Perhaps the most popular and most widely used of all the VPS providers out there, DigitalOcean provides a range of VPS options. Starting at $5/mo for a 1 CPU, 512MB system up to $640/mo for a 20 CPU, 64GB setup, DigitalOcean has solutions that can scale with you. All their servers are built with RAID SSD drives, modern hex-core hardware, KVM Virtualization, and reliable Tier-1 bandwidth to ensure maximum performance. They are a fantastic option for hosting your Grav-based site.

After creating an account and depositing some credit into it, you can get started. DigitalOcean let's you create Droplets that represent a VPS instance. You simple click the Create Droplet button in your Control Panel, and fill in the form:

Simply pick a name for your Droplet, and choose a size based on price and server needs. Grav will run fine on any configuration even the base $5/mo option will run Grav quickly and efficiently.

Next, select a Region where your VPS will be located. It's best to pick a region that is going to serve your target audience the best. If the server is for development purposes only, pick one that is located closest to you.

Lastly you will need to select an Image to install. DigitalOcean lets you choose from a wide variety of stock Linux distributions, as well as complete Applications and even prior saved snapshots. For the purpose of this guide, we'll install the latest Ubuntu 16.04 x64 which is very popular and very well supported.

You can leave all the other options at their defaults. After clicking Create Droplet your Droplet will be created within 55 seconds, and you will see it listed in your list of Droplets. You should receive an email with your root password. Clicking on the Droplet you just created you will see various options.

The Access tab in the Droplet Manager allows you to quickly log on to your instance, but using SSH is a more enjoyable experience. Public key authentication is also recommended, and DigitalOcean has great SSH public key authentication documentation that walks you through the steps required.

Update and Upgrade Packages

At this point, you might want to either setup a local /etc/hosts entry to give the IP provided a nice friendly name such as That way you can more easily SSH to your server with ssh

After successfully SSH'ing to your server as root, the first thing you will want to do is update and upgrade all the installed packages. This will ensure you are running the latest-and-greatest:

$ apt update
$ apt upgrade

Just answer Y if prompted.

Before we go any further, let's remove Apache2 which we will replace with Nginx:

$ apt remove apache2*
$ apt autoremove

Next you will want to install some essential packages:

$ apt install vim zip unzip nginx git php7.0-fpm php7.0-cli php7.0-gd php7.0-curl php7.0-mbstring php7.0-xml php7.0-zip php-apcu

This will install the complete VIM editor (rather than the mini version that ships with Ubuntu), Nginx web server, GIT commands, and PHP 7.0.

Configure Nginx Connection Pool

Nginx has already been installed, but you should configure is so that it uses a user-specific PHP connection pool. This will ensure you are secure and avoid any potential file permissions when working on the files as your user account, and via the web server.

Navigate to the pool directory and create a new grav configuration:

$ cd /etc/php/7.0/fpm/pool.d
$ mv www.conf www.conf.bak
$ vi grav.conf

In Vi, you can paste the following pool configuration:


user = grav
group = grav

listen = /run/php/php7.0-fpm.sock

listen.owner = www-data = www-data

pm = dynamic
pm.max_children = 5
pm.start_servers = 2
pm.min_spare_servers = 1
pm.max_spare_servers = 3

chdir = /

The key things here are the user and group being set to a user called grav, and the listen socket having a unique name from the standard socket. Save and exit this file.

We need to create the dedicated grav user now:

$ adduser grav

Provide a strong password, and leave the other values as default. We need to next create an appropriate location for Nginx to serve files from, so let's switch user and create those folder, and create a couple of test files:

$ su - grav
$ mkdir www;cd www;mkdir html;cd html

Create a simple index.html with the contents of:


..and a file called info.php with the contents of:

<?php phpinfo();

Now we can exit out of this user and return to root in order to setup the Nginx server configuration:

$ exit
$ cd /etc/nginx/sites-available/
$ vi grav

Then simply paste in this configuration:

server {
    #listen 80;
    index index.html index.php;

    ## Begin - Server Info
    root /home/grav/www/html;
    ## End - Server Info

    ## Begin - Index
    # for subfolders, simply adjust the rewrite:
    # to use `/subfolder/index.php`
    location / {
        try_files $uri $uri/ /index.php?_url=$uri;
    ## End - Index

    ## Begin - PHP
    location ~ \.php$ {
        # Choose either a socket or TCP/IP address
        fastcgi_pass unix:/run/php/php7.0-fpm.sock;
        # fastcgi_pass;

        fastcgi_split_path_info ^(.+\.php)(/.+)$;
        fastcgi_index index.php;
        include fastcgi_params;
        fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root/$fastcgi_script_name;
    ## End - PHP

    ## Begin - Security
    # deny all direct access for these folders
    location ~* /(.git|cache|bin|logs|backups)/.*$ { return 403; }
    # deny running scripts inside core system folders
    location ~* /(system|vendor)/.*\.(txt|xml|md|html|yaml|php|pl|py|cgi|twig|sh|bat)$ { return 403; }
    # deny running scripts inside user folder
    location ~* /user/.*\.(txt|md|yaml|php|pl|py|cgi|twig|sh|bat)$ { return 403; }
    # deny access to specific files in the root folder
    location ~ /(LICENSE|composer.lock|composer.json|nginx.conf|web.config|htaccess.txt|\.htaccess) { return 403; }
    ## End - Security

This is the stock nginx.conf file that comes with Grav with 2 changes. 1) the root has been adapted to our user/folder we just created and the fastcgi_pass option has been set to the socket we defined in our grav pool. Now we just need to link this file appropriately so that it's enabled:

$ cd ../sites-enabled
$ ln -s ../sites-available/grav
$ rm default

Now all we have to do is restart Nginx and the php7-fpm process and test to ensure we have configured Nginx and the PHP connection pool correctly:

$ service nginx restart
$ service php7.0-fpm restart

Now point your browser at your server: and you should see the text: Working!

You can also test to ensure that PHP is installed and working correctly by pointing your browser to: You should see a standard PHP info page with APCu, Opcache, etc listed.

Installing Grav

This is the easy part! First we need to jump back over to the Grav user, so either SSH as or su - grav from the root login. then follow these steps:

$ cd ~/www
$ wget
$ unzip
$ rm -Rf html
$ mv grav html

Now That's done you can confirm Grav is installed by pointing your browser to and you should be greeted with the Grav is Running! page.

Because you have followed these instructions diligently, you will also be able to use the Grav CLI and Grav GPM commands such as:

$ cd ~/www/html
$ bin/grav clear

Clearing cache

Cleared:  cache/twig/*
Cleared:  cache/compiled/*

Touched: /home/grav/www/html/user/config/system.yaml

and GPM commands:

$ bin/gpm index