DigtalOcean and Vultr are definitely cut from the same cloth in the grand scheme of things when it comes to infrastructure as a service and self-managed cloud VPS, however they are some very big differences that are worth considering before you choose one or the other.
DigitalOcean really shook up the game when they came in with their self-managed $5 servers at a fraction of the cost of most managed servers, and took things further by creating some of the best documentation and setup-guides to follow along with, and created easy “one-click” installs for many popular uses, from WordPress sites to any number of other apps.
Vultr took it a step further by introducing a $2.50 server in the same style of DigitalOcean, and it actually has fairly comparable resources, too. Vultr also offers a $5 option which exceeds the resources offered by DigitalOcean for the same price, and the pattern remains infact all the way up both company’s most expensive offerings.
Remember a minute ago when we said there’s more to the story? Those number’s don’t tell the whole story. If you think you can get better performance for less money from Vultr, or even better performance for the same price, you may be in for a disappointment. There’s a reason DigitalOcean are at the top of the game, however they also fall short in certain areas where Vultr excels, so check out this in-depth comparison and choose which traits are most important to you, and then you’ll be able to make a smart hosting decision between DigitalOcean vs Vultr.
Price & Specs Comparison
First thing’s first, lets compare the differences in-between price and specs when it comes to Vultr vs DigitalOcean. Before we do that, we just want to remind you to keep in mind that there’s a difference between specs and performance. A machine could have incredible specs in some areas, but have bottlenecks that prevent it from performing adequately. On the flip side, a server could have lower specs, but actually perform a lot better for those same reasons. As such, don’t just look at this price comparison and run out to buy a server, becasue the section after this will be enlightening.
|DigitalOcean||$5||512 MB||20 GB SSD||1 vCPU||1 TB|
|Vultr||$2.50||512 MB||20 GB SSD||1 CPU||500 GB|
|DigitalOcean||$40||5 GB||60 GB SSD||2 vCPU||4 TB|
|Vultr||$40||8 GB||100 GB SSD||4 CPU||4 TB|
|DigitalOcean||$160||16 GB||160 GB SSD||8 vCPU||6 TB|
|Vultr||$160||32 GB||300 GB SSD||8 CPU||6 TB|
As you can see, Vultr offers double the specifications in certain categories, approximately, compared to DigitalOcean. The only different between DigitalOcean’s $5 entry level plan and Vultr’s offering for half the price is the amount of bandwidth provided, and even the amount Vultr provides should be more than enough for most websites. If you’re at a point where you’re eating up more bandwidth than that, you’d probabally need a more expensive server anyways for a variety of other reasons.
So, don’t let the bandwidth there be the deciding factor unless you know specifically that you’ll end such a large amount.
If you’re just looking at the table and comparing numbers, Vultr is the clear winner… but we aren’t just looking at the table and comparing numbers, we’ve actually run some speed tests with both of these hosting companies and there’s more than meets the eye.
Vultr vs DigitalOcean: Who Has The Best Performance?
On paper, Vultr is about half the price (Or twice the specs), but in reality, according to our tests at least, DigitalOcean performs much better, even when you compare servers with the same specs (Like the $2.50 server from Vultr vs the $5.00 server from DigitalOcean.)
We fired up a $5 server from Vultr and a $5 server from DigitalOcean and installed a fresh installation of WordPress on both of them, with nothing but one simple optimization plugin running the default settings. Keep in mind that the Vultr server has just about double the specs for this test (Except for bandwidth, which is irrelevant in this comparison.)
Here’s how Vultr’s server performed:
Not to shabby, but how does it compare to DigitalOcean, where you get less hardware for the money?
Here’s how DigitalOcean performed:
Look at that, DigitalOcean performed significantly better, loading the site in less than a third of the time. That’s why the actual hardware specs and numbers can be misleading, because this $5 server from DO had less power in terms of specs compared to Vultr, but for this test in particular it’s the clear winner.
Disclaimer: Something to remember is that a number of factors go into determining the speed of a particular server. For instance, the proximity between the service you’re using to test and the physical location of your hardware, and which applications you’re running.
We tried to make these tests as even as possible, opting for servers in the same locations, and testing them both from San Jose using Pingdom. Your mileage may vary, we aren’t claiming that DigitalOcean is faster than Vultr 100% of the time. But in this case, DigitalOcean was significantly faster for the same price.
Customer Service Comparison
We’ve dealt with the customer service from both of these hosts, and it’s not a 1:1 comparisons since our questions for each were slightly different, but we’ll still share the experiences we had with each of them as part of the bigger conversation about which one you should go with.
With Vultr, we reached out to them to see if they had any suggestions on how to improve performance. They got back to us within a couple of minutes and tweaked a few things around. If you go with Vultr, we definitely recommend reaching out to them if you aren’t happy with the speed of your site, they were very friendly and genuinely wanted to help improve things which is always a big plus.
In the case of DigitalOcean, we had simply reached out to ask a question about one of their terms and conditions of service, for a clarification. It took about a day to get a response, but it’s worth pointing out that they did want us to know that in the event of a high priority ticket, like for an outage or something very critical, that the response time would typically be a lot more quick – and they’re actively working on getting those times down for all inquiries. DigitalOcean has grown very quickly, so it’s understandable that certain aspects of their support would need some extra time to catch up.
Having said all of that, remember that we’re talking about un-managed servers here, so if you have questions in regards to software you’ve installed, you may or may not always get help. We’ve found that generally speaking, even if companies don’t typically cover this type of thing, if they aren’t too busy they’re often happy to help out however they can, but obviously they don’t mention that or promise it because it’s just not something that’s typically a part of this type of server.
Other Features & Which To Choose
Both Vultr and DigitalOcean offer a number of additional features. We’ve covered these other features much more in-depth already in our reviews of each hosting company, which can be found here: DigitalOcean review, Vultr Review.
If you’re still on the fence about which one to choose, here are some of the key differences in our experience with both companies:
- DigitalOcean’s servers perform faster, so even though they seem more expensive for less resources, the resources they did have were more equipped to host a website. It’s misleading to look at the numbers alone, without comparing the actual real-world performance.
- Vultr’s customer support was very prompt and helpful, we found them willing to go above and beyond for us.
So, at the end of the day, what matters more to you? If you’re looking for an unmanaged VPS in the first place, we’ll assume you don’t need a lot of hand-holding as far as support goes, so in that case DigitalOcean would have to be the clear winner. If you’re more budget conscious and need a lot of storage like Vultr offers, or additional bandwidth, the fact that they offer more resources suddenly becomes more relevant.