The Best Cloud Compute / Web Hosting
This is our response to an email from a reader.
With their permission, we have released their anonymized original email, as well as our response. We're doing this because we believe the information and insights contained in our responses can be more broadly helpful, especially as we're still working on the full-length guide. However, do note that this recommendation will be rougher and less in-depth than our full-length guides, and that some of our guidance might change as we complete our research on a topic.
If you want a recommendation on a category that we haven't yet posted about, don't hesitate to shoot us an email.
We've received a number of emails from founders complaining about their surprise AWS bill after their startup deals ran out. Ostensibly there's a simple answer: just set up alarms in AWS Billing and AWS Cloudwatch. But that leads to a question: why do you have to jump through so many hoops to figure out how much you're currently spending?
We've used many of the cloud compute platforms for ourselves and we'd be pretty confident saying that a lot of startups would be best served by DigitalOcean.
The big three compute platforms (e.g. AWS, GCP, Azure) are insanely complicated, because they each have 100+ service offerings. DO only has a handful.
The idea here is that you won't have to spend a week figuring out IAM, S3, Auto Scaling, etc. just to get something robust running.
Also, DO charges an hourly rate for a Droplet, but which caps out at a fixed fee per month. So you aren't going to get a surprise charge of \$500 just because you misunderstood something. And if you want to see how much you're spending per month, you just have to look at the top-right corner of the dashboard.
Plus, DO instances ("droplets") are usually cheaper than AWS/Azure/GCP instances for the same performance, and are overall the best on comparative performance benchmarks.
Just for full coverage, Linode and Rackspace both have some notable problems (complexity and security breaches w/ former, complexity and low NPS for the latter), which is why we wouldn't recommend them.
Also, note that Heroku and Render aren't general purpose cloud compute platforms, so we aren't including them here, but we'll talk about where you should/shouldn't use those services in a later guide.