Vultr vs. DigitalOcean

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Author Scott Whatley
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The Vultr vs. DigitalOcean bout is nothing short of spectacular. Both of these hosting companies are cut from the same cloth when you look at things from a broader perspective. Each operates under the IaaS model offering great service at extremely competitive pricing.

There are some issues when comparing these VPS Hosting Companies. There are some major differences between Vultr and DigitalOcean, which is the reason why we are writing this article. When you are finished reading the comparisons between these to companies, you will be able to make a sound decision when choosing between the hosting companies.

Update January 2020: Vultr and DigitalOcean are quite similar providers, at the end of the day one manages to come on top, but overall they are not so different. One of the main problems is the lack of customer support which makes a huge difference when it comes to this kind of service. Kamatera is a lesser-known provider similar to DigitalOcean and Vultr in terms of performance (even better actually) that also offers great customer support and a unique 30-days free trial (click here and sign-up to take advantage of this trial) so you can fall in love with them risk-free.

So yeah, you can keep on reading and see who wins this comparison or you can check Kamatera's offer, or maybe read more about them in our DigitalOcean alternatives article, where they are listed as the #1 Alternative.

Vultr vs. DigitalOcean Overview

DigitalOcean really changed the VPS space with the introduction of their $5 self-managed servers. A VPS server at this price was simply unheard of. However, self-managed meant, a DIY server wherein, you have to set up everything for yourself.

Still, it acted as a breath of fresh air as DigitalOcean created superior documentation and set-up guides along with a “one-click” install provision, which took the stress of installation away even for someone who is new to this field.

If DigitalOcean started the war, Vultr was taking it to a whole new level. Based upon the same tier-dynamic as DigitalOcean, Vultr started offering server space for as low as $2.50. Like DigitalOcean, it too has a $5 option that does outperform DigitalOcean’s $5 plan and makes it interesting to see what’s coming our way. We’ve seen such close competition in the past with only one brand coming out on top.

Popularity Comparison

DigitalOcean has 12 data centers across the world. However, these are not as widespread as Vultr’s data centers. Nonetheless, they do a pretty good job of minimizing latency issues.

Regardless of its heavy presence only in the United States and Europe, DigitalOcean does a pretty good job in Asia and the Australian continents. DigitalOcean is expanding its data center network and if reports are to be believed, Japan might be the latest country to have a DigitalOcean data center.

DigitalOcean allows you to serve your customers around the world with data centers present in Amsterdam, Bangalore, Frankfurt, London, New York, San Francisco, Singapore, and Toronto.

Vultr has 16 data centers across the world which are all strategically located to offer hassle-free connectivity. Vultr is actively present in Australia along with certain countries in Asian subcontinents which allows it to offer its services without any latency issues.

Vultr Worldwide Coverage and Reliable Uptime
Vultr Worldwide Coverage

In North America, Vultr is present in Miami, New Jersey, Chicago, Dallas and Seattle, Los Angeles and Atlanta. In Europe, it has its presence in Amsterdam, London, Frankfurt, Paris. In Asia, it has its presence in Tokyo and Singapore.

Comparatively, its coverage is quite similar to DigitalOcean. An advantage with DO is that it has a presence in Bangalore, which makes it a preferred choice in India.

Upon pitting Vultr and DigitalOcean on Google Trends, we saw a wide popularity gap between the two brands. The graph below is for a period between July 2018-July 2019, which showcases DigitalOcean generating an average interest of above 75% as compared to Vultr’s 25%.

Ease of Use

Given that you have sufficient knowledge with shared hosting, even if you’re a first-timer, you won’t find selecting either of these two-hosting services overwhelming. Both DigitalOcean and Vultr have exceptionally easy setup for beginners due to their user-friendly control panels. Nonetheless, if you don’t have time to set-up or manage your hosting and want someone to do it on your behalf, you can opt for CloudWays.

Vultr’s control panel is extremely well laid out. You can easily set-up and deploy your server without any help. With a simple click and go, all you need to do is to select the location where you want your server to be deployed followed by choosing an operating system and resources.

