Given that Google is one of the biggest names in cloud hosting, you might expect that it would be tough for a smaller player to compete in this market. Yet when I compared Google Cloud Platform to the lesser-known DigitalOcean, the results surprised me.
In this detailed comparison, I’ll show you why DigitalOcean is no less powerful and may even be a better hosting platform than Google Cloud Platform for independent site owners.
Based on results from my own extensive tests, I’ve concluded that Google Cloud Platform is more suitable for enterprise-level users, while DigitalOcean offers a somewhat simpler approach to choosing a cloud service package.
No matter which of these companies you choose, you should also consider Cloudways’ managed hosting service right from the beginning. Cloudways handles the complex aspects of cloud hosting for you, allowing you to focus on developing your site and saving you time and hassle. Click here to see Cloudways’ latest deals.
1. Plans and Pricing
GCP Offers Per-Second Usage-Based Billing, but It’s Expensive
Starting an account with Google Cloud Platform earns you a free 90-day trial with an automatic $300 credit to spend, as well as access to 20+ always-free products. After 90 days, or after your $300 credit runs out, Google will request to bill you for further usage based on per-second increments.
After this point, various configurations of memory, CPU, and services can earn you decent discounts, as can the purchase of one- or three-year Committed Usage contracts (up to 57% off).
The Google Cloud Pricing Calculator can provide estimates that take all of the above factors into account, but if you don’t have a detailed understanding of containers, virtual machine types, and Google’s hosting jargon, it might be safer to purchase services through Cloudways to avoid making costly mistakes.
GCP does not offer refunds for services used, but you can apply to regain unused funds if you close your account.
Unlike the micro-customizable approach of Google Cloud Platform, DigitalOcean offers a range of “droplets” – Linux-based virtual machines with various fixed limits of allocated memory, CPU power, bandwidth availability, and storage. Calculating costs is straightforward: DigitalOcean charges hourly fees up to a monthly cap.
DigitalOcean Cloud Hosting
Google Cloud Platform Cloud Hosting
For basic services, GCP isn’t significantly more expensive than DigitalOcean, but as complexity and resource demands increase, pricing between the two providers diverges significantly, with DigitalOcean often able to provide comparable services for rates many times lower than Google’s.
That being said, DigitalOcean does not offer refunds at all, except possibly under “extenuating circumstances.” This is only really a concern in situations where you accidentally allocate resources to a project that you didn’t intend to.
DigitalOcean is definitely on the cheaper end of the cloud hosting spectrum, especially when compared with the higher prices of Google Cloud Platform, and particularly with larger deployments. As such, DigitalOcean easily wins this round.
Cloudways Cloud Hosting
Similar Support Tiers, Very Different Prices
Both DigitalOcean and Google Cloud Platform offer extensive online documentation, large, active user communities, and a very basic, free level of support for all users.
It’s just too bad Google personal support is too expensive for most non-enterprise users. And forget trying to get your emails answered if you have a sales question. We tried that when we were testing Google Cloud Platform. And the response? Crickets.
The next tier up for both providers is where costs begin to differ. DigitalOcean’s Business support is still free, but requires a significant minimum monthly spend.
Google Cloud Platform’s Developer and Production tiers are both pricey, and charged per month and per user, making them more suited to a startup with decent funding than a hobbyist. But, the per-user fee means the slightly less expensive Developer tier is not entirely out of the question for a solo entrepreneur.
The Premium support tier for both providers requires you to call their sales departments to discuss the specific needs of your organization. In other words, it is intended for the enterprise level.
Neither host provides significant free customer support, but Google Cloud Platform offers more flexible pricing options. Or, you could invest a little more in a Cloudways plan and get 24/7 Support while using GCP, DigitalOcean, or another cloud platform of your choice. It’s up to you.
GCP Offers a Huge Range of Options – DigitalOcean Offers Package Deals
Google Cloud Platform offers a diverse suite of products, including Google Cloud Storage, Google Kubernetes Engine, a CDN network, cloud-enhanced database services, and much more. Google’s commitment to total flexibility allows for near-endless integration and customization of all of these components.
Furthermore, you can easily link your deployment with other Google services (Google Analytics, for example) and the rest of the Google Suite to create a seamless experience. But the huge wealth of choices probably isn’t going to be of much use to you if you’re looking to set up a smaller website. For example, you could install WordPress as a Compute Engine instance, but in this case, you’d probably be better off with a more user-friendly web host like Hostinger.
DigitalOcean, on the other hand, offers a limited range of the most popular options to compete with Google Cloud. Aside from its various packages of virtual machine options, it offers Kubernetes clusters, managed databases, and their own CDN-enhanced cloud storage option called Spaces Object Storage.
