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How To Create Your First DigitalOcean Droplet

UpdatedAugust 27, 2017 634.2k views DigitalOcean


DigitalOcean calls its cloud servers Droplets; each Droplet you create is a new server for your personal use. This tutorial will walk you through creating and accessing your first Droplet.


To follow this tutorial, you will need:

Step 1 — Logging In To DigitalOcean Cloud

After you log into the DigitalOcean Control Panel with your email address and password for the first time, there are two ways to create a Droplet. You can either:

  • Click the large, blue Create Droplet button. This button is only visible when you do not have any Droplets.
  • Click the green Create button in the top right and choose Droplets.

Create Menu

Whichever link you use, you'll be taken to the Create Droplet page. This page lets you specify configuration options for your Droplet, like how much memory it has and which features (like backups) are enabled.

The most popular defaults are pre-selected, so you can scroll straight to the end and click Create Droplet without changing a thing. In this case, you can skip to Step 10 of this tutorial to log into your Droplet.

Alternatively, if you want to customize your Droplet or learn more about the options on the Create Droplet page, continue reading with Step 2.

Step 2 — Choosing an Image

The first configuration section is titled Choose an image. Initially, there are categories of images you can choose from: vanilla Linux distributions or DigitalOcean One-Click Applications.

  • Distributions are images of Linux distributions with no additional software. At the time of this writing, the 64-bit Ubuntu 16.04 image is selected by default. To change to a different version or architecture, like Debian or CentOS, click the down arrow and make a selection from the list.

  • One-click apps are images that include pre-configured applications, like MySQL or LAMP, to help simplify getting started.

Droplet Image Selection

Once you start using Droplets, you can make backups and take snapshots of them. A tab for each one will be added to the Create Droplet page when you make them. From there, you can choose them as the foundation to create new Droplets.

  • Snapshots are taken on-demand and can be used to back up a Droplet or as the starting point for creating new Droplets.
  • Backups can be generated automatically or on a weekly basis. Like snapshots, you can use the backup to rebuild an existing Droplet or to create a new one.

Screenshot with new Snapshots and Backup tabs

Choose the image you'd like to use as a basis for your server. We'll keep the default Ubuntu image.

Step 3 — Choosing a Size

The next configuration section allows you to choose the size of your Droplet, i.e. the amount of RAM and storage space it has.

Size your Droplet

There are a wide range of options for price, power, and storage capacity. The smallest and least expensive option starts at 512MB of RAM with 1 CPU and 20GB of SSD storage. The size options grow larger from there, all the way up to 64GB of RAM with 20 CPUs and 640GB of SSD storage. Should your needs change at a future point, you can adjust your Droplet's plan using the flexible and permanent resize options.

Note: If your cloud server will have less than 3 GB of RAM, and especially if it has less than 1 GB of RAM, we recommend using a 32-bit operating system. This is because processes can require significantly more memory on a 64-bit architecture and on servers with a limited amount of RAM, any performance benefits that might be gained from a 64-bit architecture would be offset by having less memory available for buffers and caching.

Depending on your needs and budget, select the Droplet option that works best for you. Here, we'll accept the default 2 GB / 2 CPU size.

Step 4 — Adding Block Storage

DigitalOcean Block Storage allows you to create and attach additional storage volumes to your Droplets. At the time of this writing, Block Storage is available in the FRA1, NYC1, SFO2, SPG1, and TOR1 datacenter regions. Additional regions will be added over time.

Screenshot of the Add block storage section

Volumes are independent resources that can be moved from one Droplet to another within the same datacenter. Attached volumes function like locally connected storage drives, allowing you to manage your storage with familiar tools and techniques. To learn more about them, visit How To Use Block Storage on DigitalOcean.

We're not going to add Block Storage at this time.

Step 5 — Choosing a Datacenter Region

Next, you're given a choice of datacenter regions.

Droplet Region

For the best performance, choose the datacenter nearest to you and your users. More distant server locations may increase the server's latency without providing any practical benefits.

Your decision may also be guided by features which are not yet available in all regions when they are first introduced. This Create page will provide guidance when features have limited availability.

For example, during the Block Storage rollout, if we had selected Block Storage, certain regions would be greyed out. Both a message in the Add block storage section as well as tooltips over the disabled datacenter region would explain:

Screenshot of limited region selection

We'll keep the NYC3 default.

Step 6 — Selecting Additional Options

The Select additional options section allows you to choose from several additional services, most of which add no extra cost.

Droplet Settings

  • Private Networking enables an additional networking interface that can only be accessed by other Droplets within the same datacenter. This can be helpful to keep traffic between Droplets from being routed outside the datacenter over the public internet. Private networking is provided at no extra cost.
  • Backups enable automatic backups of the Droplet. Backups cost about 20% of the monthly price of the Droplet.
  • IPv6 enables IPv6 access for your Droplet and incurs no additional cost.
  • User data enables you to pass arbitrary data into the user-data key of the DigitalOcean Metadata service. This setting is required for CoreOS Droplets. Using user data adds no extra cost.

