Hosting for Developers: 15 Platforms With a Free Plan

The majority of developer-friendly hosting providers have a free plan available. And, in a lot of cases, you can use this free plan to host your website, blog, or a full-scale application. In this article, we'll look at some of the best hosting platforms for developers. Use their services to deploy React, Django, Next.js, or any other popular framework project.

Cloud Hosting for Apps

Want to push your local environment to production for all of the world to see? No problem. This will be the only resource you will ever need to find free hosting for apps, static websites, personal projects, and much more. And, I sincerely mean it.

Modern web and software development is much more complex than traditional website hosting. Apps are often wrapped into Docker containers, Kubernetes, or use a runtime like Node.js. And customizing a VPS every time you want to deploy to production is inefficient.

A full-stack app alone needs several layers of structure: front-end (framework), back-end (data access), and storage (database). So, the ideal hosting platform will provide the tools to take care of all the layers simultaneously. This is the premise of this article.

Who are these hosting platforms for?

The platforms mentioned in this roundup are ideal for developers. Specifically, developers who wish to showcase personal projects or host static portfolio sites. Further, these platforms target developers working with the modern web stack.

Example #1: Node.js analytics script

Let's say you want to deploy something like the Ackee analytics script to track website visitors. Do you need a dedicated server for this? Not really. You can use any of the free platforms below to deploy the script and then embed it into your main app.

Example #2: Blog built with Django

Want to host your project built with Django for free? No problem. The majority of cloud platforms in this roundup provide a seamless deployment interface.

Simply specify the location of your GitHub project and deploy. This is great for showcasing projects in real-time or by creating a demo page that you can link back to your project.

Example #3: React.js portfolio

A modern React app or a website will need both a runtime, but also bundle configuration. This is impossible to deploy on a traditional hosting provider. So, using a hosting platform that specializes in this kind of environment is mandatory.

A lot of the platforms on this list you will have heard of already. Simply because they're popular amongst developers who want to share their projects in a production environment.

Example #4: SPA built with Meteor

Meteor is a popular choice when it comes to building Single Page Applications. If you're building a dynamic product and need to deploy it, this article is for you.

Example #5: Alternatives to Heroku

I have already made a statement at the bottom of this page, but I'm also adding one here. On August 25th, Heroku announced they would remove their free plan, meaning developers will be looking for Heroku alternatives. As such, this article is a perfect fit. You'll find plenty of great companies that specialize in front-end and back-end hosting listed below.

If you work in front-end or back-end, or both - then this roundup is for you. A number of the cloud platforms in this list also do middleman services. E.g. PaaS, but also provide the infrastructure to let you focus on writing more code.

What are the limitations of a free plan?

Is there a catch to using a free cloud hosting platform for your app? Not really. Simply put, the companies listed below depend on their free plans to attract new customers.

Let's say you are enjoying the free plan and find it comfortable to use in your development process. In this case, it is far more likely that you will turn into an actual paying customer. As for resource limits, these are set by each platform individually.

I will do my best to highlight that in each of the descriptions.

Can you use these free tiers for a startup?

Yes. While some have specific limitations, in most cases, it should be possible to host your startup website and application on a free tier. To simplify the process, I have added a "features" table at the end of each review. This will give you an idea of what you can expect from a free plan. But, in most cases, you'll want to refer to the official docs, anyway.


Netlify

Netlify - Develop & deploy the best web experiences in record time

Netlify is the go-to platform for deploying modern web projects. It comes with an integrated system to let you quickly deploy projects from GitHub and GitLab. All it takes is the URL of your project, and build specification, and you're done.

Other than the user-friendly UI, Netlify will also throw in free SSL and give you access to its super-fast CDN. Another feature Netlify stands out with is Serverless support. Want to connect Gatsby with the WordPress API? No problem, use the Functions Playground to create your first Serverless function and deploy it instantly.

Last but not least, Netlify maintains an extremely active project page on GitHub.

To date, they have published more than 240 packages for open-source collaboration. In other words, their hosting service is built by developers for developers.

Netlify Free Plan Features
Deploy project builds automatically with Git. Personal or private repos.
Build history so you can rollback when an issue presents itself.
100GB of bandwidth. 6 hours of build time.
Access to the Edge network - globally distributed CDN.
Host an unlimited number of websites.

