DigitalOcean vs AWS EC2: 8 Factors to Decide Who’s the Winner?

digital ocean vs AWS EC2

In this post, I ma going to look into DigitalOcean vs AWS EC2 in-depth.

DigitalOcean vs AWS fight is not new. Both are perfect for different kinds of application requirements and budget. Both Digital Ocean and AWS are cloud service platforms that offer database storage, computer power among other functionalities.

To be honest, this isn’t a face-off since DigitalOcean and AWS address the needs of different audiences.

So, we are going to help you solve the following questions:

  • Which service should I use if I am completely new to Linux Server Management?
  • Which one is the best for Magento cloud hosting: DigitalOcean or Amazon EC2?
  • In DigitalOcean vs AWS EC2, which is better for autoscaling?

Before we jump onto to decide which one is ‘superior’, the need is to analyze the requirements of your project. 

How to Analyze the Needs of Your Business?

First, you have to understand what type of business you have. You can do this by analyzing the following:

  • Size of Business: Are you a startup or a big venture?
  • Type of Application: Is it a static website or your application’s critical server?
  • Traffic Estimation: What is the range of traffic you see on average?

Rate of Growth

Here’s the popularity of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (red) vs DigitalOcean (blue) in the past 5 years.

From Google Trends, it is clear that DigitalOcean is steadily growing while AWS has maintained its popularity constantly.

Must Read: AWS vs ServerGuy Cloud vs Hybrid Solution: What to Choose When?

What is DigitalOcean?

DigitalOcean provides cloud services with simple application set-up and affordable pricing.

It is the third-largest cloud hosting company in the World. DigitalOcean provides developer-friendly platform and allows them to perform the various tasks with much faster speed.

Pros of DigitalOcean:

Here are few pros of DigitalOcean:

  • Can create multiple server instances from one account
  • The superb performance of servers
  • Easy to set-up
  • Support all popular operating system
  • Fantastic tools for the tech-friendly people
  • What you use is what you pay
  • Clear and Clean management interface
  • Scalable and affordable pricing
  • Provide resources such as documentation and tutorials

Cons of DigitalOcean

Here are some cons of DigitalOcean:

  • Not able to install the system by yourself
  • SSH host keys are not highly secure
  • Use of local storage in RAID instead of SAN
  • DO covers smaller region in comparison of AWS
  • No cloud computing instances for GPUs
  • Still, there are some bugs and errors

What is AWS?

Amazon Web Services or AWS is a platform by Amazon, which offers cloud computing solutions.

There are multiple cloud computing services that come under AWS. It is a flexible, reliable, easy-to-use, secure, scalable, and affordable cloud solution.

Pros of AWS EC2:

Here are few features of AWS:

  • AWS lets you increase or decrease the storage as per the requirements
  • Options to choose the operating system, programming language
  • Wide service belt
  • Multiple partners and a robust ecosystem
  • Low latency and reliable network connectivity
  • Excellent DevOps support
  • Tools for AWS Migration

Cons of AWS EC2:

Here are some cons of AWS:

  • Not easy for start-ups and tech-noobies
  • Hidden costs if not managed properly
  • Not much friendly for Hybrid-cloud
  • Not easy to launch multiple app instances
  • Priority support is expensive

DigitalOcean VS AWS EC2

On the basis of the following categories, you can find the best fit for your project.

  1. Range of Services
  2. Set up
  3. Time value
  4. Pricing
  5. Complexity
  6. Support
  7. Compatibility With Windows OS
  8. Advanced Operations

Difference between DigitalOcean and AWS EC2

FeaturesDigitalOceanAWS EC2
Range of ServicesStandard VPS ServersMultiple Products
Set upSimple UIComplex UI
Time valueQuick SetupDepends on the task
PricingStarts from $5 per monthStarts from $14 per month
ComplexityBit difficult for beginnersComplicated and may need AWS experts
SupportResources, and communitiesGood support by the team
Compatibility With Windows OSNoYes
Advanced OperationsIAAS – You have to manage everythingPAAS – Application handles a lot

1. Range of Services

DigitalOcean sells standard VPS servers with very flexible provisioning and billing. The majority of the audience is developers who want to deploy ‘servers’ and applications to test it out.

DO focuses on selling cheap compute droplets, which is one of AWS’s many products.

Since AWS has the ‘everything for everyone’ approach, it sells multiple products in multiple categories. You can choose various products ranging from storage, networking, to database and compute.

2. Set up

Both are easy to set up. They are straightforward.

AWS and DigitalOcean have an API that you can configure to add/launch/destroy/delete your projects. But DigitalOcean has a nicer UI for launching droplets.

digitalocean vs aws - aws panel

With DO’s user interface, it doesn’t seem like you are sitting in Boeing 777 cockpit. No extra buttons, levers, or knobs. Just a couple of clicks and you are good to deploy your first server.

digitalocean vs aws -DO control panel

So, a plus 1 to DO.

