AWS Free Tier Unknown Facts

 

AWS Free Tier for Cloud Services

AWS Free Tier for Cloud Services

Are you looking for a good hosting service for your wordpress blog or website? Is your budget tight and you are exploring all cloud services option. Do you want to beta test your product without spending much with a reliable hosting service?

I had mentioned in my previous blog AWS S3 WordPress Integeration that hackpundit.com is running on AWS Free Tier.  After that I received lot of above questions from bloggers, startup founders, entrepreneurs.

Your answer to above questions is AWS Free Tier. We all know amazon web services are highly scalable and available. It’s one of the most popular cloud hosting service in the world. Being a user of AWS Free Tier for long, I continuously receive questions like:

  • Is it reliable?
  • Is it really free or it’s just a marketing campaign by AWS team?
  • Can I run my wordpress blog on AWS Free Tier?

AWS Free Tier for Cloud Services

AWS free tier is a marketing program by amazon web service team. With this program they offer AWS cloud service for 12 month with no charges. This is a strategy by Amazon to acquire new AWS users. The free tier is for users who want to test out cloud services for free. It’s not a marketing gimmick. You can actually run your professional website or blog completely on AWS Free Tier without paying anything.

How Can You Setup AWS Free tier?

Setting up Free Tier is very simple and straight forward.

  • Signup with your Email Id.
  • You need to add your credit or debit card details. AWS validates your card by charging $1 from your account. For indian users I used citi bank international debit card and I was charged $1.
  • AWS free tier is free. The $1 charge is when you add a new credit card to the billing system. The only way AWS can confirm that its a working credit card is by charging it. This is a one time thing. I am not sure whether they refund it or adjust it when real billing start. Will let you know if I get any updates regarding this.
  • There is no charge after validation process.
  • Services which are covered under AWS Free Tier are mentioned here.

Verify Eligibility for AWS Free Tier

AWS Free Tier for Cloud Services

AWS Free Tier for Cloud Services

  • Login using your root credentials.
  • On top right corner click “Billing & Cost Management“.
  • Scroll down to bottom and you will see text written “You are eligible for the AWS Free Usage Tier
  • If the above text is present means you are under AWS Free Tier and you can avail free tier services.

How Much Are You Saving with AWS Free Tier?

Simple question comes to our mind. What amount AWS Free Tier is worth. I used AWS calculator to know exactly how much I am saving money by using AWS Free Tier.

Assumption

  • Calculation is based on Asia Pacific(Singapore) region. Data transfer charges might differ for N.Virginia or Oregon region.
  • Services currently I am using are Amazon EC2, Amazon RDS, Amazon S3, Amazon CloudFront. These are the basic services required to setup a website or blog.

Pricing Calculation

AWS Calculator & AWS Free Tier Calculation

AWS Calculator & AWS Free Tier Calculation

  • Amazon EC2 (750 hours t2.micro instance) = $14.64
  • Amazon S3 (20 GB Storage, 2000 PUT, 20000 Get request)  = $18.75
  • Amazon CloudFront (50 GB data transfer, 2M request) = $12.50
  • Amazon RDS (20 GB storage) = $21.80
  • Amazon ElasticCache (75o hours t2.micro)  = $16.11

Total amount per month = $14.64 + $18.75 + $12.50 + $21.80 + $16.11 = $65.22

Total Amount for 1 Year = $65.22 * 12 = $782.64

WOW! That’s a lot of saving!

So for 1 year I am saving $782.64 using AWS Free Tier. Can you think of any other hosting service which is providing similar services in $0.

Why You Should Use AWS Free Tier as Your Cloud Service?

  • You can go ahead with AWS Free Tier if you are starting a new blog or website. You can always switch to AWS powerful EC2 machines if you are experiencing rocket growth.
  • You can also run a decent popular blog completely on AWS Free Tier with some fine tuning. Your blog, website platform should be setup in best way. You should be setting up optimized code, caching layer, CDN, optimized databases.  I have seen people running multiple blogs, websites on AWS Free Tier single t2.micro instance. You can setup CDN using below article:
  • This is great for startup community. Startups have budget constraints. Free hosting services for a year means, all you really need is an idea.
  • Startup entrepreneurs can beta test their product before launching to complete world. This is great for young entrepreneurs, who can get a professional dev environment for $0 for an year to see if their idea works.

Why You Should Not Use AWS Free Tier

  • EC2 t2.micro instance can’t handle huge traffic. It provides 1GB ram which is quite low to handle huge traffic. You need to switch to powerful EC2 machines which are not covered under AWS Free Tier.
  • You need Devops and system admin experience. Although AWS docs are really good, your tech knowledge will be tested while setting up AWS cloud services. If you are a business guy, I will recommend hire a tech person who will do the setup for you.

Monitoring AWS Free Tier Usage

AWS Free Tier Cloud Services Monitoring

AWS Free Tier Cloud Services Monitoring

  • Click “Billing & Cost Management” from top right corner.
  • You can see your “Billing & Cost Management Dashboard“.
  • On same page you can see “Top Free Tier Services by Usage“.
  • Click “View All“.
  • You will be presented with “All Free Tier Services By Usage” dashboard.

Although above dashboard is nice for Free Tier usage monitoring, I highly recommend creating CloudWatch alarm. You can’t login every day to see if your AWS Free Tier usage went above your budget.

AWS Free Tier More Facts

  • It’s not completely free. When your aws services free usage expires or if your application use exceeds the free usage tier, you simply pay standard, pay-as-you-go service rate.
  • You will be charged $1 to validate your account details while creating AWS account.
  • AWS Free Tier is completely reliable. You can use for your professional website or blog.
  • Amazon has done great work with Free Tier offer, except for the Amazon S3 limits.  20,000 GETs is very low considering S3 resources usefulness. Currently hackpundit.com is charged for AWS S3 in free tier since 20,000 Get requests limit are crossed.
  • I have seen people trying to create multiple AWS Free Tier accounts to avail free tier aws services for longer duration. Don’t do that!  AWS has made it very clear on AWS Free Tier Terms.

You will not be eligible for the Offer if you or your organization create(s) more than one account to receive additional benefits under the Offer or if the new account is included in Consolidated Billing. You will be charged standard rates for use of AWS services if we determine that you are not eligible for the Offer“.

  • New benefits added to the AWS Free Tier will be available to you for the remainder of your one year term. The addition of new benefits will not be extended the one-year term of existing AWS customers who are already participating in the Offer or whose one-year term has already expired.
  • In AWS Free Tier, you can terminate an instance and re-create another without being charged. You can do that as long as you are not running more than one t2.micro instance at a time you will stay within the free tier.

Final Thoughts

AWS Free Tier is an entry solution for developers to see how AWS works. You can learn, understand AWS cloud services infrastructure and give feedback. Free Tier is good not only for consumers but also for Amazon. I can’t think of any other hosting service which is so cheap yet reliable. Just to give you an idea hackpundit.com is running currently on AWS Free Tier without any issues till now.

I highly recommend setup AWS CloudWatch alarm for billing alerts if you are an AWS user. It will help you avoid getting shock from unexpected billing amount. If you are interested in AWS big data services, I recommend reading below articles:

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