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Exploring the Best Heroku Alternatives: Free and Fully Managed Cloud Platforms

Aug 1, 202310 min read

Dawid Karczewski

Senior full stack developer and CTO at Ideamotive.

You probably know this - it was in November 2022 that Salesforce made a bold move by  discontinuing the suite of free services offered through Heroku, including Heroku Dynos, Heroku Postgres, and Heroku Data for Redis. 


This decision has left developers and software development teams at a crossroads. Do these once free services justify the additional cost?


For years, developers searching for a simple-to-use, cost-effective platform to host their apps have turned to Heroku. The decision is no longer as simple. Selecting the right hosting platform involves considering several factors including cost, usability, scalability and overall performance. While premium features may come at a price on some platforms, there is no shortage of free alternatives that can provide the resources you need for your projects.


It became of utmost importance to look for substitute hosting platforms that could compete with Heroku's simplicity and free features. In response to the demand for viable  alternatives, I have compiled a comprehensive list of the top 5 free Heroku alternatives to explore in 2023. Join me as we explore the options available and consider their pros and cons versus the success of your business.

What’s So Special About Free Hosting like Heroku? 


Heroku, Salesforce's app development platform, offers users the ability to build, run, and scale applications in the cloud. The platform is built on three main pillars, including a container platform, managed databases, and an add-ons marketplace. It supports multiple languages and frameworks, making it suitable for both web and mobile applications. 


With a focus on enhancing productivity in developing digital products, Heroku provides a fully managed container platform, data services for Postgres, Redis, and Kafka, a variety of third-party add-ons, and collaborative team tools. Its core features address challenges such as accelerating application creation, shifting the focus from infrastructure to user experiences, and seamless scaling.

Why are Developers Searching for Heroku Alternatives?


Heroku, a beloved go-to choice for hosting apps, had been a reliable companion for many developers, providing a generous free tier that provided 550 hours of dyno uptime, extendable to 1000 hours with a verified credit card. This offering made hosting software projects a breeze, but as of November 28, 2022, the free tier is no more.


With Heroku winding down its free PostgreSQL, Redis, and dyno services, and introducing low-cost product plans, devs began considering other platforms that could cater to their needs without breaking the bank. The factors in choosing a hosting platform are vast, from cost and ease of use to scalability and performance. Fortunately, a load of free options exists, providing devs with all the necessary resources for their projects.


The truth is also that the new costs are not the only reason why developers are looking for a new heroku replacement. While Heroku serves as a powerful Platform as a Service (PaaS) enabling rapid application development and delivery, it’s not without its drawbacks.


It  manages the infrastructure and development environment, enabling developers to concentrate on application creation and optimization. However, this convenience comes at the cost of direct control over configuration and versioning of operating systems and firewalls. For some developers, this lack of control is a concern.


What’s more, while Heroku supports several officially endorsed programming languages, devs may desire more flexibility in their language choices. As a result, developers are exploring other hosting platforms that offer greater customization and control while still maintaining ease of use and rapid application deployment.

Key Features to Consider in Heroku Alternatives

Key Features to Look For in Heroku Alternatives

Comparison of languages and frameworks supported by alternatives


When evaluating Heroku alternatives, one crucial factor to consider is the range of languages and frameworks supported by these platforms. Heroku itself offers support for various programming languages, including Java, Ruby, PHP, Node.js, Python, Scala, and Clojure. However, developers may have specific preferences or project requirements that necessitate the use of less common or niche programming languages. 


As such, exploring alternatives that offer broader language support can be advantageous, ensuring compatibility with the technologies developers are most familiar with or wish to utilize for their applications. Plus, some platforms may provide integration with specific frameworks or libraries, enabling streamlined development and enhancing overall productivity.

Persistent volume storage options in alternative platforms


Data storage is a critical aspect of any application, and the availability of persistent volume storage is essential when considering Heroku alternatives. Heroku itself offers managed data services for Postgres, Redis, and Kafka, which have been widely utilized by IT experts. Alternative platforms should offer similar or equivalent persistent storage solutions to accommodate the diverse data requirements of applications. 


Having access to scalable and reliable storage options ensures that data remains safe and accessible even as the application scales and evolves. It is essential to assess the storage capacities, performance, and durability of the alternatives' persistent volume options to make an informed decision.

Availability of fully managed services


Heroku's appeal lies in its fully managed services that handle infrastructure and maintenance tasks, freeing developers from these operational burdens. Similarly, when exploring Heroku alternatives, programmers should seek platforms that provide comprehensive managed services. These services can encompass various aspects, such as automatic scaling, load balancing, monitoring, security, and backups. 


The availability of managed services simplifies the deployment and operation of applications, allowing devs to focus on the core development tasks and improving user experiences. On top of that, managed services can enhance application reliability and performance, making them crucial for developers seeking hassle-free and efficient hosting solutions.

