It doesn’t matter how great your app or website is if you host it on a slow server with limited bandwidth, rampant stability issues, and so many security weaknesses that even a seasoned web administrator wouldn’t know where to start fixing them.
Cloud hosting providers are gaining in popularity because they provide flexible, affordable access to limitless computing power, making them ideal for businesses with growing or fluctuating bandwidth demands. Both Linode and DigitalOcean are widely considered to be top cloud hosting providers, and this Linode vs DigitalOcean comparison sets out to reveal which offers a better value for your money.
Because our comparison Linode vs DigitalOcean doesn’t simply throw a bunch of technical details at you without explaining what they mean, you will be able to decide which cloud hosting provider can best meet your needs even if you don’t know much about cloud hosting or hosting in general. For the developers reading this comparison, you’ll want to jump down to the features analysis to get into the meat of the technical differences between these cloud providers.
Linode is one of the pioneers of cloud hosting. The company was founded in 2003 by Christopher Aker “to solve problems, code software, and make cool stuff happen,” which has been its philosophy ever since. The name is a blend of the words Linux and node, and it succinctly describes what Linode is all about: high-performance SSD-based Linux servers.
Over the years, Linode has transitioned from UML to Xen virtualization and later to KVM, launched a data backup service, a load-balancing service, and an incident response service, and opened several data centers around the world. Thanks to its constant infrastructure upgrades and great reputation, it now hosts around 150,000 websites1 and is a leading cloud hosting provider in many countries, including the United States, China, United Kingdom, and India.
Considering how long Linode has been offering its hosting services, it shouldn’t be surprising that the company has had a couple of security incidents over the years. In 2012, hackers successfully stole approximately 40,000 bitcoins from Linode customers after obtaining admin passwords for Linode’s network. In 2015 and 2016, several large-scale DDoS attacks were launched by a bad actor against Linode in an attempt to damage its business.
DigitalOcean, on the other hand, has yet to experience a truly major security incident, which may have something to do with the fact that it was founded relatively recently, in 2011. Its founders, Ben and Moisey Uretsky, who had founded a managed hosting business called ServerStack, noticed that most cloud hosting providers were targeting larger enterprise customers, leaving smaller entrepreneurial software developers without a suitable hosting option.
Since DigitalOcean first opened its servers to customers, its userbase has seen significant growth and the company has raised hundreds of millions in funding to build new cloud services and expand its infrastructure. At the time of writing this article, DigitalOcean hosts over 80,000 websites, and it’s leading in Russia, Brazil, Indonesia, Ukraine, and many other countries.
“We prioritized user experience on day one and focused on catering, empowering, enabling the developer. It’s always been our mantra,” said Mitch Wainer, DigitalOcean co-founder and chief marketing officer. “We all enjoy operating the business like a startup. Agile, scrappy—to iterate faster, deploy and launch products faster. To continue to disrupt and think differently. When that goes away, that’s when things get boring. We’re going to keep this train moving.”
Linode vs DigitalOcean: Hosting Prices Compared
|$5/month||DigitalOcean||1 Core||1 GB||25 GB||1 TB|
|Linode||1 Core||1 GB||25 GB||1 TB|
|$10/month||DigitalOcean||1 Core||2 GB||50 GB||2 TB|
|Linode||1 Core||2 GB||50 GB||2 TB|
|$15/month||DigitalOcean||1 Core||3 GB||60 GB||3 TB|
|DigitalOcean||2 Core||2 GB||60 GB||3 TB|
|DigitalOcean||3 Core||1 GB||60 GB||3 TB|
|$20/month||DigitalOcean||2 Cores||4 GB||80 GB||4 TB|
|Linode||2 Cores||4 GB||80 GB||4 TB|
|Linode||2 Cores||4 GB||80 GB||4 TB|
|$40/month||DigitalOcean||4 Cores||8 GB||160 GB||5 TB|
|Linode||4 Cores||8 GB||160 GB||5 TB|
|Linode||4 Core||8 GB||160 GB||5 TB|
|$80/month||DigitalOcean||6 Cores||16 GB||320 GB||6 TB|
|Linode||6 Cores||16 GB||320 GB||8 TB|
|$160/month||DigitalOcean||8 Cores||32 GB||640 GB||7 TB|
As a cloud hosting newcomer, DigitalOcean knew that it had to launch with at least one killer plan. When it entered the market in 2011, Linode’s most affordable plan cost $10. DigitalOcean matched the plan in terms of hardware specifications and features but lowered the price to $5, instantly making a splash and attracting many customers. It didn’t take a long time for Linode to also lower the price to $5, which is where both DigitalOcean and Linode have kept it since then.
All other plans are also identical, the only exception being the $80 plans. Whereas Linode customers get to enjoy 8 TB of bandwidth, DigitalOcean customers have to do with 6 TB. It’s also worth pointing out that DigitalOcean has not one but three $15 plans, allowing customers to choose either more CPU cores or more RAM.
