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Transitioning from Amazon EC2 to DigitalOcean's Control Panel

Posted Jul 15, 2013 13.1k views DigitalOcean Getting Started


Migrating between VPS providers can seem like a daunting task. Many of our customers have experience with other VPS services, such as Amazon EC2. While almost all of the actual VPS usage is the same, the management interfaces can differ significantly between providers.

In this article, we'll examine the differences between the Amazon EC2 interface and the DigitalOcean Droplet Interface. This will make transitioning to DigitalOcean servers easy and hassle-free. We also have an article on migrating content between VPS providers.

Main Interface


The main management portal for Amazon EC2 is called the EC2 Dashboard:

Amazon EC2 Dashboard

This top-level management page gives a summary of all of the current instances and associated options that you have running and available.

The "Instances" link on the left-hand side will open up the available instances that are launched with the service.

Amazon EC2 Instances


These two screens are analogous to the DigitalOcean's "Droplets" page, which serves as a hub for VPS management.

DigitalOcean Droplets page

The Droplets page gives you quick access to the IP addresses of all of your active servers, allowing you to quickly SSH into any booted instance.

It also allows you to see, at a glance, the hardware configuration and the distribution loaded on the machine.

VPS Creation

On the surface, instance creation looks very different between Amazon EC2 and DigitalOcean. However, they are fairly similar in their function.


Using Amazon's interface, you can click the "Launch Instance" button from within the EC2 Dashboard or the Instances tab.

In Amazon's interface, you can choose between the Classic Wizard, the Quick Launch Wizard, and the AWS Marketplace to spin up your server. Each choice gives you many different options.

Amazon EC2 Launch Instance

Depending on the kind of instance creation you decided on, you can configure your options by either going through a few pages of details, or clicking the "Edit details" button on the bottom. This allows you to customize some aspects of the service.

Amazon EC2 edit instance details


DigitalOcean's VPS creation mechanism can be accessed by clicking the "Create" button in the upper-left corner of the control panel.

You will choose a hostname, the Droplet size and region, the base image for the install, and (optionally) the key files you would like to use to log in.

DigitalOcean Droplet creation page

After clicking the "Create Droplet" button at the bottom, your instance will be created.

DigitalOcean Droplet creation page


Both Amazon and DigitalOcean allow you to take snapshots of your VPS at any point in time. These can be used to restore at a later point or as a base image for building new cloud server instances.


Amazon manages its snapshots through the Snapshots link on the left-hand side, under "Elastic Block Store".

Amazon EC2 Snapshots page


With DigitalOcean, this feature can be found under the "Images" link on the left-hand side. You will be able to view all of the snapshots that you have saved.

DigitalOcean Images page

You will also see any Droplet backups that are available for your systems. This allows you to manage all of your automatic and deliberate images from one centralized location.

SSH Key Management


Amazon stores the SSH key pairs used to securely log into your VPS under a link called "Key Pairs" within the Network & Security section of the menu.

Using this panel, you can create or import SSH key pairs to use within your VPS servers.

Amazon EC2 Key Pairs page


DigitalOcean controls key pairs through its "SSH Keys" menu.

Here, you can add, modify, or delete the public key strings that will allow you to access the virtual private server after booting.

DigitalOcean SSH Keys page

DigitalOcean can also create Droplets without Key management in case you are forced to create a Droplet while you do not have access to your home computer.

DNS Configuration


DNS settings can be configured with Amazon's Route 53 service, accessed through the "Services" menu in the upper-left corner.<./p> Amazon Route 53 DNS support


DigitalOcean provides DNS administration through the main control panel under the "Networking" heading:

DigitalOcean DNS page

You can add domains and manage which VPS they point to from this location.

Billing Information


Billing information for your current usage on Amazon can be found under "Your Name" at the top-right corner of the page. Click on "Account Activity" to see what kind of usage you have for the month so far:

Amazon EC2 Billing Information


With DigitalOcean, you can view your current billing information at any time by clicking on the "Billing" link on the left-hand side.

DigitalOcean Billing Page

You can quickly see your billing and payment history, make a payment, or add a credit card. It is also extremely simple to get an itemized invoice for the month so far, by clicking on "View this month's usage and charges".

Getting Help


If you run into a problem using Amazon's EC2 servers, your course of action will depend on what kind of issue you are having and what kind of plan you are on.

If you believe the issue is site-wide, you can report it by clicking "Report an Issue" under the "Additional Information" section on the right side of the interface.

Amazon EC2 Report and Issue

However, if it is an issue with your specific VPS server, you should either post in their developer forums, or use the paid support system if you have selected to add that option to your plan.


With DigitalOcean, you can open a ticket from within the administration interface by clicking the "Support" link on the left-hand side.

DigitalOcean Support page

You can create a new ticket with the support team, or track your current tickets on the same page.


As you can see, there are a number of basic differences between Amazon's EC2 Management Console and DigitalOcean's Control Panel. However, all of the important account and VPS management information is easily accessible and intuitive to navigate.

We believe that after exploring DigitalOcean's menus for a few moments, you will feel right at home.

By Justin Ellingwood
Creative Commons License