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Google Cloud Platform Free Tier (cloud.google.com)
243 points by alexgaribay on March 9, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 76 comments

The Always Free requirements are Google help page copy in a nutshell :

  You are eligible for Always Free if you meet the following requirements:

  Not on a custom rate card
  Have an upgraded billing account
  Account must be in good standing
I know English is not my first language, but reading this, I feel like I know what each word means but the words makes no sense in aggregate.

It doesn't seems like there is more information on the current page either.

Also I have no idea why the fact that you're providing servers for free forever is not the first and most prominent paragraph, but is actually buried in the middle of the doc page.

Except if it's just a terrible attempt at upsell?

1. You haven't negotiated a custom rate with Google (e.g. Snapchat wouldn't be eligible for the free tier).

2. According to the FAQ, this is basically a paid account (as opposed to a free trial) with automatic billing for charges above what the free tier offers.

3. This means you have to pay your bills. E.g. if you have overdue bills, your account isn't in good standing.

You are also out of luck if you ever used a trail with your account before.

Got this message: "Sorry, you aren't eligible for a free trial at this time. The free trial is for new customers only."

The specs:

Always Free Usage Limits

As part of ... Free Tier, Compute Engine offers an amount of usage that is free to use, up to a specific limit. If you go over these usage limits and are no longer in the free trial period, you will be charged according to the price sheet.

1 f1-micro VM instance per month (US regions only).

- f1-micro: 600MB memory, 0.2vCPU that can burst up to a full core.

30 GB of HDD persistent disk storage per month. 5 GB of snapshot storage per month.

1 GB egress from North America to other destinations per month (excluding Australia and China).

- not sure what that means, you have to pay for traffic from Australia/China? 1TB is 119€ through.


For f1-micro instances, you receive free usage equivalent to the number of total hours within the current month, enough to run one instance without interruption for the entire month.

> You are also out of luck if you ever used a trail with your account before. > > Got this message: "Sorry, you aren't eligible for a free trial at this time. The free trial is for new customers only."

That's just for the $300 free credit though, right? You can still use all the "Always Free" services.

Not sure, I have a credit card there and 0€ balance, can't find the knob for the free tier, when I create a f1-micro I'm billed. Maybe I have to put up money?

According to [the FAQ][1] it seems like you just use the instances like normal and you won't be billed as long as you don't exceed the free usage limits...

[1]: https://cloud.google.com/free/docs/frequently-asked-question...

let's try and see :) - thanks!

> - not sure what that means, you have to pay for traffic from Australia/China? 1TB is only 19cent through:

$190 :) egress rates are per GB.

I wonder if there's an easy way to disable traffic coming from those regions.

Thanks for pointing that out! Crazy! If you don't need the fancy click&play cloud experience you are so much better off with online.net or hetzner.de IMHO.

I know cheap VPS providers but if I could host a small webapp for free forever, that'd be nice!

AWS free tier is valid one year only. Bandwidth is typically easy to monitor (to stay within the 1GB/month), but disabling egress to specific regions sounds much trickier.

Actually, AWS have some Always Free tier that doesn't expire after 12 months as well (https://aws.amazon.com/free/), although it doesn't look like it includes a VPS of any kind.

> You are also out of luck if you ever used a trail with your account before.

No, if you've used a trial you won't get another trial, but that doesn't affect your eligibility for the free tier.

Wow, this is a big deal. This is enough to run personal or PoC projects just on the Always Free Tier, but the fact that you can stack the $300 credit on top of the free tier is crazy:

> You are eligible for Always Free usage amounts during the free trial period. Always Free usage does not count against your free trial credits. For example, only the portion of your Google App Engine usage above the App Engine free daily usage limits is charged against your $300 credit. In addition, if your App Engine usage is below the free daily usage limits, your app will continue to run even after the free trial ends.

Disclaimer: I work at Google (on Firebase).

I knew about the free tier, but until I saw this page I had never really thought about all the free tier offerings together.

We live in a really cool time to be programmers. 5 years ago most of the services on that page were unimaginable to the average dev. Today they're not only easy to deploy but free for lightweight usage. Makes me really excited to build things over the next few years.

I agree. I can't wait to see what people do with Cloud OCR.

Finally! I've been making the point for years now that the reason new developers start with AWS is because of their much more useful 12 month free tier. People from GCP would come to our university every couple of years and ask us "Why don't you use GCP?" and be told by countless computer science undergraduates that they didn't NEED $300 for a couple of months, they needed at least a year of time with a cheap instance or two. It seems they finally listened.

