Hosting a Static Website for Free
What's a static site?
This is where the webserver is not required for any back end processing such as for contact forms or login pages. It simply servers HTML, CSS and JS files to the user.
If you are using PHP for a contact form, formspree.io may help you.
Services being compared:
|Service||Number of Sites||Bandwidth||SSL||Custom Domain|
GitHub's offering here is very impressive allowing Unlimited Websites with 100GB of transfer each. It's worth noting there are limits on repositories of 100MB per file and 1GB total size.
GitHub pages utilizes Fastly CDN. Hopefully, we will see some great loading times with this.
DigitalOcean have just unveiled their serverless App Platform which offers a free tier, however, it's not very generous!
The free tier allows for 3 static sites each with 1GB included bandwidth, then $0.10 per GB. To add additional static sites it will set you back $3 per site.
It's worth noting that DigitalOcean currently does not support custom root domains such as cyberhost.uk, they are promised to come soon. In the meantime custom sub domains can be used such as demo.cyberhost.uk.
DigitalOcean Apps use Cloudflare for it's distribution.
Netlify provides a great offering of Unlimited Websites with a 100GB of transfer, then $20 per 100GB.
Netlify appears to have created their own CDN on top of DigitalOcean infrastructure, so I'm interested to see how this performs.
Vercel is a solid choice for serverless hosting. At zero cost you can host unlimited websites using custom domains, SSL, and 100GB of bandwidth.
I am most impressed with the domain management with Vercel. Simply edit the project and add a domain. Once added it says "Invalid Configuration" and provides the A or CNAME record to set. After setting the DNS record it changes to "Valid Configuration" and automatically generates a Let's Encrypt Certificate.
Vercel uses an anycast IP address that routes to multiple different Cloud providers, providing great reliability.
Vercel CDN info: vercel.com/docs/edge-network/overview.
Anycast Info: cloudflare.com/learning/cdn/glossary/anycast-network/
AwardSpace is the old boy on the block, offering free hosting since 2003.
On the free plan, you are limited to 1 custom domain and up to 3 sub domains. Bandwidth is limited to 5GB along with a 1GB storage limit. They even guarantee to provide 99.9% uptime which is great to see.
When using AwardSpace their WebUI appears to be stuck in 2003! However, it is useable and not too complicated.
Uploading the demo site via the online File Manager was more than a pain. I was unable to upload a zip of the site. You can only upload files, so it's a case of creating folders and then uploading the files separately. It's worth noting there is FTP support included in the free plan which would solve this issue.
Realistically in 2020 AwardSpace can't be considered as a free web host as you can only get an SSL Certificate on a paid plan. It can also be assumed that their servers still operate on HDD's as the word SSD is not mentioned anywhere on their site and storage is refereed to as Disk Space.
AwardSpace doesn't utilize a CDN like the other hosts, instead they are located within a single data center operated by Telepoint in Sofia, Bulgaria.
In order to test the services, we will be using a generic HTML template from HTML5 UP! and then monitoring the load times via tools.pingdom.com to measure the performance on the platforms.
The website is 338.8KB in size and requires 22 Requests.
Testing using tools.pingdom.com London, UK
|Service||Test 1||Test 2||Test 3|
Uptime - Live
Started 2nd Nov 2020
After seeing the results from the free services I questioned what a low-cost paid service like BunnyCDN(Referral) would provide.
BunnyCDN charge $0.01 per GB in the North America/Europe region with a $1 minimum fee per month. The site is also being stored with BunnyCDN in their Falkenstein Storage Zone ($0.01/GB).
It's worth noting that the storage zones, do not automatically build the website from GitHub like the other platforms do. You are not restricted to storage zones, an origin such as GitHub Pages could be used instead, then BunnyCDN will just cache it at their PoPs (Points of Presence).
|Service||Test 1||Test 2||Test 3|
As you can tell from the chart both DigitalOcean and Vercel are both solid choices offering great loading times. Vercel is the clear winner when it comes to the amount of sites and bandwidth included.
I am very impressed by the speed provided by BunnyCDN, it's truly quite impressive. The issue is the fact the minimum spend is $1 per month which seems a little silly as a personal site may only rack up a few cent in CDN fees.
Cover Image Credit: https://pixabay.com/users/jamesmarkosborne-1640589/