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DigitalOcean vs Linode: How they stack up against each other

Updated: July 9, 2021

This article is a detailed comparison between DigitalOcean and Linode. Both are cloud hosting providers, however, there are many differences between them. Let’s find out how they stack up against each other.

Comparison Table

DigitalOcean Linode
Cloud Infrastructure yes yes
Unmanaged VPS Hosting yes yes
Virtualization KVM KVM and Xen
CPUs Intel and AMD Intel and AMD
Memory dedicated ECC dedicated ECC
Cloud GPUs not available available
Hard Drive SSD SSD and HDD
NVMe SSD Option available not available
RAID Setup hardware RAID 10 hardware RAID 10
Control Panel DigitalOcean Control Panel, custom built Linode Manager, custom built
Scalability plan upgrades and DigitalOcean Fast-Resize instant scaling plan upgrades and Linode Extras instant scaling
Backup Options automatic backups and snapshots automatic backups and disk cloning
Distributions Offered Arch Linux, CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu, CoreOS; Ubuntu desktop and Fedora desktop Arch Linux, CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Gento, openSUSE, Slackware and Ubuntu
One-Click Installations LAMP, WordPress, Ruby on Rails, Docker, Redmine and Ghost StackScripts
DNS Service available available
Console Access HTML5, commands and GUI Ajax, commands only
Developer API available available
Private Networking available available
IPv6 available available
Data Centers and Network Facilities San Francisco (Telx), New York City (NY1 at Equinix), New York City (NY2 at Telx), Amsterdam (Telecity), Singapore, Dallas, Brazil and India Fremont (Hurricane Electric), Dallas (SoftLayer), Newark (NAC), Atlanta (Atlanta NAP), Tokyo (KDDI) and London (Telecity)
SLA 99.99% uptime 99.9% uptime
Ticket System 24×7 24×7
IRC Chat available available
Forums DigitalOcean Questions Forum Linode Forum
Document Library DigitalOcean Articles and Tutorials Linode Library
Customer Feedback System DigitalOcean on UserVoice N/A
Company Blog yes yes
System Status Website yes yes
Least Expensive Plan $5 per month $5 per month
For $5 per month 1GB RAM, 25GB, 1TB monthly outbound, 1 CPU core 1GB RAM, 25GB, 1TB monthly outbound, 1 CPU core
For $10 per month 2GB RAM, 50GB SSD, 2TB monthly outbound, 1 CPU core 2GB RAM, 50GB SSD, 2TB monthly outbound, 1 CPU core
For $20 per month 4GB RAM, 80GB SSD, 4TB monthly outbound, 2 CPU cores 4GB RAM, 80GB SSD, 4TB monthly outbound, 2 CPU cores
Free Inbound Transfer yes yes
Cost of Additional Transfer $0.02 per GB $0.1 per GB
Cost of Backup Options 20% of monthly plan cost, $1 for 512MB plan ($5 per month), $2 for 1GB plan ($10 per month) andn $4 for 2GB plan ($20 per month) 25% of monthly plan cost and $5 for 1GB plan ($20 per month)
Promo Code and Discount $100 hosting credit for 60 days $100 hosting credit for 60 days
Billing Per hour billing up to the monthly cap. Pay-As-You-Grow and no contract. Per hour billing up to the monthly cap. Also 12-month and 24-month terms. Prorated. All refunds are subject to a $5.00 service charge unless cancelling within the 7 day money-back guarantee period.
Payment Methods Credit Cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover) and Paypal Credit Cards only (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover)
Launched 2011 2003
Headquarters New York City, NY Galloway, NJ
Financing funded by venture capital privately-held
Legal Structure Inc. LLC

Virtualization

Let’s have a look at the virtualization technologies used by DigitalOcean and Linode.

DigitalOcean uses KVM as the hypervisor for all of its virtual private servers. Short for Kernel-based Virtual Machine, KVM is a virtualization module that allows the Linux kernel to work as a hypervisor. KVM is an open-source project backed by Red Hat, a large corporation in the industry. The original development team of KVM was acquired by Red Hat. Currently, KVM is being developed by the Linux Kernel community.