This page is awesome. It's so much easier to read vs. AWS. The pie chart explaining why they are cheaper is well-designed (the use of layering to group the breakdown, numeric labels, aligning the important segment to 12 o'clock) and effective (uncommon for pie charts.)

I've always appreciated how their time-limited free tier is based on dollars rather than some proxy (e.g. how AWS limits which kind of things you can use/sizes of things/quotas etc. for their time-limited free tier) and this page helps clearly separate the "free trial" vs. "free quota" which AWS makes a mess of in their documentation in my opinion.

Minor gripe/idea for the future:

I didn't realize (maybe it's new?) that you can get a free f1-micro. It's too bad that the minimum container engine cluster size is 3 with f1-micros.. it'd be cool to have a hosted/managed k8s cluster that was free by default until you scaled up (with some effort (e.g. node pools to use larger instances/pre-emptible instances when scaled) it could work very well for personal projects that receive very little load/mostly receive load when I'm actively using them.)

That's not to say that I don't appreciate what is free today or that I can't afford a small personal K8S cluster :)

The f1-micro is new: "New additions include Compute Engine, Cloud Pub/Sub, Google Cloud Storage and Cloud Functions, bringing the number of Always Free products up to 15." https://cloudplatform.googleblog.com/2017/03/Google-Cloud-Pl...

Unfortunately, you're still not allowed to use Google Cloud Platform for personal usage if you're based in Europe.

Several years ago they emailed (presumably) everyone without a tax number in their account, saying so: https://support.google.com/cloud/answer/6090602

Trying to add a billing account just now from a European country doesn't give the choice of account type; it's fixed to "business" and can't be edited.

So without a billing account, it seems nobody in Europe can use the free tier for personal use.

To be clear, Google Cloud Platform (GCP) has offered "always" free tiers on a lot of their services for a long time now. I assume there must be diffs here, or else this is just a PR move to remind devs that GCP has free tiers.

I do want to express my gratitude to GCP for their free tiers. It has enabled me to offer a various online tools to help some of my teacher friends. It makes it easy to just throw together an app like I normally do, but not incur the costs for these lightweight situations. The alternative is to spend my time finding ways to run and manage the stuff for free using local servers or something, which is usually more pain than the simple tools are worth.

The free tiers are also one of the reasons I tend to throw all my hobby projects at GCP instead of AWS. GCP services also tend to be easier to use than the equivalent AWS services. Mostly because GCP has a lot less to customize. That's both good and bad, but for hobby projects it comes out net-good.

AppEngine is also amazing, if your workload can fit within its limitations. Again, for me it's about reducing hassle so I can focus on tinkering with ideas and projects, which is what AppEngine lets me do.

All that good stuff said, I would _never_ recommend GCP for big projects, companies, etc. The platform is rife with instabilities, bugs, backwards incompatible changes, etc. This is from personal experience running a service at a small company, and from my friend's experience running a huge service at a large company.

EDIT: I should mention one of my biggest pain points for the way I currently use GCP (as a way to quickly prototype ideas and projects). Databases. There's no free tier on Cloud SQL. Without a free tier it's something like $10-$20/month to run a managed SQL server. So I end up doing everything with Datastore, which is their NoSQL offering. What a huge pain to munge all my data patterns to fit within the limitations of NoSQL. I really wish there was a similarly pay-as-you-go alternative but with real relational queries. Or, you know, a free tier on Cloud SQL... :)

Have they always given away a free GCE VM instance, though? This pretty much eliminates the motivation for having a $5/mo Digital Ocean droplet for personal tinkering (which in turn feeds Google more business if your personal tinkering turns serious, or if you favor Google for professional work later because that what you've grown used to).

There are a lot of other things on that page for which I've likewise never heard of a free tier. But the raw VM instance one is what jumped off the page at me.

> This pretty much eliminates the motivation for having a $5/mo Digital Ocean droplet for personal tinkering

DO gives you 1TB of transfer for your $5, Google gives you 1GB for $0 and 12c/GB after that. Depending on how much egress traffic your VM generates, the Google "free" tier could be very, very expensive.

EDIT: I should mention one of my biggest pain points for the way I currently use GCP (as a way to quickly prototype ideas and projects). Databases. There's no free tier on Cloud SQL.

This was my first thought. I'm currently trying to encourage our developers to start thinking cloud-first, and hosted SQL is integral for a lot. The absence of some tiny hosted SQL means that you can't build learning projects on GCP free tier in the same design that you'd use for commercial projects.

