If you are a fan of Node.js, you may have already installed Node.js or, at least, plan to install it soon.
However, you would only be able to experiment and try out your app code with the downloaded Node.js service.
Once you are confident of the results you have achieved (the developed application), you would want to make them go live on a web host so your hosted Node.js application can be revealed to the world.
It makes sense to start your search for a reliable and cheap Node.js host well in advance. You need to compare all the free Node.js hosting options, as, initially; they would suffice for your new app.
Also, once you start off by hosting your Node.js application for free, you will understand the parameters of a good Node.js web host.
If your web hosting requirements need an upgrade later on, you can always choose a long-term hosting option. And to your advantage, most of the free services offer paid hosting packages as well.
Obviously, your next query would be where you can find or search for free Node.js hosting. So, in this article, we discuss the various features offered by some of the top free Node.js hosting services.
The objective is to help you gain valuable insight about what to look out for while finding your free Node.js web host.
Best Free Node.js Hosting Services
Some of the top free Node.js web hosts are:
- RedHat OpenShift,
- Microsoft Azure
Let us now take an in-depth look at the free features offered by all the above mentioned Node.js application hosting services.
This has been a reliable hosting platform and a very significant contributor to the Node.js community since 2009.
There are a lot of Node.js application developers whose hosting needs have been fulfilled with this platform.
Recently, this web host offered a transition to another hosting service named Modulus. This happened when Nodejitsu joined GoDaddy to support a website builder which is their largest Node.js product.
So, if you are an existing Nodejitsu Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) customer, you can transition your Node.js applications to the Modulus hosting service along with some free credit.
We discuss this service here because many still believe that Nodejitsu exists as a Node.js hosting platform. It is thus important to update you about the changes, if someone has directed you to try out Nodejitsu. Instead, we will now study the Modulus platform in detail.
This service was developed while keeping Node.js in mind. Modulus is aimed to relieve Node.js developers of all the worries related to the deployment and running of the applications they have developed.
This web host offers a great help guide for getting started with the Node.js hosting on Modulus. You can check it out for free before you decide to create a new Modulus account.
With a new account, you also get $15 free credit that you can use for the initial 30-days trial period. And, 30 days are more than enough to try out any hosting platform as well as to understand all the features that it offers.
Key Features and Advantages of Modulus
- Unlimited storage is assigned to your Node.js application projects that you wish to run on Modulus. This storage gets directly mounted to your file system and will immediately be replicated for all the application instances.
- Modulus is known for offering flexibility in terms of its scaling capability for your Node.js application. It provides more than enough resources to meet the increased demand during high traffic time.
- Your application is able to meet the rise in demand through the built-in auto-scaling capability. How does the auto-scaling happen? Well, your Node.js application instances are run on Servos (which are mini servers) that can be dynamically added to or removed from your app. This helps with automatic load balancing. In other words, the auto-scaling feature helps you scale upwards or downwards for your application project in any region based on certain custom defined rules, which can be set individually for every region where your app runs.
- This platform equips you with strong tracking abilities, thereby resulting in extremely detailed statistics. You can store and track any request that enters your new application based on Node.js in real time.
It is possible to break down the statistics through individual routes. You can then determine which route is the fastest to respond and which is the slowest. You can also determine which route transfers the maximum bandwidth.
- If you own an enterprise, you get the option to try out Modulus platform with “Modulus Enterprise Class”. Of course, it is a premium service that can deploy your app, run it and scale it upon demand.
The best part about this is that it can be done anywhere: on-premises or on the cloud or perhaps on both. By using the free version for individual app projects, you may get an idea of the potential of the Modulus enterprise version.
- It offers multi-region support and the ability to host your Node.js app at multiple providers, such as Joyent, DigitalOcean and Amazon Web Services.
- Some of the other important free features offered by Modulus include Servo sizes, free custom domain SSLs, custom domains, WebSockets, multiple Node.js versions, CLI deployment and session affinity.
RedHat OpenShift is highly recommended for first timers because it offers free Node.js hosting forever. You do not have to determine its potential during any free trial and you can take as much time as you want to check out all its free features.
The OpenShift platform is brought to you by RedHat, which is a leading provider of open-source solutions, such as RedHat Linux and others.
This PaaS option allows developers to focus on their key strength, which is application development. OpenShift also offers sound support to you for getting the app deployed, hosted and scaled whenever required. All this can be done in the cloud environment, which is the future.
