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How to get a free Google server forever

phocks profile image Joshua Byrd Originally published at phocks.github.io ・Updated on ・2 min read

I first heard you could get a free Virtual Private Server instance on the Google Compute Engine from a random person on Twitter.

So here's how to do it.

  1. Go to the Google Cloud Platform Console and sign up/in if you have to and go to the Compute Engine section using the hamburger menu top left.
  2. Enable Compute Engine if it's not already enabled and then set up billing (you need to add a credit card or PayPal but don't worry you won't be charged).
  3. Create a new instance in one of the free tier locations (Iowa, Oregon, or South Carolina) with machine type f1-micro.

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Finish the server config (make sure you add the max 30GB free disk space) and spin up the server.

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Click the Connect via SSH button to log in.

And that's about it for now. Enjoy your free server forever!

If this post helped you please consider sponsoring me on GitHub for $1.


NOTE: Even though you can run this server for free, Google may charge if you go over certain "free tier" limits etc so just keep a lookout for that in the terms and conditions...

Update: The free offering from Oracle Cloud is almost certainly better than Google Cloud. See this article πŸ‘‡

Discussion

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selim13 profile image
Dmitry Seleznyov

Oracle also gives free VDS instances.
oracle.com/cloud/free/#always-free

Each have 1Gb RAM, 1/8 of CPU core and 50 Gb of storage (witch is rather cool). The biggest limitation of those is bandwidth limit of 10 Mbps,still suitable for lots of tasks. I host some demo web sites and proxy on those.

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phocks profile image
Joshua Byrd Author

Thanks. I didn't know this! Seems better specs than Google Cloud too! Will try it out.

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phocks profile image
Joshua Byrd Author

Seems like they've updated the bandwidth throttle to 50 Mbps. Awesome! Maybe I'll have to write up another DEV article :)

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ervin_szilagyi profile image
Ervin Szilagyi

Likewise, Azure and AWS give also give you some free instances for 12 months (I know, it's not forever but it's something). From Azure you get a B1S instance, from a AWS a t2.micro or a t3.micro.

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vedraiyani profile image
Chintan Raiyani

Yeah that's true. It's for 90 days $300 not forever. This post is confusing the people by using the word forever.

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animanoir profile image
Wiaoehbd

Actually AWS charges you like hell without any notice if you consume your free tier.

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noblesilence profile image
Aye Aye Mon

You can usually negotiate with them. They charged me for not terminating the instances. But when I told them that I didn't know I needed to terminate unused instances, I got a full refund.

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jsafe00 profile image
Saf Venture

AWS also charged me without notice about my db excess and didn't know we can negotiate with them. Thanks for this.

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phocks profile image
Joshua Byrd Author

Nope this is not a trial period. Google Cloud free tier is indeed forever (or at least until they shut it down).

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harshamv profile image
Harsha MV

Like Google Photos :)

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mukherjee96 profile image
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ematsuoka profile image
Eric Matsuoka

You mentioned adding 30GB of disk. Where can I do that? Is that done in the Management Security Disk Networking Sole Tenancy section?
I'm just trying to avoid paying for something I don't really need.

Thanks

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phocks profile image
Joshua Byrd Author

You'll find the setting under boot disk (if I remember correctly). Change the size (GB) from 10 to 30.

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bcroq profile image
Bertrand Croq

It would be great to have this explanation in the article.

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sarunasknabikas profile image
SarunasKnabikas

Thanks for the post will look out for the more detailed guide. Maybe it would be an option.

I know it's more work. But why not to consider the raspberry pi. It's perfect for small scripts/personal project or even some prototyping/testing work. Been using it for a while it's not perfect but helps to get things done.

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sovietspy2 profile image
Barney

Yeah actually I have a raspberry for that purpose but it's not for everything. I'm used to set up everything with docker containers and some images are not available for ARM. Never had this problem with AMD64 VPS.

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abdellahaski profile image
Abdellah ASKI

You should mention that you get only 1GB of free egress bandwith, you will be charged for additional egress traffic.