For instant deployment, Vultr offers support for CoreOS, CentOS, Fedora, Debian, OpenBSD, FreeBSD, Ubuntu, Windows Server 2012, 2016 and Ubuntu. Additionally, it also allows you to upload your custom ISO, allowing you to install any operating system you desire.

DigitalOcean, on the other hand, doesn’t offer too much in terms of an operating system when compared to Vultr. Also, DigitalOcean does not support Windows. However, it allows 1-click configuration of essential applications such as GitLab, cPanel, Plesk, WordPress, LAMP, Docker, and many others.

Features and Usability

Storage

In regards to storage, you really don’t have to worry about your business and the data if you’re just starting out. Both Vultr and DigitalOcean offer storage space more than capable of handling basic tasks. However, you don’t want to overlook that aspect either. If your website happens to blow overnight, your server should have the capability to handle the quick upsurge of traffic and data influx.

At an entry-level, Vultr offers 10GB SSD Storage with 512MB RAM and 1 CPU Core. In comparison, DigitalOcean’s entry-level plan offers 25GB SSD Storage with 1GB RAM and 1 CPU Core.

At an intermediate-level, Vultr offers 160GB SSD Storage with 8GB RAM and 4 CPU Core. In comparison, DigitalOcean’s intermediate plan offers a similar proposition with 160GB SSD Storage, 8GB RAM, and 4 CPU Core.

However, things get interesting at the premium end.  Vultr offers 1.6TB SSD Storage with 96GB RAM and 24 CPU cores. In comparison, DigitalOcean offers 3.8TB SSD Storage with 192GB RAM and 32 CPU Cores with 12TB of the transfer.

If you’re starting out, consider going with an entry-level plan. However, as you’re scaling, these numbers do make a lot of difference in the end product. Personally, 5-10GB of space is enough for a small scale business unless you want to upload ultra-HD videos or Super HD Images.

Bandwidth

If storage is the lifeblood of a server, its bandwidth is the lifeblood for your business. To put it simply, Bandwidth determines the level of traffic or the amount of data which can transfer between your website, users and the internet. It’s an amalgamation of all the data limits with all the parties involved.

If you’re attracting traffic less than 50,000 users per month, an entry-level plan is enough for your operations. However, if the number exceeds 100,000 or 1 million monthly visitors, you will need to choose a plan with increased bandwidth.

For sample, DigitalOcean’s entry-level plan with 1GB of memory and 25GB SSD is capable of handling 50,000 users per month. However, if the traffic surpasses the mark, you need to upgrade to an intermediate or a premium plan based upon the traffic you’re generating.

The best part about Vultr is that it clearly specifies its bandwidth limit within its plans.

As you can see in the image above, Vultr’s entry-level plan offers a bandwidth of 500GB, however, if you are looking to scale up, you can choose between 1,2,3 TB plans which go all the way up to 15TB bandwidth plans.

cPanel

cPanel is a multi-tiered software package that helps in managing and controlling a website. WHM provides hosting companies with a panel so they can manage each account on the server. For a lot of conventional developers, cPanel does make a world of difference. Both Vultr and DigitalOcean offer cPanel. Vultr provides it as an extra-paid service whereas DigitalOcean allows you to create a droplet for cPanel and WHM (i.e. the most popular cPanel in the world).

With cPanel, people who are less familiar with technicalities can still easily carry out a multitude of tasks and manage various things on their websites including domains, web-based file transfer or traditional file transfer like FTP/SFTP/FTPS, backup, security settings, email connectivity and so on. All of this is done with point-and-click-website management.

If you want a cPanel in Vultr, you need to buy the license. Herein, you have to pay $15 extra which is bundled into the original VPS price as a cover for the cPanel license.

If you want a cPanel in DigitalOcean, you need to create cPanel & WHM Droplet. With DigitalOcean, you get software such as WordPress, Roundcube, git, MariaDB, and Ruby. In addition to creating a droplet, you can also use a DigitalOcean API which makes the proceedings much smoother.

