A Developer’s Review of DigitalOcean, Linode, and Vultr
I have a side-by-side comparison for you of the best and worst features of some of the largest cloud computing companies currently around. I am going to write based mostly on my own experience, and not a spec comparison because anyone can do that just by looking at each company’s website.
I am a website developer, and am constantly hacking around with different services and operating systems trying to create different configurations optimized for various projects. The biggest struggle I had years ago, was finding an environment where I can rapidly deploy servers and quickly wipe them to start fresh. The scalability of cloud computing today is quite remarkable, and supporting these companies is critical, imo, to continuing to developing these great technologies for the modern web.
Out of the 3 companies, DigitalOcean has the most diverse pricing options in mind opinion, spanning from $5/m for a droplet with 512mb ram and 20gb disk, to $640/m for a droplet with 64gb ram and 640gb disk.
Linode offers their cheapest plan at $10/m which includes 2gb ram and 24gb disk. For $10, Linode competes in the middle of DigitalOcean and Vultr for diskspace, while you get double the amount of ram (DO & Vultr both being 1 gb).
Vultr is a newer competitor in the market, compared to DO and Linode, and in my opinion their later start in the market has made it slightly harder for them to compete with their competitors when it comes to pricing. Starting at $5/m, you get 15gb disk (less than both DO or Linode), and 768MB ram (in the middle of DO and Linode).
DigitalOcean has the most straight-forward and simple UI and deployment process out of DO, Linode, and Vultr. Requiring only an email and password to create an account, you can quickly open one and check out what they have to offer. Deploying a server can be done in less than 30 seconds once you have setup your billing information. Upon setting up your server, you will receive an email within a minute that contains your ssh information.
Linode has been around the longest, and in my opinion their website reflects this, and not necessarily in the best way. While completely acceptable by today’s standards, their backend (account dashboard) is showing signs of clutter and being a bit older. With this being said, you have a lot more opinions where it comes to managing your server, account, and support. Setting up a server takes a bit longer on Linode, because you first choose a plan, and add it to your account. Then you need to “manage” the linode and partition it and setup an operating system profile. Once installed, you finally need to boot the server. Still, this can be done in a couple minutes, but DigitalOcean easily beats Linode in ease of setup for the average consumer.
Vultr has a very modern looking dashboard, with bold and clear text/colors (the entire website was updated in early 2016). Like DO, accounts can be opened with just an email address and password. Deploying a server is just as fast as DO, and follows a similar one page setup and automatic deployment.
I have found the initial support response times with DO to be consistently under 30 minutes, usually being around 15-20 minutes. The support team is very competent, and ususally my ticket has never needed to be escalated because the techs they have managing the helpdesk actually seem to have a degree in the subject they are talking about (cloud servers). I have also found that the support agents go into detail about issues and explain what causes an issue, or how the network works and why something will or won’t work.
I have only contacted Linode support for account / sales inqueries, so I can’t speak on their technical support. Their average response time has varied, probably because I always have opened tickets with them at 3 AM. However, as a developer this is an important consideration. Whether it be 2 PM or 2 AM, consistent support responses are important. I can recommend DigitalOcean in a heartbeat for this reason alone.
In terms of initial response time, Vultr blows both DO and Linode out of the water (no pun directed at DigitalOCEAN <—-). I consistently receive an initial response under 5 minutes, often within 1-2 minutes. Based on the specific questions I have asked, it is clear these are not canned responses, and someone actually saw my ticket immediately and began a response within about 30 seconds – 1 minute of opening it. Resolution time varies as I have had instances of my ticket being escalated.
Out of the 3 companies, I have found DigitalOcean to be the most dissapointing in terms of performance. They were better a few years ago, however today I feel they are much more focused on making lots of money (not to say this is wrong, but I think it is at a point the customer experience is compromised). My server often time stalls out and generally can load sluggishly at times, most certainly due to high cpu load. This points to a couple issues. One is that they simply cram too many VM’s onto one host node. The other being because of how fast their VM’s are deployed, I think this load takes away from the performance of existing machines when many people are deploying at once.
I have found Linode to have a very consistent and snappy server performance. My websites load very quickly, and I get a fast response from the command line, and during installation. Out of the 3 companies, Linode takes the trophy for server performance!
Like Linode, I have found Vultr to have a very consistent server peformance. With this being said, I have found the servers to be a bit sluggish during installation and downloads (which may actually have to do with network lag), however this is a pretty consistent issue so I am not going to assume it has to do with temporary load on the server.
My final score out of each company is as follows:
I gave DigitalOcean the lowest score because I experience significantly better performance on Linode, and with DO doing down a path of seemingly high profit and less performance, I think a newer competitor such as Vultr has more long term potential.