Comparing Digital Ocean and Linode: When to choose one or the other

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Date: 2013-04-02 15:10:35 00:00

Linode is one of the best VPS providers and it is usually the preferred one among geeks, and developers (Amazon EC2 is the other favorite). Some time ago, Digital Ocean came to the game with great offers, specially talking about money. They are very affordable, now anyone can afford a VPS, their plans start at $us 5, for 512 MBytes RAM, 20 GBytes space (On SSD Disk) and 1 TByte transfer.

The equivalent option in Linode is: 512 MBytes RAM, 24 GBytes storage and 2 TBytes data transfer, for $us 20. So Linode is 4 times expensier, for almost the same setup.

There is a big difference between these two, and I am not talking about data transfer quota, we will talk about that later. I am talking about available CPUs. Linode offers you 8 cores by default with all theirs packages, while on Digital Ocean you have to pay $us 160 per month to get the same 8 cores on one VPS. Does this means you have to choose Linode over Digital Ocean? No, it just means they have very different offers and you have to decide well which is better for you and your application.

To choose one over the other is a complex method, some tests have been done and you can find benchmark results in the web, like this one. As one can imagine Linode does it better when it comes to CPU performance, and Digital Ocean when it comes to disk I/O performance. But there is more to consider when you are choosing a hosting company.

Customer Support is one of them, I am a customer of the both of them, and I have had great experience with customer support on both, quick response, and fast solution of the problems on both sides, so, for me they are even in customer support.

These are important things to consider when choosing your VPS provider

  • The RAM your app needs
  • CPU your app needs
  • Bandwidth (data transfer) your application will need per month
  • Is your app able to run distributed over more than one server?

Finally, if you need to decide where to host your app, if Linode or Digital Ocean, follow this rule to thumb.

If your application needs CPU power, go for Linode, if your application need fast disk access, go for Digital Ocean.

If you want to complicate this a little, I have another analysis you can do.

If you can split your app, into two more servers. Take Wordpress as an typical example, suppose you can run MySQL on one server, Apache on another server or two of them and Nginx or Varnish in a fourth one. Then you will have this scenario.

To be able to compare I will fix the budget to 20 dollars.

On Linode you get

  • 512 MBytes RAM
  • 8 CPUs
  • 24 GBytes Storage
  • 2 TBytes Transfer

On Digital Ocean you get

  • 2 GBytes RAM (Four VPS 512 RAM each)
  • 4 CPUs (One per VPS)
  • 40 GBytes Storage (You get this times two, but your data will be basically on MySQL server, and the Apache Server, so I am only considering two VPS)
  • 1 TByte Transfer (Once again, you get this times four, but on the transfer from the Varnish server matters to you, and Digital Ocean says they will account bandwidth per node and not per account as Linode does).

In this case, and any other where you can efficiently split the load of your application, then you may get more from Digital Ocean than from Linode. In this case you get half the CPU power, but four times RAM, and that may be better for this specific example.

Conclusion

It is not an easy task to say which one is better, you need to evaluate your needs, and decide based on that. As usually, when two companies have similar offers but not exactly the same thing, what is better for one, may not be the better one for the other.