Backups

Regardless of your business’ size, the importance of backup cannot be emphasized enough. It’s better to be safe than to be sorry. As far as backup is concerned, both these providers offer great options.

Vultr offers an automatic backup when you opt for their VPN. These backups are easy to manage and they add extra protection to your data in case of critical system error.

Here are a few things you need to know about backing up your data with Vultr:

  • Backups are stored on a fault-tolerant storage system in the same data center as the original instance.
  • Automatic backups run every day and can be manually configured to run daily, weekly, biweekly or monthly.
  • You have the freedom to choose the time you want the backup to take place.
  • Only snapshots of the entire server can be restored and not the original files.
  • Only the two most recent backups are stored whereas the older backups are rotated out.

Vultr charges a 20% higher base monthly/hourly fee for its automatic backups. For instance, if you are on a $5 plan, your backup charges would be $1.

DigitalOcean, on the other hand, works on a snapshot-based backup system. It uses the current state of Droplet which creates the image. The process happens automatically with manual scheduling window. As soon as the timer starts, the backup begins in the background while the Droplet is running.

Here are a few things you should know about backing up your data with DigitalOcean:

  • Snapshot of the system is taken to create an image
  • Snapshot is backed up off-disk
  • Snapshot is deleted once the backup is complete

DigitalOcean’s backup plan costs are similar to Vultr. You have to pay 20% extra on your plan. When you enable a backup, it adds 20% to the cost of the droplet. If you choose to backup a $40/month droplet, your cost of backup would be $8 per month.

CMS Support

For people who are not tech-savvy, CMS support goes a long way to help them get started without any hassle. A CMS application or framework plays a huge role in supporting the collaborative creation and revision of web content.

For instance, WordPress is the most popular CMS which covers 30% of the web. As far as CMS is concerned, both of these companies offer great support and you can easily integrate them.

DigitalOcean offers integration of WordPress, Joomla, Magento, and Drupal. Vultr, on the other hand, offers WordPress, Boltwire, Automad, Roadiz, Apostrophe, Wonder, Pyro, Grav and Neos to name a few.

Speed Comparison between DigitalOcean and Vultr

A slow host can hurt your business or brand in more ways than one. Especially, when you’re getting a good amount of traffic, a slow server can increase the bounce rate and affect other components on your website. Both Vultr and DigitalOcean offer good speed with no-load spikes or IOWaits problem.

Due to their presence across the globe, there are hardly any latency discrepancies. However, we did conduct certain tests and obtained several results.

After running a database intensive web application for several days on the cloud servers from DigitalOcean and Vultr, we were able to calculate the average response time. This intensive web application was generating 100,000 hits per day. It’ll be handy for you to compare DigitalOcean and Vultr regards to speed through our findings.

If you’re judging a host fairly based on host speed, you’d know the importance of a lower response. The less time is taken, the better the response. In the graph above, you can see a comparison between the various plans offered by both the hosting companies.

Hosting ProviderPlanAvg. Response Time
DigitalOceanStandard 1GB 1 Core73.0ms
VultrVC2 1GB76.0ms
DigitalOceanStandard 2GB 1 Core105.0ms
VultrVC2 2GB79.0ms
DigitalOceanStandard 1GB 3 Cores83.0ms
VultrHigh Frequency 2GB46.0ms
DigitalOceanStandard 4GB 2 Cores55.0ms
VultrVC2 4GB65.0ms
DigitalOceanCPU Optimized 4GB52.0ms
VultrHigh Frequency 4GB39.0ms
DigitalOceanGeneral Purpose 2 Cores57.0ms
VultrVC2 8GB50.0ms

These tests as you can see are conducted across numerous plans to allow us to track the discrepancies between the two services.

Uptime

A Service Legal Agreement (SLA) is the best way to understand a company’s promise when it comes to uptime. They clearly state the compensation if they fail to provide the promised service for a period more than mentioned.

In the image above, you can see Vultr’s SLA claim and they’ve clearly specified that if they fail to live up to this mark, they’ll provide you with SLA credits based on hourly costs. Such clarity can be appreciated as all of us know that no hosting service can provide 100% uptime with absolutely zero problems.