Overall, we can’t conclude this Linode vs DigitalOcean comparison simply by comparing the prices of individual hosting plans. We must also compare the two cloud hosting providers in terms of features and performance.
Linode vs DigitalOcean: Features
Linode makes it incredibly easy to deploy a Linux virtual server and manage it with its Linode Manager. All you need to do is pick a plan, distribution, and location. In addition to Linode Manager, you can also manage your Linodes using Linode CLI, a simple command-line interface to the Linode platform. When worse comes to worst and you mess up something so badly that you lose access into your Linode, you can obtain out-of-band console access with the Linode Shell (Lish) and perform actions like rebooting a Linode or switching to a different configuration profile.
If you often need to create servers with the same distribution and identical configuration, you can take advantage of StackScripts, which provide a flexible way to customize Linode’s distribution templates. There are StackScripts that accomplish everything from installing a ready-to-rock version of WordPress, a fully functioning LAMP stack, or the latest version of cPanel—all with just a couple of clicks.
Alternatively, you can clone an entire configuration to another Linode and potentially combine Linode cloning with the IP failover feature to create a high-availability cluster. It’s also possible to preserve your disk’s fully prepared software environment by creating images with paths, files, boot information, and filesystem details, which makes subsequent replication a breeze.
By default, all Linode accounts require two authentication methods. By enforcing mandatory two-factor authentication, Linode hopes to prevent security incidents caused by customers not securing their login information. While not Linode’s fault, such incidents damage its reputation and overwhelm its customer support staff.
Linode offers a premium backup service that starts at $2 a month and can be activated instantly with any plan. The service provides four backup slots, three of which are executed and rotated automatically: a daily backup, a 2-7-day old backup, and an 8-14-day old backup. The remaining slot is reserved for on-demand backups, which can be created with a single click.
Linode customers who rely on multiple backend Linodes are encouraged to purchase NodeBalancers, which are highly available, managed, cloud-based, load balancers as a service that intelligently route incoming requests when coping with heavy load. NodeBalancers cost $10 a month, and they support up to 10,000 concurrent connections.
To gain insight into the performance of your Linode cloud-based servers, you can use Longview to collect system-level metrics and displays them in an interactive, easy-to-read graphic interface. This value-added feature is available for free with certain limitations, but there’s also a paid version with unlimited historical data and a 60-second resolution.
Last but not least, Linode offers a managed option where you pay the company to manage your infrastructure on your behalf so that you can fully focus on your business and leave the technical stuff to professionals. The managed option includes the Linode Backup Service and two complimentary, standard site migrations performed by our Professional Services team.
DigitalOcean virtual servers are called Droplets, and it’s possible to provision as much as several thousand of them in seconds. You can either pick a standard distribution, such as Ubuntu, CentOS, Debian, Fedora, FreeBSD, or CoreOS, or you can upload your own customized operating system and get it running in no time. If you don’t care as much about the distribution itself as you do about the software running on it, you can deploy a droplet using 1-Click Apps to save time when setting up everything from Docker to the LAMP stack to MySQL or Node.js.
DigitalOcean has a whole suite of free tools that makes it simple to collaborate, secure, monitor, and backup Droplets, allowing you to effortlessly manage your infrastructure at no additional cost. Managing thousands of Droplets and resources in a programmatic way is easy thanks to DigitalOcean’s RESTful API, which is well documented and extremely comprehensive.
To scale your growing application or website, all you need to do is attach more storage to your Droplet with Block Storage for $0.10 per gigabyte per month. All storage provided by DigitalOcean is SSD-based, highly available, replicated multiple times across different racks, encrypted at rest, and transmitted to individual Droplets over isolated networks.
In addition to Block Storage, DigitalOcean also offers S3-compatible object storage with a built-in CDN, called Spaces. This storage option is very cost-effective and perfect for videos, images, and other web content that is often called upon by apps or websites.
Just like Linode, DigitalOcean has its own highly available, managed, cloud-based, load balancers as a service, called simply Load Balancers. It costs $10 a month to deploy a Load Balancer, and it comes with automatic Let’s Encrypt SSL provisioning and renewal and support for HTTP/2. Load Balancers can be controlled programmatically using DigitalOcean’s API, an indispensable feature when creating a large number of highly available setups.
DigitalOcean customers can obtain a Floating IP, a publicly-accessible static IP address, and assign it to any Droplet without replacing its original public IP address. Floating IPs come in handy when redirecting network traffic between Droplets within the same data center, and they can also be used for application upgrades, among other things.
Kubernetes, a portable, extensible, open-source platform for automating Linux container operations, is one of the hottest topics these days because it eliminates much of the tedious manual processes involved in deploying and scaling containerized applications. With DigitalOcean, you can provision and deploy to your Kubernetes cluster in minutes, and enjoy high availability, excellent resource efficiency, and seamless application releases.
