Free Hobby Level Infrastructure for Side Projects

thomasstep profile image Thomas Step ・2 min read

Originally published at https://thomasstep.dev/blog/free-hobby-level-infrastructure-for-side-projects

I have experimented with a few free hobby level platforms over the years and I wanted to round them up. I think that these are useful simply to test out a platform or idea without going overboard on paying for infrastructure.

Heroku has an excellent platform for going from zero to full running application in a day. Once you understand how to use Heroku, I think the sky is the limit, and the best part is that they have 100% free options. I have run a dyno on Heroku for a Discord bot and never paid a dime for it; it just shuts off if I am reaching my monthly hobby level limit.

For my current side project, I am using Vercel to host my Nextjs app. So far I have been blown away by Vercel, and I love that the API endpoints are hosted on serverless functions. Again, totally free, and they throw in awesome features like HTTPS, custom domain support, CI/CD, the list goes on.

My data layer for my Nextjs app hosted on Vercel is hosted on MongoDB Atlas. They offer a free Mongo cluster and it was super easy to connect with my backend through Mongoose.

I do not think a list about cloud infrastructure would be complete without mentioning the giants: AWS, Azure, and GCP. While all of the big three have free tiers, I would warn you to be careful. I have not messed with Azure and GCP enough to incur a hefty charge, but I can say that it is extremely easy to end up with a big AWS bill at the end of the month.

There are tons of other cloud providers with their own set of features and specialties that I have not personally played with before but wanted to mention. IBM Cloud has an assortment of free tier services, and it looks like there is a way to setup a "Lite account", which only allows you to use free tier services. I actually like this approach since it seems like they want to give users a way to not feel paranoid about racking up a charge unintentionally. DigitalOcean has been a player in cloud services for a while and I have heard good things about them and their support from friends who have used them. The only difference that I can see is that they do not offer a free tier; however, their services are affordable with the lowest computing tier at $5 per month. Linode is similar to DigitalOcean in their pricing scheme, which means that they do not have a free tier. Unfortunately, these last two cloud providers are not free, but I think that the prices are low enough and they both offer Kubernetes hosting on the cheap.

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Thomas Step


I learned how to code at university, so I've been at it since 2014. I've dabbled in open source contributions but would like to get into it more. Other than 1's and 0's, I love to travel.


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