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How To Create Your First DigitalOcean Droplet Virtual Server

Jun 20, 2012 DigitalOcean


DigitalOcean calls its virtual private servers droplets; each droplet that you spin up is a new VPS for your personal use.

The setup is very easy—-the entire process can take almost as little as a minute! This tutorial will walk you through creating and accessing your new server.

Step One—Log In

To create your first droplet go to the DigitalOcean Control Panel and log in with your email and password. The create button will be right there on the first page: click on “Create Droplet.”

Create Button

Step Two—Name Your Droplet

Once you have started the process to create a droplet, choose your server's name: it can be from 1 to 256 characters without spaces or symbols. The name you choose will then be your machine’s hostname. You may want to use a Fully Qualified Domain Name (e.g. droplet1.example.com).

Name your Droplet

Step Three—Select Your Droplet's Size

Depending on your needs and budget, you can select the droplet option that works best for you.

Size your Droplet

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

Step Four—Select Your Droplet Region

You may choose the most effective region for your droplet location. Although equally powerful, the best region to choose is the one nearest to you and your customers or other possible users. Selecting a more distant server location may increase your server latency without serving any practical purpose.

Droplet Region

Step Five-Select Droplet Settings

The Settings section allows you to select which features you would like your droplet to have:

Droplet Settings

  • Private Networking: Enables a private networking interface, in addition to the default public interface, that can only be accessed via the private network of other droplets within the same datacenter
  • IPv6: Enables IPv6
  • Enables Backups: Enables backups of the droplet--for more information about the backup service, click here
  • Enable 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. To read more about user data, check out the tutorial on Droplet Metadata

Select any of the settings you would like to enable. The Private Networking feature is very useful if you have multiple droplets in the same datacenter that communicate with each other.

Step Six—Select Droplet Image

You can create your droplet image from 4 possible categories:

Droplet Image Selection

  • Linux Distributions: Create from several Linux operating systems, such as Ubuntu, Debian, CoreOS, and CentOS. After selecting your distribution, be sure to select the image of your choice (specifying the version and 64 bit or 32 bit)
  • Applications: Create from images that have pre-installed and configured programs that will get your droplet off to a strong start
  • My Images: Create from a snapshot that you previously made, letting you create backup copies or scale quickly.
  • My Backups: Create from a previously automatically generated backup, the option that you can enable on each droplet individually with the "Backups" button

32-bit vs. 64-bit Systems

A 32-bit operating system is recommended for cloud servers with less than 3 GB of RAM -- this is especially true for servers with 1 GB, or less, of RAM. Processes can require significantly more memory on the 64-bit architecture. On servers with a limited amount of RAM, any performance benefits that one might gain from a 64-bit operating system would be diluted by having less memory available for buffers and caching.

Step Seven-Select SSH Keys (Optional)

Optional: Select which SSH keys you would like to add to your new droplet.

SSH Keys

It is recommended that you set up SSH keys to authenticate into your droplets because it provides more security than a basic password. For more information about setting up SSH keys with your DigitalOcean droplets, refer to this tutorial.

Step Eight—Create Your Droplet

Once you have selected all of your preferred options, click on "Create Droplet."

After your droplet is created, its root password will arrive in your email inbox and the droplet will be set up. If you installed an SSH key in the previous step, you will not be emailed a root password--use your SSH private key to authenticate as the root user instead.

With that, the server is ready for you!

Step Nine—Log In To Your Droplet

The process is slightly different for Mac and Windows Computers:

How to Log In With a Mac

  1. To log in on a Mac computer, open the terminal program (in the utilities folder) and type in the following command, logging in with the ip address from the welcome email: ssh root@your_ip_address
  2. Type "yes" when the prompt asks if you want to connect to the host. When prompted, type in the root password that was emailed to you and press enter. Although the password is entered when you type, it does not show up on the screen for security reasons.

You will then be connected to your DigitalOcean Droplet.

How to Log In With Windows

To log into your droplet on windows, you will need to have PuTTY, an SSH client, installed on your computer.

  1. You can download the program here. Choose the windows installer.
  2. Once PuTTY is downloaded and installed, starting the program will take you to the configuration screen.
  3. Fill in the “Host Name (or IP address)” field with the Droplet IP address from the welcome email, make sure the port number is 22, and the connection type is SSH.
  4. Additionally, click on the sidebar entry, SSH, and select “2 only” as the preferred SSH protocol version.
  5. Once everything is configured, you can name and save these preferences for the future by clicking on Session in the side bar and typing a title into the Saved Sessions field. Then click save.
  6. Double click on the session name to connect, and accept the subsequent pop up that asks if you want to connect to the host. After PuTTY starts up, type in the root password that was emailed to you.

You will then be connected to your DigitalOcean Droplet.

See More

Once you have installed a droplet, you can start to set it up for your needs. We have tutorials covering the initial server setup for Ubuntu, Debian, and CentOS.


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