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Heroku vs Netlify: What are the differences?

What is Heroku? Build, deliver, monitor and scale web apps and APIs with a trail blazing developer experience. Heroku is a cloud application platform – a new way of building and deploying web apps. Heroku lets app developers spend 100% of their time on their application code, not managing servers, deployment, ongoing operations, or scaling.

What is Netlify? Build, deploy and host your static site or app with a drag and drop interface and automatic delpoys from GitHub or Bitbucket. Netlify is smart enough to process your site and make sure all assets gets optimized and served with perfect caching-headers from a cookie-less domain. We make sure your HTML is served straight from our CDN edge nodes without any round-trip to our backend servers and are the only ones to give you instant cache invalidation when you push a new deploy. Netlify is also the only static hosting service with integrated continuous deployment.

Heroku can be classified as a tool in the "Platform as a Service" category, while Netlify is grouped under "Static Web Hosting".

Some of the features offered by Heroku are:

  • Agile deployment for Ruby, Node.js, Clojure, Java, Python, Go and Scala.
  • Run and scale any type of app.
  • Total visibility across your entire app.

On the other hand, Netlify provides the following key features:

  • Global Network
  • Global Network
  • Instant Cache Validation

"Easy deployment" is the primary reason why developers consider Heroku over the competitors, whereas "Fastest static hosting and continuous deployments" was stated as the key factor in picking Netlify.

StackShare, Heroku, and Product Hunt are some of the popular companies that use Heroku, whereas Netlify is used by Startae, Ratio, and Flat. Heroku has a broader approval, being mentioned in 1504 company stacks & 964 developers stacks; compared to Netlify, which is listed in 85 company stacks and 104 developer stacks.

Decisions about Heroku and Netlify
Michael R.
Full Stack Web Developer at Safe This Home, LLC · | 11 upvotes · 12.1K views

When it came time to deploy our latest full-stack application, my team and I made the decision to use the Heroku platform for the first time. After conducting significant research and consulting with several senior developers in the industry, we concluded that Heroku would provide the best support for our application, which was built with MongoDB and Express on the back end and React on the front end.

Granted, Netlify definitely provides a better platform for applications that are primarily front-end, but Heroku has proved to be a strong contender as well. The deployment went quite smoothly, all things considered. The installation of the Heroku command line, while a bit intimidating at first glance, actually proved very beneficial for controlling builds, adding plugins, and managing the deployment process.

I have no regrets over the choice to use Heroku; in fact, I would go so far as to recommend the platform for supporting any small to medium full-stack application you may be working on. If nothing else, the documentation provided by Heroku is far superior to that of many similar platforms, and that alone can be a lifesaver in the event of a snag during deployment.

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Howie Zhao
Full Stack Engineer at yintrust · | 7 upvotes · 96.8K views

We use Netlify to host static websites.

The reasons for choosing Netlify over GitHub Pages are as follows:

  • Netfily can bind multiple domain names, while GitHub Pages can only bind one domain name
  • With Netfily, the original repository can be private, while GitHub Pages free tier requires the original repository to be public

In addition, in order to use CDN, we use Netlify DNS.

See more
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Pros of Heroku
Pros of Netlify
  • 702
    Easy deployment
  • 459
    Free for side projects
  • 374
    Huge time-saver
  • 348
    Simple scaling
  • 261
    Low devops skills required
  • 190
    Easy setup
  • 174
    Add-ons for almost everything
  • 154
    Beginner friendly
  • 150
    Better for startups
  • 133
    Low learning curve
  • 48
    Postgres hosting
  • 41
    Easy to add collaborators
  • 30
    Faster development
  • 24
    Awesome documentation
  • 19
    Simple rollback
  • 19
    Focus on product, not deployment
  • 15
    Natural companion for rails development
  • 15
    Easy integration
  • 12
    Great customer support
  • 8
    GitHub integration
  • 6
    Painless & well documented
  • 6
    No-ops
  • 4
    Free
  • 3
    I love that they make it free to launch a side project
  • 3
    Great UI
  • 3
    Just works
  • 2
    PostgreSQL forking and following
  • 2
    MySQL extension
  • 41
    Easy deploy
  • 40
    Fastest static hosting and continuous deployments
  • 20
    Free SSL support
  • 20
    Super simple deploys
  • 14
    Easy Setup and Continous deployments
  • 9
    Faster than any other option in the market
  • 8
    Free plan for personal websites
  • 7
    Deploy previews
  • 6
    Free Open Source (Pro) plan
  • 4
    Great loop-in material on a blog
  • 4
    Analytics
  • 4
    Easy to use and great support
  • 3
    Fastest static hosting and continuous deployments
  • 2
    Great drag and drop functionality
  • 1
    Tech oriented support
  • 1
    Supports static site generators
  • 1
    Canary Releases (Split Tests)
  • 1
    Custom domains support

Sign up to add or upvote prosMake informed product decisions

Cons of Heroku
Cons of Netlify
  • 23
    Super expensive
  • 6
    No usable MySQL option
  • 6
    Not a whole lot of flexibility
  • 5
    Storage
  • 4
    Low performance on free tier
  • 8
    It's expensive
  • 1
    Bandwidth limitation

Sign up to add or upvote consMake informed product decisions

What is Heroku?

