Heroku vs DigitalOcean: Which One Is the Best Choice for Your Startup?

Heroku vs DigitalOcean: Which One Is the Best Choice for Your Startup?
The Siliconreview
03 April, 2023

If you're starting a tech-based business, one of the first decisions you'll need to make is where to host your application. Two popular options are Heroku and DigitalOcean. While both offer cloud-based hosting solutions, they have different strengths and weaknesses that make them better suited for different types of startups.

Heroku is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) that allows developers to deploy and manage their applications without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure. It's owned by Salesforce, and its focus is on making the deployment process as simple and straightforward as possible. DigitalOcean, on the other hand, is an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) that gives developers more control over the underlying infrastructure.


When it comes to cost, DigitalOcean is generally the cheaper option. Its pricing model is based on the resources you use, such as CPU, RAM, and storage, and you can scale up or down as needed. Heroku, on the other hand, has a more complex pricing model that includes both dyno hours and add-ons.

Dynos are the basic unit of computation on Heroku, and you'll need to pay for a certain number of hours per month depending on how many dynos you need. Add-ons are optional services like databases or caching that you can add to your application for an additional fee.

For smaller startups or applications that don't require a lot of resources, DigitalOcean is likely the more cost-effective option. However, as your application grows and requires more resources, the costs can quickly add up. Heroku's pricing model may be more complex, but it can be more predictable and easier to budget for in the long run.

Ease of Use

One of Heroku's biggest strengths is its ease of use. Its web-based interface makes it easy to deploy and manage your application, and its pre-built add-ons make it easy to add functionality like databases, caching, and monitoring. Heroku also has a large community of developers who have built integrations and plugins that make it even easier to use with popular tools like GitHub and Slack.

DigitalOcean, on the other hand, requires more technical expertise to set up and manage. You'll need to configure servers, install software, and manage backups and security yourself. However, this also means you have more control over the underlying infrastructure and can customize it to meet your specific needs.


Both Heroku and DigitalOcean are scalable, but they do it in different ways. Heroku's scaling is automatic and dynamic, meaning it can quickly scale up or down depending on the traffic to your application. This makes it easy to handle sudden spikes in traffic, but it can also be more expensive since you're paying for resources you may not always need.

DigitalOcean, on the other hand, requires more manual intervention to scale up or down. You'll need to spin up new servers and configure load balancing yourself. However, this gives you more control over how your application scales and can be more cost-effective if you have predictable traffic patterns.


When it comes to support, Heroku has a more comprehensive offering. Its support team is available 24/7 to help with any issues you may encounter, and its documentation is extensive and easy to follow. Heroku also has a large community of developers who can help answer questions and provide guidance.

DigitalOcean, on the other hand, has a more limited support offering. Its support team is only available during business hours, and its documentation can be more technical and difficult to follow. However, DigitalOcean does have a community forum where developers can ask for help and share knowledge.


Both Heroku and DigitalOcean take security seriously and offer a range of security features to protect your application. Heroku provides security features like SSL encryption, secure connections to databases, and automated security updates, as well as its own security team to monitor for threats.

DigitalOcean has a number of security features built into its platform, such as automatic backups and secure password hashing. It also offers the option of adding additional layers of security, such as firewalls and malware scans, at an additional cost.

Pros and Cons of Heroku


  • Easy to use and quick to set up
  • Automatic scaling and deployment
  • Extensive documentation and support
  • Large community of developers and pre-built add-ons


  • More expensive than DigitalOcean for larger applications
  • Limited control over underlying infrastructure
  • Limited customization options

Pros and Cons of Digital Ocean


  • More cost-effective than Heroku for larger applications
  • More control over underlying infrastructure
  • Customizable and flexible


  • Requires more technical expertise to set up and manage
  • Manual scaling and deployment
  • Limited support offering

Which Service Is Best For You?

When choosing between Heroku and DigitalOcean there are several factors you must consider first in order to ensure that your company makes the best decision possible. If cost is your main priority then Heroku can provide better pricing options than Digital Ocean; however, if scalability is more important then going with DigitalOcean may be a better route since it offers admin-friendly tools tailored towards managing multiple virtual machines simultaneously.

Ultimately, the decision between Heroku and DigitalOcean will depend on the specific needs of your startup. If you're looking for a simple, easy-to-use solution with automatic scaling and a wide range of add-ons, Heroku may be the better choice. On the other hand, if you need more control over the underlying infrastructure and want a more cost-effective solution for larger applications, DigitalOcean may be the better option. The final decision depends on your requirements, but both Heroku and Digital Ocean are good options.