We regularly post offers for the cheapest VPSes on the planet…but did you know there are places you can get a VPS for free?
Naturally there are caveats, provisos, and gotchas, but if your budget is pinched, here are some options for obtaining a VPS for absolutely no cost. Note that
- All of these hosts require identification information.
- Some of these hosts require a credit card in case you go over there free-tier limits.
- Some of these offers are introductory or time-limited.
The Big Clouds
Oracle Cloud: It’s truly bizarre to kick off this list with one of the most expensive vendors on Earth. People are always amazed that to license the Oracle Database Enterprise Edition at full retail price on a 8-core desktop would cost in excess of $400,000. Yet, Oracle does offer free VMs on their Cloud and they are not time-limited. Believe it or not, they are one of the most generous providers on this list when it comes to free VMs. You can host 2 instances with up to 100GB storage. Note there are other resources that are “free tier” but burn down an introductory $300 free credit, while some resources are Always Free. Read more about Oracle Cloud Free Tier and also check out the extensive discussion on LowEndTalk.
Amazon also has a free tier in their cloud. While some of their resources are “Always Free,” VMs are a one-year trial. This is for their smallest machine (t2.micro or t3.micro). After one year, you start to pay, so set a reminder! You can also get a managed MySQL/Pg/etc. DB so you could run a small WordPress site or something like that on this system. As is usual with Amazon, you pay for network beyond a small allotment. On a similar note, some services such as DynamoDB, AWS Lambda, SNS, SES, and others are “Always Free” if you can live within modest limits. See Amazon’s free tier page for full details.
Microsoft Azure also has a 12-month free tier, similar to Amazon’s. Before you skip ahead, yes, you can run Linux VMs on Azure (your author wrote about this back in 2013). They have some services that are “Always Free” as well…sound familiar? Almost like Azure uses AWS as its crystal ball for product development. Snarking aside, you’re getting a very similar offer: small VM with small storage, limited network, etc. Read more on the Azure Free Tier page.
And of course, Google has to get in on the action too, with their Google Cloud Free Program. This will sound familiar: micro instance, small hard drive, limited network, etc.
IBM also offers some free tier services. Not quite as broad as the other players – they don’t offer a one-year trial but rather some free credits you can spend for 30 days. They do have other “always free” services which may be interesting, such as object storage, small JSON document storage database, etc. Not as exciting but for what it’s worth, check out the IBM Cloud free tier.
And finally, Alibaba Cloud has a free trial. You can use their elastic compute (hey, where’d they get that name…) for up to 12 months. Read more on Alibaba Cloud’s web site.
Now that we’ve seen what the gods up on Mount Olympus magnanimously grant to us mortals, let’s look at some smaller players that are more our kind of people.
Several providers will give you some credit to play with for a limited time. If you’re careful about watching your limits and expiration dates, and don’t mind migrating every 2 months, you could string several of these together to get a good run of freebies.
Vultr will give you $50 in credit to play with for 60 days.
DigitalOcean will give you $100 in credit that expires in 60 days, which is more enough to run some beefy services for a couple months.
And Linode also hands out $100 in credit for 60 days.
Atlantic.net offers a full year of free VPS. This includes a VPS, 50GB of block storage, and 50GB of snapshots. Check it out on atlantic.net’s signup page.
AccuWebHosting offers a one month free trial and it’s Windows-based, though after that you’re on the hook for $14.97/mo. It’s only 1GB of RAM, which is going to be pretty tight for Windows, but you can read more here.
If your needs are very short-term, PrivateHosting will give you a 2-core, 2GB VPS for free! The only catch is that you have to give it back in 2 days or pay for it. See their Free Server page.
UpCloud will give you a VPS for free for three days. They give you 1GB of RAM, 1 CPU, 25GB of storage, and 1TB of transfer, with “certain ports” limited (probably SMTP). Read more on UpCloud’s site.
You can get a free NAT KVM from NanoKVM. If you’re not familiar with that term, a “NAT VPS” means you don’t get your own ipv4, but rather a set of ports. Depending on what you’re doing, this may work fine for your needs – e.g., a VPN. They’re out of stock as of this writing, but keep an eye on this page if you’re interested.
EuServ.com offers free VPSes with 1 core, 1GB RAM, and 10GB. The site says both “with IPv6” and that one IPv4 is “Free of charge” so be sure to contact them to clarify. Check it out.
MicroLXC offers free containers using NAT IPv4 but includes IPv6. Sponsored by some LET/LEB providers, it’s wroth checking out. Read more about this on LowEndTalk.
EvolutionHost offers very big systems for free…but you have to apply and they’re really looking for sites with substantial traffic that can give them backlinks. If you have such a site, check out our previous offers from them.