Vercel vs Netlify

10 May 2024

Vercel vs. Netlify

Ed Robinson, Lead Software Engineer

Vercel and Netlify are two of the most popular Jamstack hosting platforms, offering developers a seamless way to deploy and manage their web applications. Both platforms provide a range of features and benefits that make them attractive choices for modern web development. In this article, we'll take a closer look at Vercel and Netlify, comparing their similarities and differences to help you make an informed decision when choosing a hosting platform for your next project.

Introduction to Jamstack hosting platforms

Jamstack (JavaScript, APIs, and Markup) is a modern web development architecture that focuses on delivering fast, secure, and scalable websites ( (learn more about what Jamstack is). Jamstack hosting platforms, such as Vercel and Netlify, are designed to simplify the deployment and management of Jamstack applications. These platforms offer features like automated builds, continuous deployment, site previews, atomic deployments, easy rollbacks, and CDN hosting, making it easier for developers to focus on building great applications.

When building Jamstack applications, developers often rely on headless CMS solutions to manage their content. A headless CMS, like Caisy, decouples the content management system from the presentation layer, allowing developers to use their preferred frontend frameworks and tools. By combining a headless CMS with a Jamstack hosting platform like Vercel or Netlify, developers can create powerful, flexible, and scalable web applications that are easy to maintain and update. Here's an article that describes the role of a Headless CMS in Jamstack.

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Key similarities between Vercel and Netlify

Vercel and Netlify share many similarities, making them both excellent choices for hosting Jamstack applications. Some of the key similarities include:

  • Automated builds and continuous deployment

  • Site previews and atomic deployments

  • Easy rollbacks to previous versions

  • Global CDN hosting for fast content delivery

  • Serverless functions support (JavaScript, TypeScript, Go, etc.)

  • Intuitive user interfaces and extensive documentation

  • Robust CLI tools for local development and deployment

These shared features make it easy for developers to get started with either platform and deploy their applications with minimal configuration.

Main differences between the two platforms

Despite their similarities, Vercel and Netlify also have some notable differences that may influence your decision when choosing between them:

  1. Serverless Functions: Vercel's serverless functions are synchronous, while Netlify offers "background functions" that can run asynchronously for up to 15 minutes. Vercel also has edge caching for serverless functions, while Netlify's "Edge handlers" feature is still in trial.

  2. Analytics: Netlify Analytics is a server-side solution, while Vercel's analytics is client-side and depends on the framework used.

  3. Forms and Authentication: Netlify has built-in form handling and its own Identity service, while Vercel requires third-party integrations for these features.

  4. Large Media: Netlify has a Large Media feature to manage large files like images and videos, which Vercel lacks.

  5. Framework Integration: Vercel has a deep integration with Next.js, while Netlify does not have a specific framework integration.

These differences may make one platform more suitable for your project than the other, depending on your specific requirements and the tools you plan to use.

Features and Performance

When comparing Vercel and Netlify, it's essential to examine their features and performance capabilities. Both platforms offer a range of tools and services to streamline the development and deployment process, but there are some notable differences to consider.

Serverless functions: Vercel vs. Netlify

Vercel and Netlify both support serverless functions, allowing developers to run backend code without managing servers. However, there are some distinctions in their implementations:

  • Vercel's serverless functions are synchronous and have a maximum execution time of 10 seconds. They also offer edge caching for serverless functions, which can improve performance by caching function results at the edge.

  • Netlify, on the other hand, offers "background functions" that can run asynchronously for up to 15 minutes. This is useful for tasks that require longer processing times. Netlify is also working on "Edge handlers," which are currently in trial and aim to provide similar edge caching capabilities to Vercel.

Analytics: Server-side vs. client-side

Analytics is another area where Vercel and Netlify differ:

  • Netlify Analytics is a server-side solution that provides insights into website traffic and performance without the need for client-side tracking scripts.

  • Vercel's analytics, in contrast, is client-side and depends on the framework being used (e.g., Next.js). This means that tracking scripts are added to the client-side code to collect data.

