April 30, 2014 · aws digital ocean forward.cat

Moving Away from AWS

Recently I moved forward.cat from AWS to Digital Ocean, but it wasn't an easy choice, as both options have some strengths. Let's compare both alternatives.

Amazon Micro Instance

Processor: 1 CPU, only short 'bursts' allowed 
Memory: 613MB
Storage: EBS storage, remote
Transfer: not included
Price/mo: approx. $11

Amazon's Micro instances, with remote spinning discs and capped CPU, are quite underpowered. However, EBS automatically replicates your data, so there is no need to do backups.

Also, Amazon has great services and products for all needs: DynamoDB, RedShift, IP management tools, etc.

Digital Ocean Smallest Plan

Processor: 1 Core
Memory: 512MB
Storage: 20GB, SSD
Transfer: 1TB included
Price/mo: $5

Digital Ocean smallest plan is clearly cheaper and more powerful, as it has an SSD drive and the CPU is not capped. The downside is that it has less memory and you'll have to pay 20% of the cost of the machine to have automatic backups.

In any case, if you pick such small machines, remember to use a 32bit operating system. This is because having so little RAM we won't need 64 bits to address it, and furthermore all the memory pointers will use 64bits, unnecessarily wasting memory. As an example, Ubuntu 14.04 AMD64 uses 115MB after booting, while the i386 version only uses 72MB.

Given the lower costs and better performance of the latter I decided to switch, and so far I'm very happy with it. It's running a couple of websites and still has room for more services if needed.

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