I'd just install Postgres or MySQL or whatever locally on my free instance. It comes with 30GB of disk, which should be plenty if you're just playing/prototyping.

Alternately, for the first year you also get $300 credit which could cover Cloud SQL if you really need that.

   Always Free* products to keep you going.
   *Subject to change
That's not quite what "always free" means, but I'll always take it.

*Subject to change.

Logically, I agree with you. In practice, I believe that this is in fact exactly what "always free" usually means.

> The offer does not expire, but Google reserves the right to change the offering, including changing or eliminating usage limits, subject to 30 days advanced notice.

How else do you communicate this concisely?

Wow, looking at this numbers I think you can run small production ready things with that.

Ya no kidding. This free tier is actually pretty generous. I imagine they found that these limits enables most people to start on GCE for free and only start paying when things become real. I do wonder, however, how much that long tail will cost them. 1GB storage / day can quickly add up, for example.

> 1GB storage / day can quickly add up, for example

Are you sure? To me that sounds like it'll let you store 1 GB indefinitely, or 0.5 GB once a day for 12 hours; not 1 GB for a day on day 1, 2 GB for a day on day 2, etc...

"1GB indefinitely" is the case I think. The legacy GAE datastore allows you to store 1G of data for free over the course of a month. Datastore I/O is charged separately after free limits are exceeded. If I understand correctly the Cloud Datastore is the legacy GAE datastore with a different API (no NDB) and the free tier for both is essentially the same.

I have used AppEngine for many years, and occasionally spin up very large compute engine instances as needed.

Am I reading this correctly: even though I am an existing customer, I am still eligible for the always free f1 micro instance, and other always free services?

Yes, it looks like this applies to existing, paying customers!

Yes, now I don't have to buy a reserved EC2 instance for my web site. This will finally push me over to the Google ecosystem.

Do they finally accept prepaid cards? I chose AWS mainly because I don't have a credit card.

Even with regular cards, in my case they wanted proof of address sent to them.

And I have just read you can link your bank account. Uh, no thanks.

Great, the only account type available in Finland is "Business" so that's a no-go for me.

Is there a reason why? Pretty much every other provider out there (amazon, azure, ovh to name a few) have no problem giving out accounts to individual users.

Yep, same problem trying to get the free tier here in Germany: I have to create a business account. Well, no GCP for me. I hope they reconsider this unfortunate restriction.

This is the only information I could find: https://support.google.com/cloud/answer/6090602

No personal accounts, but then they go on to define basically everyone as "business"...

Whoah, this is really cool! I've been looking to begin exploring and learning GCP for awhile, and this is an excellent reason to get started! I'll deploy something on there right away!

So is the Compute Engine basically a VPS? If so, is it roughly equivalent to the base-tier DigitalOcean offering? Sorry for the stupid question; it just seems like I'm missing something!

Thinking of it that way for single-node configurations (or static collections of multiple nodes) makes sense, yes.

A lot of the promise of GCE and GCP generally come from on-demand scalability, autoscaling, serverless, etc. Those become much more relevant as projects scale from a small set of fairly static resource requirements to larger and more dynamic usage. Take a hypothetical online retailer -- they might need few hundred cores at night while their users are asleep, a few thousand during the day, and tens of thousands on, say, black Friday. GCE lets you do that kind of scaling as-needed rather than having to provision far in advance (although there are pricing advantages if you can commit to cores and RAM over the long term).

(note: I work on GCE)

so this free* f1-micro instance of GCE, with the most basic usage of say, running a slack bot/nginx/random test projects, without the need for dynamic scaling, would be functionally identical to a VM anywhere else? can I keep it on 24/7? can I ssh to it, or do I need to use this cloud shell thing? can I have one of every free tier thing or does free tier mean choose one from the set

*subject to change

You can do everything the same as a regular instance f1-micro. There is no functional distinction. It is simply that you do not get charged for the equivalent of 1-instance month worth of usage.

You can use the free tier of every product listed in conjunction with one another. No need to pick and choose.

I work for GCP and was the lead for the Always Free launch.

I noticed that GCE instances only offer 1GB of network egress, and then $0.12/GB thereafter, which seems rather steep. Is GCE only meant for use as a CPU engine/internal node of some kind? Is there a different product meant for edge servers that would handle external requests with outgoing traffic?

> Is there a different product meant for edge servers that would handle external requests with outgoing traffic?

For some workloads, using Cloud CDN will save money, since cache egress is $0.08/GB (to North America.)