Heroku is a cloud application platform – a new way of building and deploying web apps. Heroku lets app developers spend 100% of their time on their application code, not managing servers, deployment, ongoing operations, or scaling.

What is Netlify?

Netlify is smart enough to process your site and make sure all assets gets optimized and served with perfect caching-headers from a cookie-less domain. We make sure your HTML is served straight from our CDN edge nodes without any round-trip to our backend servers and are the only ones to give you instant cache invalidation when you push a new deploy. Netlify is also the only static hosting service with integrated continuous deployment.

Need advice about which tool to choose?Ask the StackShare community!

What companies use Heroku?
What companies use Netlify?
See which teams inside your own company are using Heroku or Netlify.
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What tools integrate with Heroku?
What tools integrate with Netlify?

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What are some alternatives to Heroku and Netlify?
DigitalOcean
We take the complexities out of cloud hosting by offering blazing fast, on-demand SSD cloud servers, straightforward pricing, a simple API, and an easy-to-use control panel.
Google App Engine
Google has a reputation for highly reliable, high performance infrastructure. With App Engine you can take advantage of the 10 years of knowledge Google has in running massively scalable, performance driven systems. App Engine applications are easy to build, easy to maintain, and easy to scale as your traffic and data storage needs grow.
Firebase
Firebase is a cloud service designed to power real-time, collaborative applications. Simply add the Firebase library to your application to gain access to a shared data structure; any changes you make to that data are automatically synchronized with the Firebase cloud and with other clients within milliseconds.
Docker
The Docker Platform is the industry-leading container platform for continuous, high-velocity innovation, enabling organizations to seamlessly build and share any application — from legacy to what comes next — and securely run them anywhere
Microsoft Azure
Azure is an open and flexible cloud platform that enables you to quickly build, deploy and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed datacenters. You can build applications using any language, tool or framework. And you can integrate your public cloud applications with your existing IT environment.
See all alternatives
Reviews of Heroku and Netlify
Review of
Netlify

To start off, check this out: https://perfwars.com/netlify.com/vs/godaddy.com/

If you are new to Netlify, it will take you less than 5 minutes to get your site up and running, 3 minutes if you are fast. To get started simply go here: https://app.netlify.com/

Choose one of the following options to sign up: GitHub, BitBucket, GitLab, or you can use your email address.

If you sign up with your email address, it will ask you to enter a 4 digit verification code that they sent to your email address.

Once signed in, you will be shown a quick intro:

  1. SIMPLY PUSH TO DEPLOY
  2. FREE ONE-CLICK HTTPS
  3. NEVER HAVE TO LEAVE TERMINAL

These are three huge benefits of Netlify over most other hosting platforms.

OK, now that you have signed up and gone through the highlights, you need just select new site. From there you can either link a Git repository or just drag and drop your site folder into the browser window. Your site will be uploaded and available for browsing within a minute or so.

Once your site is on Netlify, you can setup a custom domain by selected the settings tab, if you are not already there, then click edit next to domain. Simply put your domain in, save and then follow instructions on Netlify's documentation page on how to set up your DNS: https://www.netlify.com/docs/custom-domains

So easy! You are done setting up your site! Now for making changes and adding features. You no longer have to do crazy manual set ups to get SSL installed on your site, with Netlify even my grandma could do it! You can still use your own certificate if you prefer, but if you wanted it even easier, all you have to do is select "Lets Encrypt Certificate" from the SSL tab on your site in Netlify.

When you select "Lets Encrypt Certificate", Netlify shows a dialog entitled "Automatic TLS Setup" and asks you to ensure that your DNS is set up properly before you provision the certificate. This is important, and it will be fine so long as you set up your DNS properly according to their custom domains documentation that I shared earlier. All you need to do here is click save. The SSL will start to work shortly and all http URLs will automatically be redirected to https! And the best part is, it is free!

Recap of the setup process: 1. Sign up and verify your account 2. Link repository or drag and drop site folder 3. Change domain and setup DNS 4. True One-click SSL 5. Upgrade your site for more awesome features (Optional)

That's it! You are done! Takes less than 5 minutes!

Before I came across Netlify, I would often use drag and drop web builders because the complication of managing servers and setting up configurations to handle forms and SSL were too complicated. With Netlify however, all you need to do for form handling is to put in a little call out to Netlify to say, hey, this is a form I want you to handle. It is so easy! You already know how easy it is to set up SSL now too. I now have no fears in launching a site, setting up form handling and SSL.

If you are interested in setting up the form handling, you can go here: https://www.netlify.com/docs/form-handling

Netlify also has amazing and simple documentation. I have never had a problem figuring something out. If ever I have had a question, I have found a resolution with in 1-2 minutes in their documentation. They have thought of everything!

