VPS $5 Showdown - October 2018 - DigitalOcean vs. Lightsail vs. Linode vs. Vultr

Josh Sherman
8 min read
VPS Showdown
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After many months of enduring inquiries about why I was no longer including Amazon’s Lightsail VPS offering, I’m giving up in and including it in the mix again.

Originally it was dropped because they don’t currently offer Ubuntu 18.04 LTS which I was doing my benchmarks against.

For me personally, I prefer to run the latest and greatest version of my distro of choice when I can, so it made sense to do these reviews on the latest and greatest Ubuntu LTS release.

So yeah, got tired of being asked why it was dropped, so I spent some time today time today retrofitting my [server benchmarks script][bench] to allow for testing with sysbench 0.4.x, as found on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, and 1.0.x, as found on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

To get that apples to apples comparison as I prefer, all hosting providers were running Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and as per usual, I spun up 3 instances of each and averaged the results.


  DigitalOcean Lightsail Linode Vultr
Location New York 1 Virginia, Zone A Newark, NJ New York (NJ)
OS Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
RAM 1 GB 1 GB 1 GB 1 GB
CPU 1 Core 1 Core 1 Core 1 Core
SSD 25 GB 40 GB 25 GB 25 GB
Transfer 1 TB 2 TB 1 TB 1 TB

Right out of the gate, Lightsail is offering up double the included bandwidth and nearly double the storage as everybody else.

CPU Info

  DigitalOcean Lightsail Linode Vultr
CPU MHz 2066.66 2400.07 2466.66 2798.15
Cache Size (KB) 30720.00 30720.00 16384.00 16384.00
BogoMips 2666.33 3200.33 3267.67 3999.67

Vultr’s processor upgrades earlier in the year are still holding strong.


  DigitalOcean Lightsail Linode Vultr
Events per Second 686.04 861.32 776.33 920.52
Minimum (ms) 1.28 1.06 1.20 1.01
Average (ms) 1.50 1.16 1.30 1.12
Maximum (ms) 12.15 1.30 10.26 7.04

Even though Lightsail was edged out by Vultr, Lightsail’s maximum execute time was leaps and bounds better than everybody. If you’re doing a ton of CPU heavy work, Lightsail should give you a more consistent experience without any random slow downs.

Memory (Read)

  DigitalOcean Lightsail Linode Vultr
Ops per Second 1832488.45 610450.95 1204406.60 2308807.56
Minimum (ms) 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Average (ms) 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Maximum (ms) 11.88 8.06 11.47 12.44

On the other hand, if you’re doing anything that’s read or write intensive on the memory, Lightsail wouldn’t be a great choice. Vultr was able to put up some great numbers with DigitalOcean and then Linode taking up the middle.

Memory (Write)

  DigitalOcean Lightsail Linode Vultr
Ops per Second 1855140.50 610214.85 1194220.77 2436094.29
Minimum (ms) 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Average (ms) 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Maximum (ms) 12.88 12.36 24.68 9.58

Pretty consistent with the Memory (Read) data, Vultr up front with Lightsail way behind.

File I/O

  DigitalOcean Lightsail Linode Vultr
Minimum (ms) 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Average (ms) 0.22 0.15 0.19 0.16
Maximum (ms) 9.90 5.85 10.79 10.60

Vultr and Lightsail practically even but Lightsail’s maximums clocked in way lower.


  DigitalOcean Lightsail Linode Vultr
Transactions per Second 251.08 250.25 336.84 296.80
Queries per Second 4770.60 4754.80 6399.92 5639.20
Minimum (ms) 2.65 2.87 2.04 2.27
Average (ms) 4.37 4.04 3.48 3.74
Maximum (ms) 48.04 100.65 36.55 30.65

This is the test that gave me the most amount of grief. Partly because it’s the test that worked differently depending on which version of sysbench works but also because Lightsail doesn’t let you log in as root over SSH, which threw a wrench into some of my scripts.

All that said, Linode really shined on this one coming in ahead of Vultr and really far head of DigitalOcean and Lightsail. Even though DigitalOcean and Lightsail were fairly comparable, Lightsail really struggled with the maximum time.

Speed Test

  DigitalOcean Lightsail Linode Vultr
Distance (km) 2434.90 2090.30 2421.10 2390.76
Latency (ms) 72.359 43.846 62.632 51.852
Download (Mbit/s) 1033.27 197.62 291.52 899.09
Upload (Mbit/s) 478.15 295.33 374.91 484.25

Since Amazon doesn’t have a New York / New Jersey based data center, they got a bit of an edge in regard to distance. Even with said advantage, they clocked in as the slowest of the bunch.

Vultr touts their network speed in comparison to the rest, but couldn’t make good on that, at least in regard to their download speed. Uploads they did fine, but not crazy better or anything.

Apache Benchmark (against nginx on the servers)

  DigitalOcean Lightsail Linode Vultr
Requests per Second 239.01 235.96 231.79 286.31
Time per Request (ms) (mean) 2111.80 2152.55 2161.79 1764.76
Transfer Rate (Kbytes/sec) 200.50 197.94 194.44 240.18

The most subjective review of the bunch, since I’m running ab from my home machine and with a decently connected house and family, a lot of things could factor into this value.

Taken with a grain of salt or two, Vultr was better than the batch while the rest were all clumped up in essentially a tie for second place.


The usual disclaimer here, YMMV and you really should take the time to analyze these benchmarks and make a decision based on your specific needs for your use case.

That said, feel like Vultr put up some really good numbers this month coming in the top 2 slots for most of the categories.

Linode also had a good showing, especially for MySQL, but fell short on the speed test and memory interaction.

DigitalOcean, while putting up some decent metrics, didn’t seem to stand out except for the speed test, but even still, their latency was the worst.

Lightsail for the most part, showed a lot more consistency between their minimum and maximum times, but really fell short in the memory category. With that, if you’re looking for more storage or bandwidth for your buck, they are the obvious call.

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Husband. Father. Pug dad. Musician. Founder of Holiday API, Head of Engineering and Emoji Specialist at Mailshake, and author of the best damn Lorem Ipsum Library for PHP.

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