November 13, 2022
Back in August Heroku announced that they’re ending free services completely. Sad news! The transition takes place in a few weeks, so today I spent time shutting down, moving, or upgrading my dynos and databases.
When the announcement was originally made, I thought that I’d have to go onto the lowest pricing tier in order to keep my apps—at the time, $7/month for app servers and an additional $9/month for each database server. It was great to see that some new plans were announced in the interim…most notably an ‘eco’ subscription that lets you keep multiple apps running (up to a limit) for $5/month. That’s much better! It’s basically paying for the service that already was in place (for me and my tiny apps, at least)—a server that spins up & down depending on demand.
So that’s great…but for these apps, free would be better! They are baby projects I use very infrequently, but still get some use out of. But does it make sense to pay for a constantly-running server? Or even a spin-up-spin-down-$5 server when there are likely other options? Don’t think so. So I researched some options, and reviewed a bunch of commentary on the matter:
- 10 Free Hosting Options For Web Developers (Heroku Alternatives)
- Migrate a Heroku app to Koyeb - Node.js API and Postgres database
- HEROKU FREE TIER IS OVER
- 3 Alternatives for Heroku’s Free Tier - Full Stack & API Hosting
- FREE HEROKU KILLERS - Best Hosts For Web, Backend, Database and more in 2022
- How to deploy Node.js to render (Heroku Alternative)
- HEROKU CANCELLED - Deploy FullStack NodeJS App To Render
This list doesn’t include my long foray into the serverless option (which I ultimately decided would be great if on-demand database services were better documented, sturdier, and more wallet-friendly…and not so reliant on the opaque world of AWS).
Speaking of AWS, I also considered using their services since they are very well-priced for a low volume of compute time. In the end I decided against this because 1) DB servers are always up/always costing money, 2) my 12-month free tier access ended aaaages ago, and 3) there’s always the risk of running a bill up astronomically with no recourse (have I mentioned I don’t really like to pay attention to these apps?) 😅
All of this research led me to try Render, which looked great and straightforward. It was pretty simple to spin up! And then I saw that database servers are automatically deleted after 90 days. Next.
On to: Railway. Again, really simple to set up and their free tier includes $5 or 500 uptime hours per month, whichever comes first. I got a database moved over from Heroku pretty easily actually! I’m still not clear how it treats database servers…are they always up even if they have no connections? I connect to these apps maybe 10 hours/month at most, so if that’s the case perhaps this is the winner! However since a month has 750 hours in it, if they do consider all time uptime, then I’ll be back to the drawing board.
In any case, as of now I’m not sure there is a good replacement for the service Heroku has provided for free for all of these years. It’s disappointing, but lots of gratitude is in order for having it for so long!
…ok not completely, since I already have paid apps on the service which now cost more than they used to 👍