VPS is a perfect option for bigger businesses and programmers looking to build brilliant things.
Compared to shared hosting, a Virtual Private Server is a much more advanced and expensive option - which costs more for the companies to maintain and the users to buy. And while finding good free web hosting isn't that much of an issue, a free VPS is much, much more difficult.
But while it's difficult, is it possible? Can you really get a free virtual private server, and if not, why? Also, what are the alternatives?
These are the questions that started my research. With hope in my heart, I started looking, only to end up being more and more confused. Because I realized one thing...
Free VPS is usually a scam
I said it in big letters because I wanted to make it louder for the people in the back. A free VPS is like a mousetrap full of free, delicious cheese.
If you think you can cheat the system and get a lifetime of enterprise-grade hosting for nothing, you're playing into hands of corporations looking to profit from you anyway.
During a good week of research, I still wasn't able to simply register and use one of those sweet sweet website hosting servers.
What I got instead, was a whole bunch of promises, lies and questionable data collection. I risked for my data, so you don't have to - here's what happened to me, when I believed in the lies and tried looking for the best free VPS.
Free VPS is a scam for advertising revenue
Often, free VPS companies end up being straight up scams - they fool you so smoothly and effortlessly, it's actually brilliant. Here, in this one particular example, I got bamboozled so hard, I needed to lie down for a bit.
Meet GratisVPS - literally the first search result that pops up when American users search for "free VPS". From first glance, their website looks somewhat legit. Not the nicest, sure - but not the worst either.
Let's cut straight to the chase: this page is a major league scam. For example, the buying links for VPS Pro and VPS Elite plans?
They're blank. No one's probably clicked them in years.
The plans are there only to highlight how good the free VPS is. They don't want your money even if you beg them. The only plan is free. And once you choose it, you're given some sort of an installation wizard.
Well, if it's a wizard, then it's definitely Voldemort.
At the start, the wizard looks nice and legit. You can choose a server OS, location, control panel, all of the good stuff. Then you see this message, and everything looks good and clear.
Remember this picture well, because we'll return to it later.
Several seconds later, the server gets deployed! Or so they want you to think...
This picture is static. The IP is always the same (French) no matter the "location" you choose.
But hey, you're one click away from getting your login details! And then...
That's not good, I want my password! How can I get it?
A friendly text-to-speech (or a really bad reader) video explains that I have to do the process all over again, but this time, I need to click on the ads, that appear on the deployment page!
Interesting...Okay, so I did it again.
But when I clicked the ads, the page refreshed. So I did it again. Clicked the ads for a total of 4 times and only then realized that it was the only thing that they wanted. I brought them enough money by clicking on the ads.
That's not good. It's time to call the customer support and give them a piece of my mind.
That's convenient - there's a number on top of the website that should help me.
Nope! It's a number of a debt collection company in New York.
Here's your highest-ranked VPS provider. It tricks you into clicking on a bunch of ads and calling a very confused debt collector office in New York.
Data collection is no more
But enough about collecting debts. Let's talk about collecting data.
Until the European Union introduced GDPR, the Internet was littered with businesses of various legitimacy levels, looking to get your data and later sell it an interested party.
Free VPS websites are the fossils of that primitive age. Even up until this day, for most of them, an email address is all they need.
Some companies will go to great lengths just to get that. Let's have a look at 5jelly and Gigarocket. You can't even register to these services anymore. Gigarocket has announced, that since June 2018, it's not giving away free VPS anymore.
And in 5jelly, you can't even register! All you get is an error message.
So you're telling me that many free VPS websites went down just weeks after the EU approved the new user data laws?
This can't be a coincidence! It's difficult to really claim anything but you have to admit that it's very suspicious.
The website itself is still working, though. But looking at the comments, even from the days when it used to work, people weren't happy. Apparently, the provider used to simply take your email and not even send an activation form back.
A picture is emerging.
If a company which wanted your email/password combination, disappeared after the strict data laws came into action, what were they using that for? We can only assume.
Long story short, the promo posters on the 5jelly page and the actual reviews online couldn't be more different...
Everyone loves 5jelly? Are you entirely sure about that?
The last comment right here is especially interesting. Because it actually digs deeper and finds another reason as to why free VPS exists and what do companies offering it, really look for.
We need people! More people!
Every company needs attention to survive. And the best kind of attention is a mouth-to-mouth one: when users talk about their preferred services to their friends, the friends are more likely to take notice.
So it's no surprise to see many free VPS companies at least attempt some sort of a referral system.
Often, however, people don't refer to the product, because they love it. They do it because referrals are needed to get the product.
Let's take Cloudrino as an example. This Indian startup claims to give you a free VPS. To get it, you need to stay in line - the issue is, the line has apparently, over 230 thousand users in it. And it's not moving very fast! However, to get ahead of the line, you can invite your friends to join it as well. Like that, you can jump some positions.
Later on, you can check your email's progress by simply entering it on the page.
I tried this a few days ago. How am I doing? Well, I wish I could report back with good news but it looks like my position in the queue is now...unclear.
Now, let's have a look at how it's doing 9 months later.
And here's the deal: I haven't moved past this position for the last several months. Looking to get a free VPS this way? Take it from me - it's impossible.
But in truth, referrals and "post to host" are probably the most legitimate way to get an actual powerful VPS account. Here's how everything works.
Post to host services are essentially message boards, forums. They try to lure active users, interested in server management, by giving them free VPS. Some of them also ask for backlinks (links from your website to theirs) for you to keep the servers.
Let's take Post4vps as an example.
