When it comes to the time of choosing a server hosting provider for our WordPress site, we end up with zillion of various options, ranging from bare-bones Linux-based web server to a managed hosting with optimizations and everything. The first step is to realize our budget, abilities and needs:
- Do we have money for this server?
- Are we able to configure it to the point of seamless working?
- Do we really need all its features?
DigitalOcean.com is a relatively cheap, straightforward to configure (for small and medium-sized WordPress sites) and feature-rich server provider company. Here is a short review of my experience with using DigitalOcean and a referral link with 10$ of credit for you at the bottom of the page.
How it works
The heart of DigitalOcean is a so-called “Droplet”. Droplet is a unit of hosting with a specific size/price (e.g. 512MB, 1 CPU for 5$ a month) which can be created, saved and destroyed on demand. Apart from choosing its size, you can select a region for its location (New York, Amsterdam, San Francisco to name a few) and base Linux distribution to be installed on it (Ubuntu, FreeBSD, CentOS, …). When you create a droplet with, let’s say, Ubuntu 14.04 and provision it to serve WordPress pages, it is reasonable to save the state of the server. With DigitalOcean, it’s just a matter of single click — create a snapshot of your server. Now, whenever you create a new droplet, instead of using a fresh Linux distribution, you can restore the saved snapshot on it and everything will be in the same state.
What are the things I like about DigitalOcean?
When it comes to the hardware, DigitalOcean is quite competitive. Their smallest server size, priced at 5$ a month, comes with a 500 megs of RAM, 1 CPU and 20 GB of SSD disk space. The fact that the disk is SSD makes the server super fast. Also, the 500 MB of RAM are almost fully available. See for yourself:
As far as its performance is concerned, a while back I did some load testing of WordPress with Twenty Fifteen theme on DigitalOcean’s smallest Droplet with Nginx, PHP-FPM and no caching. Here is the resulting chart:
50 simultaneous clients with 2 seconds average response time? For 5 bucks? More than needed.
Are you in a hurry, needing a fresh functional WordPress installation in a matter of 2 minutes? You can select a whole stack or an application to be installed on the server from a huge list of them. Although their WordPress stack (Apache, mod_php, MySQL) does not come with performance optimizations, it will, really, get installed under two minutes on the droplet!
Awesome community and blog articles
Have you ever tried searching how to install something on an Ubuntu server? For example, “how to install apache ubuntu”? I bet you landed on a DigitalOcean’s blog describing the process in the most simplistic terms. They cover almost every aspect of server installation. I know this is not directly related to the quality of their web hosting services, but I think it speaks about the devotion they have to them.
A proper API
Thanks to DigitalOcean’s API, you can manage your servers programmatically from a wide range of popular languages such as PHP. While it might not be interesting for the majority of people looking for a simple WordPress hosting, for the more technical ones, it’s a blessing.
Let’s face it: if you are looking for an all-in-one solution, without having to be adept in using command line and knowledgeable in server installation and configuration, you’d be better served by a managed hosting company such as Pagely or WP Engine. But hey, that’s not DigitalOcean’s problem. They don’t state that they will manage the WordPress for you.
Apart from that, I’m not aware of any particular disadvantages of DigitalOcean services. The only thing is that I can get a slightly better price for more powerful hardware at a local hosting provider. Local in Central Europe, which, if your clients live in America, is too far to be worth it (bigger latencies).
Now for the 10$ I promised you
As a DigitalOcean user, I can refer you to use and buy their services. If you use my link to create your account, you get a 10$ in credits. At their current Droplet prices, that means two months of 512MB/1 CPU server, which can handle thousands of users a day. Give it a try, you can’t lose anything after all!