Cloud datacenter

How to get a Free Oracle Cloud Database

Always Free Oracle Cloud Database

In this article, you will learn how to get a free Oracle Cloud Database. Most cloud services providers offer a variety of free tiers for customers and learners and offer a convenient way to explore the possibilities they can offer, the pros an cons and cost effective cloud proof of concepts and laboratories.

Not every cloud service provider offers the same services nor the same limitations. Usually, free tiers fall in one of these categories (or a mix of any of them):

  • Limited trial periods
  • Free credits
  • Always free tiers

In this article, database options for the always free tier of Oracle® Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) are explored. At the time of this writing, Always Free tier includes 2 instances of AMD based virtual machines, 4 instances of ARM based virtual machines. you can opt for several options of block storage, several networking infrastructure products and 2 instances of SQL databases (20 GB each) and a NoSQL database. Details about free tier products and limits can vary as cloud providers push new products and versions regularly.

Provisioning a Free Oracle Cloud Database

In order to get an Always Free Oracle Cloud Autonomous Database you will have to subscribe to an “Always Free” plan (credit card required for verification purposes). After that your OCI account is active, you can navigate through the OCI console and then select one of the Oracle database options available.

Oracle database options for APEX development

Remember to configure your database with the “Always Free” option (this is the point of this post but you can configure paid options if you like).

One drawback of free tier is the public secure internet connection as the only option available. It would have been really nice to be able to configure a VCN (Virtual Cloud Network) to isolate the database and build a completely free cloud stack along the free virtual machines. Other restrictions include inactivity periods that disable the instance and a 90 day inactivity period that might result in instance deletion.

Management console showing options and tools available

Database actions

The most interesting feature for the cloud database are the tools called “Database Actions”. These are tools one would expect from an external or desktop database management GUI which include: database security administration, data modeler, data import and export interface configuration (including exposing REST web services) as well as basic data analytics and machine learning applications.

Database Actions tools

You can modify database tables, indexes, procedures and other features of the Oracle database through the SQL cloud editor. A graphical Data Modeler is also available, which comes handy for database design and documentation. This tool alone is an Always Free tier gem as you can always export your database models to other environments or even translate the DDL to your favorite relational database dialect.

Data Modeler

Data import is another important feature as you can import your data from local files, remote databases and external cloud storage (AWS, OCI, Azure or GCP).

Importing data from a local CSV file


Database Actions allow a hands-on approach to the database without hardware or infrastructure problems. As one of the main relational commercial database systems, Oracle Cloud Database Always Free tier offers a comprehensive package full of features and an excellent set of tools for development environments, learning and personal use. As there are other free alternatives, Oracle offers a comprehensive managed cloud database.

In next articles we will see other features like charts, JSON services and Machine Learning capabilities in this Always Free database.

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