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Amazon EC2 vs DigitalOcean: What are the differences?

# Introduction

1. **Pricing Model**: Amazon EC2 follows a pay-as-you-go pricing model, where users are billed based on the resources used per hour. In contrast, DigitalOcean offers a fixed pricing structure, allowing for predictable monthly costs without the need to calculate hourly usage.

2. **Scalability**: Amazon EC2 provides auto-scaling capabilities, allowing instances to automatically adjust based on demand. On the other hand, DigitalOcean requires manual scaling, where users need to upgrade or downgrade their droplets as needed.

3. **Instance Types**: Amazon EC2 offers a wide variety of instance types tailored for different use cases, including general-purpose, compute-optimized, memory-optimized, etc. Meanwhile, DigitalOcean has a simpler offering with standard, CPU-optimized, and memory-optimized droplets, catering to basic to mid-level requirements.

4. **Data Centers**: Amazon EC2 has a widespread global presence with data centers in multiple regions, enabling users to deploy instances closer to their target audience for reduced latency. In comparison, DigitalOcean has fewer data centers, which may limit options for geo-location specific deployments.

5. **Managed Services**: Amazon EC2 provides access to a wide range of managed services such as RDS, S3, and EBS, allowing users to offload operational tasks to AWS. DigitalOcean, on the other hand, has a limited selection of managed services, requiring users to manage more aspects of their infrastructure themselves.

6. **Community Support**: DigitalOcean has a strong community presence, offering extensive tutorials, guides, and forums to assist users in troubleshooting and optimizing their setup. While Amazon EC2 also has a community, the level of support and resources may vary, with a heavier reliance on official documentation and support channels.

In Summary, Amazon EC2 and DigitalOcean differ in their pricing model, scalability options, instance types, global presence, managed services, and community support.
Decisions about Amazon EC2 and DigitalOcean

Albeit restricted to only a few places worlwide compared to its peers in the cloud segment, I am yet to find another provider capable of delivering a score over 5000 (Geekbench) in a benchmark on a single CPU machine, and each machine costs $6 a month. For homelab and experienced users who don't need DBaaS or IaaC's, it's a pretty straightforward choice. A more comprehensive review of Vultr's HF machines can be found here.

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Tejas Sangoi
Founder, CEO at Thalia Technologies · | 4 upvotes · 41.6K views

Our company builds micro saas applications. Based on the application we decide whether to deploy it over one of our shared servers or on a dedicated server.

We decided to Lightsail over EC2.

  1. Lightsail is a lightweight, simplified product offering that has a dramatically simplified console. The instances run in a special VPC, but this aspect is also provisioned automatically, and invisible in the console.

  2. Lightsail supports optionally peering this hidden VPC with your default VPC in the same AWS region, allowing Lightsail instances to access services like EC2 and RDS in the default VPC within the same AWS account.

  3. Bandwidth is unlimited, but of course free bandwidth is not -- however, Lightsail instances do include a significant monthly bandwidth allowance before any bandwidth-related charges apply.

  4. It has predictable pricing with no surprises at the end.

  5. The flexibility of EC2 leads inevitably to complexity. Whereas for Lighsail there is virtually no learning curve, here. You don't even technically need to know how to use SSH with a private key -- the Lightsail console even has a built-in SSH client -- but there is no requirement that you use it. You can access these instances normally, with a standard SSH client.

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Chose Hetnzer over DigitalOcean and Linode because Hetzner provides much cheaper VPS with much better specs. DigitalOcean might seems like a good choice at first because of how popular it is. But in reality, if all you need is a simple VPS, you won't benefit much from the their oversubscribed datacenters which often underperform other competitors. Linode is also a good choice. They have cheaper options and performs slightly better than DigitalOcean. In the end, choosing a more affordable host helps you save money. That's important when you're running a tight ship.

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Peter Schmalfeldt
Senior Software Engineer · | 3 upvotes · 62.7K views

While Media Temple is more expensive than DigitalOcean, sometimes it is like comparing apples and oranges. DigitalOcean provides what is called Virtual Private Servers ( VPS ). While you seem to be on your own dedicated server, you are, in fact, sharing the same hardware with others.

If you need to be on your own dedicated server, or have other hardware requirements, you do not really have as many options with DigitalOcean. But with Media Temple, the skies the limit ( but so is potentially the cost ).

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Jerome/Zen Quah
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DigitalOcean was where I began; its USD5/month is extremely competitive and the overall experience as highly user-friendly.

However, their offerings were lacking and integrating with other resources I had on AWS was getting more costly (due to transfer costs on AWS). Eventually I moved the entire project off DO's Droplets and onto AWS's EC2.

One may initially find the cost (w/o free tier) and interface of AWS daunting however with good planning you can achieve highly cost-efficient systems with savings plans, spot instances, etcetera.

Do not dive into AWS head-first! Seriously, don't. Stand back and read pricing documentation thoroughly. You can, not to the fault of AWS, easily go way overbudget. Your first action upon getting your AWS account should be to set up billing alarms for estimated and current bill totals.

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Craig Finch
Principal Consultant at Rootwork InfoTech · | 6 upvotes · 187.1K views

We first selected Google Cloud Platform about five years ago, because HIPAA compliance was significantly cheaper and easier on Google compared to AWS. We have stayed with Google Cloud because it provides an excellent command line tool for managing resources, and every resource has a well-designed, well-documented API. SDKs for most of these APIs are available for many popular languages. I have never worked with a cloud platform that's so amenable to automation. Google is also ahead of its competitors in Kubernetes support.

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Stephen Fox
Artificial Intelligence Fellow · | 2 upvotes · 190.2K views

GCE is much more user friendly than EC2, though Amazon has come a very long way since the early days (pre-2010's). This can be seen in how easy it is to edit the storage attached to an instance in GCE: it's under the instance details and is edited inline. In AWS you have to click the instance > click the storage block device (new screen) > click the edit option (new modal) > resize the volume > confirm (new model) then wait a very long time. Google's is nearly instant.

  • In both cases, the instance much be shut down.

There also the preference between "user burden-of-security" and automatic security: AWS goes for the former, GCE the latter.

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Most bioinformatics shops nowadays are hosting on AWS or Azure, since they have HIPAA tiers and offer enterprise SLA contracts. Meanwhile Heroku hasn't historically supported HIPAA. Rackspace and Google Cloud would be other hosting providers we would consider, but we just don't get requests for them. So, we mostly focus on AWS and Azure support.

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