Linode used to use Xen as its virtualization solution. Therefore, a lot of existing users of Linode are still on Xen-based virtual machines. Xen has been around a lot longer than KVM. When Linode was established almost 2 decades ago, Xen was available but KVM wasn’t. Xen was originally developed by the Computer Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. The Xen Project was later acquired by Citrix Systems. It is still being developed and maintained by Linux Foundation. In recent years, Linode started using KVM exclusively on its new Linux servers.

KVM and Xen provide similar features and benefits for most users although some people prefer the newer and faster KVM.

Both KVM and Xen are better than the OpenVZ solution on Linux in terms of guarantee of resources and user control at the kernel level. OpenVZ hosts are typically oversold by small low-end VPS providers. With KVM or Xen, users can install a custom kernel, encrypt the filesystem and do a lot of other useful things that cannot be done with OpenVZ virtual machines.

CPU Choices

DigitalOcean allows you to choose either an Intel CPU or an AMD CPU if you create your VPS instance with NVMe SSD as the storage option. For DigitalOcean’s regular SSD plans, the default setup comes with an Intel CPU.

Linode doesn’t allow you to choose a specific type of CPU when you create your VPS instance. If Linode’s system puts you on a server with an AMD CPU but you prefer one with an Intel processor, you have to raise a ticket with the support team. It’s likely that they will move you to a server of your choice. However, the availability of a specific CPU is unknown to you until you consult Linode’s support team.

NVMe SSD Options

NVMe SSDs are now very popular and they can take advantage of parallelism to deliver a much higher performance than regular SSDs.

DigitalOcean offers NVMe SSD as a faster storage option. VPS Hosting plans with the NVMe option cost just 20% more than the regular ones. Additionally, CUPs are upgraded to the newer and better models if the NVMe SSD option is selected. The combination of a faster NVMe SSD and a newer CPU will definitely provide a significant performance boost.

Unfortunately, Linode doesn’t offer NVMe SSD as a storage option at this time.

Performance

This is what we previously wrote about server performance in this comparison article before Linode upgraded its hosting plans:

DigitalOcean has the much faster SSD drives. Our I/O performance tests indicated that DigitalOcean’s SSD drives are at least 3 times faster than Linode’s spinning metal hard disk drives. Even Linode’s management admitted in one of its official blog posts that “there’s no question SSDs are in Linode’s future”.

This is an update: Linode offers SSD hosting plans now. Competition among VPS cloud hosting companies improves the products and services they offer. Users of VPS hosting will definitely benefit from it.

For basic VPS instances with regular SSDs and the same size of RAM, the overall performance difference between DigitalOcean and Linode is negligible. DigitalOcean’s VPS instances with the upgraded NVMe drives deliver significantly better I/O performance than Linode’s regular setups.

Control Panels

The control panels of both DigitalOcean and Linode are feature-rich, intuitive and newbie-friendly. Both of them should satisfy most users.

DigitalOcean’s control panel takes advantage of the latest HTML5 features to achieve a modern looking.

Linode’s control panel looks old-fashion but it is functional.

Scalability

When it comes to instant scalability, it is extremely easy to scale up VPS instances with DigitalOcean’s “Fast-Resize” function. If you want to upgrade your VPS, you can resize it from the control panel. You don’t even need to raise a support ticket to get that accomplished. All you have to do is shut down your VPS instance, select a configuration upgrade and do a power cycle afterwards.

Upgrading a VPS on Linode is not difficult, either. Linode’s “Extra” function is very similar to DigitalOcean’s “Fast-Resize” and works really well.

However, there are some differences between the two VPS hosts. Linode charges much more than DigitalOcean does for the same size of RAM upgrade. Also, DigitalOcean allows you to pay for system resources by the hour and Linode doesn’t offer that option at all.

Backup Options

Now, let’s take a look at the backup options on both VPS providers.

DigitalOcean offers two types of backup solutions. The automatic backup function allows you to set up a backup schedule. Additionally, DigitalOcean has the snapshot function built-in on its control panel. This function allows you to take a snapshot of your VPS manually.

Linode also has the automatic backup function. What’s missing from Linode is the snapshot feature on its control panel, also known as Linode Manager. Linode gives you an option to manually clone your disk which is essentially the same as taking a snapshot. However, that’s achieved at the expense of your own disk space on the VPS.

Cloud GPUs

This is an area where Linode wins.

