Being a web developer with clear lamp preference, I believe it was a trivial task for ad servers to target digitalocean.com ads at me. Those ads are just all over the net. In my gmail, on my basecamp account, my facebook wall… If I had a display on my fridge, I guess the ad would have been there, too.
Clearly, I think that $13.99 for .com domain and $107.88 for year worth of shared hosting account is, well, a bit more than I used to pay for the same thing couple of years ago. And yes, with so many new (software) platforms and tools to play with, it’s quite cool to have a VPS of my own.
I’ve tried partnering a colleague with a server, but I shortly found out that our expectations from a VPS were a bit different. I mean – besides all the cool stuff I could try on such VPS, I still believe that hosting this blog (with all the uptime in the world) shouldn’t be at risk.
That’s when the ads mentioned above started tickling my imagination. Imagine that! 512MB RAM 20GB SSD VPS for $5/month! First of all, I wanted to know if it’s just another fraud that just tries to steal your cc or whatever. I thought that result from http://www.scamadviser.com/is-digitalocean.com-safe.html was good enough to give it a try.
Now, let’s be honest – regardless of all the fun you might have playing with a VPS, it is by no means a toy. Running your own (production) server means a lot of responsibility in terms of linux administration, software configuration, server hardening, user and permissions management and what not.
And, to my surprise, digitalocean provided a lot of support for all common things you need to do! Just go to https://www.digitalocean.com/community, and you’ll find everything you need, whether you are aware of the fact that you do need it or not. Not quite a comfort you get from a control panel tools such as Simple Scripts, but it’s kinda even better, as you actually get to understand and do whatever a one click installer would do for you.
I’ve decided to go for a free trial, and I was not really surprised to find that resources were limited, but I still do qualify for a free trial if I let them charge my CC for $1.35 that would get refunded in a couple of days.
I’ve chosen Ubuntu 12.04 LTS server, and in less than a minute, it was up and running with a static IP address and me logged in as root.
I quickly found an article on disabling ssh logins without a key and creating a sudoer account before disabling remote root logins.
I’ve quickly learned that scaling a server up is as easy as creating a snapshot, and just spinning it on a larger instance.
Also, it’s possible to avoid being charged by creating a server snapshot and deleting a server. You can always create a new one from a snapshot, and you are only charged when there is an active server. It’s important to understand that an active server can be turned off, and you still get billed for the allocated resources.
It’s worth mentioning that you must power of the server in order to do a backup or snapshot.
So, I’ve created my machine, expecting to get notified when my free trial is over in order to make a statement if I want to keep the machine or not. Well, that didn’t happen.
I’ve never received a return of $1.35, but several days later I found my account balance at $0.08. I’ve contacted the support with a high priority checked, and same day I’ve received the clarification that my CC will be charged each first of month automatically as long as I have active servers.
After looking at pricing again, I have learned that there is an hourly rate which I’m charged until the top ($5 for the starter plan) is reached. Fair enough.
So, I’ve decided to also try deleting a server, to make sure that I’m not charged. I’ve noticed that I was charged a bit less for the day when I did that, compared to the day before when the server was active all day, and my balance is still ever since.
I was delighted by the fact that 1.2GB tgz file took about 10 minutes to transfer from my shared host over scp.
So, until I find some spare time to setup this server, I’m at least confident that my snapshot is safe somewhere in slow storage, waiting to spin up on my VPS SSD!
So far – well done digitalocean!