Vultr on its website claims to provide 100% network uptime and it accredits its architecture and intelligent BGP routing as a reason for that. Its core network routes the disruptive network activity and thereby helps it to provide high-performance connectivity across the world.

DigitalOcean, on the other hand, offers a 99.99% uptime both for its Droplet and Block Storage. That’s quite transparent of them to clarify this beforehand. As far as uptime is concerned, it’s important that you don’t settle for anything less than 99.95%. In regards to uptime, both of these companies are offering great value propositions.

Site Migration

Whether you’re migrating a site for the first time or you’re a seasoned professional, this process is perhaps the most frustrating aspect of maintaining a website. As your website grows, you will want to switch from Shared Hosting to VPS hosting to achieve more flexibility and privacy.

With companies trying to simplify the overall migration process, we’re stepping towards the positive side and are lucky enough to get easy migration facilities.

Both Vultr and DigitalOcean cover the subject in detail on their website. For instance, if you want to migrate your WordPress site from shared hosting to Vultr, you will need to consider the following aspects:

  • Database which includes text content and site’s architecture
  • All the files including WP plugins, themes, videos, uploaded pictures and additional data
  • DNS records to point your hosting location

Once you have all of this covered, you can easily migrate your WP site to Vultr through following steps:

  • Backup and download the WP database on the shared host
  • Backup and download the necessary files on the shared host
  • Update your VPS and the WordPress program
  • Rebuild the WordPress database on the VPS
  • Restore your backup files
  • Modify DNS records

And boom, you’re done with the migration.

DigitalOcean, on the other hand, offers live migration which allows the users to minimize disruption and downtime when there’s network or infrastructure maintenance along with events such as hardware failures or software upgrades.

Scalability

Visit any VPS hosting website and they’ll brag about how they’d help you scale your business successfully. Everybody knows that there comes a time where you simply have to switch from a shared to a VPS space. None more so than the hosting providers themselves.

With their indigenous marketing and creative word usage, it’s quite easy to get lured away. It is in your best interest to understand what’s in it for you and your business before you make your move.

The best way to understand a company’s capability of scaling or handling your website successfully is by understanding their plans.

For instance, DigitalOcean has three separate tiers – Standard, General Purpose and CPU Optimized. Each one meant to meet certain needs. Suppose, you’re looking for a plan with 60GB monthly storage capacity as opposed 25GB plan which you’re on currently. You can easily scale up. Not just that, you can even check out other tailor-made options in different tiers such as CPU Optimized plans or General Purposes plan.

Vultr, on the other hand, doesn’t have a tier but 10 diverse plans to help you scale your business. Say, you started with 512MB plan offering 0.5TB bandwidth and now want to upgrade to a 8GB plan offering 4TB of bandwidth, you can easily do that. Hell, if your brands blow to the point of no return, you can even go on and choose from Vultr’s Dedicated Server plans, Block Storage or Dedicated Cloud plans.

Security

Often times, noobs downplay the role of security in hosting. Understand, that if you don’t place an emphasis on security, everything you worked for can vanish within a few seconds.  It’s not just important to pay attention to security, it is also important to understand the intricacies of each detail.

Having Firewall ruleset in place is an important security measure that these companies take to prevent unnecessary exposure of application to the internet.

Both DigitalOcean and Vultr have Cloud Firewalls which secure your data effortlessly. Along with that, they offer 6-layers of security with multi-factor authentication points. These include Physical Security, Infrastructure Security, Access Logging, Security Monitoring, Snapshot, and Backup Security.

It is important to understand that these firewalls cannot protect you from large attacks. Thus, if you want your server to be prevented from getting a null route in case of a large attack, you can go ahead and purchase DDOS protection.

A DDoS system from Vultr routes traffic from the server when it detects an attack. Based upon its automated brilliance, it can detect attacks and successfully filters the traffic while cleaning it before they reach your server.