Linode offers GPU compute for artificial intelligence, scientific computing and video processing. GPU-optimized VPS instances are equipped with NVidia RTX 6000. The main benefit is obvious. High-end video cards are expensive. Cloud GPUs allow users to pay for the use of the video hardware without actually owning it.

DigitalOcean does not have a similar offer yet, however, this is a special feature that only a small percentage of users can take advantage of.

Prices

This is what we wrote previously in this comparison article before Linode upgraded its hosting plans:

The most significant difference between DigitalOcean and Linode is the cost. The least expensive plan from DigitalOcean is $5 per month and that is not available from Linode. Plans of lower costs are very attractive to those who have tight budgets or just need an entry-level but reliable VPS cloud platform for their hosting needs. For developers who need a linux server for development or testing but do not require 1GB of VPS memory, Linode’s $10 plan is probably too much for that purpose and DigitalOcean’s cheaper plans are the perfect alternatives.

And for the same monthly payment amount of $20, DigitalOcean offers two times the memory, much faster SSD disks, more included monthly transfer, and cheaper additional transfer than Linode. Per hour billing is only available from DigitalOcean, and it’s welcomed by those who need to occasionally spin up a new server on a new IP address for some temporary tests.

This is an update: The price plans from DigitalOcean and Linode are now quite similar. Linode seems to have learned a lot of things from DigitalOcean.

The least expensive plan from either DigitalOcean or Linode is $5 per month for 1GB of RAM, 25GB of SDD space and 1000GB of outbound transfer.

DigitalOcean’s NVMe SSD plans are 20% more expensive than the regular SSD plans. Linode doesn’t have any NVMe SSD plan available as of this writing.

Payment Methods

Last but not least, DigitalOcean and Linode have different policies when it comes to payment methods.

DigitalOcean accepts PayPal as well as all major credit cards as payment methods. If you have no credit card or prefer not to use credit cards online, you can just use PayPal to pay for your DigitalOcean VPS.

While Linode accepts PayPal as a payment method, you still have to use a valid credit or debit card to sign up for your Linode account.

Linode’s system was hacked twice in the past. Those who do not have credit cards or are reluctant to use credit cards online will more likely become DigitalOcean’s customers if they have to choose between DigitalOcean and Linode.

Promo Codes

DigitalOcean is offering each customer a $100 hosting credit upon sign-up. The hosting credit is valid for 60 days. This is a limited-time promotional offer. Click here to get this deal.

Linode is offering the same amount of hosting credit as well. You can click here for more information about the hosting credit it offers.

Conclusion

Overall, both DigitalOcean and Linode are reputable cloud VPS hosting providers offering top quality hardware, tier-1 bandwidth, great performance, excellent reliability, high scalability, wide selection of data center locations, plenty of helpful documents and superb technical support.

Here is a bit of history about DigitalOcean and Linode for those who are new to VPS hosting.

Linode, once the gold standard for unmanaged VPS, was founded much earlier than DigitalOcean. However, DigitalOcean has always been one-step ahead of Linode with better specifications, features and prices since the company joined the VPS competition.

DigitalOcean has been using KVM as the virtualization technology since its inception. Linode used to use Xen and then it gradually switched to KVM for its new servers. There should be no difference in virtualization between the two hosts now as both are on KVM.

DigitalOcean has been using SSDs since it started offering cloud hosting to users 8 years ago. Linode was still using HDDs when DigitalOcean was established and it slowly switched to an all SSD setup.

We still remember the days when Linode charged $20 per month for a VPS with 1GB of RAM. Then DigitalOcean joined the competition and its price was $10 per month for the same configuration and additionally the much faster SSDs. Linode had to lower its prices to match DigitalOcean’s offers. For a basic VPS, the prices from both hosts are similar now.

DigitalOcean accepts PayPal as a payment method. Linode didn’t accept PayPal initially. You are now allowed to use PayPal to pay for your Linode VPS but you are still required to provide Linode with your credit/debit card information when you sign up.

Now, DigitalOcean offers NVMe SSD drives as an option for users who need even better I/O performance and Linode doesn’t have that option ready for its users yet.

If you require cloud GPUs to do your AI or video processing work, Linode has the right kind of virtual machines for you.

For most users who need a reliable cloud VPS with the latest NVMe SSD technology and more flexible payment methods, DigitalOcean is the better cloud hosting provider.