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scottlepp profile image
Scott Lepper

Firebase also allows free setup with no credit card. The Spark plan. You don't get a "server" but you can run cloud functions for free. The Cloud functions do have some limitations. Depending on what you're looking for, like just running queries against a database, this could be an option.

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lardissone profile image
Leandro Ardissone

Here's a list of resources that are free or have a free tier: github.com/ripienaar/free-for-dev

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catalinradoi profile image
CatalinRadoi

didn't get the PayPal option.

And, on the page it says "Put Google Cloud to work with $300 in credit to spend over the next 90 days."

It might give you some "free" forever small service or something but they ask for credit card...

"don't worry we won't charge you"

AHEM
THEN Why the fuck are you asking for CC, Google? Can't you verify I'm a human with a classic captcha?

F* Google :)

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twfahey1 profile image
Tyler Fahey

Probably to avoid abuse, opening tons of multiple free accounts

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hanna profile image
Hanna

The issue I have with GCP is it requires a CC, prepaid doesn't work, and it seems Privacy cards make them want to ask you to verify your identity, which normally i'd do but I need to get a replacement ID.

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zorfling profile image
Chris Colborne

Nice one mate, very handy.

Any idea why your screenshot shows a $4.28 estimate for the month? It says the first 744 hours are free (aka 31 days), so it's odd it would show that estimate.

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arafays profile image
Abdul-Rafay Shaikh

About showing the amount charged this is how Google billing works it shows you much resources you used and then subsidizes it at the end of billing period so you would know using same resources after consuming your free tier you have an idea how much you will be charged.

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py_talk profile image
py.talk()

744 hours is for every month :)

for exaple you can have 10 instances funning 74,4 hours each. fore every next hour you'll pay

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phocks profile image
Joshua Byrd Author

Yeah I'm assuming that's just how much it would cost if it wasn't on the free tier 🀷 but it's definitely free. I've been running it for a few months.

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jeffprod profile image
JeffProd

$4.28 monthly estimate as written in your screenshot does not mean "free forever"...

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phocks profile image
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kunamatata profile image
Maxime Caly

For those curious about billing and pricing, GCP has a pretty good page here:
cloud.google.com/free/docs/gcp-fre...

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ryzorbent profile image
Thabo

It’s all nice and comfy until google does this to you, when you least expect it. I don’t trust google at this moment.

They are locking people out of their account, and careless to even give an explanation 😏

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instinct profile image
Instinct

Good article!
By the way, heroku also provides 500mb?
Is this server better?

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bscott profile image
Brian Scott

Heroku is for runtimes, not offer ssh and custom scripts if needed

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equan profile image
Equan

i see. thank you

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calag4n profile image
calag4n

Awesome, thanks a lot. ✌️

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bnorikane profile image
Bruce N Norikane

Thanks this is great information.
When I signed up, I had to accept the $300 credit offer.
Series F2 is not available in my account. E2 is the smallest.
Will that still be free forever?

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phocks profile image
Joshua Byrd Author

Only the f1-micro is free I believe. Good luck!

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suxin profile image
Suxin Liang

I didn't try this this way. Thank you for telling us about this!

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starfreck profile image
Vasu Ratanpara

Try Heroku. it's easiest and free forever with 5 apps per 1 account without any credit cards or debit cards. Tho it will not give you database hosting for free but you can find other free services online where you can host your small DBs for personal projects.

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suxin profile image
Suxin Liang

Heroku requires sleeping time for dynos.

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starfreck profile image
Vasu Ratanpara

Yeah, That's true. But I never got into any trouble because of that (unless you want to run a server 24X7 ). When you ping to the server it will wake up in few seconds. At least that's what you can expect from free web hosting. No one will give you a full-featured server free of cost. All free hostings have their own limitations. I hosted a Telegram Bot on Heroku so far it's going well without any troubles and at 0$ cost :)

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b16lag profile image
b16lag

Thank you for the info. The free tier is only is US. Is there any server in free tier also in Europe? Thank you

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