DigitalOcean Droplets are Linux-based virtual machines (VMs) that run on top of virtualized hardware. Each Droplet you create is a new server you can use, either standalone or as part of a larger, cloud-based infrastructure.
To access the DigitalOcean Control Panel and create a Droplet, you need a DigitalOcean account. You can create one from the DigitalOcean new account registration page if you don't already have one.
After you log in to the control panel, click the green Create button in the top right to open the create menu.
In the create menu, click Droplets to open the Droplet create page. If you don't have any Droplets, the Resources tab displays a large, blue Get Started with a Droplet button, which takes you to the same Droplet create page.
The Droplet create page is where you choose your Droplet's configuration, like its operating system, how much memory it has, and which features (like backups or monitoring) to enable. The most popular defaults are pre-selected, so you can scroll to the bottom of the page and create a Droplet immediately, or you can customize any of the options in each section.
In the Choose an image section, you choose the image your Droplet will be created from. Initially, you can choose from four categories of images:
Distributions are basic Unix-like images with no additional software, including Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, CentOS, and FreeBSD.
Container distributions include RancherOS.
Custom images are Unix-like images that you create and upload to your DigitalOcean account.
Once you start using Droplets, you can make backups and take snapshots of them. You'll see tabs for Backups and Snapshots on the Droplet creation page when you start using those features, and you can choose those images as the foundation to create new Droplets.
Snapshots are images taken on demand and are useful to manually back up or reproducibly create Droplets.
Backups are system-level backups automatically taken once a week. The last 4 weeks of backup images are retained, and you can use them as a basis to rebuild an existing Droplet.
In the Choose a plan section, you choose the amount of RAM, storage space, and CPU cores your Droplet will have.
There are four types of plans:
Standard Droplets, a flexible option best for most use cases, like website hosting, staging environments and low intensity compute needs.
General Purpose Performance Droplets, a robust option suitable for a wide variety of mainstream, production applications that require a higher ratio of memory to CPU.
CPU-Optimized Performance Droplets, best for CPU intensive tasks and projects that require predictable performance or rely on CPU more than RAM or I/O, like batch processing large data sets, large builds, and video encoding.
Memory-Optimized Performance Droplets, best for resource-intensive business applications, like high-performance SQL or NoSQL databases, large in-memory caches and indexes, real-time big data processing, and applications with large JVM requirements.
See How To Choose a Droplet Plan for an in-depth guide to choosing a Droplet plan.
In the Add backups section, you can enable automatic weekly backups of the Droplet by ticking the Enable backups button. This adds 20% to the Droplet's monthly price.
If you choose not to enable backups now, you can still enable backups on existing Droplets later.
In the Add block storage section, you can create and attach additional DigitalOcean Block Storage volumes to your Droplet.
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, meaning you can manage your storage with familiar tools and techniques.
In the Choose a datacenter region section, select the region where you want to create your Droplet.
A good default is selected for you, but for the best performance and minimal latency, choose the datacenter nearest to you and your users. You can also make a decision based on which products and features are available in which regions.
The create page greys out datacenters that are incompatible with your selected configuration and add a tooltip with an explanation. For example, if you add a block storage volume to your configuration, you won't be able to create your Droplet in a datacenter that doesn't support volumes.
In the Select additional options section, you can enable several optional services that add functionality to your Droplet.
The four features available in this section are free, so enabling them does not increase the Droplet's monthly cost:
VPC Network enables an additional networking interface that can only be accessed by other Droplets within the same datacenter. This keeps traffic between Droplets and other applicable resources from being routed outside the datacenter over the public internet.
IPv6 enables IPv6 access for your Droplet.
User data is arbitrary data that you specify which is written to the
user-data field of the DigitalOcean metadata service. Droplets running distributions with
cloud-init can consume and execute the data from this field, which are generally cloud-config files used for initially configuring a server on first boot.
In the Authentication section, you choose the method you want to use to log in to your Droplet. There are two options:
Password, which allows you to create your own password for the new Droplet.
If you choose to use SSH keys, you need to select at least one key to add to the Droplet. Any keys you've already uploaded to your DigitalOcean account are listed.
Check the boxes next to the existing keys you want to add to the Droplet, or check Select all to add every key on your account. You can also click New SSH Key to upload a new key to your account from the create page.
Once you create and upload an SSH key to your DigitalOcean account, it remains available for you to add to any new Droplets you provision in the future.
In the Finalize and create section, you specify the quantity, name, tags, and project for the Droplet you're creating.
There are four subsections for these options:
How many Droplets?, where you choose the quantity of Droplets you're creating with the specified configuration. Adjust the number by clicking the plus, +, or minus, -, buttons.
Choose a hostname, where you give each Droplet a name which is used in the control panel and as the server's hostname. Default names are provided based on the options you selected, but you can modify them to suit your needs.
Add tags, where you can add tags to organize and relate Droplets.
Select Project, where you can assign the Droplet to a project.
Once you have selected your options, click Create. A progress bar displays how close your Droplet is to being ready.
Once the Droplet is fully set up, the control panel displays its IP address.
Once you see the IP address, you can log in to your Droplet.
To go to a Droplet's detail page where you can make changes, click its name or go straight to the task you want using the More menu. You can also get a quick view of the Droplet's details by clicking the icon by the Droplet's name.