Mar 092014

VPS (Virtual private server) hosting that costs less than typical shared-hosting? Sounds too good to be true? I wondered about this and raised this issue a while back on the forum and got replies from the management and comments from others.

It is true. The VPS provider is the relatively newer kid on the block — DigitalOcean.

You can spin a Linux instance in under 1 minute — DigitalOcean calls them droplets — with your choice of Linux distros and you get fast 20 GB SSD, 512 MB RAM, fixed IPv4 address, for $5 a month! The KVM technology assures your share of resources unlike OpenVZ; and you can ssh in, do a one-click install of LAMP Stack, WordPress, Ruby on Rails, Docker, GitLab etc; administer and even reboot the droplet. You can use the web console and manage the droplet or download management apps for Android and iOS. Auto Backups and Snapshots are available.

It is actually better than $5 a month as it is actually $0.007/hr. So, you pay for what you use and the maximum you will pay is $5/month. This hourly billing is not available at other VPS vendors like Linode where the minimum price starts at $20 and you pay for the whole month. However, you do get less CPU when compared with Linode.

IPv4 addresses are fast running out and so getting a dedicated one is icing on the cake. One may argue that $5 gets you a scarce dedicated IPv4 address and the Linux instance with 20 GB SSD, 512 MB RAM is icing on the cake 🙂

The 5$/month droplet can be kept running so that your blog or your other web software is always available. If you suspect that you are limited by the 512 MB RAM, you can power off the droplet, resize to 1 GB RAM and reboot — all of this will take less than 30 seconds — and check. You can resize back to 512 MB the same way.

In addition, for learning purposes, you can spin up a second droplet with 2 GB RAM for the weekend say from 9 am Sat to 9 pm Sun, install software, experiment and then take a snapshot and delete the droplet and pay just $1. You can resurrect the droplet from the snapshot anytime and continue where you left off. And if you spin up a droplet with 1 GB RAM, you will pay only 50 cents for your weekend of learning — less than the cost of a cup of coffee.

This summer, you can learn Linux free online from Harvard/MIT — a $2400 value. You can use DigitalOcean VPS for this if you don’t have a Linux laptop handy.

Note that this disruptive entrant has not only created happy customers, even customers of rival Linode who chose to remain loyal to Linode benefited. As I predicted, soon Linode doubled the RAM to 1 GB, upgraded their servers, increased storage and bandwidth. However, they retained the minimum price of $20 and monthly billing.

Keeping a VPS company running requires high CAPEX. So, it was nice to hear that Andreessen Horowitz has provided $37 million in financing.

The folks at DigitalOcean are generous and responsive. What are you waiting for? Go spin a droplet.

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