My favorite tools in Netlify are the notifications! You can set up your form handling to automatically notify you via email or even Slack. I love Slack too by the way, and being able to get updates about my deployments or form handling via Slack is a huge plus.

The notification integrations are my favorite, however, I still cannot get over how easy it is to set up SSL and form handling. They are by far the most useful features for me. Another very useful feature is being able to see a history of your builds and having the ability to restore to a previous build or download it. I have been unable to find any of these features in their simplicity anywhere else. Netlify is literally the easiest to use, most reliable and overall best hosting platform out there.

One more mention, the founder of Netlify is involved in the JAMStack Revolution. Here is a quick blurb from their site (Looks Awesome!):

JAM stands for JavaScript, APIs and Markup. It's the fastest growing stack for building websites and apps: no more servers, host all your front-end on a CDN and use APIs for any moving parts.

Learn more about JAMStack here: https://jamstack.org https://github.com/jamstack/jamstack.org

Review of
Heroku

I use Heroku, for almost any project of mine. Their free plan is awesome for testing, solo developers or your startup and its almost impossible to not cover you somehow. Adding an add on is a simple command away and I find it easy to use it both on my Windows PC or my Linux laptop. Their documentation, covers almost everything. In particular I have used Heroku for Spring, Django and AngularJS. I even find it easier to run my project on my local dev with foreman start, than ./manage.py runserver (for my django projects). There is no place like Heroku for the developer!

Review of
Heroku

Can't beat the simplicity of deploying and managing apps, the pricing is a bit high, but you are paying for those streamlined tools. However, after several experiences of tracing issues back to Heroku's stack, not having visibility into what they are doing has prompted moving two applications off of it and on to other more transparent cloud solutions. Heroku is amazing for what it is, hosting for early stage products.

Review of
Heroku

I've been using Heroku for 3 years now, they have grown super fast and each time they're improving their services. What I really like the most is how easily you can show to your client the advances on you project, it would take you maximum 15 minutes to configure two environments (Staging/Production). It is simply essential and fantastic!

Review of
Heroku

I liked how easy this was to use and that I could create some proof of concepts without have to pay. The downside for NodeJS is remote debugging. Pretty much have to depend on logging where Azure allows remote debugging with Node Inspector.

Review of
Heroku

Using Heroku takes away all the pains associated with managing compute and backing services. It may require a little extra optimisation and tweaks, but these constraints often make your app better anyway.

How developers use Heroku and Netlify
StackShare uses
Heroku

Not having to deal with servers is a huge win for us. There are certainly trade-offs (having to wait if the platform is down as opposed to being able to fix the issue), but we’re happy being on Heroku right now. Being able to focus 100% of our technical efforts on application code is immensely helpful.

Two dynos seems to be the sweet spot for our application. We can handle traffic spikes and get pretty consistent performance otherwise.

We have a total of four apps on Heroku: Legacy Leanstack, StackShare Prod, StackShare Staging, StackShare Dev. Protip: if you’re setting up multiple environments based on your prod environment, just run heroku fork app name. Super useful, it copies over your db, add-ons, and settings.

We have a develop branch on GitHub that we push to dev to test out, then if everything is cool we push it to staging and eventually prod. Hotfixes of course go straight to staging and then prod usually.

StackShare uses
Heroku

We keep the Metrics tab open while we load test, and hit refresh to see what’s going on: heroku metric

I would expect the graphs to expand with some sort of detail, but that’s not the case. So these metrics aren’t very useful. The logs are far more useful, so we just keep the tail open while we test.

Tim Lucas uses
Heroku

Heroku runs the web and background worker processes. Auto-deployments are triggered via GitHub commits and wait for the Buildkite test build to pass. Heroku pipelines with beta release phase execution (for automatically running database migrations) allowed for easy manual testing of big new releases. Web and worker logs are sent to Papertrail.

Jeff Flynn uses
Heroku

As much as I love AWS EC, I prefer Heroku for apps like this. Heroku has grown up around Rails and Ruby, massive set of add-ons that are usually one-click setup, and I once had to perform an emergency app scale-up a that I completed in seconds from my mobile phone whilst riding the Bangkok subway. Doesn't get much easier than that.

danlangford uses
Heroku

With its complimentary SSL (on *.herokuapp.com) we can test everything. Our dev branch is built and deployed out to Heroku. Testing happens out here. not production cause $20/mo is TOO much to pay for the ability to use my own SSL purchased elsewhere.

ioi0 uses
Netlify

Serves the main site through CDN. Provides super easy password protection and third-level domain for staging. Uses web hooks from Contentful and Github to know when to trigger new build and update the site. Perfect.

MassTimes uses
Netlify

Netlify makes it super-easy for various team members to deploy whenever there's a push to our Git master branch. Automatic build, deployment, and setup on CDN.

GitDocs uses
Netlify

It's free and has so many features - just perfect for open-source projects like GitDocs.

Loog uses
Netlify

We use Netlify to host all of our Hugo sites with continuous deployment.

doodledudes uses
Netlify

Super easy to setup to have your prototypes deployed with CI.