3. Time Value

Here, it depends on the type of project you are working on.

For instance, if you are a developer looking for a MySQL instance, you should spin up a DigitalOcean droplet and setup MySQL yourself.

Whereas if you are a senior DevOps professional working for an enterprise, you don’t have time to invest in Operating Systems, patches, and updates. So an obvious choice is Amazon RDS.

4. Pricing

DigitalOcean wins with both eyes closed in the pricing structure point. They have simplified pricing by bulking it all together. They charge $5/month..less than a cup of coffee!

It is not only the most affordable but also has a transparent structure. With no complex calculator to guess your usage, it is definitely the best choice for startups. You have the choice of hourly and monthly payments. All droplets are billed hourly.

5. Complexity

Both Amazon’s Instance and DigitalOcean’s Droplets could be hard to manage if you are totally new to the IT world. But if you know the basics, you might not have a hard time managing both DO droplets or AWS EC2 although other AWS offerings like Lambda, ELB, VPC, etc are a bit complex.

6. Support

The support system provided by DigitalOcean is far more superior to Amazon when you are new to the cloud. However, if you are an advanced user, DigitalOcean and Amazon’s services are almost on the same plane.

Amazon’s process is a bit mechanical which is fine considering their platform and scale. DigitalOcean has a huge community of developers and users. There are tutorials, how-to guides, and everything you need answers to or talk to our cloud experts for the managed digital ocean.

7. Compatibility With Windows OS

If you are using the Microsoft Windows operating system, then DigitalOcean isn’t an optimum choice. You can deploy servers using predefined Linux installation only.

However, Amazon EC2 is compatible with any OS. So, a plus to EC2 in DigitalOcean vs AWS match! 

You May Also Like: Apache Vs NGINX – Which Is The Best Web Server for You?

8. Advanced Operations

Basically, DigitalOcean is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), where you have to manage almost everything (like security, operating system, databases, and more).

Whereas, AWS offers managed services (Platform as a Service or PaaS), which manages everything on its own except applications.

aws vs digitalocean

Conclusion

However, the DigitalOcean vs AWS fight cannot be justified.

The former is targeting a small market of developers who need a small high-performance instance. Whereas, Amazon is massive with its ‘everyone-approach’.

Interestingly, Amazon is still facing tough competition from a startup when it comes to user experience, and performance.

Facing problems in managing your Instance or Droplets?

Feel free to contact us 🙂

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17 thoughts on “DigitalOcean vs AWS EC2: 8 Factors to Decide Who’s the Winner?”

  1. AWS is over-hyped and too expensive unless you run a large enough operation that is already very revenue positive to justify the costs.

    DigitalOcean are smaller, offer less bells and whistles but are focusing on the most basic and most important modules that are needed to run a web app, and pricing is not cheap but still price/performance ratio beats AWS easily.

    Like I said, nothing wrong with both, but I think AWS is a bit over-hyped, same like some people swear by average products only because they come from a famous brand.

    1. I sort of disagree.

      AWS EC2 t2 standard can cost you $8.4 monthly
      Digital Ocean will cost you $5 monthly

      most of time it is more expansive.

      But EC2 is on demand, if you switch to reserve, monthly fee will be less than $5.

      If you turn it off, AWS will not charge you.

      if you switch to AWS lambda, if you do not have a high traffic, it can be cheaper like 1~2 dollars.

      So my opinion is like
      if you have less traffic, Lambda is a good option,
      if you have to keep it 24 hours online, EC2 reserve is an good option,
      if you have a big amount of traffic but still can be handled in 1G memory, go to digital ocean.

  2. Yes, Server setup and with apps or without apps, digital ocean is really easy to scale hardware and Load balancer at a single click at a lower price.

  3. Hey There. I found your blog using search. That is a well crafted
    really
    article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and get back
    to read more of your
    useful information. Thanks for the post. I’m going to be back :
    )

  4. AWS makes the head spin. I’m wondering if I can keep DigitalOcean as the base on-the-cloud server and on that use AWS’s always-free services offerings.

  5. Really we love to go with Digital ocean as its more cost effective, scalable and easy to understand.

  6. Thanks for writing this awesome article. It seems like a very detailed and a very comprehensive comparioson of AWS and DO. I really liked reading the stuff. I do consider AWS as an amazing cloud host. Perhaps the best host available in the industry. But, It is a bit difficult to manage the AWS host all by yourself.
    However, you can also opt for the managed amazon website hosting which is powered by cloudways.com/en/amazon-cloud-hosting.php as it takes away all the pain of managing the server and letting you the hassle-free experience of hosting.

  7. My biggest issue with AWS is that you have to learn the AWS way. Digital Ocean is very intuitive if you know your way around an OS. Digital Ocean gets my vote.

    1. Totall agre Jonathan. As stated before if using lambdas might incurr in less cost. but you must know aws possiblities and cost structure to tweak your architecture. in DO there aren’t that many ways, it is less likely to have an unexpected spike in the cost.

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