After two years as a Linode customer, I've just finished switching and migrating the sites/apps I manage over to Digital Ocean. While both services provide fantastic offerings and I'd recommend either, I found Digital Ocean to be more modern and flexible, with better features for the cost. I decided to write up a brief rundown of the differences and how I made my decision.
Where Linode Wins
Linode has earned and maintained my trust over the past two years, while Digital Ocean is relatively new. I can definitely say this: Linode has rock-solid uptime and performance, and I never had any complaints in that regard. Linode has also done a pretty good job of increasing the specs of their offerings (possibly in response to Digital Ocean and other VPS upstarts); in April, they functionally doubled the RAM and disk space of each plan tier at the same price.
Why Digital Ocean Rocks
- Price - Digital Ocean's VPS offerings are essentially half the cost of the equivalent Linode. The most basic Linode plan offers 1GB RAM, 8 CPU, 48GB storage, and 2TB transfer for $20/mo; the comparable Digital Ocean tier offers 1GB RAM, 1 CPU, 30GB storage, and 2TB transfer for $10/mo. The CPU difference may be relevant for some applications, but for my use cases, it doesn't make a noticeable difference. Additionally, Digital Ocean offers a basic $5/mo plan, which I find ideal when I need to spin up a quick dev server for a temporary project. Finally, all of Digital Ocean's servers run on SSDs, which can seriously decrease read/write times for database-intensive applications and APIs.
- Billing - Linode bills on a flat monthly basis. Digital Ocean actually bills on an hourly basis, capped at the monthly rate. This is ideal because I like to spin up a fresh environment for apps I'm developing and beta testing, to keep the environment consistent with what's out in the wild; with Digital Ocean, I easily can create and kill VPSs ("droplets" in the Digital Ocean vernacular) without having to pay the full monthly rate for each one- that kind of flexibility is both rare and awesome.
- Development and Management - Digital Ocean offers some seriously awesome management features for developing with droplets. You can spin up a new droplet in 55 seconds, and install either a clean version of a Linux server distro (Ubuntu, CentOS, Debian, Arch, Fedora) or a prebuilt distro containing an application, from full stacks like LAMP and Rails to development tools like GitLab and Docker to blogging applications like Ghost and Wordpress. You can also take an image or backup of an existing droplet and use it to spin up a new droplet, making it easy to clone droplets or environments.
- Look and Feel - Digital Ocean and Linode offer similar management panels for managing instances, but I find Digital Ocean's to be much more modern and appealing. The design is clean and easy to navigate.
- API - Digital Ocean offers a full-featured API that provides all of the functionality of the control panel- creating, resizing, and deleting droplets, managing images and snapshots, and more. This API has been used by a handful of fairly awesome 3rd-party management apps; I'm particularly fond of DigitalOcean Manager for the iPhone.
To conclude, while Linode is a solid VPS provider, Digital Ocean really kicks VPS service up to the next level, with a modern interface, a wide and useful set of features, and rock-bottom competitive prices. I plan to host my projects on Digital Ocean in the future and would definitely recommend it to anyone in the VPS market.