Updated October 18, 2018 - I see many questions each day asking about the specifics of static hosting with GCP. We have several possible products to choose from such as Google Cloud Storage (GCS), Firebase Hosting, and even App Engine.
My goal is to provide a high level summary of some of the options for hosting Static Websites. The Cloud docs have a great overview of all possibilities here - you can think of this post as a TL;DR of that page.

What is considered “Static Webite Hosting”

To understand the options we’ll be discussing I think it’s important we define “Static Website Hosting”. In this case I specifically mean offerings and content that do not need a backing server or any special type of rendering engine. Based on this I will not touch at all on other services that include servers; Specfically GCE, App Engine Flex, and GKE. All in their own right can serve static content.

The contenders

In this post I’m going to specifically touch on the following static hosting methods:

  • GCS + Cloud Load Balancing (+ Cloud CDN)
  • GCS + CDN Provider
  • Firebase Hosting
  • Honorary Mention - App Engine Standard

Each will discuss the pros and cons as I see them (Disclaimer: These are my opinions. See full disclaimer below.)


Official Instructions: here

This is possibly the easiest option to begin with. GCS buckets allow users to bind a CNAME record to a bucket when the bucket is created. During creation, if a bucket is named in a way that follows a standard top level domain name such as www.example.com then GCS will automatically attempt to verify ownership of the domain. Ownership is verified using the Google Webmasters Console. When verifying, if not previously verified, make sure to select the “Other Provider” option which can provide you a TXT record to verify your domain.

Once your domain is verified you can point your domain name www.example.com to c.storage.googleapis.com and you’re now serving traffic on your domain!

In practice I do not recommend this method - the biggest breaking point for me here is the lack of SSL. It’s worth noting you could employ something such as Cloudflare Flexible SSL (free) to offer your site over SSL while still connecting with the bucket over HTTP.


  • Really fast and easy to set up
  • Supports both IPv4 and IPv6
  • Points directly at Google’s Global Network
  • No cost involved beyond standard GCS costs


  • No SSL support - This is the biggest gotcha people run into with this approach. You are unable to run your bucket with https
  • No redirect or rewrite logic - You are unable to create rules that redirect http traffic
  • Need new buckets for this - You can’t retroactively apply CNAMEs to buckets. The buckets must be created from the start with the domain name
  • Need to create buckets for both www.example.com and example.com if your usecase requires it and verify each domain manually
  • Not all DNS providers allow CNAME records to point to the apex record (example.com). Technically an A record must point to the root, but some providers provide a technique called CNAME flattening to allow this. For example Cloud DNS does not support this behavior

GCS + Cloud Load Balancing (+ Cloud CDN)

Official Instructions: here

This is probably the best, most scalable, most complicated, and most expensive option. Google Cloud’s L7 HTTP(S) load balancers are amazing, like literally. First off they’re global, like truly global. No need to launch an individual load balancer in each region. You can allocate IPv4 and IPv6 addresses to a load balancer which use Google’s premium backbone to make sure that IP address is always local to the user. It’s magic. What’s even more magical is you can also put a GCS Bucket behind one of these load balancers. And to top it all off, with a single click you can enable Cloud CDN for your load balancer. Sales pitch and drooling over, there is a base hourly fee for enabling this method usually clocking in around $18 / month for running one of these load balancers - which for a business should be fine, but not really for the hobbyist.


  • You can also run dynamic content off another path - ie have /static pointed to your bucket and /api pointed to a GCE Managed Instance Group running your API. Take note that the load balancers do not rewrite paths when talking to the bucket, if you’re requesting /static/a.jpg you’ll need to make sure /static/a.jpg exists in your bucket too
  • You can allocate both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses to your load balancer
  • You can run SSL off your load balancer
  • Seamless integration with Cloud CDN. Note: I recommend if you employ L7LB + Cloud CDN that you only use a Regional Bucket vs Multi-Regional bucket, you’ll tend to get better performance this way.
  • Works with existing buckets!


  • Managed SSL Certificates are now supported! No managed SSL Certificate support, you must bring your own certificates. You can still use free certificate providers such as Let’s Encrypt for this purpose!
  • Arguably complicated to get set up (But no issues once it’s running!)

GCS + CDN Provider

Community Tutorial: here - Uses Fastly

I know the least about this method as I do not generally work with third party CDNs like Fastly. It has similar benefits to the first option with CNAME but adds the possibility of adding SSL.


  • Works with existing buckets
  • Because it can point to yourbucket.storage.googleapis.com you do not have to verify the domain name and allows SSL end to end via https://yourbucket.storage.googleapis.com
  • Having a CDN is always a good idea to lower storage costs and increase end user performance


  • Some CDN providers may also allocate a CNAME record to bind to which brings up root record concerns as outlined above
  • IPv6 support might not exist
  • Unknown costs when dealing with third parties

Firebase Hosting

Official Instructions: here

Firebase Hosting fills in a lot of the gaps that the GCS + CNAME route presents. You get the power of redirects, rewriting, custom domains, free SSL, and a CDN. Firebase projects can tie in directly to a GCP project and can link billing methods. This blog, for example, is hosted with Firebase Hosting. This route is generally the official Google recommendation when GCS + CNAME doesn’t cut it.


  • firebase deploy - does it get easier than that?
  • Free SSL
  • Redirects, Rewrites, and Headers - Oh my!
  • Verifying a domain in Firebase Hosting is much more straightforward than in GCS


  • No IPv6 support
  • All content is overwritten each deploy, with buckets your bucket could be massive, Firebase Hosting is definitely for the “smaller” sites.

Honorary Mention - App Engine Standard

Official Instructions: here

App Engine Standard is another among the “serverless” tools that’s magical. It supports the ability to host static files that do not get passed through your chosen environment (ie Python).


  • Controlled scaling - All the above options will scale infinitely without regards to your wallet. App Engine Standard can absolutely scale infinitely as well but it gives you the choice on how much you’re willing to spend to get there.
  • Abuse Controls - Similar to scaling controls App Engine gives you the ability to block malicious IPs that may be attempting to send too much traffic
  • A/B Testing - Using App Engines powerful Traffic Splitting tools you can run multiple static sites at the same time at the same host to conduct various A/B tests.
  • Free SSL! App Engine supports managed certificates or bring your own
  • Built-in caching


  • App Engine also only provides a CNAME record (ghs.googlehosted.com)
  • If not configured correctly you may incur hourly charges for your site
  • All content is overwritten each deploy


There you have it. These are all of the major ways I know of for statically hosting content on GCP. You have a plethora of tools available to get the job done. In general GCP makes it easy to enable these features and I’m glad they exist.

Disclaimer: Any opinions expressed above are my own opinions and not those of my employer (Google). I do not speak for the company.