DigitalOcean for WordPress Hosting & Staging



My father grew up tinkering with cars and I grew up tinkering with servers.

Back in the day, I was a computer salesman at Circuit City. Small Office/Home Office was the name of the department – team SOHO. Funny, as if people were only buying PC’s and technology for office work! A customer came in one day looking for the cheapest computer he could buy as he rummaged through the open box specials. I sold him a $250 NEC tower 450mhz Pentium II w/ 512mb of RAM. Today’s smartphone is 25x more powerful (yet oddly enough still lags.)

I asked him what he was going to do with this rig and he replied, “I’m going to install Linux.” What’s this Linux you speak of? I started researching.

Long story short, I bought my own version of Mandriva right off the shelf (Yes, software came in boxes once) and I was hooked ever since. I went to school for network management and then held a job at a local ISP for 7 years integrating Linux and server solutions.

Enter DigitalOcean

Get $10 in DigitalOcean Credit — that’s 2 months free! (aff. links help support this podcast)

I remember the day I read about DigitalOcean and their $5/mo VPS plan. “Ha! 5 bucks?! What a bunch of suckers, this will never last!” I mean really, $5 for SSD VPS with 20GB of storage and 512 of RAM?! How could they sustain?

That was June of 2013, I signed up and I’ve been a customer ever since.

My early concerns were squashed fairly quickly. I expected lots of downtime and slow load. I also expected a turbulent user experience in the dashboard. Neither happened. I think I remember 2 service disruptions since signing up and neither of them left me down for more than an hour.

DigitalOcean for your WordPress staging

Everyone has a different take on development & staging environments. My friend Jason likes to match his dev environments exactly with what the customer uses in production. Then there’s services like WP Stagecoach and DesktopServer which is fairly popular.

For me, I just want to have something in the cloud I can boot up and connect to, no matter where I am. I also don’t want extra software or services running on my laptop just to test out a new WP install. Especially if I want to share the dev environment with my team or a customer.

Pros for me:

  • Affordable
  • Quick and easy dev environments
  • I can copy/share images
  • Accessible anywhere

My favorite features of DigitalOcean

I really love the no-nonsense control panel they’ve put together. It’s clean, simple and easy to navigate. It’s easy to find all of the call to actions you need to manage your servers or editing your billing. In all fairness when they launched, they didn’t have nearly as many features, but as of this writing, it’s fantastic.

Control Panel


Droplets are my servers. I can select where I deploy these droplets by regions around the world. I can also select which version of Linux I’d like to run. For years I was a diehard CentOS fan, now I’m most Ubuntu.

Much like WordPress touts a 5 minute install, DigitalOcean promises to get you up and running with a VPS in 55 seconds. They don’t let you down on that promise either.

Pro tip: You should have an understanding of installing, maintaining and securing a Linux OS before trying this. At the very least, you should be willing to learn.



Can you feel the power of that freshly launched VPS just ready to serve up WordPress pages blazingly fast? This is the best part! The creamy filling.

Wait! What’s sudo apt-get update mean? Oh boy…

This leads me to my next favorite part of DigitalOcean — their documentation. If you’re new to administrating a Linux box, they have a ton of tutorials to get you up and running, even for WordPress.

There are a lot of general setup tutorials out on the web, but DigitalOcean delivers a plethora of well thought out deep dive tutorials here.

Here are some of my favorites

The little things

I love stats – stats, stats, stats.


Worried about the performance of your $5 a month VPS? No worries, the control panel gives you a command center feel with graphs to pinpoint bottlenecks in your setup.


Snapshots allow me to freeze my build in time and re-deploy it later. After you’ve spent hours fine tuning your server, preserve it. If you make changes that alter it down the road, you can always reload that image. You can also transfer images to another customer which is awesome for deploying your environment to a client. Need to test out page speed in another region? No problem.

The Verdict: DigitalOcean is a Go!

Get $10 in DigitalOcean Credit — that’s 2 months free! (aff. links help support this podcast)

If you’re looking for a VPS that you have complete control over for hosting or WordPress development environments, I’d seriously consider DigitalOcean. The price is fantastic and best of all, it’s super easy to use. Nothing really gets in the way of doing what you need to do — spinning up VPS’s on the fly.

The only drawback is…

You have to be familiar with installing, supporting, and maintaining a linux environment. You should have some knowledge of the command line and have a general understanding of Apache or NGINX and what these services are doing.

That said, if you want to learn, this is a great place to do it.

I’ll also leave you with this interview with Jason Calacanis and one of the co-founders of DigitalOcean, Mitch Wainer.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments, wether you’ve been a DO customer or planning on giving them a go.

Get $10 in DigitalOcean Credit — that’s 2 months free! (aff. links help support this podcast)


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