Vercel

Develop. Preview. Ship. For the best frontend teams – Vercel

If you work with React, then you must have heard of Vercel before. It's the parent company for the immensely popular Next.js framework. Vercel focuses on streamlined workflow integration with native support for CI & CD. Deploying is as simple as picking a repository from GitHub, and Vercel will build it automatically.

The platform is specifically optimized for frameworks like Next, React, Vue, Ember, Nuxt, Angular, and more than 30 other popular frameworks. With Vercel, you can also enjoy working together with your entire development team. For this purpose, Vercel has built specific tools that implement world-class collaboration features.

For example, new deployments (git push) are held in preview mode. As such, you and your team can confirm that the changes make sense. Vercel is trusted by teams across brands like Hashnode, Facebook, Zapier, Uber, and many others.

Vercel Free Plan Features
Only available to non-commercial projects: websites, apps, etc.
Built-in Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment.
100GB bandwidth with 100 hours of build time execution.
Free SSL and DDoS protection.
100k calls through Edge Functions.
Teams are not available to Hobby accounts.

Replit

Host anything, anytime - Replit

At its core, Replit is a browser-based collaborative IDE. However, they do happen to provide hosting for web developers, also. It does mean that you will be locked into their platform, but who am I to turn down something for free?

The platform has been around for a while now. In recent history, they managed to secure a substantial Series B to further push innovation efforts.

Because Replit is IDE-first, you will have access to all major programming languages. And, this also includes more intricate choices like Node.js and TypeScript. Through the use of external CDNs (unpkg) you can also create projects within the scope of a framework.

Replit Free Plan Features
Unlimited projects.
Up to 500MB of free storage.
All free projects are run on 512MB RAM machines.
Live collaboration - invite friends or team members for collaborative sharing.

Fly.io

Deploy app servers close to your users · Fly

Fly specializes in full-stack deployment through containerized images. The platform does automated resource provisions based on incoming load. Further, Fly provides out-of-the-box configs for networks, load balancers, and SSL management.

The platform, which is backed by YCombinator, specializes in providing a global CDN for back-end services. In other words, Fly will deliver your app services from a location closest to your users. This is as close as it gets to a native CDN!

If you already package all your apps with Docker, then using Fly is a no-brainer. And they do a pretty darn good job at writing tutorials, too. In recent news, they also started providing free access to Postgres databases. Up to 3GB of free data storage!

Fly.io Free Plan Features
3x Shared CPU machines with 256MB of RAM.
Up to 3GB of free storage with persistent volumes.
Up to 160GB of free bandwidth for outbound calls.
IPv4 (1 per account) and IPV6 (unlimited) addresses.
Up to 10 free SSL certificates.

Qovery

Qovery - The simplest way to deploy your applications on AWS

If you have no prior experience in managing cloud infrastructure, then Qovery is for you. The platform was built from the ground up to help startups scale their operations. Currently, Qover is available for AWS, DigitalOcean, and Scaleway users.

So, to make it absolutely clear. To use the Qovery services, you will need an account on one of those cloud services. As far as I know, AWS is quite generous with its free plans.

And in combination with Qovery has to offer - it can create a powerful combo. At least for small-scale projects that you aren't ready to fully commit to.

If that's not an issue, you can take full advantage of Qovery's core features. Build directly from Git, deploy in various stages, and use Kubernetes to scale when demand grows.

Qovery Free Plan Features
Instant deployment to your AWS instances.
Up to 10 apps with a limit of 1 user.
Automated deployment from GitHub or GitLab.
Database storage with MySQL, Redis, or PostgreSQL.
Monitoring to keep track of your projects' health.

Railway

Deploy an App to Production in Minutes - Railway

Railway helps developers get their apps up and running in the cloud. The platform works by setting up a development environment for each project. Then, it can automate tasks like app deployment, cluster management, and more.

One of the cool things about Railway is that it provides many ways to do in-app management. For example, if you set up a MongoDB instance - you can manage the database directly from the Railway dashboard. The process requires no configuration.

You can also choose to start from scratch by using one of their starters.

This GitHub repository includes more than 50 unique templates. You can do things like deploying an Express.js app with Postgres. And, launch a custom Discord bot that actually works in real-time.

Overall, Railway provides a substantial amount of resources to get you started.

Railway Free Plan Features
Shared CPU (Container) with 512MB of RAM.
A total of 1GB disk space shared between all projects.
100GB of monthly bandwidth.
Instant deployment from GitHub repos.

Layer0

Build Sites Better, Faster, & Stronger on Layer0

Layer0 is a cloud hosting platform with native integration of edge logic. It is built as a performance-first platform, focusing on application speed even in demanding conditions. And, like many other platforms in this list - Layer0 is built for a smooth developer workflow.

Getting up and running takes less than a few minutes.

Choose your GitHub project, and you can have a live URL ready in no time. Layer0 offers extensive tooling to get Jamstack apps up and running. This includes, but is not limited to - React, Next, Remix, Preact, Eleventy, Stencil, and many others.

Best of all, Layer0 is more than happy to give its cutting-edge features to free accounts. This includes access to their Edge infrastructure for incredibly fast load times. Additionally, you get access to real-time monitoring through RUM Analytics.

Layer0 Free Plan Features
Custom domain name: limited to 1.
Separate development environment.
100GB free bandwidth, optimized through an Edge network.
Native image optimization and HTTP/2 enabled.
Rollbacks and log management.

Render

Cloud Application Hosting for Developers - Render

Render delivers developer-friendly cloud solutions. Their platform supports the deployment of Docker containers, web applications, static websites, and Postgre databases. Like many other services in this list, it is a cloud service that eliminates the need for DevOps.

And, they provide a very generous free tier. From your Render dashboard, you can select Web Services to get started. First, you need to provide a link to your GitHub repo. Afterward, Render will automatically do the build configuration and deploy it to a live address.

Render works well with frameworks like Django, and Pheonix, and supports languages like Elixir, Rust, Go, and Node.js, among others. The only real limitation is that Render utilizes the "sleep when inactive" method. That limit is currently set to 15 minutes.

This means that the service might not be the best choice for publishing a production-ready application. Rather, you can use Render's free cloud services to tinker with personal projects. Additionally, you can explore new frameworks and libraries without needing to build the infrastructure yourself.

Render Free Plan Features
Support for Static sites, Web services, and Databases through Postgre.
Use your custom Docker container.
100GB for bandwidth and 1GB for storage.
Up to 400 hours of build time.

Stormkit

Stormkit - Serverless infrastructure for javascript applications

Stormkit is designed specifically for JavaScript projects: Node.js and JAMStack. The platform gives you the freedom to work on code while taking care of infrastructure. With Stormkit, you get automated deployments, log management, hosting, and tools for scaling your app.

It's the perfect platform if you're looking to push to production quickly. Automated deployments can be set based on commits or individual pull requests. You can always switch this off, of course. Likewise, you have the option to set a specific runtime.

Stormkit Free Plan Features
Limited to 1 app per account.
50GB of bandwidth, on a 'per app' basis.
Unlimited environments, domains, and deployments.
Push to production: live environment.

Koyeb

Koyeb - The fastest way to deploy applications globally

Koyeb is a serverless-first platform providing hosting services for developers. It's suitable for projects such as web apps, API services, serverless events, various workers, and more.

Of course, because Koyeb is serverless, there is no direct association with a cloud interface. However, for the purpose of this article - I think it's a good fit regardless. You have the option to build your app directly from Git, or by using a Docker image.

Git deployments are as simple as connecting your repository through Koyeb's dashboard.

On top of automated builds, your projects will be continuously deployed. You'll find a few example apps provided by Koyeb in the official docs. Some example combos include Python & Flask, Node.js & Express, PHP & Laravel, and others.

Koyeb Free Plan Features
Unlimited apps, workers, and APIs
Free SSL, load-balancer, and native HTTP/2
Deploy with containers or Git
2GB (!) of RAM
Automated scaling of resources based on app demand

Glitch

Code, collaborate, & ship in seconds - Glitch

Glitch is most often referred to as the go-to code collaboration sandbox. If you teach students, then Glitch provides the means to work on new lessons together.

As for the platform features - they're quite good.

Over the years, Glitch has added support for full-stack applications. This covers frameworks like React or a Node.js (including access to npm) project. Unfortunately, despite native full-stack support: free plans are limited by sleep mode.

When you choose to start a new project with Glitch, you have the option to import a pre-made project directly from GitHub. As such, you can work on your projects from within the Glitch editing dashboard. Which, I might add, does a darn good job of replicating the VSCode experience in a browser. Or maybe I'm daydreaming.

Glitch Free Plan Features
All projects, including the codebase, are displayed publicly.
Sleep mode for full-stack apps (5min), but not for static sites.
Import from GitHub with a single click.
Live preview when editing from the Glitch editor.

Fleek

Fleek - Build on the New Internet

Fleek is a bit of a unique addition to this list. In a sense that the platform is focused on services for the Open Web. In other words, decentralized services.

An example would be deploying and hosting your application on IPFS. Fleek uses a combination of P2P and custom Edge solutions to deliver optimal performance.

In simpler terms, Fleek is building solutions to make Web3 accessible to everyday developers. This includes working closely with technologies like Ethereum, Filecoin, and others. If you already do development within the blockchain, then Fleek might give you the tools to help you make that leap towards a decentralized protocol.

Fleek Free Plan Features
SSL + a custom domain.
Git integration with CD.
No limit to active projects.
3GB of data storage with 50GB of bandwidth.
Can deploy practically any full-stack app or project. Check docs.

Flatlogic

Flatlogic

Flatlogic has been around since 2018. And, in the recent year, they have started to push out some great new features. As a whole, Flatlogic is a complete platform for getting your full-stack applications to production. You can use their Generator feature to spin up a full-stack template app rapidly. This includes the layout, specific stack, and database schema.

Alternatively, push from GitHub to a live server directly. The repo gets automatically compiled and built, so you can avoid setting up a server entirely. If anything, the features provided by Flatlogic make it easier to understand how to deploy an application.

Their extensive support for modern frameworks and custom tech stacks make it a great choice not only for beginners but also for seasoned software engineers.

Flatlogic Free Plan Features
Deploy up to 10 times a month.
Limited to front-end apps only.
Custom dashboards to integrate with your project.
Works for Headless CMS use cases.

Deta

Deta Cloud

Is there such a thing as completely free hosting for web devs? Turns out there is. Deta Cloud is a build and deployment platform for aspiring developers. It won't give you the resources to host the next Uber, but it certainly provides plenty for early-stage startups.

The product is divided into three parts:

  • Base. This is the core feature of Deta. It deploys a NoSQL database which you can use to build serverless functions, APIs, and custom integrations.
  • Micro. With Micro, you can launch a runtime that you can use to deploy apps on HTTP. Supports Python and Node.js. Virtual Machine access is locked to you as the root user, with no way to interact through SSH.
  • Drive. 10GB of file storage. Encrypted, and all keys are stored by Deta themselves.

If you want to learn more, read through the docs. It's definitely an enticing option for what they have to offer. Also, if you have additional questions, they do have a public Discord server. Check it out if you're unsure that Deta can handle your app project.

GitHub Pages

GitHub Pages - Websites for you and your projects, hosted directly from your GitHub repository

We can't talk about free hosting for developers without mentioning GitHub Pages!

Yes, you won't be able to host full-stack apps with this service. But, it is nonetheless useful for personal projects; portfolios, documentation, and blogs.

Technically, you can deploy a React app to GitHub Pages. But there are quite a few limitations to this, and not necessarily feasible in practice.

By default, GitHub Pages provides extensive support for deploying Jekyll sites. All the site information is then pulled from your repository. And, that's also how you publish new content. Read more about it in the official docs.

End of the road

Who knew that developers have so many great options for free hosting services? This was definitely an eye-opening review to do for me, also. I could refresh my memory on some well-known choices while learning about new ones along the way.

I will try and do my best to keep this roundup updated as frequently as possible. I do expect that, over time, some platforms will adjust their free plans. If you spot a mistake that I haven't corrected yet, let me know on Twitter or through my contact form, and I'll fix it.

Are these hosting solutions good for Node.js projects?

Yes! *Almost* all hosting companies listed in this article are capable of hosting Node.js applications. The reason for answering this question is that many people search specifically for "free Node.js hosting" and the alternative would be to republish this same article under a new title, which doesn't make any sense.

Do these hosting solutions provide free backend hosting?

Once again, the answer is yes. Back-end and front-end are almost inseparable nowadays, and many platforms mentioned in this article develop their own back-end frameworks.

Why is Heroku not on this list?

Heroku was on this list when the article was originally published. However, in a recent announcement - Heroku declared that they are done with their free plan. To be fair, they have struggled a lot recently, so maybe it's for the best.

Can you use these platforms to host a simple HTML page?

Absolutely. Many provide the option to import a pre-existing GitHub project.

I am looking for developer-friendly WordPress hosting, can you help?

Since WordPress is also hosted on GitHub, it should be possible to simply follow the same process as you would for any other CMS. If the host explicitly doesn't support PHP, you can try doing it through a Docker image. And finally, you can read my article on WordPress hosting providers, some of which are tailored specifically for developers.