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Can I run WordPress on Digital Ocean?

By March 30, 2016April 6th, 20163 Comments

If you have been stuck on shared hosting for a while and your WordPress website performance has suffered due to inconsistent server response times, it is likely that a move to a dedicated server or VPS has crossed your mind. But the cost of such hosting accounts can be significant. That is why I found options like Amazon S3 and Digital Ocean to be compelling options. But are you concerned with the question: Can I run WordPress on Digital Ocean?

The answer is yes, you can run WordPress on Digital Ocean and it’s easier than ever to get set up with their pre-configured droplet. Just sign up at Digital Ocean, provide billing information, select the WordPress droplet which pre-configures Ubuntu, Apache, PHP, and MySql for you as well and you’ll be off to the races. There are obviously a few more concerns, so I wanted to share a couple tips from my experience.

Link: View the WordPress One-Click Tutorial on Digital Ocean

Do I Need To Know How To Run Command Line?

Command line will be required, but the tutorials are excellent. If you have learned to do any development in the past, I can tell you the amount of command line you will need is made totally doable by the loads of tutorials available in the support community at Digital Ocean. The very first command line usage will be covered by the WordPress install tutorial.

Can I connect by FTP?

The answer is No, but you can run sFTP which is supported by such FTP clients as FileZilla. Chances are you have been running sFTP of some of your sites already without realizing it. The geeks will tell you that FTP is insecure and should never be used. The good news is that you won’t notice the difference once you’re connected.

Link: Get FileZilla

Can I use my domains registered elsewhere?

Yep, just point the A record at the new hosting IP and you’ll be good to go.

Link: Digital Ocean Tutorial on Managing DNS

Can I use PHPMyAdmin?

Yep, this was a non-negotiable for me. SQL via command line was not something I wanted to deal with. I build and migrate sites weekly and have gotten it down to an art form with PHPMyAdmin in place.

Link: Install PHPMyAdmin on Digital Ocean

What about running multiple installs on one droplet?

There is no cPanel to host a one-click install of WordPress here, so I was curious whether the system would let me run multiple installs. The key was addressing the PHPMyAdmin question first. Then I was able to create a new user there, which then allowed me to create a new database. Upload WordPress to a sub-folder, and you’re up and running with the WP install process like before. See note about file permissions below.

Can I run multiple domains on one droplet?

This was the biggest learning curve for me, but I figured it out with help from the tutorials once again. What you want to do is create what are called Virtual Hosts and Symlinks. You are registering the domains you want to use with the server and mapping them to the appropriate folders. Keep in mind that you would not use the same sub-folder approach just mentioned above as you will define your folder locations through the symlink setup process. Just upload the WP files there instead and you’ll be good.

Link: Set Up Virtual Hosts on Digital Ocean

What was the biggest hassle for me?

File permissions. I’m still not a server management genius (as you can tell), and I had to get my mind around how user and user-groups work on the server. When I first installed WordPress in a sub-folder using my root sFTP login, all files were owned by root and therefore not editable by the WordPress install. The key for me was to change ownership of the uploaded files via command line. I’ve had to do this several times until it was up and running, but it seems to be stable now.

Link: Fix the file permissions on your additional WP install with ‘chown’.


So what are you waiting for? Get started on Digital Ocean now!

Scott Bothel

About Scott Bothel

I'm a digital marketing consultant living and working in the Greater Seattle area. My passion is to help small businesses leverage web marketing to accomplish great things!


  • James Scott says:

    This is a fine post by Scott regarding WordPress on Digitaloccean. My blogs are also hosted on Digitalocean servers. i use Cloudways managed WordPress hosting platform where they have optimized and managed cloud servers, 1- Click installations, Unlimited Staging URLs and website installs, Easy Multi SSL integration and the best 24/7 Support.

  • Scott Bothel says:

    Thanks James! I work with WPEngine for managed hosting, but it’s good to hear there’s another quality option out there. I’ll have to check out their pricing.

  • James Scott says:

    Welcome Scott