Heroku is a platform as a service (PaaS) that lets you build, run, and operate applications entirely in the cloud. It’s popular for its simplicity, usability, and free tier which gives access to a large range of cloud services on the Heroku ecosystem.
In 2022, Heroku announced that it would stop offering some of its free plans. Fortunately, there are some excellent free Heroku alternatives.
Render is a unified cloud to build and run all your apps and websites. It has free TLS certificates, a global CDN, DDoS protection, private networks, and auto deploys from Git.
Similar to Heroku’s discontinued free tier, Render’s free tier offers the following services:
- Static sites: Render’s free plan for static sites features a swift CDN and an unlimited number of collaborators. Other features include continuous deployment from Git, 100 GB/ month bandwidth, and custom domains with fully managed TLS.
- Databases: Render’s free plan features fully managed PostgreSQL databases with a 90-day expiration period. Additionally, it includes free Redis instances. However, these instances are not backed by a disk and will lose all data on a restart.
Using Render’s free plans, you can spin up web services and databases at zero cost. However, these plans have certain usage limits and are designed to help build personal projects and explore new tech.
Cyclic is a good free alternative to Heroku due to its modern cloud architecture with serverless hosting, an easy onboarding experience, and an existing free tier.
Cyclic is ideal for hosting full-stack MERN apps. Its free tier features up to 10,000 API requests with fast builds and 1GB runtime memory. The service also includes 1GB object storage with Amazon S3, three cron tasks per app, and seven-day log retention.
Using Cyclic’s free tier gives you an edge over competitors when it comes to inactivity delay. Platforms like Heroku and Render take approximately 30 seconds to restart a service after a period of inactivity. In contrast, this service takes approximately 200ms according to Cyclic’s benchmarks.
Railway is a platform that you can use to provision infrastructure, develop with it locally, then deploy it to the cloud.
Railway makes it possible to deploy your web applications in a single click using their templates. There are over 50 Railway templates for web apps built with different languages and frameworks.
Railway also offers a free tier like Heroku. However, this tier is only available to new users with verified accounts. As a new user with an unverified account, your free tier will limit you to deploying databases.
The verified free tier gives you access to all the features available to users on the Railway Hobby plan using a one-time $5 grant in credits. However, it will limit you to 500MB of RAM and shared (rather than dedicated) vCPU cores.
Deta Space, formerly known as Deta, is a personal cloud platform for hosting web applications built with popular languages like Go, Python, Node.js, and Rust, among others. Deta Space offers fully managed servers, data, and security to each app deployed on the platform, similar to other cloud service providers.
Unlike other Heroku hosting alternatives, Deta Space currently does not have a paid tier. Their platform is free by default and currently has no limits to their wide range of use cases.
Fly.io is a platform that allows you to host and run small applications for free and scale costs affordably as your needs grow. Unlike other free alternatives to Heroku, Fly.io doesn’t have a “free tier”. However, they offer free resource allowances.
The “free tier” features up to three shared CPUs, 256MB VMs, 3GB persistent volume storage, and 160GB outbound data transfer.
If you host an application on fly.io that exceeds the above, the service will bill you at the usage-based pricing.
Other Heroku Alternatives
Other platforms like Vercel, Netlify, and GitHub pages offer free tiers. These platforms are ideal for hosting static sites and offer limited support for hosting full-stack applications. However, the platforms mentioned here are specifically designed for hosting full-stack applications, with a broader range of features.