Is the 6$ DO droplet enough?

I am ready to pay DigitalOcean $6 / month for their 1GB / 25GB plan. But I keep reading that Discourse won’t be able to be able to perform on such low specs.

1 Like

I have a server with the same specs on Vultr. Discourse runs just fine.


1 GB RAM should be fine for small communities, as the team wrote in discourse/ at main · discourse/discourse · GitHub

By the way, you may love to have a look at aws lightsail, whose pricing appears more attractive than DO.


I’m curious, @anxvew have you managed to host Discourse for free? :grinning:

By chance I saw a topic on this:

This might be helpful for you, though I didn’t try this approach. Also, Discourse is offering free hosting if you meet the requirements. Check this: Free Hosting for Open Source | Discourse - Civilized Discussion

1 Like

But you still have to worry about email … so … $$

1 Like

When you mean small communities, can we safely assume max of 1000 users ?

I would like to have a Discourse powered Q&A site for a non profit community on careers for college and school going students. So there’s no way they can charge anyone or get some funding for this. So its based on donations or volunteering resources. So was wondering what would be the minimum donations required per month to sustain a Discourse site for this purpose ?

Suffice to say, try it, if you run into limits, slow performance, migrate to a more capable VPS, it’s fairly simple to do so.


Yeah… But I assume that andrew won’t be sending too many emails, there are some providers giving generous free plans for low-volume sending.

I’m on 2GB/1vcpu by DO with small community (<1000 users, just few new topics/replies per day, handful chat messages, most bots are forbidden) and I’m close to low memory all the time meaning ~90% is in use.

I haven’t had any issues because of that, though. And I know unused RAM is the most expensive RAM :wink:


It’s hard to define if a community is small or not solely by the total of users. What matters is the number of simultaneously active users, 'cause that’s what primarily gives pressure on your server. Codinghorror gave some key numbers to consider in this post.

My forum is on a 4GB instance, along with a self-hosted Matomo analytics. I have nearly six hundred users, but only 13% of them were active in the last month, not to mention how many of them were active at the same time. :smiling_face_with_tear: The average memory usage of my machine is 2.6GB.

My guess is that for a such Q&A site with 1000 users, 2gb is a safe choice, if the community is active enough, you may need a 4gb instance at most. And my advice is the same as codinghorror’s, you can upsize a droplet when you find it stressful.

Other than the server charge, the fee should also include the domain fee and SMTP provider charge (which can be reduced to nearly zero if you find a cheap service). Assume that you purchased a domain at $10/year, chose a 2gb 1vCPU server at lightsail ($10), used a free SMTP service, then the minimum donations are $12.


If you have a small community with just a few users it works just fine. You’ll run out of disk space after you’ve rebuilt a few times and will need to do a launcher cleanup frequently. I prefer the $12/month with 50gb, but you an resize later with just a few minutes of down time.


Indeed, there’s no hard limit to number of users or amount of activity - it’s just that the forum will be slower to load and refresh as it starts to struggle with memory.

And on the topic of memory, you should expect your RAM to be used. You will have swap, and that too will be used, and that’s one thing which can become a hard limit. Keeping an eye on free swap and on paging activity will let you know how that’s going. (Use top or free and/or vmstat for this.)

And yes, disk space is another hard limit which might be limiting, and probably the first one you’ll hit - the biggest variable here is how many uploads your users make and how big they are. You’ll either need an instance with more disk space or you’ll need to split the upload storage to a cloud storage provider. There’s information on that, but I haven’t yet done it myself.

You do need more free space to update the software than you do to run the forum, so every few weeks when an update comes around you might need to see how you are doing. Downloading and then deleting your backups can help.

I wrote more here:


There are some free email services I’m pretty sure, or ones that offer things such as free 2000 emails per month or something, there are choices out there, just some of them are lesser known.


I have a low-use forum, and with fairly active management found I could work within the cheapest ($5/month - thanks @pfaffman for the correction!) DO plan - but I did need to download all automatic backups and then delete them from the DO server every time I updated Discourse software (which was quite often), because the upgrade process typically otherwise failed for lack of space.

This became a bit painful, so I ended up moving up to the next DO service tier after a while.

So certainly possible - and you should be keeping remote backups either way.


I think you mean $5, not 5gb. :wink:


the smallest droplet runs fine for me, I have about 8,000 visitors per month and 8,000 page views per day - no issues.


That’s amazing news - thanks for sharing.


I should note the statistics I gave are from google analytics and the forum data. About 800 registered forum users, and about 10X that in terms of unregistered users.

I’m not sure what the key metrics are that require greater capacity droplets - bandwidth/file size/data storage? I’ll go up when performance degrades for users - but no sign of that yet. I’m extremely happy at $5/month for the Digital Ocean service.

Here are the metrics from the forum



125 active users in the last 24 hrs ! This is more than enough - I don’t think the non-profit Im associated with will cross this in the near future. Only after some word-of-mouth marketing would we need to think of resizing the droplet. Thank You very much for this very informational stats.


An update on how much traffic you can handle on a $5/month droplet for Discourse on Digital Ocean:

No problems yet: