Is there a way to host a React app without a NodeJS Server?

So you built your first React app and now it’s time to get it out in the world. But where do you host a React app?

Until now, you probably ran your app with npm start which spins up a development server for you to debug and test your app. But that won’t work in production.

After some research you will find out, that there are several services like Now or Heroku, that allow you to just push your React app to a public server to be accessed by the public without much configuration. You could also spin up a Droplet on Digital Ocean or buy a small VServer.

But can’t I just use my existing web hosting service? Is there a way to host my app without a NodeJS Server?`

The answer is Yes!

Serve your app like a static web site

If you’re only doing client-side stuff (no server-side rendering), you can drop a bundled version of your app on your web space and host your app from there.

To get a bundled version of your app, you can use build tools like Webpack or Parcel. If you created your app with create-react-app, you’re lucky! Everything is already set up for you to get your bundle by executing npm run build. This will build your app and put the bundled files fo your app into the /build folder:

Now there is only one thing left for you to do: Copy the contents of your /build folder to your web space.

Attention: If you’re using a router that is using the pushState history API like React Router with browserHistory, then you might need to configure your web server accordingly. That’s necessary because if you do a reload on a link like, your web server will look for the file /posts/123 – which results in a 404 Error.

The solution is, to configure the web server in a way, that all requests are always routed to your index.html file. If you’re using Apache, this could look like the following example:

    Options -MultiViews
    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
    RewriteRule ^ index.html [QSA,L]

Congratulations! You’re serving your React app without using a NodeJS Server.

But why does this work?

Wrapping up

By building and bundling your app, the build tool bundles and minifies all your dependencies, javascript code and even CSS to a bunch of separate files. Those files contain all the necessary code for your app. After that, your index.html refers to those Javascript and CSS files like any other static . Since you’ve already bundled everything together, there is no need to import any npm modules anymore – that’s one reason why you can just serve your app as a static web site.

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3 thoughts on “Is there a way to host a React app without a NodeJS Server?”

  1. Thank you! Great article! But I have a question: index.html would work only on the server? If I run inde.html local (just in browser), it does not work. And it should not work, right?)

  2. Weil ich auf Deutsch schon Verständnisprobleme habe, versuche ich es gar nicht erst auf Englisch, ich hoffe, das ist okay.
    Ich habe einfach die Standard App, die bei “create-react-app” generiert wird, versucht zu builden.
    Wenn ich jetzt in dem Build Ordner die index.html öffne, habe ich eine leere Seite, und wenn ich in den Entwickleroptionen von Chrome gucke, wird da auch nur die HTML geladen, nicht das Javascript. Habe ich da einen Fehler gemacht, oder muss das so sein?
    Außerdem: In dem Build Ordner gibt es mehrere CSS und JS Dateien. Gibt es eine Möglichkeit, das so zu machen, dass ich am Ende eine HTML und eine JS Datei und evtl. noch eine CSS habe?
    So wie der Democode hier:

  3. Thank you very much! It is as easy as you told us!

    Today I pushed my first small react app (the small memory game you find on on my static server with Strato and it worked.
    Because of the installation NOT in the root directory I just had to add the “homepage”: “.”, line into the package.json file.

    Then, putting the “” URL into the browser the game came up. No installation with “serve” as explained on was necessary.

    Thanks again, you saved my day!

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