It’s probably not a hot debate, but among popular cloud hosting providers Digital Ocean, Vultr, and Linode, what you get for your dollar really varies.

I’ve taken three popular cloud hosting providers (based upon my opinions and experience) and compared them to determine which service I might utilize for standard cloud VM deployment.

Not only do the immediate offerings matter (such as resources and prices) but datacenter location and flexibility of working within a provider’s environment is also extremely important.

Part One: Plans/Packages

Digital Ocean:

With Digital Ocean, $5/month will get you 1 CPU core, 512MB of RAM, 20GB SSD volume, and 1TB of data transfer.


With Vultr, $5/month will get you 1 CPU core, 768MB of RAM, 15GB SSD volume, and 1TB of data transfer.


Linode won’t even rent you a VM for $5/month. Their base package is $10/month, but with this you get 1 CPU core, 2048MB (2GB) RAM, 24GB SSD volume, and 2TB data transfer.

Part Two: Operating System / Image Selection

Digital Ocean: 

With Digital Ocean packages, you’re allowed a variety of flavors of Linux. Rather than offering only the latest versions, Digital Ocean maintains a history of older images for you to provision.

An added feature that Digital Ocean has is One-click app deployment. They offer many popular services, packages, and complete environemnts that would commonly be deployed on a VM with the ease of one-click deployment.


UPDATE: MARCH 2017 Vultr Holdings has increased the base RAM for all of their packages, starting at 1025mb / 1CPU for $5 per month. Now available is a $2.50/month plan with 1 core and 512mb RAM. This still has 20GB SSD and 500GB Transfer.

I like Vultr. Vultr is pretty flexible in this realm. We can deploy your favorite (of the most common) flavors of linux, with the added bonus of offering Windows Server 2012 R2 VMs + $16/mo for licensing.

This means you can be paying as little as $21/mo for a Windows Server VM.

Additionally, Vultr also offers one-click application deployments. The offerings are similar to those of Digital Ocean, with the added bonus of being able to deploy cPanel on CentOS 6 for an extra $15 a month. This is a great deal for the licensing and cPanel.

There’s one more awesome feature Vultr offers! It appears to be EXCLUSIVE:

Custom ISO images. ISOs can be used to install a custom OS, or boot your own recovery system. Yes, you can upload your Windows ISO images and use your evaluations or your own licenses in the cloud. (I think that’s, legally, okay… I hope… but it’s definitely possible). You can also deploy your own linux distro if that’s what you’re in to.

  • UP TO 6216MB per ISO.
  • For windows you must slipstream the VirtIO drivers into the installation CD.


Linode makes you deploy the VM before you’re allowed to configure any of the options such as OS. Their list is comparable to the latter; albeit presented rather distastefully.

I’m sure somewhere nested inside Linode’s, forgive me, outdated portal… there’s some other options for deploying VMs. I won’t bet it’s amazing, though. Please let me know if otherwise.

Part Three: Flexibility with Geo Location:

Digital Ocean:

Digital Ocean offers a respectable variety of Datacenter locations:

Here we are missing flexibility within the regions. In my case, Americans can only utilize east-coast or west-coast datacenters. I would hope there would be more inter-country diversity between datacenter locations. (What about Central America??)


I was happy to see what Vultr offers in this regard. Vultr knows how to diversify their datacenter locations.

I am pleased to see not only coastal locations but multiple central-american locations. Chicago is a wonderful asset for Vultr to offer, in my opinion, as a Chicago-area resident.


Okay, Linode. I know you’re good! You have coastal and midwest / southern American datacenter locations. However the way this is presented is kind of an eye-sore. It doesn’t make you look good.


Part Four: Conclusion

Digital Ocean: Cheap, trade RAM for more SSD storage.

  • Geographically okay. America is limited.
  • OS Selection standard + legacy versions.
  • No Windows VMs
  • Plethora of One-Click apps to deploy
  • Portal is pretty.

Vultr: Cheap, trade SSD storage for more RAM.

  • Geographically diverse
  • OS Selection best! You can load any ISO onto a Vultr VM. They also offer Windows VMs.
  • Good selection of one-click apps to deploy, including cPanel.
  • Portal is pretty.

Linode: Slightly more $, tons of RAM,

  • Geographically diverse
  • OS Selection standard
  • No Windows VMs
  • Portal could use a re-design.

I ended up concluding that for my needs, a Vultr Cloud Environment would be the most beneficial.

  • The flexibility of choosing any ISO to install is amazing
  • The $5 package offers more RAM than Digital Ocean, which is important to me.
  • The Chicago datacenter really sold me, because I prefer low-latency connections to my servers… and Chicago is my region.
  • The portal is easy to use


This article is not a complete comparison between the three cloud hosting providers. This is a high-level comparison of what features they offer, how their packages are priced, how available their datacenter are, and how pleasant or not your experience might be.


C O (@tsoft) · July 1, 2018 at 9:34 am

How about a 2018 update. Linode offers a $5/mo option these days. (not that I’m tied to them) If you’re going to post something then at least keep it current. Why would I choose Vultr over linode? Please expand. They ALL get hacked. Which is the best at preventing that? Because that’s all that really matters these days.

Shahroze Nawaz · November 24, 2017 at 8:47 am

Well! you did alot of research and put the numbers together. One thing I would like to mention here you can also test Cloudways for launching servers on Linode, Vultr and DigitalOcean. Cloudways can launch the complete Lamp stack with few clicks.

spirit1111 · March 18, 2017 at 8:18 pm

Thank you.

This Virtual Private Server for $2.50 per month is too good to ignore. – Tyler N. Woods · March 16, 2017 at 5:21 pm

[…] Earlier this year I wrote an article comparing three major cloud hosting providers. […]

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