5 Best Netlify Alternatives for Static Site Hosting (in 2021)

December 23, 2020

Netlify is awesome. It’s the service that introduced me to static sites and the JAMstack.

Netlify is definitely the pioneer, but in the last year the options for static site hosting have exploded. In this article, I review 5 of my favorite options.

TDLR – best static site hosts (other than Netlify)

  1. Amplify Console
  2. Azure Static Web Apps
  3. Cloudflare Pages
  4. Vercel
  5. Github Pages

✋ Before we start…

understand that I’m not going to recommend direct static website hosting with s3 and Cloudfront, or Firebase, or anything like that. I consider those old school methods at this point. Instead, the services below are purpose-built for static site hosting, not just dumb asset buckets.

Also, all of these services have a free hosting tier, so you can try each one, and measure which is the best for your project. Yes – performance, scalable, and truly free website hosting. These are the wonderful times we are living in!

1. Amplify Console from AWS

Amplify was the first static site host that convinced me to cheat on Netlify. I was already playing with API Gateway and Lambda functions, so it made sense to give Amplify a try.

I was immediately blown away by how well designed the interface of Amplify Console was compared to other AWS services. I was also impressed by how easy it was to provision and connect my site to an s3 bucket, then put the site behind Cloudfront as my CDN. Even adding my domain was simple.

Amplify Console
Not exactly beautiful, but not ugly either

Amplify did it all for my automatically, with a simple GUI. I was not expecting that level of smooth developer experience from AWS.

Later I learned that the Amplify team’s mission is to provide a kinder, gentler on ramp to AWS Cloud services for front-end developers. They’re doing a great job and the service is worth a tinker.

Try: Amplify Console

2. Azure Static Web Apps

I haven’t tried Azure’s static site hosting yet, but when it was announced it felt like a validation that the serverless website architecture had become mainstream. The special bit to Azure Static Web Apps is that it leans on other Microsoft managed tools – the CI/CD is though GitHub Actions, and there’s a VS Code extension.

Try Azure Static Web Apps

3. Cloudflare Pages

Cloudflare’s static site hosting is still in preview, but I’m excited about it as a Netlify alternative because Cloudflare’s reputation for ease-of-use surpasses any of the cloud providers I mentioned above.

Also, Cloudflare Pages may have the best CDN of any provider on this list. That alone makes them worth giving a try.

Try: Cloudflare Pages

4. Vercel

I have not tried Vercel yet, and I’m not sure what different about it from other static site hosts on this list. If your site uses NextJS, there are features like image optimization that only work on Vercel.

Try: Vercel

5. GitHub Pages

GitHub Pages is the granddaddy of static site hosting. And when I really think about it, it was actually the first static site host I tried! I just didn’t know what was happening, or what I was doing. A button in the GitHub interface asked me if I wanted a site, I clicked “yes”, and out popped a webpage!

I consider GitHub Pages a good choice as a “homepage” for an open source project. I wouldn’t use it for anything else.

Try: GitHub Pages

???? So, which static site host should you choose?

I say try them all, and measure your deploy speeds and Core Web Vitals. What’s cool about all of these services is that adopting them is as simple as pointing their CI/CD service to your GitHub repo. You don’t need to leave Netlify to taste test other static site hosts.

If you use Gatsby and Gatsby Cloud (which is where I work, and it’s what this site uses), then sampling a host is even easier. In the settings for your site, navigate to “deploys” then choose your static site hosting integration.

Gatsby CDN connection settings
I’m using Netlify for this example, but I can switch static site hosts with one click

Gatsby users like this setup because it gives you the best of both worlds – super-fast builds with Gatsby Cloud, and any choice of CDN for hosting.

The bottom line is, there’s no reason to feel stuck with your first choice, whether that’s Netlify or any static site hosting solution. They’re all free to try, and easy to switch to!

(Image by Peter Geo)