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Martin Capodici
Martin Capodici

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Using and Abusing Netlify's Free Tier

If you are hosting a website you absolutely have to be concerned about it's speed. How fast is it serving up your page? How long does it take from the user hitting enter to them seeing the complete page rendered?

There are many aspects to creating a fast site, because there are many touchpoints where things can be slow. The first point is the hosting company, plan and methodology that you use.

Many sites are served up dynamically using technologies such as PHP or Ruby on Rails. Sites that need to do this will usually be slower than sites that use static html files, because there is CPU work for the server to do. It needs to compute the contents of the web pages, rather than just serve them up from the hard disk.

If you can do it, moving the static file hosting will make a big difference to speed. (Or alternatively, using caching will make a big difference too).

Static file hosting gives you another speed boost that you many not have thought of. If your site is just a bunch of dumb files, those files can be served from many locations around the world. You could have a server in New York, Brazil and Hong Kong. Servers in different cities, with the closest server to the browser serving up the content.

This will help you overcome an unavoidable constraint in getting content to your visitors fast: the speed of light. If your content is coming from the other side of the world, and not 'as the crow flies' but via many hops through other countries - it will slow things down.

If you have servers near your audience, it will be much faster. This sounds hard to do, and that is why you use a CDN (content delivery network) to do it for you. Netlify is an example of a hosting company providing static file hosting on a CDN. Stick your site there and it will be fast wherever your audience is.

And this matters both for your visitors (so you don't lose them by being too slow!) and SEO - because Google cares about how fast your site is.

Netlify has a generous free tier, and on the site https://dealscombined.com.au we are using it (and abusing it - see below) to host thousands of deals from around Australia. Please take a look and hopefully you agree it is a fast loading site.

I say we are 'abusing' Netlify because we are using it in a much different and more aggressive way than most users. We have 8000 deals pages, and we push them from a server rather than let Netlify get them from Github. The reason for this is that the pages can change each day and so it is no good keeping the source data in a git repo as it will get way too big to be practical.

Discussion (2)

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alexabruck profile image
Alexa Steinbrück

Hi Martin,
I am currently wondering if the Netlify Free Tier is the right choice for real-world client projects. In the ToS of Netlify it is written:

"Netlify reserves the right to change the terms and conditions applicable to the Free Usage Tier, or to discontinue it. While we always make an effort to communicate clearly and well in advance if we decide a particular website project is not a good fit for our Free Usage Tier, we reserve the right to disable or remove any website project on Netlify’s Free Usage Tier without notice at our sole discretion."

Is that a concern to you?

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mcapodici profile image
Martin Capodici Author

Given that, maybe for client projects, where you are being paid, it is safer to use AWS S3 or similar, or to go with a paid Netlify tier.