Parse Server Hosts: NodeChef vs. Heroku vs. Digital Ocean

Headlines about Parse Shutting down created an instant headache for many mobile app developers who depended on the service. Yet, many were relieved to read that Parse will continue to run for a year and also the news that the Parse team has released the open source Parse Server. The open source Parse Server makes it possible to serve the Parse API from any infrastructure that can host Node.js applications. The Parse Server also lets you use the Parse client SDKs with entirely new applications that have no dependency on the Parse hosted services.

Since Parse Server is a self-hosted application, it does require you to take over some of the work Parse was doing. There are many ways to host a Parse Server application and each come with their own advantages, trade-offs, and price points. In this article, we’re going to explore some of the Parse Server hosting providers and discuss the steps required to get your application up and running. If you’re building with Parse Server or are looking to migrate your app from Parse, then you’ll gain valuable insight into which hosting provider could work best for your project. If you are not developing with Parse Server, read anyway as you might discover something new.


NodeChef is a Platform-as-a-Service which specialises in Node.js and mongoDB hosting. NodeChef stands out because of how easy it is to get your application up and running. The platform provides an intuitive and easy to use web interface, but it also provides a developer friendly command line interface. NodeChef monitors your app for you. That’s right: NodeChef doesn’t just automate a cloud platform for you, NodeChef offers world class support as well.

Creating a new server on NodeChef takes seconds using an intuitive web interface. Follow the steps in this article to migrate your apps to NodeChef or create a new app.

Benefits: NodeChef is a Node.js and mongoDB hosting company, and so brings a lot of experience on the table. NodeChef Parse Server offering provides a great mobile backend platform for developers who don’t want to wrangle with the complexities of server-side infrastructure. By encapsulating both the database and the app server into a single cloud service, mobile app developers are able to rapidly build rich mobile applications with much less effort. NodeChef is the only platform that is a direct replacement for Parse. The performance on NodeChef can’t be beat. By eliminating layers of virtualization and running containers directly on bare metal, applications enjoy the highest possible performance. Containers are spread across different host and cores. None of your containers that is database or app containers will share the same cpu resources.

Trade-offs: Cannot SSH into your app and database instances.

Pricing: NodeChef is well priced to cater for the needs of every developer. All plans are production quality and start at $9/month.

Digital Ocean

Digital Ocean is an Infrastructure as a service providing Virtual Private Servers (VPS). There are quite a few articles online which provides tutorials on how to host your Parse Server application on Digital Ocean. Brennen Bearnes articles on how to run Parse Server on Ubuntu and how to migrate a Parse app to a Parse Server on Ubuntu provide detailed instructions on how to host on Digital Ocean.

Benefits: Digital Ocean is a good choice if you need to retain a high level of control over your virtual servers. Digital Ocean offers very affordable SSD servers.

Trade-offs: In order to use Digital Ocean, your team should have a DevOps engineer who understands Environment Management, Unix Systems, and is very comfortable on the command line. Your team would need to know how to run Node.js application. Your team would also need to understand the basics of running a mongoDB database in production. VPS hosting can be very slow especially for the lower tier options as your parse server and mongodb database will be running on the same VCPU.

Pricing: Digital Ocean offers very affordable SSD servers starting at $5/month. However, if you consider the number of hours you would spend on DevOps or the cost to hire a DevOps person, the cost could shoot up. Using an external service like mlab or compose further makes your deployment really expensive. For example, shared production mongoDB hosting at mlab starts at $15 per GB per month


Heroku is a Platform-as-a-Service offering that automates all the requirements and infrastructure required to run a web application. Apps run on Dynos, which are lightweight containers. Migrating a Parse app or creating a new Parse Server app can be a little hassle. Great tutorials are available online on how to do this. A very good tutorial can be found on the learn app making website.

Benefits: A new server instance can be created almost instantaneously. Add-ons make it easy to provision additional resources and infrastructure, such as, mongoDB or log analysis. Developers can focus on product development rather than managing infrastructure.

Trade-offs: Your apps can have some performance issues when you have serious traffic, which eventually can impact your business. This is because multiple Heroku Dynos are running on same EC2 instances under separate namespaces (containers)

Pricing: Heroku has free dynos for hobbyist. If you need production level dynos for your apps, pricing starts at $25/month. Using mlab or compose add-on for your database starts at around $18 per GB per month. This can make your overall deployment expensive. Scaling your app on Heroku to handle more traffic can be very pricey.

While we only mentioned a few hosting alternatives for your Parse Server apps, there are many still yet to launch. Selecting a host should boil down to what is the most cost effective choice and which choice complements your existing engineering team. By approaching a hosting provider and keeping those two things in mind, it's hard to go wrong.