I have finally moved away from using shared hosting…and man does it feel good! And if I knew how easy and cheap it was, I would have moved on a long time ago. But then again, DigitalOcean wasn’t really around 5-10 years ago.
So what is DigitalOcean? DigitalOcean is a cloud hosting provider built on simplicity and community. Both of which, are the reasons I decided to go with them. I have changed hosting providers several times over the years, mostly due to extremely poor (or nonexistent) customer service and unreliable servers/support technicians.
The most recent was GoDaddy.com. Yes, they have 24/7 customer service, but absolutely NO way to email them. Also, the support people are fairly useless when it comes to troubleshooting or supporting anything other than password resets and how to connect to a FTP server. I can no longer count how many times I was told to do something completely incorrect by the tech support person. And only after wasting hours on an issue and on the phone did you MAYBE get lucky and have your issue escalated to a more senior person that could actually support you.
So, my sites on GoDaddy started to suffer from performance issues about 6 months after I moved to them. I’m assuming it was just GoDaddy overloading the shared server I was on, but my sites were all starting to take 5-10 seconds to load compared to 1-2 when I first moved to them. Perhaps I was placed on a brand new server at the time of my move. Then my sites started to time out and go offline due to the load on the server and the restrictions on resources. I think it may simply be their business model. To intentionally slow down their customers sites by restricting CPU and memory access to encourage you to upgrade. So I started looking at testing out Amazon Cloud Service (AWS).
AWS was good, they offer the first year free, which is why I tried them out. I found it surprisingly easy to get things setup with a LAMP stack and turn everything up. I did find AWS a bit cluttered with so much stuff, and complicated where it didn’t need to be.
And while I was setting up a few things and searching for some advice/information, I came across a bunch of these DigitalOcean tutorials. Which were incredibly well written and super helpful. I soon learned about this DigitalOcean company and was like “what the heck, let’s give these guys a try”. I mean, they have a 1GB, 1 CPU, 30GB SSD and 2TB bandwidth plan for 10$ a month…that’s less than I was paying for lousy GoDaddy hosting! You heard that right! Odds are, if you are paying for some horrible “business grade” shared hosting plan, you are paying around 10-20$ a month. That’s 10-20$ for a shared hosting account with restricted resources on all services. You can get a dedicated VPS server for the same price or less with 100% control over everything on the server.
Now, I get it, not everyone is a server admin, and we all like our cpanel, etc. But during this journey, I came across a free opensource web control panel (actually I came across quite a few). I tested out 3-4 of these free opensource control panels, with the top choices being Sentora, Vesta, Zpanel, and ISPConfig. My favorite ended by being Sentora and Vesta. Vesta was great and very simple, but I decided to go with Sentora. Basically you can fire up a Linux server on DigitalOcean, run 2-3 commands and Sentora will install itself and the LAMP stack and you have yourself a fully functioning web server with a control panel system like Cpanel. All in 10 minutes!
That’s what I really loved about DigitalOcean. Basically you can get a server up and running in a few clicks and under a minute. Amazing! Literally signed up for the first time, registered my credit card and within two minutes I had a Droplet (their version of a virtual instance) up and running with Ubuntu 14.04. 10 minutes later I had a LAMP stack with an easy to use GUI control panel system.
So why did I go with DigitalOcean after I already had my sites up and running on AWS. Well the answer is easy, their competitive pricing, their ease of use and setup, their free DNS service, and THEIR TUTORIALS!!
During my time setting up my AWS server, I kept finding myself on these DigitalOcean tutorial guides pages. They were so spot on, in regards to giving me the solution I was looking for, and extremely well written with examples and every side question you could think of. I thought, if this company cares this much to produce these amazing guides to help its users setup their servers and administer them, I want to give them my money. And with their administration of the site so easy to navigate and use, I just couldn’t resist.
So after a several weekends of playing around with my new DigitalOcean server, I am happy to say that I have moved all my websites to this new server and I have closed down my GoDaddy account. Oh, and by the way, be careful with GoDaddy. They have very shady business practices. For example, every sales person I spoke to, always tried to upsale their hosting plans and offer you a discount if you purchase one to two (sometimes even three) years in advance. They would always say, “yeah don’t worry about it, you can purchase for the entire year or two and get this 10% discount, but if you want to discontinue the service, you can do so at anytime for a full refund”. Well, that sounds great right? What they don’t explain to you, is that the refund is to GoDaddy store credit, not to your credit card. False advertisement if you ask me. So I found this out when I gave them notice to terminate my account. I was informed I would have 80 dollars credited to my GoDaddy account. Luckily for me, I have several domains registered with them, so I will eat through this by the end of the year. But since they have such shady practices, I will be moving all my domains once their renewals are up next year. I recommend avoiding GoDaddy at all costs! Spend a weekend learning about Linux web server administration and setup and move to a VPS.
So if you are tired of shared hosting, give DigitalOcean a try. You pay per minute for the service, so 1GB 1CPU plan which is 10$ for the month, that’s based on you using ~350 hours of server time. So you can easily sign up for an account and play around with a droplet for a day or two and it will only cost you less than a cup of coffee. Give it a try and you may just see how awesome life can be ditching shared hosting. Be sure to check out “Sentora” as well…they have an easy to follow install procedure to get you up and running.
If you liked this post and are thinking to give DigitalOcean a try, please use this link when you sign up. https://www.digitalocean.com/?refcode=984ec27d1f21. You will get a credit of 10$ (that’s a month of free service).
Thank you for stopping by!