VPS Comparison 2018: Vultr vs. Digital Ocean vs. Linode vs. SSD Nodes

VPS comparison: Picture of a Lego person beneath a shoe.

Looking for a new virtual private server (VPS)? Whether you want a development area to play around in or your business has outgrown shared hosting, a VPS is an excellent investment—if you know where to put your money. We’ve found plenty of VPS comparison posts out there, but they’re all faulty in some way. How so?

They don’t include us.

I’m being a little snarky here, but it’s frustrating to be ignored, again and again, when people put together comprehensive VPS comparison posts.

I understand where these writers are coming from—they might us as that little Lego warrior above, facing off harmlessly against the biggest names in cloud hosting. But, in not mentioning us, they’re doing VPS customers a disservice, because we’re not only facing off against the biggest names in cloud hosting, but we’re winning on value… by a longshot.

Let’s get into the details.

How this VPS comparison works

Our comparison will focus on a specific type of VPS hosting plan, the amount of resources available, and their costs. Here’s a couple of details to keep in mind moving forward:

  • We’re looking at 16GB RAM plans. We think these offer the maximum amount of flexibility and ability to run plenty of apps concurrently.
  • Each plan uses a KVM hypervisor.
  • All of these prices are for unmanaged servers, which means you are responsible for installing applications and maintaining your server. Managed services, where an IT team helps you with installation and maintenance, are another matter entirely.
  • Each plan utilizes shared resources, which means your server runs alongside many other servers on a single host.
  • All providers offer full root access.
  • Every plan provides a few different operating system (OS) options, including Ubuntu, Debian, and CentOS.

We’ve decided to skip many of the subjective measures in this VPS comparison, such as who has the best technical support or who has the prettiest dashboards. There’s no real way to quantify those, and we prefer to stick to objective fact. Namely, four essential questions:

  • How much disk space, transfer, and CPU does each 16GB RAM plan come with?
  • What are the prices for each plan?
  • Which plan offers the best value?

March 27, 2018: We just updated this post with new data and new prices based on recent changes from a few of the included hosting providers.

What does each VPS plan offer?

Let’s get a baseline for what we’re looking at with the 16GB RAM plans from these various providers.

8GB plans Vultr Digital Ocean Linode SSD Nodes
RAM 16GB 16GB 16GB 16GB
CPU 6-core 6-core 1-core 2-core
Disk 200GB SSD 320GB SSD 20GB SSD 100GB SSD
Transfer 5TB 6TB 5TB 8TB
Price $80/mo $80/mo $60/mo $8.49/mo

While the amount of RAM offered with each of these plans is the same, everything else is wildly different from provider to provider. It’s impossible to say which particular configuration is best for your needs, so you should do some research into your needs before making a final decision on which provider is right for you.

We are proud, however, to be leading on transfer and price, by quite a large margin.

Get 16GB RAM for $8.49/mo!

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VPS comparison: calculating the value of each plan

Here at SSD Nodes, we believe strongly that most VPS users aren’t getting the most for their money. In fact, it seems like many other providers are charging way too much for what they’re offering. We think value, or the amount of resources you get for every dollar you spend, is an important consideration.

How much RAM do I get per dollar?

Having enough RAM is incredibly important to the performance of your VPS, particularly when it comes to, say, running multiple websites behind a reverse proxy, so it makes sense that you want as much RAM as possible without spending too much.

Using the same 16GB plans and prices listed above, we can calculate the following RAM per dollar figures. It’s a simple equation: (16 / $plan_cost) * 1000. Why multiply by 1000? That’s to convert from GB to MB (in decimal, not binary), which will help make the numbers a little more comprehensible.

Vultr Digital Ocean Linode SSD Nodes
RAM (MB) per dollar ($) 200 MB/$ 200 MB/$ 266.66 MB/$ 8.49

How much disk space do I get per dollar?

Disk space has endless use cases from large-scale databases to mission-critical backups to pictures of your cat Linus. Having a lot of disk space is great, but you also want to make sure you’re getting a good deal—particularly if you don’t plan on filling your VPS with hundreds of Gigabytes of data.

We are calculating disk per dollar using the same method as RAM: ($plan_disk / $plan_cost). Unlike the RAM equation, we’re not going to convert from GB to MB.

Vultr Digital Ocean Linode SSD Nodes
Disk (GB) per dollar ($) 2.5 GB/$ 4 GB/$ 0.33 GB/$ 8.49

How much bandwidth transfer do I get per dollar?

“Transfer” refers to how much data can go into and come out of your VPS in a given month. Every time someone visits your website, for example, they will use a certain amount of transfer. While the average user likely won’t need all of their allotted transfer in a given month—even one terabyte is quite a bit—it’s important to know the transfer value you’re getting.

The transfer per dollar calculation is ($plan_transfer / $plan_cost) * 1000. We multiply by 1000 to convert from TB to GB to make the numbers a little more readable.

Vultr Digital Ocean Linode SSD Nodes
Transfer (GB) per dollar ($) 62.5 GB/$ 75 GB/$ 83.33 GB/$ 8.49

Wrapping up

We’re proud to come out on top—oftentimes by a significant margin—in each of the value comparisons. We can’t always offer the largest number of bytes in a given category, but our engineering team works tirelessly to enable a low-cost infrastructure, and we love passing the savings onto our users. We strongly believe that everyone should be able to deploy virtual servers that are both low-cost and incredibly fast, and I think we’ve proven the value of SSD Nodes.

Even though we believe value is an underrated consideration, it’s not the only variable you should consider when looking for the right VPS hosting provider. Your use case can dramatically affect which variables you should give the most weight—the needs of a single WordPress site are considerably different than the needs of a startup’s SaaS platform with 10,000 concurrent users. Advanced features, such as pre-configured load balancers, come with “advanced” costs, and you should consider whether you need these at all, or whether you’re capable of configuring them yourself.

There are some other questions to consider:

  • What platform does the provider use? Xen, OpenVZ, KVM?
  • Which features do you actually need for your use case?
  • Do you need to run an obscure Linux distribution or Windows, or is Ubuntu 16.04 good enough?
  • Do you need partially- or fully-managed service?
  • What do others think about the service?
  • Has the provider been around long enough to prove their dependability?

Whether you’re at the beginning or end of your VPS research journey, we hope this comparison has been useful. There’s nothing worse than being wasteful—especially with your hosting costs.

And, in the end, which do you prefer: Getting meager value from one of the others, or the best value in VPS hosting from a rapidly-growing company that actually cares about how much you get for your dollar?