Avatar of Jake CooperJake Cooper

Introducing the $5 Plan

It’s been just over two years since we launched Railway and we’ve grown massively. We’re nearing half a million users, with hundreds of thousands of new deployments shipping monthly.

Over the past year, we’ve noticed a couple things:

  • Our pricing is confusing
  • Our free tier is even more confusing with execution hours
  • We initially offered carte blanche free compute, then added “verification” to curb abuse
  • This was further confusing, and to boot, abusers would end up gaming the system anyways!

Since we altered the verification criteria, at first slowly, then all at once, the novel use cases and insightful questions that used to populate our inbox have lately been replaced with a deluge of “why no verify?!?”

When we check the account belonging to the complaint, we invariably find a “GitHub” that was created 14 minutes ago. 😐

So our inbox lately has been rammed with verification requests, our community has been flooded with low-effort questions, and our moderators have grown more and more tired of the nonstop game of whack-a-mole.

This manifests in downstream effects for our customers:

  • Less “Wow” support experiences due to verification requests
  • Lower quality community questions/higher moderation load
  • Slowdowns and, in, rare occurrences, outages

So after 18 months of playing cat-and-mouse with bad actors, we’re ready to retool this a bit.

We thought of a number of ways we might be able to alter the free experience to disincentivize abuse — slower builds, application sleeping, various paywalls, bouncing free tier support requests — you know, the usual SaaS stuff.

But honestly, we think that route is a pretty crap experience and doesn’t actually solve our support and community quality problem.

We think if it’s not amazing, we just simply won’t offer it.

So that’s what we’re gonna do. We’re just not gonna do no-strings-attached-free compute anymore. But we’re also not gonna force you to pay $20 per seat (+ usage) just to deploy your NextJS app. That’s also kinda scummy.

The happy medium we’ve found is thus:

By default, Railway will cost $5 per month

You’ll be able to try it for free, but if you wanna keep using it after your initial one-time $5 free credit, it’ll cost $5 / mo.

Our goal is to make this the best $5 you spend on the internet. That $5 includes a generous baseline amount of usage, and above that, you just pay for what you use, prorated to the minute on vCPU/RAM/GB network egress etc.

We’re also going to start charging for network egress at $0.10 / GB. The financial impact on most users will be negligible, but this will let us disincentivize certain kinds of abuse (torrent aggregators sapping bandwidth, which can result in latency spikes).

Here’s how we see it: a standard box costs $6-10 on any other provider. If it’s a VPS, you’ve gotta wire it up with Dokku/k3s/etc. If it’s a server, it’s $6-10 per service.

So, if you deploy literally anything, and are going to pay for any compute on the internet at all, this is the best money you’ll spend. Period.

With that $5, you’re also gonna get all this amazing stuff that we’re shipping imminently:

  • [June] Private networking
  • [June] Dynamic persistent disks
  • [June] Lifecycle Management (aka better Terraform)
  • [July] Spend/Resource/etc Limits
  • [August] Regions

… plus everything we already offer AND a few more things we’re gonna sprinkle in there as surprises.

And we’ll be able to ship all this for you with our tiny team because we’ll be building features for you instead of playing Duck Hunt with people running torrent bots, spinning-up crypto miners, and going all tragedy of the commons slurping up free creds across multiple accounts.

For those of you who are upset that we’re deleting the free-in-perpetuity $5 credits and find yourselves lackin’ a Lincoln, fear not!

We’re going to give you ample time to migrate (either to the new plans or to sites that rhyme with Bender.com and Guy.io).

We are launching changes on July 3, 2023 and migrate existing users on August 1, 2023. The full migration guide, as well as an exhaustive list of pricing changes, updates, and timelines, can be found below. 👇🏻

Migration Guide for Upcoming Pricing and Plan Changes, 2023 Edition

(And if you’re still upset about the $5 thing, we left a way for you to get that waived. You’ll have to read the migration guide to find out how that works.)

We spent the last 18 months really trying to gerrymander this verification thing. As a result, the things you all were asking us for (regions, disks, networks) took longer than we wanted.

All the above are now working internally, and we’re going to ship them in the next 1-2 months. And then we’re gonna ship WAY more cool stuff.

The above is just table stakes for where we’re going, and once we’re done shipping that, we’re going to get into the truly insane stuff. Things like:

  • Scale to zero (aka serverless servers)
  • Full config Lifecycle Management (aka IaC-less IaC)
  • Configurable compute target backends (AWS, GCP, your Raspberry Pi)
  • A fully embeddable/extensible Plugin system (👀 WASM fans stay tuned)

With your support, and these changes, we have no doubt we’ll get there.

Onwards and upwards,

The Railway Team