Built-in features: Forms, authentication, and large media management

Netlify offers several built-in features that can simplify certain aspects of web development:

  • Netlify Forms allows developers to handle form submissions without the need for a separate backend. This feature is not available out-of-the-box with Vercel, requiring developers to integrate with a third-party service.

  • Netlify also provides an Identity service for user authentication, while Vercel relies on third-party solutions like Auth0 or NextAuth.

  • For managing large files like images and videos, Netlify offers a Large Media feature. Vercel does not have a direct equivalent, and developers would need to use external storage solutions.

Performance benchmarks and considerations

When it comes to performance, both Vercel and Netlify are known for their speed and reliability. However, there are limited public benchmarks directly comparing the two platforms. Performance can vary depending on factors such as the specific project setup, chosen framework, and optimization techniques employed.

That being said, both platforms prioritize performance through features like automatic code splitting, asset optimization, and global CDN distribution. They also offer tools for monitoring and improving performance, such as Vercel's Next.js Analytics and Netlify's Lighthouse-based Netlify Analytics.

Ultimately, the choice between Vercel and Netlify for performance may come down to the specific needs of your project. For example, if you are using Next.js and require advanced serverless function capabilities, Vercel's deep integration with Next.js and edge caching might give it an edge. On the other hand, if you have a smaller project or blog and value simplicity, Netlify's built-in features like forms and authentication could be more appealing.

Pricing and Plans

When choosing between Vercel and Netlify, it's essential to consider their pricing structures and the features offered in each plan. Both platforms provide a free tier and paid plans to accommodate various project requirements and budgets.

Comparison of Free Tier Offerings

Vercel and Netlify offer generous free tiers, allowing developers to host and deploy their projects without any cost. However, there are some differences in the resources and features provided:

  • Build Minutes: Vercel's free tier offers 6,000 build minutes per month, while Netlify provides 300 minutes.

  • Bandwidth: Both platforms offer 100 GB of bandwidth per month in their free plans.

  • Serverless Functions: Vercel allows 100 GB-seconds of serverless function execution, while Netlify offers 125,000 function requests per month.

  • Collaborators: Vercel's free tier supports unlimited collaborators, while Netlify allows only one user.

Pro Plan Pricing and Features

For projects that require more resources and advanced features, both Vercel and Netlify offer paid plans. Here's a comparison of their pro-level plans:

  • Pricing: Vercel's Pro plan starts at $20 per user per month, while Netlify's Pro plan is priced at $19 per user per month.

  • Build Minutes: Vercel's Pro plan offers 10,000 build minutes per month, while Netlify provides 1,000 minutes.

  • Serverless Functions: Vercel's Pro plan includes 1,000 GB-seconds of serverless function execution, while Netlify offers 500,000 function requests per month.

  • Custom Domains: Both platforms allow connecting custom domains in their Pro plans.

  • SSL Certificates: Vercel and Netlify provide automatic SSL certificate provisioning and renewal.

  • Collaborators: Vercel's Pro plan supports unlimited collaborators, while Netlify allows up to 5 users.

Limitations and Considerations for Each Platform

While both Vercel and Netlify offer robust features, there are some limitations and considerations to keep in mind:

  • File Size Limits: Both platforms have a maximum file size limit of 100 MB for individual files.

  • Build Time Limits: Vercel and Netlify impose build time limits of 15 minutes and 30 minutes, respectively, to ensure efficient resource utilization.

  • Deployment Limits: Vercel allows unlimited deployments across all plans, while Netlify's free plan is limited to 300 minutes of build time per month.

  • Add-ons and Integrations: Netlify offers a wider range of add-ons and integrations, such as form handling and user authentication, which may require third-party services or higher-tier plans on Vercel.

It's important to carefully review the pricing details and feature comparisons on the official Vercel and Netlify websites to ensure you choose the plan that best suits your project's needs and budget.

Ease of Use and Setup

When choosing a hosting platform for your web projects, ease of use and setup are crucial factors to consider. Both Vercel and Netlify offer user-friendly interfaces and straightforward setup processes, but there are some differences to keep in mind.

