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Hosting n8n on DigitalOcean#

This hosting guide shows you how to self-host n8n on a DigitalOcean droplet. It uses:

  • Caddy (a reverse proxy) to allow access to the Droplet from the internet.
  • Docker Compose to create and define the application components and how they work together.

Create a Droplet#

  1. Log in to DigitalOcean.
  2. Select the project to host the Droplet, or create a new project.
  3. In your project, select Droplets from the Manage menu.
  4. Create a new Droplet using the Docker image available on the Marketplace tab.

Droplet resources

When creating the Droplet, DigitalOcean asks you to choose a plan. For most usage levels, a basic shared CPU plan is enough.

SSH or Password

DigitalOcean lets you choose between SSH and password-based authentication. SSH is more secure. The rest of this guide assumes you are using SSH.

Log in to your Droplet#

The rest of this guide requires you to log in to the Droplet using a terminal with SSH. Refer to How to Connect to Droplets with SSH for more information.

Clone configuration repository#

Docker Compose, n8n, and Caddy require a series of folders and configuration files. You can clone these from this repository into the root user folder of the Droplet. The following steps will tell you which file to change and what changes to make.

Clone the repository with the following command:

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git clone https://github.com/n8n-io/n8n-docker-caddy.git

And change directory to the root of the repository you cloned:

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cd n8n-docker-caddy

Default folders and files#

The host operating system (the DigitalOcean Droplet) copies the three folders you created to Docker containers to make them available to Docker. The three folders are:

  • caddy_config: Holds the Caddy configuration files.
  • caddy_data: A cache folder for Caddy.
  • local_files: A folder for files you upload or add using n8n.

Create Docker volume#

To persist the Caddy cache between restarts and speed up start times, create a Docker volume that Docker reuses between restarts:

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docker volume create caddy_data

Set up DNS#

n8n typically operates on a subdomain. Create a DNS record with your provider for the subdomain and point it to the IP address of the Droplet. The exact steps for this depend on your DNS provider, but typically you need to create a new "A" record for the n8n subdomain. DigitalOcean provide An Introduction to DNS Terminology, Components, and Concepts.

Open ports#

n8n runs as a web application, so the Droplet needs to allow incoming access to traffic on port 80 for non-secure traffic, and port 443 for secure traffic.

Open the following ports in the Droplet's firewall by running the following two commands:

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sudo ufw allow 80
sudo ufw allow 443

Configure n8n#

n8n needs some environment variables set to pass to the application running in the Docker container. The example .env file contains placeholders you need to replace with values of your own.

Open the file with the following command:

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nano .env

The file contains inline comments to help you know what to change.

Refer to Environment variables for n8n environment variables details.

The Docker Compose file#

The Docker Compose file (docker-compose.yml) defines the services the application needs, in this case Caddy and n8n.

  • The Caddy service definition defines the ports it uses and the local volumes to copy to the containers.
  • The n8n service definition defines the ports it uses, the environment variables n8n needs to run (some defined in the .env file), and the volumes it needs to copy to the containers.

The Docker Compose file uses the environment variables set in the .env file, so you shouldn't need to change it's content, but to take a look, run the following command:

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nano docker-compose.yml

Configure Caddy#

Caddy needs to know which domains it should serve, and which port to expose to the outside world. Edit the Caddyfile file in the caddy_config folder.

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nano caddy_config/Caddyfile

Change the placeholder domain to yours. If you followed the steps to name the subdomain n8n, your full domain is similar to n8n.example.com. The n8n in the reverse_proxy setting tells Caddy to use the service definition defined in the docker-compose.yml file:

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n8n.<domain>.<suffix> {
    reverse_proxy n8n:5678 {
      flush_interval -1
    }
}

Start Docker Compose#

Start n8n and Caddy with the following command:

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docker compose up -d

This may take a few minutes.

Test your setup#

In your browser, open the URL formed of the subdomain and domain name defined earlier. Enter the user name and password defined earlier, and you should be able to access n8n.

Stop n8n and Caddy#

You can stop n8n and Caddy with the following command:

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sudo docker compose stop

Next steps#