The article titled “Can You REALLY Host Website for Free on Google Cloud?” explores the possibility of hosting a website using the free tier offered by Google Cloud. The author, Red Stapler, discusses the technical specifications of the free tier, such as the f1-micro VM instance with a share core CPU and 600 megabytes of RAM. They also address various limitations and considerations, such as network traffic capacity, storage restrictions, and the cost of an external IP address.
While it is possible to host a small and static website for free on Google Cloud, the article highlights the need for careful optimization and the potential for additional costs associated with traffic or specific geographic locations. Overall, the article aims to provide readers with insights into the feasibility and limitations of hosting a website for free on Google Cloud.
Can You REALLY Host Website for Free on Google Cloud?
Google Cloud offers a Free tier that allows everyone to use the smallest VM instance, known as “f1-micro.” In this article, we will explore whether hosting a website for free on Google Cloud is a viable option. We will examine the technical specifications of the Free tier, the storage capabilities, the availability of external IP addresses, limitations on network traffic, backup solutions, and any potential costs involved.
Technical Specifications of Free Tier
The f1-micro instance is the smallest VM instance available on Google Cloud’s Free tier. It is equipped with a shared core CPU, providing users with 2/10 of a single CPU core, and 600 megabytes of RAM. While these specifications may seem low, they are sufficient for small blog and static websites. The f1-micro instance also has bursting capabilities, allowing the VM to utilize extra CPU power for short periods of time, which can handle sudden spikes in web traffic. Many websites with around 20,000 visitors per month are successfully hosted on the f1-micro instance with proper setup.
Storage on Free Tier
The Free tier on Google Cloud allows up to 30 gigabytes of hard disk space per month. However, it is important to be cautious when setting the disk size exactly to 30 gigs, as it may result in additional charges. To avoid this, it is recommended to set the disk size to 20 or 25 gigabytes, providing ample space for a static WordPress website. Choosing the minimal version of Ubuntu, which requires less space, is also advisable to optimize storage efficiency.
External IP Address
Previously, Google Cloud provided free external IP addresses for virtual machines that were in use for the entire month. However, they have started charging one to two dollars per month for external IP addresses. Fortunately, the Free tier allows one external IP address per month, which eliminates the need to worry about this additional cost. To avoid being charged, ensure that the VM remains running continuously and is not turned off.
Network Traffic Limitations
The Free tier on Google Cloud only permits one gigabyte of network egress from the instance. This means that if the average webpage size is around 2 megabytes, the website can only support approximately 500 visitors per month. To increase this capacity, Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) can be utilized to cache websites. Using a CDN like CloudFlare can significantly reduce the bandwidth and handle a larger number of visitors. However, it’s important to note that the Free tier does not include traffic to Australia and China, and visitors from these countries will incur additional charges.
The Free tier allows up to 5 gigabytes of disk snapshot storage, which is typically sufficient for a single snapshot. However, websites with a large number of assets such as videos and images may require additional storage capacity. It is crucial to assess the storage needs of the website and determine if the Free tier’s allocation is adequate.
Billing and Costs
While the majority of services on the Free tier are indeed free, there are some costs to consider. The primary cost is the external IP address charge, which is approximately $1.50 per month. However, this charge is offset by the Free tier’s spending-based discount. The remaining costs are related to network traffic, which are typically around 30 cents. These costs are relatively cheap, considering the website’s traffic volume of approximately 20,000 visitors per month. It’s important to evaluate whether the website’s traffic warrants a transition from the Free tier to a paid plan. Monetization options can be explored to offset any potential costs.
In conclusion, hosting a website for free on Google Cloud is possible but is most suitable for small and static websites with a few thousand visitors per month. The f1-micro instance, despite its small size, proves to be sufficient for such websites. It is important to optimize storage space, utilize CDNs to reduce network traffic, and consider potential costs, such as external IP address charges and network egress fees. The Free tier serves as an excellent opportunity for those who want to try hosting a website on Google Cloud before making a final decision. By carefully assessing the website’s needs and following recommended optimizations, hosting a website for free on Google Cloud can be a successful and cost-effective solution.