How does Digital Ocean work?

Posted March 19, 2015 26.8k views
Getting StartedDigitalOceanConfiguration Management

I’m sorry in advance if this is the wrong location for this question, but I’m curious as to how Digital Ocean actually works, and what it provides. I’ve held off on purchasing a droplet until I can decide whether or not it will fit my needs. Currently I have a domain with Dreamhost, and I’m looking to perhaps find a more reliable service, but as I understand it currently, with Digital Ocean, I’ll receive a cloud-based server, and I’ll still need to purchase the domain separately through Dreamhost or another provider?

Also, when I’ve purchased a droplet, what does that give me? Is it the virtual hardware for a server in which I’ll need to set up a server OS, or is it ready to host immediately? Am I able to use a server OS in lieu of any theoretical ready-to-use server software pre-configured?

Lastly, is there a more effective solution that Dreamhost for a simple project site? I’m a student at present, and just using the site to learn more on my own time about HTML, CSS, and Javascript (I won’t be using Wordpress or anything similar, more than likely). I doubt there will be much database work involved.

  • To understand how DigitalOcean works, will require some extensive knowledge, but I will try to explain it as simple as possible.
    DigitalOcean has some really powerful computers, called servers. When running the appropriate software on the server you can create Virtual Private Servers (also known as Droplets or Containers). The VPS is a virtual machine, which utilizes part of the server resources (CPU, RAM, HDD) and runs its own copy of the operating system and provides superuser (root) access to DigitalOcean`s clients.
    This means that each client can have his own Droplet, running a chosen Operating system. The client has administrator (root) access to the VPS, so he can make changes without conforming with the other users, which have their Droplets on the same DigitalOcean server.

    When you create a Droplet, you will have the choice what Operating System should it use. For various reasons you can not have any Operating System installed on a DigitalOcean`s Droplet, but actually they do provide a good variety of options.

    What will you do from then on with your Droplet depends on you. Yes, you can run web/mail/database services and host your websites on a Droplet. You can also use it for test purposes like developing code in a specific environment or learning how to manage a specific server configuration. Actually the possibilities are quite large, people use Virtual Servers for game server hosting, private file storage, seedboxes (using the VPS as a torrent seeder), VOIP/chat, VPN, etc…

    DigitalOcean provides some a One-Click installer, but I have never used it. However I do suggest you to go forward and order a Droplet. The available guides are very good and with only a few commands you can set up a web-server and start coding.

  • Thank you so much! I went ahead and got a Droplet, and set it up with apache2. It’s just got a basic landing page at the moment, but I can’t get it to work with a www in front of the name, despite the server alias being set. Would that be something I’d need to fix at the Dreamhost level? Or is it a problem in my server configuration?

    EDIT: Nevermind. I think I got it working with a CNAME record.

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2 answers

You can choose where you buy your domain name. Just point A records to the IP of your droplet.
Your droplet is a server, you can choose between a couple dozen distro’s.
Ubuntu/Debian would fit to run nging/apache2 to run your web server.

soooperb superb Same issue here! But in my case its Hostgator....Please someone help both of Us.

  • I set the DNS records, and cancelled my hosting plan with Dreamhost, and that seemed to point everything towards the Digital Ocean server fine. I’m just using Dreamhost for the domain registration now. I like the added control Digital Ocean gives over the server.