  • Monitoring adds the DigitalOcean agent to collect extended metrics and create alert policies. No additional cost. Monitoring is provided at no additional cost.

Choose the options you would like. In this example, we'll select Backups and Monitoring.

Step 7 — Select SSH Keys (Optional)

SSH keys provide more security than using a password and some users find them more convenient as well. You have the option to use them in the Add your SSH keys section.

SSH Keys

Once you upload a key, it is available in your account. Now and in the future, you can check the box by the key name to add it to Droplets. Visit How To Use SSH Keys with DigitalOcean Droplets for detailed directions on how to create and use SSH keys.

Screenshot of uploaded key with box checked

We've chosen to upload our work computer's key and add it to the Droplet.

Step 8 — Finalizing and Creating

The Finalize and create section of the Create page allows you to choose the number and name(s) of the Droplets you're creating.Screenshot of the Finalize and create section

By default, a single Droplet will be created. Adjust the number of Droplets by clicking the plus, +, or minus, -, buttons.

Each Droplet must have a name. These names are used in the DigitalOcean Control Panel and as the server's hostname. A default name is provided based on the options you selected, but you can modify the name(s) to suit your needs. For example, you may want to use a Fully Qualified Domain Name, or FQDN (e.g. droplet1.example.com).

We're going to accept the default name, ubuntu-2gb-nyc3-01, which combines the distribution name, size, datacenter, and a number that differentiates it from others when multiple Droplets are created at once.

Step 9 — Creating the Droplet

Once you have selected your options, click Create. A progress bar displays how close your Droplet is to being ready.

Screenshot of progress bar

When the setup is 100% complete, the IP address of your Droplet will be displayed.

Screenshot of installed Droplet

When the progress bar reaches 100% and the IP address is displayed, you should be ready to log in.

Step 10 — Logging In to the Droplet

If you added SSH keys, you can use SSH to connect to the server and log in as root. Otherwise the root password will be sent to your account's email address.

The process for logging in is slightly different depending on your local operating system:

How to log in on Linux

  1. On a computer running Linux, open a terminal and log in from the command line with the following command, substituting the IP address of your Droplet for your_server_ip.

    • ssh root@your_server_ip
  2. Type Yes when the prompt asks if you would like to connect to the host.

  3. If you're using SSH keys, you will be logged into the server immediately. If you aren't using SSH keys, you'll be prompted for a password. Enter the root password that was emailed to you when you created the server, then press ENTER. Note that the password will not be visible on the screen as you type for security reasons.

You should now be connected to your first DigitalOcean Droplet.

How to log in on macOS

  1. To log in from a computer running macOS, open the Terminal.app program, which is located in the utilities folder. Enter the command below, substituting the IP address of your Droplet for your_server_ip.

    • ssh root@your_server_ip
  2. Type Yes when the prompt asks if you would like to connect to the host.

  3. If you're using SSH keys, you will be logged into the server immediately. If you aren't using SSH keys, you'll be prompted for a password. Enter the root password that was emailed to you when you created your server, then press ENTER. Note that the password will not be visible on the screen as you type for security reasons.

You should now be connected to your first DigitalOcean Droplet.

How to log in on Windows

With Bash on Windows

If you have access to Bash on Ubuntu on Windows, you can follow the Linux directions above. Open Bash by pressing the WINDOWS key, typing "Bash", and selecting the search result.

With PuTTY

If you don't have Bash, you will can use PuTTY, an SSH client. To install it on your local computer:

  1. Visit the Download PuTTY site and choose the Windows installer from the Package files list.

  2. Once PuTTY is installed, start the program.

  3. On the PuTTY Configuration screen that opens, fill in the Host Name (or IP address) field with the Droplet's IP address. Confirm that the Port is set to 22 and that the Connection type SSH is selected.

    PuTTY Configuration Screen with above values filled in

  4. Once everything is configured, you can save these settings for future logins by entering a title into the Saved Sessions field. Click Save to store settings.

  5. Double-click on the session name to connect.

  6. Before you connect to a server for the first time, PuTTY will ask you to confirm that you trust the server. Choose Yes to save the server identity in PuTTY's cache or No to connect without saving the identity.

    PuTTY Configuration Screen with above values filled in

  7. After PuTTY starts, type in the root password that was emailed to you. Note that if you uploaded keys, you will either be connected directly or prompted for the password you set on your key.

When you have successfully authenticated, you should be connected to your new Droplet.


Once you have created your Droplet and logged in, you can start to configure it. We strongly recommend that you follow our initial server setup guides to increase usability and security:


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