The best places to take your side project (RIP Heroku) - Part 1

3 min read

Author: Jannik Malte Meissner

The best places to take your side project (RIP Heroku) - Part 1

All good things come to an end, and in this same vane, Heroko recently ended their free tier. While I was lucky enough to have none of my side projects that I care about on Heroko, I still used to be a big fan for anything, from hosting a quick database to some projects I build during my studies at University. And above all, Heroku used to be the defacto standard for side projects.

Now that it is no more, in this series of four blogposts, I want to point your attention to a few alternatives that can help you still get a side project of the ground or even start a software startup with very low budget.

In these four parts I will talk about:

  • Part 1 (this blogpost): Full Replacements - services that aim to host any kind of project
  • Part 2: Serverless Frontends and Static Websites - the best place for your frontend projects, developer blog and the new age of serverless
  • Part 3: Databases and where to host them
  • Part 4: Conclusions: Heroku is dead… long live (who?)

Full Replacements

In this part I will showcase a few full replacements that cover as many usecases as possible.


Railway is cool. Not just their website, which makes me wish I had their teams design skills, also the usability is amazing. It is super quick to get started by either deploying your project or choosing a template. The crazy part - you don't even have to log in! Need a quick Postgres DB for testing? Seconds later, no login required, and you're ready to go, faster than I could even get my brain to remember the docker command to launch a container on my local machine.

new project screen on railway
Starting a new project on Railway

With features such as templates, easily composable services, secrets management, auto scaling, great metrics and their own CLI, Railway ist probably the better Heroku already. Add deployment Rollbacks and even critical applications, not just your side project might feel at home.

The free tier gives you 512MB of RAM, 1GB disk space and $5 in credit or 500 hours of usage. On the paid plans you can get a lot more resourced for relativly cheaply.

If you want to deploy a web app, a docker container or a database in different regions to serve an international user base or just close to yourself, then might be your answer. With Supabase, Tailscale and Apollo there are a few big names in the tech space that also use it.

Fly offers 3 VMs with shared CPU and 256MB RAM as well as a total of 3GB persistent storage and 160GB outbound traffic in their free tier. You can deploy any kind of database, docker app or even S3 compatible storage through their service.


Render lets you deploy a statis site, a docker container or a web service written in Javascript (NodeJS), Python, Rust, Go, Ruby or Elixir with just a few clicks. But it doesn't stop there:  also databases are simple to create and free to use with their limitations.

In the next part, I will highlight Herokualternatives for the age of serverless that can deploy full scale apps, but also  some excelent choices for a static site, a developer blog or a frontend project.