Is Heroku’s Hobby Basic Plan ($9) sufficient to host my podcast?

Hi! Since I know that thoughtbot has used Heroku a lot in the past, I was wondering if anybody can share some advice which plan on Heroku might be sufficient to host a new podcast that does not expect a flood of traffic from day one.

Alternatively I’m considering building a Jekyll site on Github pages if the $9 Hobby Basic Plan on Heroku is not at all appropriate for launching this project.

In terms of page views, it would be fine. The two things you need to careful with are the slug size and the monthly bandwidth.

The podcast files themselves will count towards the maximum slug size of 300MB if you add them to the Rails public directory. So after a few episodes you may reach this limit.

The monthly bandwidth has a ‘soft limit’ of 2TB. Assuming your podcast file was 50MB, this would allow for about 1300 downloads per day.

A solution to both these limits could be to use Amazon S3 to host and serve the podcast files. You will pay for only the bandwidth you use, so this can be good way to ‘scale up’.

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For a few dollars more per month (and with a free trial) you could try a purpose-built tool:

Thanks for your quick answer, was really helpful!

I plan on hosting my audio files on SoundCloud and embed the episodes via their player on my site. That way I don’t have to worry about bandwith at all.

Thanks a ton!

Thanks for the link, wasn’t on my radar. Looks really cool!
Guess the player is the same thoughtbot uses for podcasting.

Do you know to what degree their templates are customizable? Found one of their blog post that suggests you can basically just touch the CSS.

I want to get my hands dirty with this project, maybe add search and other features for a better UX…

Thanks Derek, appreciate it!

The $9 Hobby plan is really just the Postgresql database. So unless you’re expecting to have users with accounts or plan to require more than 10K rows in your database, you really don’t need the hobby plan database. If you’re expecting a lot of page views, you don’t necessarily need a bigger database, but you might need another dyno. But realistically, you can totally get by on Heroku completely free unless you start getting high enough traffic to warrant more “power.” Of course when that happens, you could either spend more on Heroku, or move your app somewhere else that might be cheaper. But for now, I personally wouldn’t even spend the $9 – Soundcloud is doing the heavy lifting for you in terms of bandwidth.

Thanks for your suggestions!

The thing I don’t like about the free version is the lag that when users visit a page for the first time due to the dyno idling. That can cause a lot of people to leave before the site is ready.

Can you estimate roughly how much traffic the free, or Hobby plan could potentially handle when SC is doing the heavy lifting?


Update: Found a nice little service that pings my free Heroku app every couple of minutes and prevents the app from going to sleep.

There are other, more sophisticated solutions out there, but this one does the trick just fine it seems. Just add the address for your Heroku app and you’re set.

Thanks for taking the time Chad, really appreciate it!

Simplecast looks like a cool solution.
What made you guys switch to this service?
Was there a specific reason to stop rolling your own app on Heroku?
Which plan did you use on Heroku at the time btw?

Thanks very much!

Thanks for sharing your insights!

Simplecast definitely makes a good overall case. The one thing I’m still unsure about is the inability to build something on top of it’s offered functionality. “Simple” stuff like search, profile sites for interviewees or maybe user accounts.

I plan on releasing “daily” episodes, and alone therefore I must think about a way to make it easier for users to consume and find that content. With the tools Simplecast offers atm, it seems it would be inevitable for users to get a bit lost after 3 months of content.

Thanks for taking the time and helping me out : )

Another solution to pinging a free Heroku dyno is new relic’s heartbeat gem. Not sure if it’s still around (been a long time since I’ve used it) but it is dead simple. Anyway, good luck!