Maximizing Your Use of Google Cloud Free Tier

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Some people will say you can never be too frugal or thrifty, and in honesty even if you can afford to spend more there’s really no good reason you should if there’s an alternative. This is something a lot of people can relate to. If you’re the webmaster or similarly titled individual who’s at the helm of a company or organization and needing to find savings in your web operations then the Google Cloud Free Tier offers just that if you are taking advantage of what cloud storage offers these days.

The appeal of cloud storage of course needs no explanation. Physical storage is just that – physical – and that’s means space demands and as we become increasingly more digital in lives and business every day it’s more and more impractical to be housing data in physical data centers. Cloud storage has been a godsend in this regard, and we’re very fortunate to have it now.

Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re like every other Canadian web hosting provider in that our data centers are usually working at near capacity, and we also take very opportunity to utilize cloud storage for internal storage needs related to our business and day-to-day operations. Google has had its Free Tier for Google Cloud for a while now, and while it’s great for the individual or smaller-scale operations there’s just not enough capacity of the likes of us.

For the average individual or smaller business, however, it’s a great resource to have at your disposal. Successful businesses grow, and you wouldn’t want it any other way. But that may mean stretching your storage needs beyond what the Google Cloud Free Tier maximum.

But it also many not, and particularly if you find ways to maximize your use of the Google Cloud Free Tier. Here’s how you can do that.

Store Only What’s Needed

Free databases included like Firestore and Cloud Storage are completely flexible tools that let you nest away key-value documents and objects respectively. Google Cloud’s always-free tier allows no-cost storage of your first 1GB (Firestore) and 10GB (Cloud Storage). For apps that keep more details, however, it’s common to go through those free gigabytes fairly quickly. So quit saving information unless you absolutely need it. This means no obsessive collection of data just in case you need it for debugging later. Skip extra timestamps, and be judicious about which large caches full of data you really need to keep in this resource.

Make Use of Compression

There’s no shortage of code pieces for adding a layer of compression to your clients. Rather than storing fat blocks of JSON, the client code can run the data through an algorithm like LZW or Gzip before sending it over the wire to your server for unpacking and storage. That means faster responses, fewer bandwidth issues, and significantly less demand on your free monthly data storage quota. Do be aware though that smaller data packets can get bigger when the compression’s overhead is factored in.

Serverless is the Way to Go

When it comes to intermittent compute services that are billed per request, Google is already fairly accommodating. Cloud Run will boot up and run a stateless container that answers two million requests each month, and at no cost to you. Cloud Functions will fire up your function in response to another two million requests. That averages out to more than 100,000 different operations per day. So writing your code to the serverless model can often be a good choice.

Make Use of the App Engine

Spinning up a web application using Google’s App Engine is an excellent choice to do it without fussing over all of the details regarding how it will be deployed or scaled. Almost everything is automated, so expanses to the load will automatically result in new deployments. 28 ‘instance hours’ are included for each day with the App Engine, allowing your app to run free for 24 hours per day and free too scale up for four hours if there’s a surge in demand.

Consolidate Service Calls

You can also find flexibility for adding extras if you’re careful. The limits on serverless invocations are on the number of individual requests, and not on the complexity. Packing more action and more results into each exchange by bundling all of the data operations into one bigger packet is entirely possible here. Just keep in mind that Google counts the memory used and the compute time, and that your functions can’t exceed 400k GB-seconds memory and 200k GHz-seconds of compute time.

Go with Local Storage

A number of suitable places to store information can be found with the modern web API. You can go with the usually-fine cookie that’s limited to 4 kilobytes. For a document-based key valu system, the Web Storage API can cache at least 5 megabytes of data and some browsers can retain up to 10 megabytes. The Indexed DB offers more, with database cursors and indices that have the capacity to process mounds of data which is often stored limitlessly.

The more data you store locally on your user’s machine, the less valuable server-side storage you need. This can also mean faster responses and much less bandwidth promised to ferrying endless copies of the data back to your server. This is a fairly basic fix to implement, and it’s going to be doable for the majority of users.

Uncover Hidden Bargains

Dig enough and you’ll find Google has a helpful page that puts all of their free products in one place, but dig a little further and you’ll find plenty of free services that aren’t even listed. Take Google Maps, for instance. It offers a $200 free monthly usage, and then Google Docs and a few of the other APIs are always free as well.

Use G Suite

Many G Suite products like Docs, Sheets, and Drive are billed separately and users will receive them free with their GMail account or the business pays for them as a suite. Rather than creating an app with built-in reporting, just write the data to a spreadsheet and share the sheet. Build a web app and you’ll need to burn your compute and data quotas to handle the interactive requests. Create a Google Doc for your report and you’re then delegating most of the work to Google’s machine.

Ignore Gimmicks

Unfortunately, superfluous features of modern web applications abound in a big way. Banks won’t need to include stock quotes with their applications, but they might add them. Local times or temperatures probably don’t need to be there. Embedding the latest tweets or Instagram photos probably isn’t needed either. Doing away with all of these extras means a lot fewer calls to your server machines and those calls consume your free limits.

Be Wary of New Options

There are some new and fancy tools for building A.I. services for your stack and are well suited for experimenting. The AutoML Video service allows you to train your machine learning model on video feeds for 40 hours each month for free. The service for tabular data will grind your rows and rows of information on a node free for six hours. This is all fine and dandy, but be careful as automating the process so every user could trigger a big machine learning job comes with real risks.

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