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DigitalOcean vs Heroku: What are the differences?

DigitalOcean and Heroku are two popular cloud hosting platforms that offer different features and functionalities, catering to different needs and requirements of developers and businesses. Understanding the key differences between DigitalOcean and Heroku can help users make an informed decision in choosing the right platform for their specific needs.

  1. Infrastructure: DigitalOcean provides virtual machines known as "Droplets", giving users full control over their infrastructure. Users can configure and manage their own operating systems and applications. On the other hand, Heroku is a higher-level platform that abstracts away much of the infrastructure management, making it easier for developers to deploy and scale their applications without worrying about server management.

  2. Pricing Model: DigitalOcean offers a straightforward pricing model based on the resources consumed by the Droplets, such as CPU, RAM, and storage. Users are billed hourly for the resources they use. In contrast, Heroku follows a more complex pricing model that takes into account factors like dyno hours, add-ons, and database usage, which can make it harder to estimate costs accurately.

  3. Deployment Process: With DigitalOcean, users need to manually set up their own servers, configure their environments, and deploy their applications. This provides more flexibility and control but requires more technical knowledge. Heroku simplifies the deployment process by providing a Git-based workflow. Users can simply push their code changes to the Heroku remote repository, and Heroku takes care of building, deploying, and managing the application.

  4. Scalability: DigitalOcean allows users to scale their applications vertically by upgrading the resources of their Droplets or horizontally by adding more Droplets. Users have full control over the scaling process. Heroku, on the other hand, is designed to handle scaling automatically. The platform can scale the application horizontally by adding more dynos based on the workload, making it easier to handle traffic spikes without manual intervention.

  5. Integration and Add-Ons: DigitalOcean provides a wide range of pre-configured operating systems and applications that can be quickly deployed on Droplets. However, it has limited integrations and add-ons compared to Heroku. Heroku offers a marketplace of add-ons that can be easily integrated into applications, providing additional functionalities such as data services, monitoring, logging, and more.

  6. Community and Support: Both DigitalOcean and Heroku have active developer communities and provide documentation and support resources. However, DigitalOcean has a vast library of community tutorials and resources that cover a wide range of topics, making it a valuable knowledge base for developers. Heroku, being a more specialized platform, also offers extensive documentation and support, specifically tailored to its platform and features.

In summary, DigitalOcean provides more control and customization over infrastructure, follows a straightforward pricing model, requires more technical management, and offers a broader range of community resources. On the other hand, Heroku abstracts away much of the infrastructure management, simplifies the deployment process, handles scaling automatically, offers a wide range of integrations and add-ons, and provides platform-specific documentation and support.

Decisions about DigitalOcean and Heroku
Peter Schmalfeldt
Senior Software Engineer · | 3 upvotes · 61.7K views

While Media Temple is more expensive than DigitalOcean, sometimes it is like comparing apples and oranges. DigitalOcean provides what is called Virtual Private Servers ( VPS ). While you seem to be on your own dedicated server, you are, in fact, sharing the same hardware with others.

If you need to be on your own dedicated server, or have other hardware requirements, you do not really have as many options with DigitalOcean. But with Media Temple, the skies the limit ( but so is potentially the cost ).

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Jerome/Zen Quah
Shared insights
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Amazon EC2Amazon EC2DigitalOceanDigitalOcean

DigitalOcean was where I began; its USD5/month is extremely competitive and the overall experience as highly user-friendly.

However, their offerings were lacking and integrating with other resources I had on AWS was getting more costly (due to transfer costs on AWS). Eventually I moved the entire project off DO's Droplets and onto AWS's EC2.

One may initially find the cost (w/o free tier) and interface of AWS daunting however with good planning you can achieve highly cost-efficient systems with savings plans, spot instances, etcetera.

Do not dive into AWS head-first! Seriously, don't. Stand back and read pricing documentation thoroughly. You can, not to the fault of AWS, easily go way overbudget. Your first action upon getting your AWS account should be to set up billing alarms for estimated and current bill totals.

