So Digital Ocean is awesome. They bring a lot to the table that Amazon does not. For example, with a Digital Droplet, you have option of choosing Fedora, CentOS, Ubuntu, and more. For RPM distros, AWS only has Amazon AMI (not my favorite) and Redhat which is incredibly expensive. With Digital Ocean, you also have the option of logging in to your droplet through a console provided by Digital Ocean that is located in your admin panel, very handy if you lose your keys. With Amazon, recovery is complex to nth degree.
Digital Ocean also has predictable prices, which is awesome. You can watch the price accrue in the upper right hand corner of your admin account. With AWS, you have to log into your billing section or you may be surprised by an extreme uptick in usage.
So why did I choose AWS.
First off, even though a more established Open Source RPM distro is going to beat Amazon AMI hands down any day of the week, I’m not doing mission critical tasks and I can do Ubuntu which is the OS of choice for most Webmasters. That said, Fedora and CentOS are going to beat Amazon any day of the week, simply because they are open source and they have a vibrant community of contributors. Amazon AMI doesn’t even ship with SELinux enabled. You have to configure it.
What does Amazon have that Digital Ocean doesn’t. First off, the Free Tier. One awesome year of Amazon freebies. It by far outstrips any goodie bag from any of the competitors. Second off, Amazon is fast. Storage is cheap. And the firewall, my friends, is secure. And last I checked, Amazon had Redhat VMs, whereas Digital Ocean did not. If I was doing mission critical tasks, Redhat would be my weapon of choice.
I recommend Digital Ocean for someone who is new to do it yourself webhosting. Digital Ocean has the best documentation on the Web and their products are easy to use. They’ve managed to make something with a moderately steep learning curve, intuitive and even pleasant. But nothing matches the raw power of an AWS account.