up a server have been steadily increasing. The performance and uptime have been solid too.

The only complaints I have about Digital Ocean right now are that they don’t offer you the option to buy a second IP like Linode does but with the cost of a server being so cheap I suppose it’s really not that big of a deal.

Digital Ocean Pros

  • Great UI
  • Great price
  • Good performance

Digital Ocean Cons

  • No option to add IPs
  • Guides are just slightly dubious at times
  • No server monitoring whatsoever (unless you install it yourself)

Overall, I would now recommend Digital Ocean for hosting production websites and apps. My confidence in it has increased tenfold since I first signed up. But is it better than Linode? I must admit I still prefer Linode and I’m still happy to pay them double what Digital Ocean charges.

Linode

Last Spring, out of nowhere, not long after I wrote my initial review Linode ended up upgrading the crap out of everyone’s plans. I had a 512mb plan that was automatically upgraded to 1gb. Before that my storage was also just about doubled. All for free. Linode is also adding SSDs to their servers from what I hear. When that all happens there won’t be much difference between Linode and Digital Ocean on the face of it (besides price). Linode always offered some basic server monitoring stats but last October they introduced Longview which takes it to another level. If you have the free version which comes with all accounts you get basically the same stats as before except with a prettier face slapped on them. Their mobile app has also kept up with how beautiful their dashboard is getting.

If you put a gun to my head and made me choose one over the other I’d go for Linode still. They’ve been around longer, I trust them more, and I think they’ve got just enough edge on Digital Ocean to be the better choice for more seasoned VPS users.

Linode Pros

  • Authoritative server guides
  • Longview server monitoring
  • Free, albeit random, upgrades
  • Comprehensive admin dashboard

Linode Cons

  • Price

When it comes down to it, Digital Ocean and Linode are pretty evenly matched and my preference for Linode is just that – a personal preference. What anyone else chooses should be determined by what’s important to them. If you happen to be deciding right now, here’s a handy chart that may help you decide based on what’s most important to you:

Feature Linode Digital Ocean
RESTful API
Two Factor Authentication
Automated Backups
Mobile App
(Third-party only)
Server Monitoring
Node Balancers
SSD Storage
Datacenters 6 4
Virtualization Xen KVM

See for yourself: Check out Digital Ocean or give Linode a try.

Highlights, Web development, Web hosting

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