Linode vs DigitalOcean: Performance Review
Before we start throwing performance metrics at you, we think that it’s appropriate to compare Linode vs DigitalOcean service level agreement (SLA):
DigitalOcean’s SLA: “DigitalOcean provides a 99.99% Uptime SLA for both Droplet and Block Storage. Lost time is refunded back to your account at the hourly rate incurred.”
Linode’s SLA: “Linode.com provides a 99.9% uptime guarantee on all Linode hardware, and on network connectivity. In any given month, if your Linode is down for more than 0.1%, you may request a pro-rated credit for the down-time.”
It seems that DigitalOcean is slightly more confident in the performance and stability of its infrastructure, but the real question is whether the confidence is justified.
DigitalOcean’s data centers are in the following locations:
- New York City, United States
- Amsterdam, the Netherlands
- San Francisco, United States
- Singapore, Asia
- London, United Kingdom
- Frankfurt, Germany
- Toronto, Canada
- Bangalore, India
Linode’s data centers are in the following locations:
- Newark, New Jersey
- Fremont in California
- Atlanta, Georgia
- Dallas, Texas
- London, Great Britain
- Singapore, Asia
- Frankfurt, Germany
- Tokyo, Japan
Considering what a huge market India is, it would be nice to see Linode build a data center in the country. DigitalOcean could use a data center in Japan, but that’s where the differences between the two cloud hosting providers more or less end when it comes to their global coverage.
According to an independent performance comparison by Josh Sherman, a senior engineer and emoji specialist at Mailshake and content writer for Alligator.io, Linode outperforms DigitalOcean in requests per second, time per request, and transfer rate. After all, Linode has been around for much longer than DigitalOcean, and it had plenty of time to grow and optimize its infrastructure.
However, the difference between the performance of the two cloud hosting services is so small that we wouldn’t give it much weight. Large enterprise customers could perhaps notice some difference in certain situations, but that’s about it.
Linode vs DigitalOcean: Customer Support
This is what real customers have to say about Linode customers support on G2, the world’s largest tech marketplace, where Linode has 4.4 out of 5 stars on G2, while DigitalOcean has 4.5 stars:
- “I had the misfortune recently of misplacing my 2nd factor authentication, and their support was extremely helpful in aiding me to recover my account.”
- “Support is great, I’ve have hardware failures, DDoS, SPAM abuse complaints etc, and they have been always great.”
- “They also have a support channel on IRC which is great for interacting with Linode staff and users in realtime and getting issues resolved faster. However, note that this is not an official support channel. Their official support available in the Linode Manager site is also great.”
- “Support has been quick and friendly in the few cases I’ve needed them to look at something.”
- “I don’t had problems with frequency, but the times I needed help, they provide me good and fast support.”
And this is what DigitalOcean customers have to say:
- “The best thing and the one thing stands out from similar services out there is the customer support offered by the digital ocean. I had many troubles with WordPress and accessing the servers from the first day. the customer service was always there for me and fixed the issue each time within minutes. absolutely delighted.”
- “I have to mention the support here, they are really great. I didn’t know much about hosting in the cloud and ran into many issues with my WordPress setup. every time the digital ocean support was there to help me out.”
- “the customer support provided by the digital ocean is quite satisfactory. they used to respond to any queries within minutes.”
- “Digital Ocean also has excellent support and a blog where you will find many tutorials that make it easier for us to use our servers.”
- “Technical support deserves praise, as it’s helpful and responds quickly.”
Both cloud hosting providers seem to know how to take care of their customers. You can expect quick responses, accurate answers, and friendly attitude. Customer support is provided by Linode and DigitalOcean 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and both providers have a community section where customers ask questions and get answers from other customers and staff.
If you’re a DIYer, you can read technical overviews, tutorials, and other support material published by Linode and DigitalOcean on their websites. It’s worth noting that neither Linode nor DigitalOcean provides support regarding the installation or configuration of application software.
Is Linode or DigitalOcean Best for You?
Despite being the grandfather of cloud hosting, Linode still leads the way in hardware specifications and performance, but it leaves something to be desired when it comes to simplicity and ease of use. DigitalOcean targets smaller entrepreneurial software developers who can appreciate having a whole suite of collaboration, security, monitoring, and backup tools at their disposal without having to pay extra money. DigitalOcean is an especially easy choice for Indian customers and anyone who wants to target the Indian market because it has a data center in the country, whereas Linode doesn’t.
Current Cloud Specials:
DigitalOcean Promo Code: If you sign up for DigitalOcean here, you’ll receive $50 in credit to use over 30 days to test the platform. No promo code is necessary to redeem the DigitalOcean credits. This offer is valid through April 2020.
Linode Promo Code: There are currently no Linode promo codes available for April 2020.
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