When it comes to choosing a hosting service for a wordpress blog, the usual responses are Bluehost or Siteground. Well, This blog is hosted on Digital Ocean. I chose digital ocean because of its simplicity and speed in setting up a wordpress blog. Also, it was a bit more appealing to me given my programming background. But don’t be fooled. You don’t need any specific tech skills to host a wordpress site on digital ocean.
It is easy.
Droplets – dedicated server
Digital Ocean offers something called as droplets to work with, they are like small virtual computers in the cloud. You have an entire machine for yourself. This does not mean there is a physical machine for you. But rather a virtual machine that is dedicated only to you. No one else is sharing that machine with you.
You are free to create a new droplet and destroy it at your will.
Droplets come in two flavours standard and CPU optimised. For a blog similar to this only needs a standard droplet. CPU optimised droplets help do intensive computational jobs.
Signing up and plans
How much you pay for your hosting depends on how you configure your droplets. The basic droplet with 25 GB of storage and 1 GB ram, 1 vCPU and 1 TB of transfer – which is good when you are starting out – costs just $5 a month. That is really cheap.
And the good part is that you can resize your machine to have more resources like more memory or a greater number of CPUs as your blog grows.
You add credit to your account in a pay as you go fashion, manually topping using your Paypal or a credit card, or you can set up an auto top up whenever the balance falls below a certain amount.
Digital ocean lets you choose your data centre when creating a droplet server
When creating a droplet, you can choose the location nearer to you. This will mean faster loading times for your site. There are a few options to choose from, currently available ones are New York, London, Amsterdam, Singapore, San Francisco, Frankfurt, Toronto and Bangalore.
SSDs for storage
Digital ocean uses SSDs for storage rather than the traditional hard drives which means that, well, simply your site will load faster. If you want the more tech explanation, it is that these things do not have any moving parts so the data storage onto and retrieval from are way faster than an HDD that has magnetic plates. It is like a big memory stick.
Digital ocean account has a multi-level security to login to the account, so you can be at peace that it is not going to be hacked easily.
You can use google authentication that will enable you to login to your digital ocean account using your google credentials.
Two factor authentication
Digital ocean provides two factor authentication which is easy to set up. You can easily set it up using authenticator app like google authenticator or duo mobile. This means in addition to your username and password, you need to enter a randomly generated token to log in. This is an extra layer of added security to access your droplet.
You can set up a free SSL certificate using their integration with Let’s encrypt. Though this is only possible if you are using digital ocean’s DNS servers. Normally when you register your domain name using a registrar (I use Godaddy or Namecheap) the DNS server is usually one of theirs. Which will mean that I have to buy and configure an SSL certificate with the registrar’s DNS servers.
Configuring to use the digital ocean’s DNS servers is easy and you can make use if their free integration with Let’s encrypt.
The admin section
The control panel is easy to use. It is clean and intuitive. You have a side bar for managing your projects and its droplets. You can also access other services like monitoring (CPU, memory usage etc for your droplets) and spaces (for video and audio storage) and access the API documentation. The sidebar also gives you access to your account details such as billing, security, profile etc.
One click install of WordPress
When I set up this blog with digital ocean, it took me under a minute to have a working wordpress blog. Of course, I had to make the design according to my needs after that and configuring the domain name to point to the new server etc. But you have to admit one minute is really fast.
You just have to choose WordPress installation as a one click app installation when creating the droplet and voila! You have a blog.
If you want cPanel like Bluehost, though, you will have to install it manually. Personally I would not, when starting out, I have not come across an occasion where I have to use something like that yet.
Back-ups for an additional $1 dollar
You can also enable back-ups for this new server with only an additional fee of $1. Which is super cheap. You don’t have to worry about your data being lost etc. This back up is the back up of your entire server, not your WordPress installation. So if anything goes wrong with the server itself, you can always revert back to a previous healthy version.
Back-ups are created at regular intervals. They also offer snapshots with are manually created backups with a click. This is handy because if you are going to do a risky wordpress upgrade or changing the design of the blog radically, you have the option to back it up. This will allow to revert back if anything goes wrong.
Digital ocean offers features like floating IPs. In case one droplet ceases to respond, a floating IP can be used to be assigned to another healthy droplet. In the beginning you don’t need it, but in case if you become an overnight success this will ensure high availability of your service to your customers.
They offer a brilliant 99.99% uptime guarantee. And will compensate you for any down time you may experience
Digital ocean is great overall, if you end up choosing it let me know how it goes.