A few months ago, I switched from my old shared hosting provider to DigitalOcean.
My site doubled in speed. Instantly. Without any other changes or optimizations to my site. My start render time is now 3 seconds on an EDGE network. That’s insane. And my hosting is cheaper than I was paying before, too!
Curious? Here’s how I made the switch.
The setup #
DigitalOcean’s docs are geared to people who are comfortable in command line. I’m not one of those people.
Instead, I use ServerPilot to add a GUI layer and handle all of that under-the-hood stuff for me: setting up an SFTP account, maintaining the software stack, performance and security optimization, one-click installs, etc.
Their free plan is more than sufficient for my needs, but if I wanted to enable SSL, their Coach plan makes it a piece of cake.
I purchased a single Droplet from DigitalOcean, and use ServerPilot to install multiple sites on it.
I initially moved my hosting to DigitalOcean but left my domain at GoDaddy, which meant I only had to switch over my name servers. When my domains were up for renewal, I moved them over to Namecheap. Because they were already pointed at my new DigitalOcean droplet, I had no downtime.
GoDaddy had been providing one of those free email forwarding accounts that I was routing through Gmail. I sprung for a Google Apps account, and am glad I did. So many awesome features!
So to recap:
- 1 DigitalOcean droplet ($5/month)
- ServerPilot’s free account ($0/month)
- Namecheap for domain registration ($10/year)
- Google Apps ($5/month)
Moving your server content #
Moving content from one server to another can be a huge pain. To make it easier I:
- Setup a local copy of my site, running on MAMP.
- Pulled down all of my plugins and media files into the local site using FTP. My local site matched my live site exactly.
- Used WP Sync Database to automatically copy all of my site data to the local site. Single click, and it even switches URLs over so nothing breaks.
- Setup new site on DigitalOcean.
- Used WP Sync Database again to push from my local site to the new live site.
I probably had about 2 hours of downtime while waiting for DNS records to update and moving content over.
What I don’t like about DigitalOcean #
You’re on your own for installing things like phpMyAdmin, which you need to do via command line (though, honestly, I haven’t needed it once since I switched).
Also, every now and then the server gets hung up on a process and I need to restart it (maybe once every month or two). Takes about 2 minutes, but if you’re used to a “everything just works” kind of environment, slightly annoying.
All that said, it’s cheaper than what I was paying before, and so blazingly, insanely fast. Totally worth the tradeoffs.
Get 2 months of DigitalOcean for free #
If you use my DigitalOcean referral code, you get $10 in free credit to use towards a droplet. That’s 2 months free on their entry level plan.