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Pros of DigitalOcean
Pros of Heroku
  • 560
    Great value for money
  • 364
    Simple dashboard
  • 362
    Good pricing
  • 300
    Ssds
  • 250
    Nice ui
  • 191
    Easy configuration
  • 156
    Great documentation
  • 138
    Ssh access
  • 135
    Great community
  • 24
    Ubuntu
  • 13
    Docker
  • 12
    IPv6 support
  • 10
    Private networking
  • 8
    99.99% uptime SLA
  • 7
    Simple API
  • 7
    Great tutorials
  • 6
    55 Second Provisioning
  • 5
    One Click Applications
  • 4
    Dokku
  • 4
    Node.js
  • 4
    LAMP
  • 4
    Debian
  • 4
    CoreOS
  • 3
    1Gb/sec Servers
  • 3
    Word Press
  • 3
    LEMP
  • 3
    Simple Control Panel
  • 3
    Mean
  • 3
    Ghost
  • 2
    Runs CoreOS
  • 2
    Quick and no nonsense service
  • 2
    Django
  • 2
    Good Tutorials
  • 2
    Speed
  • 2
    Ruby on Rails
  • 2
    GitLab
  • 2
    Hex Core machines with dedicated ECC Ram and RAID SSD s
  • 1
    CentOS
  • 1
    Spaces
  • 1
    KVM Virtualization
  • 1
    Amazing Hardware
  • 1
    Transfer Globally
  • 1
    Fedora
  • 1
    FreeBSD
  • 1
    Drupal
  • 1
    FreeBSD Amp
  • 1
    Magento
  • 1
    ownCloud
  • 1
    RedMine
  • 1
    My go to server provider
  • 1
    Ease and simplicity
  • 1
    Nice
  • 1
    Find it superfitting with my requirements (SSD, ssh.
  • 1
    Easy Setup
  • 1
    Cheap
  • 1
    Static IP
  • 1
    It's the easiest to get started for small projects
  • 1
    Automatic Backup
  • 1
    Great support
  • 1
    Quick and easy to set up
  • 1
    Servers on demand - literally
  • 1
    Reliability
  • 0
    Variety of services
  • 0
    Managed Kubernetes
  • 703
    Easy deployment
  • 459
    Free for side projects
  • 374
    Huge time-saver
  • 348
    Simple scaling
  • 261
    Low devops skills required
  • 190
    Easy setup
  • 174
    Add-ons for almost everything
  • 153
    Beginner friendly
  • 150
    Better for startups
  • 133
    Low learning curve
  • 48
    Postgres hosting
  • 41
    Easy to add collaborators
  • 30
    Faster development
  • 24
    Awesome documentation
  • 19
    Simple rollback
  • 19
    Focus on product, not deployment
  • 15
    Natural companion for rails development
  • 15
    Easy integration
  • 12
    Great customer support
  • 8
    GitHub integration
  • 6
    Painless & well documented
  • 6
    No-ops
  • 4
    I love that they make it free to launch a side project
  • 4
    Free
  • 3
    Great UI
  • 3
    Just works
  • 2
    PostgreSQL forking and following
  • 2
    MySQL extension
  • 1
    Security
  • 1
    Able to host stuff good like Discord Bot
  • 0
    Sec

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Cons of DigitalOcean
Cons of Heroku
  • 3
    No live support chat
  • 3
    Pricing
  • 27
    Super expensive
  • 9
    Not a whole lot of flexibility
  • 7
    No usable MySQL option
  • 7
    Storage
  • 5
    Low performance on free tier
  • 2
    24/7 support is $1,000 per month

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What is DigitalOcean?

We take the complexities out of cloud hosting by offering blazing fast, on-demand SSD cloud servers, straightforward pricing, a simple API, and an easy-to-use control panel.

What is Heroku?

Heroku is a cloud application platform – a new way of building and deploying web apps. Heroku lets app developers spend 100% of their time on their application code, not managing servers, deployment, ongoing operations, or scaling.

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