Free Cloud Hosting: Comparing What the Top Providers Offer

Most providers offer some free cloud hosting to encourage you to get acquainted with their platforms. And some services actually remain free indefinitely

Let’s face it, everyone likes something for free, and free cloud hosting is no different. Most providers offer some kind of free service to encourage you to get acquainted with their platforms. Some services actually remain free indefinitely.

I’m going to explore the top Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas) free cloud hosting plans currently available to help you take full advantage of whichever proves to be the best option for your needs.

Free cloud hosting: AWS free tier

Amazon Web Services is unarguably the largest cloud hosting company around. The good news is that, if you are a new customer, you are automatically eligible for the AWS free tier.

The AWS Free Tier is designed to provide you with hands-on AWS experience at no charge for the first twelve months after you sign up. Once you create your AWS account, you’ll be able to use any of these twenty-one products and services for free, subject to certain usage limits.

Details:

  • Full range of infrastructure services.
  • Great Documentation.
  • Good career-building skills.
  • AWS Marketplace offers more than 700 free and paid software products that run on the AWS free tier. If you qualify for the AWS free tier, you can use these products on an Amazon EC2 t2.micro instance for up to 750 hours per month and pay no additional charges for the Amazon EC2 instance (during those twelve months).
  • Ends after twelve months, after which you’ll be billed for all the resources you use.
  • You need a credit card to sign up.
  • Only available to new AWS customers.

Free cloud hosting: Google Cloud Platform’s free trial

Google is Google so you know just about anything they offer will work well. Google Cloud Platform enables developers to build, test, and deploy applications on their highly-scalable and reliable infrastructure. You can choose from computing, storage and application services for your web, mobile and backend solutions.

About Google Cloud Platform’s free trial

  • You get $300 in credit to spend on all Cloud Platform products over 60 days.
  • During the free trial, there are some product limitations. For instance, Compute Engine is limited to eight concurrent cores at a time.
  • Free trial is for anyone new to Cloud Platform.
  • Existing customers who have, in the past, paid for Cloud Platform are not eligible.
  • Your trial ends once 60 days have elapsed or you’ve spent $300.
  • Once the trial has ended your instances will be paused, and you’ll have the option to upgrade to a paid account.
  • You must upgrade within 30 days of your trial ending or you won’t be able to restore your instances.
  • You need a credit card to sign up.

Beyond the free introductory offer, Google also offers ongoing light compute services for free when you stay within their free quota. This service level might actually allow you indefinite free cloud hosting for a smaller website!

Free cloud hosting: Microsoft Azure’s free offer

Azure provides a growing collection of integrated services—compute, storage, data, networking, and app. Azure is the only major cloud platform ranked by Gartner as an industry leader in both the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) market segments. This powerful combination of managed and unmanaged services lets you build, deploy, and manage applications any way you like.

About Microsoft Azure’s free trial offer

  • You receive a $210 credit to spend on Azure services during the 30-day trial. You can use this $210 to create and try out any combination of Azure resources.
  • To sign up for a Free Trial you need a phone number, a credit card, and a Microsoft Account username.
  • If you exceed your $210 free credit, your free trial account is suspended.
  • Azure free trials are available in all countries/regions where Azure is commercially available. Currently, that translates to 140 countries/regions.
  • Once the trial period is over, if you have not upgraded to a Pay-As-You-Go Azure subscription, your services will be decommissioned, and you will not be able to use them anymore.
  • Developers with subscriptions to Microsoft’s MSDN program get a $1,800 credit a month (though not for production applications).

Like Google, Azure also offers a long-term light-use free cloud hosting tier. Using this tier, you can deploy up to 10 free web sites, or build a mobile service that supports up to 500 devices for free, with no apparent time limit.

The Verdict

The bottom line with all this is that for each of these free tiers you need to sign up with your credit card details, so somewhere down the track, you could be charged. You can rest assured however that these are all reputable companies with no plans to steal your money, so if you play your cards right you can get a lot of free stuff for a certain period of time at least (or, in the cases of Google and Azure, indefinitely).

If you want to spend some serious time learning your way around, then you can’t beat AWS’s twelve-month free cloud hosting tier. It also comes back to what it is you want to do. But if you’re not planning on using much in the way of resources, maybe the light-use levels from Microsoft and Google offer the best deals.

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Written by

Michael Sheehy

I have been UNIX/Linux System Administrator for the past 15 years and am slowly moving those skills into the AWS Cloud arena. I am passionate about AWS and Cloud Technologies and the exciting future that it promises to bring.


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