In order to even participate in the giveaway, you need to be an active forum user with at least 25 posts. Then, you can participate in a monthly raffle, where you may get one of the free VPS servers.
If after getting the server, you stop being an active contributor to a message board, the server will also be gone, almost immediately.
So, therefore - free VPS with referrals is possible...in theory. However, it's very often a data mining operation, a straightforward scam or an attempt to build a fake community by promising its users freebies.
So, as you may imagine, the competition isn't exactly shining. If you're looking for the best free VPS, you may have a really hard time.
But I'll try and make this right. If you're now wondering "what should I do then?" , simply carry on reading.
What is the best free VPS?
Clearly, the best free VPS is none of the options mentioned above. They're odd, scammy, and I was actually unable to register for any of them.
So really, you have to ask yourself a question: why do you need a VPS?
Because if you're looking for a VPS to build a regular website, you simply don't need it. Earlier, I reviewed a lot of amazing free web hosting providers which offered legitimate, brilliant website hosting services for no fee whatsoever.
And if you're specifically looking for a VPS because you need fewer technical limitations, or you want to test an application, you have some options. These are the best free VPS options to choose from:
- Amazon Web Services (free VPS forever, but limited after a while)
- A2 Hosting (unlimited money-back guarantee)
- CloudSigma (no credit card needed, great for testing)
- InMotion Hosting (90 days of free VPS)
- Google Cloud Platform (free VPS for application building)
All of these are different - and suited for very different purposes. So if you'd like more, here's all of them again. This time, in full detail.Free VPS forever - with a catch.
Amazon is not only books, streamed video shows and online shops. The Seattle giant also dominates the enterprise hosting business. And its VPS is known as "Amazon Web Services".
Using the marketplace you're provided, you can run pretty much all operating systems and applications that you could on a regular VPS. You'll have enough time to get used to everything: there are easy 10-minute tutorials that will help you deal with most of the issues. And the best part is - it's free for 12 months.
When the 12 months end, your features get stripped to a bare minimum - for example, you can no longer have a virtual machine. And yet still, there is a genuine free plan there. Only that it's very limited.
This is what features Amazon Web Services can offer:
|Convenient software marketplace with thousands of options.||A forever-free plan.|
|Plenty of helpful tutorials.||Easy upgrades to premium plans.|
If you can get back your money any time, is the hosting free? I dare to argue that it is. Worst case scenario, this hosting is so cheap, it's simply worth it.
Managed or unmanaged? Linux or Windows? Want full core access? A2 Hosting can get you all that. And as mentioned before, if you don't like it, you can always get back what you paid for. When you pay money, you get premium things - as in A2 hosting's case, they're absolutely worth it.
These are the best A2 hosting features:
|Anytime money-back guarantee.||High-speed servers.|
|24/7 customer support.||Increased security.|
One of the main reasons why people appear to look for free VPS services is that they don't want companies having their credit card information when they're not even sure if they want to pay.
With CloudSigma, there won't be such problems. This VPS provider is so certain you'll love its services, you can get a 7-day trial without even entering your card numbers. Furthermore, you can request a demonstration of the services by the company's professional to see if CloudSigma is really right for you.
For people looking for the best free VPS because they're uncertain whether it would work, this provider is absolutely ideal.
This is why CloudSigma is a great option:
|26-second server deployment.||Free trial with no credit card.|
|Servers in various locations - in as far away as Hawaii.||10 GigE speeds.|
3 months of business-grade solutions.
Looking for a VPS because you want to have a big eCommerce shop or an online business? Let's cut straight to the chase - there is no best free VPS for you because, for a successful business, you need a premium solution.
However, with InMotion you get enterprise-level servers and a 90-day money-back guarantee: so you have 3 full months to see if this company is right for you! Is it? We believe so - it's one of the highest ranked VPS services we tested.
Unlocked CPU cores allow for faster data processing, and with plenty of resources, you can host not one, but several big projects under one account. If you're not sure whether the VPS can handle what you throw at it, give InMotion a try. It most definitely can.
Here's what InMotion hosting can offer:
|eCommerce-ready.||90-day money-back guarantee.|
|Unlocked CPU cores.||Free backups.|
Perhaps trying to match with Amazon, Google and its Cloud Platform definitely have some good things going on.
First things first, completely free of charge, you'll be getting Google's infrastructure for a basic web application. So if you want the best free VPS to build Google Android or Chrome apps with, there's literally no better option than that.
For free, you'll be getting one micro instance and 5GB of Cloud storage. There are 15 total Google services which you'll be able to run without paying anything.
This VPS is made for people who want to build. It's not the place if you wish to make a WordPress blog. But it's ideal for those who want to use Google's vast resources to make something brilliant.
These are the most interesting features:
|Made for building Google apps.||Free forever plan.|
|Plenty of Google's products and resources available.||Easy upgrade to premium plans.|
Free VPS: The Verdict
Getting a free VPS is not as simple as some companies may want you to think. They're expensive to maintain, so also - they're expensive to buy. There's simply no enterprise option suited for big applications and multiple websites that will cost you nothing.
However, there are alternatives.
Free website hosting is always a good option for many regular users. If you don't need root access, but instead you just want to learn website development basics, not many options are better than that.
If you're simply unsure whether you need a VPS or not - take a free trial from one of the companies mentioned above. A few days with a brilliant server, and you may come to a conclusion, that paying a few dollars a month isn't all that bad.
And finally, if you're looking to build things, you want to make applications, or apply software to more than simple website building, see what Google and Amazon can offer you. Those plans are free - while very limited, they're good learning platforms as well.
Free VPS may exist. Just don't expect it to be simple.