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I need a cloud database for a website that I am launching. This website is only a hobby at the time of writing but I want to be able to scale if I generate revenue and a lot of traffic.

The website will host files, as well as the usual user account information.

The service that I am most familiar with, is Azure. And Azure's cost for this kind of project is not remotely justifiable.

My main requirement is that it should be a relational database, and it should be able to work with EF Core https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/ef/core/providers/?tabs=dotnet-core-cli, as I'm using .NET (Blazor) to implement the site.

A ballpark cost of a database that I am willing to pay for this kind of personal project is around $6. And to be able to limit storage/compute time based on a max cost is would be a massive bonus. I don't want to risk a massive unexpected bill.

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On Google Cloud Compute Engine so called "micro instances" were free (or almost free) the last time I checked (in 2021).

Official docs on GCE free tier

To get micro instances or small instance even cheaper is to use "spot-pricing", or make them "preemptible" (killed any time by Google). Those can be only set up with a "Jinja" config file (not with the cloud Web GUI, and not with gcloud CLI tool) and storage space is minimal. You'll get a bare-metal server (with a free public IP-4 address). There you could set up any database. You need to manage the DNS resolution of a domain name, and optionally implement a failover mechanism.

I think these instances are fine to use for software testing but not in production.

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In the cloud everything costs.

What Azure will offer you is this:

  • Build in the cloud with an Azure free account: they will give you around $200 for free. Then you pay.
  • If you use Azure SQL Database Basic or S0 you will have contained costs at least at the beginning with bad performances.
  • Azure SQL Database Serverless: your database will go to sleep after 1h of no connections. But you will pay a bit more when in use.

You cannot escape the costs when you are in the cloud.

Maybe try to put everything on a NAS at home if it's an amateur project.

EDIT: There is also this new cloud which is apparently very cheap: https://neon.tech/

EDIT: Since a few days Microsoft is providing 100,000 seconds of vCore (which translates to 27 hours). But if you use Serverless this time might increase. https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/azure-sql/database/free-offer?view=azuresql

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    I live in South Africa, and we have national power cuts (blackouts) for about 8 hours every day, therefore the NAS route is not an option for me unfortunately.
    – Divan
    Sep 21, 2023 at 14:59

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