Customer Support

Most of the users go out and buy the hosting services without ever considering its support.  The problem is that when good times roll, no one thinks about it. But if anything goes wrong, you’d find yourself in a crevasse, alienated with you and your problem. Lack of support is real and especially at the time when you need it the most can be a make or break factor for your business.

DigitalOcean offers three-tier support – Developer, Business and Premier. With its developer support, you get technical assistance free of cost. With its business support, you can get assistance related to scaling along with technical guidance. In terms of premier support, you can get instant response and communication from the service provider.

Vultr, on the other hand, does not have any contact information on its website. However, they do have a forum where you can post your queries. Now, this is a major turn off against DigitalOcean which is providing customer service in three levels.

Plans and Pricing

Similar to DigitalOcean vs. Linode, we’ll be dividing our plans into three categories. Pricing and plans as we learned previously can be a deal-breaker for any user. Every dollar counts in the long run and you ought to consider everything you’re getting in return for a single dollar you pay. The best way to know which hosting has the best plans lets divide them into – Entry-Level, Intermediate, and Premium Plans.

Entry-Level Plan

Entry-level plans can start from anywhere between $2-8 based upon the hosting companies. These plans are designed to get a newbie to establish his business online and once it starts growing, he can scale upwards.

Vultr: Vultr Entry-Level Plan offers an SSD Storage of 10GB with 1 Core CPU, 512 MB memory and a bandwidth of 0.50TB at just $2.50/month or $0.004/hour.

DigitalOcean: DigitalOcean’s Entry-level plan offers an SSD Storage of 25GB with 1 Core CPU, 1GB memory with 1TB transfer capabilities at just $5/month.

Intermediate Plan

As for the intermediate plan, we can consider that we’ll need 160 GB SSD space for a month that can easily cater to an audience of 100,000-200,000 per month.

Vultr: With Vultr, we have two plans which classify as intermediate plans. Based on your requirements, you can easily choose between the two. You can choose an SSD Storage of 80GB with 2 Core CPUs, 4GB of memory and a bandwidth of 3TB at just $20/month or you can choose an SSD Storage of 160GB with 4 Core CPUs, 8GB memory and a bandwidth of 4TB at just $40/month.

DigitalOcean: With DigitalOcean, you get similar value as their 4GB and 8GB plan offers the same features except for the transfer capabilities which varies by 1TB. DigitalOcean’s 4GB plan offers an SSD Storage of 80GB with 2 Core CPUs, 4GB memory and a bandwidth of 4TB at just $20/month whereas its 8GB plan offers SSD storage of 160GB with 4 Core CPUs, 8GB memory and bandwidth of 5TB at just $40/month.

Premium Plan

A premium plan is a flagship offering from both these brands. If you’re attracting traffic in excess of one million hits per month, you should absolutely move forward with a premium plan. For this plan, we’ll be considering two best offerings from these hosting providers.

Vultr: Vultr’s Premium plan offers 1.2TB of storage capacity with 16 Core CPUs, 64GB memory and a bandwidth of 10TB at $320/month. If you feel that’s not enough, you can also choose 1.6TB storage capacity plan with 24 Core CPUs, 96GB memory and bandwidth of 15TB at $640/month.

DigitalOcean: DigitalOcean’s premium plan comprises of the 128GB plan which offers 24 Core CPUs with 2.56TB SSD storage capacity and 11 TB of transfer capabilities at $640/month. If you’re not down with that, you can opt for its 192GB plan that offers 32 Core CPUs with 3.84TB SSD storage capacity and 12TB of transfer capabilities at $960/month.

Vultr vs. DigitalOcean: Final Verdict

It’s not a close competition as I thought it’d be. I’m a fan of DigitalOcean’s overall offerings and the same can be said about Vultr.

Having said that, if you still want to choose between Vultr or DigitalOcean, here’s my verdict:

If you’ve read through the competition above, you’d see Vultr outplaying DigitalOcean on numerous aspects. However, when it comes to Vultr vs DigitalOcean, I’d pick DigitalOcean all day long because of its edge in customer service.

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