How long does free hosting last?

I keep thinking about that 100 years of hosting thing.

Without some fancy setup like that, this is how it normally works: You pay your hosting bill, you pay to renew your domains, and you stay up to date on the shifting tides of technology well enough that your site doesn’t break. Then theoretically, your site stays online as long as that hosting company exists. Maybe 100 years!

Let’s remove a couple of factors.

  1. Your site is static, so the tides of technology don’t really matter. The very first HTML website ever still works, so let’s say your current static websites will have the same good fortune as the century ticks by.
  2. Your hosting plan is free.
  3. Your URL is part of the hosting.

Free hosting? Yeah! Netlify has a free plan. Vercel has a free plan. CodePen has a free plan (although we don’t let you deploy on the free plan). I wouldn’t say it’s ultra common for web hosts, but it’s pretty common around the web for various services.

Vercel has some docs that say this:

When you create a new account with Vercel, you are creating a personal account. A personal account is your individual account that exists on the Hobby plan. This plan is free to use (subject to the Fair use policy) forever.

Note the last word.

But, and I shit you not, these docs were updated as I was writing this blog post (the footer on the page says it was updated on September 18, 2023), and that line was removed. They now link to the hobby plan page, which, straight up, is very cool of them to offer, but doesn’t say anything about “forever”.

Of course it won’t be forever.

If you deploy some site there and just have like or or whatever it is as your deployed/production/forever site, something is going to happen to break it eventually.

I don’t know what it will be. Maybe Vercel will go out of buisness. Maybe they’ll change their policies and no longer offer a free plan. Maybe another company will buy them and make those policy changes for them. I don’t know what it will be, I don’t know when it will be, but something will break that site. (This goes for any host in the same position, I’m just using Vercel as an example.)

I’m also not saying it’s that big of a deal. If you really care about this site, there will be some kind of action you can take to save it from whatever fate it faces… probably.

It’s interesting to think about! Let’s do a little test for fun. I’ll make an HTML page noting when 100 years will be from the time of publishing.

I’d like to think I’ll be dead of old age before any of those URLs stops working, but we’ll see! Every fiber of me wants all of them to last 100 years, but two bucks says none of them do.



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One response to “How long does free hosting last?”

  1. Luke Dorny says:

    The best thing about making a bet against something failing within a ‘forever’ clause is that it’s a safe bet. Sadly, this industry and civilization doesn’t seem to favor benevolent causes that cost. Is that too realist of me?

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