Paid plans and features included


While Heroku offers a free tier, you may eventually require additional resources, leading to the consideration of paid plans and the features they include. When exploring alternative platforms, you should review the pricing models, subscription tiers, and the specific features available in each plan. Some platforms may offer flexible pricing based on resource usage, while others may have fixed-tier plans with varying levels of performance and capabilities. 


Understanding the cost implications and evaluating whether the included features align with the project's requirements are critical steps in making an economical and suitable choice among Heroku alternatives. Aside from that, considering the scalability options and ease of upgrading plans is essential, as it ensures seamless growth as the application's needs evolve over time.

Top Heroku Alternatives: Free Options

Heroku replacement companies that are most frequently discussed

Google App Engine


Google App Engine is a robust and scalable platform, offering developers the ability to build and launch applications that can easily expand as needed in the future. With an impressive rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars on G2, it is recognized for its reliability and user-friendly interface.



Open and Flexible: Google App Engine's support for popular programming languages such as Java, Python, Node.js, Go, and more, provides developers with the freedom to select the language that best aligns with their project requirements and team expertise. This flexibility facilitates seamless integration of existing codebases and empowers devs to leverage their preferred tools and frameworks for efficient development.


Fully Managed Service: With Google App Engine handling infrastructure management, dev team can enjoy a hassle-free experience without the need to manage servers or configurations. This fully managed service ensures automatic updates, monitoring, and security patches, freeing up valuable time and resources that developers can channel into enhancing app features and user experiences.  


Scalability: Google App Engine's seamless scaling options allow applications to effortlessly handle changes in user traffic, ensuring optimal performance during peak periods. Whether dealing with sudden spikes or steady growth, the platform automatically adjusts resources to match the application's demands. By assuring continuous performance, this scalability not only improves user experiences but also spares developers from the difficulties of manual scaling and resource management.



Consumption-Based Pricing: Google App Engine's pricing model based on resource consumption can be a double-edged sword. While it offers flexibility for developers to pay for what they use, apps  with unpredictable or fluctuating usage may encounter cost fluctuations that are harder to predict and budget for.


Limited Free Quota: While Google App Engine provides a free quota, it may not be sufficient for applications with substantial resource demands or high traffic. Developers running resource-intensive projects may quickly reach the limits of the free tier, necessitating a move to a paid plan to accommodate growing needs.


No Custom Runtimes on Free Tier: Google App Engine's free tier does not support custom runtimes, limiting developers to use only the officially supported programming languages and frameworks. For projects requiring specific language versions or custom environments, an upgrade to a paid plan is essential.





Vercel specializes in front-end web development, supporting projects using popular frameworks like Next.js, React, Vue, and Angular. It offers a Pro tier at a monthly cost of $20 per user, and a limited free tier known as the Hobby plan for personal and noncommercial development.



Simplified Project Management: Vercel's dashboard not only simplifies project management but also streamlines the deployment process with one-click integrations for popular frameworks like Next.js, React, Vue, and Angular. This user-friendly experience ensures that developers can focus more on coding and less on configuration.


Real-time Analytics: Vercel's real-time analytics capabilities give you valuable insights into application performance, user behavior, and traffic patterns. This data-driven approach empowers developers to optimize their applications for better user experiences.


Serverless Edge Functions: Vercel helps developers to run tasks closer to end users, lowering latency and enhancing application performance. This is done through the use of serverless edge functions. For applications with fluctuating demands, this serverless design enables effective resource utilization, resulting in cost savings.


Competitive Pricing: While Vercel offers a Pro tier with additional features, its Hobby plan provides an excellent entry point for personal and noncommercial development without any upfront cost. This free tier allows developers to test the platform and determine its suitability before considering an upgrade.



Limited Features on Hobby Plan: The Hobby plan's restrictions, such as the cap on the number of new deployments per day and the limitation on serverless functions, may become limiting for projects with growing demands. As apps evolve, devs may find themselves needing access to more advanced features available only in the Pro tier.


No Custom Domain on Free Plan: While Vercel's Hobby plan offers a valuable free alternative, it does not include the ability to set up custom domains for projects. If you are looking to establish a unique online presence with a custom domain, upgrading to the Pro plan becomes essential.


No Server-Side Rendering on Free Plan: The Hobby plan lacks server-side rendering (SSR) support, which may affect the performance and SEO capabilities of certain applications. For projects that require SSR for enhanced user experience and search engine optimization, upgrading to the Pro plan is necessary.


Open Source written on a wooden cube in front of a laptop



Humalect is a free deployment server like heroku, offering a self-service DevOps Automation platform with pre-configured infrastructure for application deployment and monitoring.



Pre-Configured Infrastructure: The pre-configured architecture of Humalect makes setup simple and makes it possible to launch the apps more rapidly. By doing away with manual configuration, this feature decreases the possibility of configuration mistakes and shortens the time-to-market.


Full Visibility and Insights: Humalect's built-in logging and metrics provide developers with comprehensive insights into application performance, resource utilization, and potential issues. These actionable insights allow for quick debugging and continuous improvement of applications.