There are three plans offered: OpenShift Online, OpenShift Dedicated and OpenShift Enterprise. From these plans, only the OpenShift Online plan is relevant for free hosting at a small-scale level. The other two plans are specifically intended for enterprises that are public cloud based or data centre based.
Key Features and Advantages of OpenShift
- It extends support for code building. You can use a software version control solution to push the code that needs to be implemented on the OpenShift platform.
Alternatively, there is a provision to integrate this platform with your own automated build and continuous deployment or integration system.
- You get access to built-in private databases with OpenShift.
- Your application can tackle a surge in web traffic through automatic scaling. Similar to Modulus, it is also possible to scale down.
- It helps you reduce turnaround latency (the time for response) by giving you the opportunity to get your app deployed closer to the region of your users. So it has multiple region support.
- With deployment and hosting on the cloud, you can manage the application code, fine-tuning, debugging and so on from anywhere.
- Some other useful features offered for free with OpenShift Online are three small gears (with 1 GB storage per gear), shared SSL on rhcloud.com, custom domains, a developer community, a help centre, and so on.
You can only host three Node.js applications for free with this RedHat platform.
The Azure platform is similar to Modulus in the sense that it also offers a free trial period of one month. However, you get a credit of $200 (for all Azure services) for this period. This cloud platform from Microsoft is reliable and offers you great flexible hosting capabilities for your Node.js applications.
Key Features and Advantages of Azure
- It offers managed SQL and NoSQL data services, along with built-in support, that enables you to get insights from your data. It allows you to take full advantage of the SQL server in the cloud environment and perform data analysis using Hadoop clusters (built from HDInsight).
- It empowers you to launch Windows and Linux server virtual machines within minutes.
- You can focus on the developer operations without worrying about the infrastructure and its patching. All your app updates can be deployed with built-in staging, rollback, production and performance testing capabilities. This platform offers high availability across multiple geographical regions.
- You are equipped with the ability to monitor your Node.js applications hosted on this platform in terms of all aspects in real time. This is possible with the well-detailed operational logs available to you through Azure.
- It also provides you with built-in features for automatic scaling and load balancing.
- You can develop most modern applications for Android, iOS or Windows devices and leverage the maximum benefits from the cloud hosting environment.
- You are able to manage user accounts and synchronise them with any of your on-premises directories. You also get the option of Single Sign on (SSO) access on Azure, Office 365 and several other popular Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, such as Google Apps, Salesforce and DocuSign.
- It offers you the capability for continuous deployment with GitHub, Git, TFS as well as Visual Studio Team Services.
Just like OpenShift, you can use the totally free Node.js hosting plan from Heroku.
Key Features and Advantages of Heroku
- Like the hosts discussed above, Heroku also allows support for deployment across multiple regions (in the USA and in Europe) to reduce latency.
- This platform allows you to maintain all the new updates or changes to your Node.js application as releases.
So, when a new update happens, a new release of your app is created and maintained along with all the details of who made the changes and when. You can access this app release history at any time.
You can make use of a “rollback” command to get back to a previous release or to a specific release, if something does not seem right with your new release.
- You can use add-ons that integrate with this platform as fully managed services. Your developed app can consume these as loosely coupled components. From the add-on marketplace, you can also get services like monitoring, caching, logging and persistence.
- Heroku provides better portability and safety as it allows you to manage environment-specific configurations separately from the source code of your app. Simple environment variables like “config vars” are made available to your application for managing this configuration data.
- If you are a developer, you would love the build packs offered by this platform. These build packs are collections of scripts specific to the language or framework you use for compiling your applications.
Some key limitations of the free hosting plan for Heroku are:
- 1 CPU (shared),
- Limited RAM (only 512 MB),
- Limited rows on database (Up to 10,000), and
- Regular downtime (four hours per month).
We have thus seen the key features that you can avail for free Node.js hosting with the various platforms discussed above. A summary of the key differences can be listed below:
|Free Trial Period||Limitation|
Credit of $15 for the first month only
Capability to host three applications for free
Credit of $200 for the first month only
Only 1 CPU shared and 512 MB RAM
Apart from these platforms, you can even get free Node.js hosting with Amazon EC2 (for one year), Cloud9 and Google App Engine.
I hope that the above information helps you shortlist any free hosting platform for your Node.js application or you can check out our hosting reviews. Please feel free to highlight any other alternatives or specific features which you may be looking for in the comments.