Aside from this, DigitalOcean offers additional storage, backups, snapshots, load balancers, and floating IPs, with a reasonably simple pricing structure that is significantly simpler than GCP’s. There are many user-developed apps available including one that allows for a single-click install of WordPress in a DigitalOcean droplet, but of course, you will first have to install and configure an appropriate server infrastructure.
|DigitalOcean||Google Cloud Platform|
|Web Hosting-Compatible Options||Droplet virtual machine, Kubernetes cluster||Cloud Storage bucket (static sites), Compute Engine virtual machine, Kubernetes Engine container, App Engine managed platform|
|Free SSL Certificate||✘||✘|
|Disk Space||Depends on allocated storage in chosen Droplet, can purchase additional storage on a monthly basis||Flexible, you pay based on your usage|
|Bandwidth||Depends on allocated bandwidth in chosen Droplet, overage charges per GB||Flexible, you pay based on your usage|
|Automatic Backups||Configurable, monthly cost fixed to a percentage of the Droplet you are backing up||Configurable, you pay for storage based on type|
|Control Panel||You install your own chosen control panel||You install your own chosen control panel|
|Email Accounts||You set up your own email accounts, if you choose||You set up your own email accounts, if you choose|
|Free CDN||No; Spaces Object Storage a paid service||No; Cloud CDN an additional paid service|
|Free Site Migration||✘||✘|
|Money-Back Guarantee||None; refunds only under “extenuating circumstances”||None; can apply to have unused funds returned upon account closure|
DigitalOcean Suffers Some Downtime, While Google Cloud Platform Is Always Up
With data centers located in 20+ locations across North and South America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region, Google’s performance can’t be criticized.
In other words, Google Cloud Platform is extremely reliable. It has to be. So you’ll probably never face any uptime or loading speed problems. But even so, Google offers a 99.99% uptime guarantee backed by a service-level agreement (SLA) with clear and straightforward financial compensation terms in case of downtime.
Google Cloud Platform performs at blazing speeds all over the world. DigitalOcean, on the other hand, has over a dozen data centers in a handful of locations around the world. With DigitalOcean, you can choose the location of your primary server and you can even run speed tests on each location within your dashboard.
Based on our own experience and customer reviews, DigitalOcean does occasionally experience downtime, but based on its own incident history, this is gradually decreasing on a measurable monthly basis. And its loading speeds are pretty high.
As a growing company, DigitalOcean can’t yet compete with Google Cloud Platform in the performance category – though few can.
Both Hosts Offer Secure Servers, but Your Website’s Security Is Up to You
Google is large enough to afford the latest and greatest in security controls, but because of its massive size, it also makes a tempting target for hackers and other unsavory internet thieves. Still, Google Cloud Platform is up to date with all internet safety and security standards.
Other security features that Google Cloud Platform uses to protect you from losing or compromising your data include: binary authorization, cloud audit logs (so you know who did what and when), firewalls, a security command center, shielded virtual machines, VPC service controls, cryptographic keys, and more.
In spite of all of this, it is largely your responsibility to implement SSL and any other website-related security tools when building a website on GCP – this is not straightforward or automatic. In other words, with flexibility comes responsibility.
DigitalOcean is also security certified, even if perhaps not to the degree that Google is. Similarly, setting up a website on its platform requires that you attend to SSL and any other security-related matters on your own, and this includes all attendant costs.
Or, if you don’t want to deal with all this hassle, you can add free SSL, dedicated firewalls, 24/7 monitoring, automated backups, and other security features with any of Cloudways’ managed hosting plans, whether you choose to host your cloud-based website with DigitalOcean or GCP.
Which Service Is Best Overall? It Depends
Google Cloud Platform is one of the biggest infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) providers worldwide. Other tech giants like Twitter and PayPal use it (as do YouTube and Google Search, of course!) but does that mean a small or solo enterprise should follow in their footsteps? Well, if you have big dreams and you expect to need to scale rapidly, GCP could be a good choice.
But if you want the power of the cloud at an affordable price point and your needs are less complex, you should definitely consider DigitalOcean.
If you want to use one of these platforms but you’re looking to reduce tech-related headaches, I recommend ordering a package through Cloudways. Its managed services mean everything hosting-related is taken care of for you, leaving you time to focus on other aspects of your website and business. You can take advantage of the 3-day free trial to feel the difference.
Not too unreasonable for small deployments, but one of the most expensive hosting options out there, especially as your project scales up.
90-day/$300-credit free trial available. Discounts can apply for 1- or 3-year commitments and certain combinations of services.
High-quality knowledge base.
Very basic free support tier; Business tier with minimum monthly spend; highest support tier requires a sales call.
Extensive knowledge base, but likely requires developer-level knowledge.
Flexible but expensive per-user monthly support tiers; highest support tier requires a sales call.
Does DigitalOcean offer WordPress hosting?You can install WordPress on a DigitalOcean Droplet, but it does not specifically offer WordPress-optimized or managed hosting, and you’ll have to install and configure a LAMP or LEMP server infrastructure first. DigitalOcean was designed to serve tech-savvy developers. If you are looking for a more beginner-friendly WordPress hosting option, you can check out our review of best WordPress hosts.Is DigitalOcean cheap?DigitalOcean offers a wide range of pricing options. Its basic options are very competitively priced, starting at $5.00 per month, and packages with more features and options are correspondingly more expensive. Overall, its services are still relatively less expensive than those of many other hosts, such as Google Cloud Platform. To see the best hosting deals available right now, don’t miss our frequently updated web hosting coupon page.Does DigitalOcean use SSD?Yes, DigitalOcean offers scalable SSD-based block storage which you can attach to your Droplets to protect your data from loss. These Block Storage volumes are easily scalable and transferable. Droplets themselves have also used SSDs since 2013.Is DigitalOcean good for small businesses?Yes, it can be, especially when compared with Google Cloud Platform, which is primarily designed for enterprise-level clients, not small businesses. However, you will still want to have someone tech-savvy on your team to help you set up your site on this cloud-based host, or a managed hosting service like Cloudways. And if, after reading this cloud host comparison, you realize that you need a more beginner-friendly web hosting solution, don’t forget to check out our updated Best Web Hosting Services page.