Free Forever Plan: When searching for free alternatives to Heroku without up-front expenses, Humalect's free plan presents an appealing choice. Designers are able to fully explore the platform's possibilities thanks to features like infinite environments, users, and deployments.

Scalability and Cost Control: Apps can tolerate variable workloads thanks to Humalect's auto-scaling features, which dynamically provide or reallocate resources as necessary. With this auto-scaling functionality, clients only pay for the resources they really use, which maximises cost effectiveness.



Limited Information Available: As a relatively new platform, Humalect may lack extensive user feedback and case studies, which can make it challenging for potential users to fully assess its performance and reliability. The absence of well-established user experiences may create uncertainty for developers considering Humalect as an alternative.


Scope of Features: While the free plan offers significant benefits, some advanced features, such as integrations with specific third-party tools or enhanced support, may be available only in higher-tier plans. Clients with specialized needs may need to carefully review the available features before committing to a particular plan.


No Managed Databases on Free Plan: Humalect's free plan does not include managed databases, which could be a drawback for projects requiring a robust and scalable database solution. For apps heavily reliant on databases for data storage and retrieval, upgrading to higher-tier plans offering managed databases is recommended.




A serverless platform called DETA gives programmers a simple and seamless approach to scaling and deploying applications. Programmers can focus more on building their apps by providing a full-stack solution which includes database, file storage and authentication.




Ease of Use: Deta's intuitive design and user-friendly interface make it possible to quickly start building applications without the need for extensive training or technical expertise. This simplicity expedites development, rendering it an attractive choice for beginners and experienced developers alike. 


Deta's online code editor, command-line interface, and web-based dashboard further enhance the development experience, providing a cohesive ecosystem that lets developers focus on coding and application logic instead of complex infrastructure configurations. 


Comprehensive Developer Tools: Deta's arsenal of developer tools, including an online code editor, command-line interface, and web-based dashboard, provides a powerful and convenient toolkit for managing and monitoring apps. These tools streamline the development process and offer valuable insights into application performance.


Free Plan: Deta's free plan offers significant value to developers by providing 500 MB of package storage, 2000 CI/CD minutes per month, and unlimited public and private repositories. With this generous free tier, users may install apps and test the platform's functionality without having to pay anything up front.


Community Support: With community support available for the free plan, devs can access helpful resources and connect with other users, fostering a collaborative environment that encourages knowledge-sharing and problem-solving.



Limited Resources: While the free plan is advantageous for small-scale projects, applications with larger resource requirements may find the 500 MB package storage and 2000 CI/CD minutes per month to be limiting. If you deal with resource-intensive applications, you may need to consider upgrading to higher-tier plans.


Relatively New Platform: As a relatively new player in the serverless market, Deta may have fewer integrations and plugins compared to more established platforms like Heroku. This could affect its suitability for developers with specific integration needs.




Render is a unified cloud platform designed to support rapid web service and application deployment. It offers a wide range of features, including support for static website development, cron jobs, custom domains, infrastructure as code, and automated resource allocation.



Diverse Deployment Options: The support provided by Render for static webpages, cron tasks, and numerous application types gives flexibility in the deployment of a broad range of projects. Render's deployment options support a variety of use cases, whether creating a straightforward static website or a sophisticated web applications.


Free Tier with Essential Services: Render's free tier, which includes web service deployment instances and PostgreSQL database instances, provides developers with essential services to kickstart their projects without incurring initial costs. This free tier allows you to explore the platform's capabilities before committing to a paid plan.


Potential Cost Savings: Render's competitive pricing model positions it as a cost-effective alternative to Heroku, particularly for developers seeking a budget-friendly solution without compromising on performance. The platform's emphasis on lower pricing may lead to significant savings for resource-conscious projects.



Performance Scaling for Enterprise-grade Scenarios: While Render's exceptional performance in small-scale deployments is laudable, some devs question its scalability for large-scale enterprise applications. Thorough testing and evaluation of performance in enterprise scenarios are crucial to assess the platform's suitability for high-demand projects.


Redis Data Store Limitations: Render's offering of nonpersistent instances of Redis data stores may not be ideal for applications relying heavily on persistent data caching. Clients requiring persistent caching capabilities may need to explore alternative solutions or opt for higher-tier plans with more robust features.


Website designer working with the new computer interface as design concept

Finding Your Ideal Heroku Alternative


It's crucial to carefully consider your individual project needs and objectives as you browse the many heroku free tier alternatives. Each platform has a special combination of advantages and disadvantages, so what can be the optimal platform for one project might not be the best option for another.


The development process, application speed, and user experience may all be significantly impacted by selecting the best Heroku alternative. 


Consider all of the options carefully, take into account the particular needs of your project, and select the platform that best satisfies those objectives. Making an educated choice will result in a more successful hosting experience for your web apps.

Dawid Karczewski

Dawid is a full stack developer experienced in creating Ruby on Rails and React Native apps from naught to implementation. Technological superhero, delivering amazing solutions for our clients and helping them grow.

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