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Hosting is free in 2020

free hosting, cloud2 min read

Nowadays, hosting costs for small websites, webapps or even API's are cheap and sometimes FREE! Ranging from several kinds of solutions, classic shared hosting, cloud solutions, static websites, most of them got something in common: free tiers for small businesses or non-commercial use.

I call it outsourcing hosting as the business model is very similar to what outsourcing platforms usually do. That is, offer a small and limited service so you can prototype and test your product in real world without committing on high costs. Eventually you will need more resources and that's when paid plan comes in.

The good thing is that for small or personal projects, free tiers are enough!

So getting to the point, I'm going to categorize hosting services as following: static web hosting, backend or BaaS and outsource services.

Static web hosting

It doesn't need a server to render the web page. This includes traditional html+css websites, Single page application (SPA's) or JAMstack webapps (usually published on CDNs). There is plenty of options out there but these are my favorites:

  • Netlify - one website with Continuous Deployment for free up to 300 builds per month, always free
  • GitHub Pages - one website per GitHub account, always free
  • Vercel - unlimited websites, always free
  • Surge.sh - unlimited websites, always free
  • Amazon S3 - one website up to 5GB storage, free for 12 months
  • Firebase - multiple websites in a single project

Backend or BaaS

For websites that need a backend to serve an API or just for rendering purposes, there is also a few good options out there.you These providers can support multiple features as database hosting, serverless functions, storage, containerization, etc.

  • Heroku - full featured cloud service, 1000 free dyno hours per month
  • OpenShift Online - 1 project free, 2GiB of storage and memory
  • AWS Lambda - Serverless functions always free, 12 months and trials on other stuff. Check aws.amazon.com/free
  • Azure - 12 month free for popular services + credits, less features always free. Check free stuff here
  • Backendless - up to 1m API calls, 5 database tables 50k push notifications, always free
  • Vercel - Serverless functions always free
  • Netlify - Serverless functions always free

Outsource Services

Some projects though require more complex set of services as it might need authentication, databases or even monitoring. We can also outsource these services and make use of free tiers! Although most of them are also available by BaaS and cloud providers, there is a few more niche oriented as you can check below:

  • Databases

    • mLab - 500MB for MongoDB databases, always free
    • Amazon DynamoDB - NoSQL 25GB always free
  • Monitoring

    • New Relic - lite plan always free
    • site24x7 - 5 URL's with email notifications for free
  • Marketing and emailing

    • SendGrid - marketing emails up to 100/day for free, always free
    • MailChimp - basic marketing features for free, includes website builder and free custom domain
  • Forms

    • Formspree - unlimited forms, 50 submissions per month, always free
    • Netlify - 100 submissions per month, always free
  • Authentication

It's also common for big players to offer free credits for a short period of time, this could be a 100$ free credits to get you started, for example. You might be asked for credit card details in order to use free credits or trial periods.

We know that popular cloud providers are usually full-featured but free tiers limits don't always match our needs. So, if you can combine them you can get a quite nice system up and running on zero -ish costs.

I haven't used every option suggested, some I've added because they are popular and got good feedback. Also it's worth mention that this post is NOT sponsored by any company and I really hope it helps someone to save costs. And to wrap up, there is a comments section below!

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author @RobertoRJ
Thanks for reading my article. I am Roberto, a software developer pretending to be a writer!
Based in Gibraltar. Get in touch @RobertoRJ or email me at em.susejotrebor@tniopyrtne