Top Free Services For a Data Junkie
Virtual Machines, Low/No Code Web Builders, SQL/NoSQL Databases, Computing, Productivity Tools, all for Free!
5 min read
I've stumbled upon numerous services over the years that kindly offer their products for free. If you are a hobbyist or just starting to learn, the free tier of these products listed below are plenty for you to get started.
Upon signup, you will receive $100 in credits - you do however have to enter a credit card to have on file. If you're just tinkering around, you should never come close to the limit and should never be billed.
$100 is enough for you spin up a 1 CPU, 25GB Storage and 1GB of RAM Ubuntu VM and have it running 24/7 for 20 months!
Safe to say I'll never run out of credits, as I usually tinker around, then tear it down immediately.
Low/No Code Web Builders:
As someone who's not an expert on front-end languages, I have a ton of fun learning and playing around with these page builders.
The Free Starter plan offers you plenty of features to get started, if you'd like to add your own domain name, embed more custom features, add custom HTML and rid the Webflow white label, you'll have to upgrade.
However, the free plan allowed me to build a few pages, perfect for my needs. I built a portfolio site on Webflow that houses my data visualization gallery and client projects.
The Starter plan only allows two static pages which is kind of a bummer however you can use a little trick to create more. I've added a few CMS Collection pages and use those to add more static pages.
The functionality of this web builder is more detailed and feature rich than a Wix or Squarepsace, something more applicable to superusers who are looking to customize their sites a little more. If you're looking for super easy drag and drop features I'd recommend Wix or Squarespace but Webflow is still super easy, there is just a slight learning curve.
If you're reading this from Hashnode, chances are you have a Hashnode account - I am really enjoying writing articles on this site, it's super user friendly and allows the writer to just go, no fussing around with blocks, margins, picture scaling etc.
If you're reading this elsewhere or on Hashnode and you don't have an account yet. Sign up and get writing!
I've created Python Flask apps that look like they're from the 90s. Nicepage has allowed me to easily design a front end, export it and plop it into my Flask app.
I couldn't tell you the limitations of the free tier of Nicepage because I haven't run into any blockers. The difference for me with Nicepage and Webflow is that I can import and export with Nicepage. Once I export I can delete the project in Nicepage and save it locally, in case I ever want to make any changes.
You can of course also publish through Nicepage but I've used it solely to add a little jazz to my Python applications.
Elephant SQL is one of the best services I've come across for messing around with a small db server. It's PostgreSQL and their free version gives you 20MB of data with 5 concurrent connections.
Now, 20MB is not a ton, but if you're just messing around with hooking a db server into your application or want to store personal records, it's perfect. I've personally been building a script on my microcontroller that's reading my houses's temperature and humidity, to batch insert data to my ElephantSQL instance every few hours. 20MB is plenty for this use case.
MongoDB has a shared cluster that is free FOREVER with 512MB of storage. It's not going to be the fastest thing but it's a great service that can give you a foray into NoSQL, document type storage systems.
Just remember if you spin up an instance - to create a connection to it every so often. They will discontinue your database if it's inactive for a certain period.
I run several tiny Python scripts on AWS Lambda, which is a serverless computing service offered by AWS. I have a home server but I don't run it 24/7. Lambda allows me to run small automation tasks that cost me $0. This isn't just through the free tier, if your scripts use little memory and don't take long to run, they can be essentially free.. or a fraction of a penny.
Check out my other article to learn more about getting a Python function to run on Lambda:
Just created a Django app but don't know where to host and publish it? Heroku has great guides for many supported languages. You can't add a custom domain but to get your app published and usable on the web within an hour, the Heroku free tier is a great option to host a small hobby or test application.
I was getting tired of Google Docs, of course there's a hierarchical structure to it with folders but I wanted something easier to manage, edit, add content and organize.
Confluence allowed me to organize my life a bit better than Google Docs. I can create hierarchies through child/parent pages, take notes, drop pictures in without formatting issues, drop in easy code snippets or create a table - it's just 10x easier to use than Google Drive suite - at least for personal productivity and digital life organization.
I'll still use GDrive to host large file dumps but in terms of actual content, my notes, ideas and lists all live on my private Confluence Space.
I jumped on the Notion bandwagon.. I couldn't get myself to fully transition from Confluence to Notion for personal productivity. However, I did find Notion easier for daily task tracking and pages that I may want to publish to family members or friends. It's great on mobile devices.
I use notion for daily journaling and to organize my book list. The embedded page features is nice to have a 'storefront' of my books, all organized and if I click into one, I've taken notes and given it comments after I've finished reading. I couldn't quite create this in Confluence with the format I wanted.