Getting started with Vercel and Netlify

Signing up for both Vercel and Netlify is a simple process. However, Vercel's onboarding is slightly more streamlined, allowing you to have a site online within 10 minutes. Netlify's sign-up process is also straightforward, but it may take a bit longer to get started.

Both platforms integrate seamlessly with popular Git providers like GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket, making it easy to deploy your projects directly from your repositories.

Setting up custom domains

Vercel and Netlify both support custom domains and provide automatic SSL/TLS certificate management. The process for setting up custom domains is similar on both platforms, involving DNS configuration.

However, Netlify offers more built-in features related to custom domains, such as Netlify Identity for authentication and Netlify Forms for form handling. Vercel, on the other hand, relies more on third-party integrations for these features.

Transferring domains between platforms

If you decide to switch from Vercel to Netlify or vice versa, transferring your domain is a relatively straightforward process. It involves unlocking the domain on the current platform, initiating the transfer on the new platform, updating DNS records, and verifying the transfer.

Netlify provides clear instructions and guidance throughout the domain transfer process, making it easier for users to navigate the steps involved.

Developer experience and learning curve

Both Vercel and Netlify offer excellent developer experiences, with intuitive dashboards, comprehensive documentation, and helpful communities.

Vercel is particularly well-suited for developers working with Next.js, as it is optimized for server-side rendering (SSR) and provides a seamless experience for deploying Next.js applications. Netlify, on the other hand, focuses more on static site generation and offers a wider range of built-in features and add-ons.

In terms of learning curve, both platforms are relatively easy to get started with, especially if you have prior experience with web development and deployment. However, Netlify's additional features and integrations may require a bit more time to fully explore and understand.

Choosing the Right Platform for Your Project

When it comes to selecting a Jamstack hosting platform for your project, there are several factors to consider. Both Vercel and Netlify offer robust features and excellent performance, but each has its strengths and weaknesses depending on your specific requirements.

Factors to consider when selecting a Jamstack hosting platform

  • Project size and complexity

  • Preferred programming languages and frameworks

  • Required features (e.g., serverless functions, analytics, forms, authentication)

  • Scalability and performance needs

  • Budget and pricing plans

  • Ease of use and learning curve

If you're struggling to decide for a Headless CMS, this guide will help you.

Vercel's advantages for Next.js projects

Vercel, the company behind Next.js, offers deep integration with the popular React framework. This makes Vercel an ideal choice for developers working on Next.js projects, as it provides:

  • Automatic code splitting and optimized performance

  • Built-in support for server-side rendering (SSR) and static site generation (SSG)

  • Seamless deployment and preview environments

  • Synchronous serverless functions with edge caching

Netlify's strengths for static site generation and smaller projects

Netlify is well-suited for smaller projects, blogs, and static site generation. It offers:

  • A generous free tier with commercial use allowed

  • Built-in features like form handling, user authentication, and large media management

  • Easy setup and deployment for static sites

  • A wide range of add-ons and integrations

Evaluating your project's specific requirements

When choosing between Vercel and Netlify, consider your project's specific needs:

  • If you're working on a Next.js project or require advanced serverless function capabilities, Vercel may be the better choice.

  • For smaller projects, blogs, or static sites that benefit from built-in features like form handling and authentication, Netlify could be the ideal platform.

  • Evaluate your project's performance requirements, budget constraints, and team's familiarity with each platform before making a decision.

In conclusion, both Vercel and Netlify are excellent Jamstack hosting platforms that cater to different project requirements. By carefully evaluating your project's needs and considering the strengths of each platform, you can make an informed decision that sets your project up for success.

But the right hosting platform is not the only important decision. For developers seeking a high-performing, user-friendly headless CMS, caisy is an compelling choice. With its blueprint functionality, powerful GraphQL API, and support for popular web frameworks like Next.js and Nuxt, caisy streamlines content creation and management for developers. The platform's scalable multi-tenancy system, comprehensive Digital Asset Management, and flexible pricing tiers make it an ideal solution for projects of varying scopes and budgets.

If you're a developer looking for efficiency, flexibility, and cutting-edge technology, give caisy a try by signing up for a free account today.

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