> So is the Compute Engine basically a VPS?

It's a dynamically scalable IaaS. You can treat it like a VPS (and that may be in some cases be cost effective for certain loads as one between the free quota and sustained use / long-term reservation discounts), but it's really more than that.

I'm confused by how they're presenting the "Always Free" tier of Google App Engine. I've used the free tier of that for years and "instance hours" have never been a thing that I'm aware of. I'm also wondering if the GAE free quota will require a billing-enabled account now, as these other offers seem to require, which would be disappointing.

Instance hours come into play when, for example, you run multiple versions of an app that get traffic, multiple instances for handling high load, or if you have separate front- and back-end instances. A typical user only has one instance going at a time, so no more than 24 instance-hours. (Instance hours have been a thing for at least a couple of years.)

I was excited for a second, but nothing has changed from what was there already...$300 credit that can be used within 12 months. Am I mistaken?

Yes, there is an entirely new Always Free Products tier.


"Use these products for free up to the specified usage limits during and past the free trial. These usage limits do not expire, but are subject to change."

Includes gratis usage of App Engine, Compute Engine, Cloud Datastore, Cloud Storage, Container Engine, and much much more.

I see "free trial" when I signed up...still not sure what free tier is...

There is a list of GCP products with free quota (some of these have been around for a while in some form but may have changed details, many seem to completely new with this announcement.)

This is in addition to the time-limited free trial credit, and the free quota applies before any payment (including from the trial credit).

Here are the new Always Free usage limits:


They are (IMO) quite generous. Definitely sufficient to get a good feel for the platform and run some personal workloads.

Disclaimer: Nothing to do with this launch, but I do work on GCP.

I do use Google Compute Engine, but the pricing on the page is extremely confusing...This is for developers who understand how things work so it shouldn't be that confusing. The page you mention has a 'Try it for free' but brings me back to the sign up page and it only mentions the $300 credit for 12 months.

So it's unclear what I'm signing up for...and I need a credit card so Google can confirm I'm not a bot? I have the same problem with using the Cloud platform...I have to search google to find anything like the firewall/networking/billing etc...

The $300 previously only applied for 60 days.

Even a toy project will burn through this in less than 60 days...I was expecting a free tier as in free up to 1GB or something like that...a little misleading because the site makes it sound that.

That's exactly what the Always Free Tier is. 1 free micro instance with 30GB storage for free always. The App Engine is 28 hours per month for free.

It actually says 28 instance hours per day, not 28 instance hours per month. So you can run one instance indefinitely, and still have 4 instance-hours left over for testing or whatever.

Totally that was a typo

There is a permanent free tier for many products like App Engine, Compute Engine, Cloud Storage, etc in addition to the $300 you can spend​ for 12 months.

There is an always free tier which, if I'm not wrong, should be free forever.

I've never used GCP. Does anyone know at what granularity the Always Free service limits apply? Is it per Google account, per credit card, per billing name & address, something else?

Obviously they shouldn't be in the business of handing out unlimited f1-micros (etc), but I'm curious how you'd go about having more than one small project.

I noticed this morning (UTC) that my 40 something days of trial had turned intp 300 something, but there had been no announcement and the docs were still at 60 days.

I obviously attributed it to the extremely cool stuff I had been doing there but apparently not:(

Calling it "Always Free" suggests to me it will be free forever.

The little asterisk saying "subject to change anytime" quickly dispells this myth.

Why choose such a misleading name? Why not just "Free tier"?

I don't know this might be off topic , but what is the difference now between google compute engine and google app engine flexible now.

That's explained here: https://cloud.google.com/appengine/docs/the-appengine-enviro... Most important difference; the app engine is fully managed by Google (so they do security updates etc), with Compute Engine you have to do it yourself.

As I understand, App Engine Flexible has automated (and customizable) health checks and configurable scaling (and probably some other services I'm forgetting) on top of "bare" computer engine VMs.

Meta question, what did this article do to get driven off of the front page so mercilessly? It's in free fall at this point!

Oh this page mentions the Australian location, guess we're getting closer to the region finally launching :).

I was wondering how long until Google would try to one-up Amazon in this case.

This is really confusing (perhaps deceptive).. after "upgrading" a billing account it appeared to create a new account showing $300.00 remaining, but the new account is closed and there is no way to open it, so no projects can be linked to it..

This is awesome. I can finally really get into machine learning. I was afraid of the potential cost on aws + I can't afford a gpu. Game changer!

My free credits expired years ago :(

But you are just as able as anyone else to use the free tier.

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